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John Brett (1831-1902) was the son of a veterinary surgeon. He showed an early enthusiasm for geology, astronomy and painting. (When he was forty he became a member of the Royal Society of Astronomers). Brett entered the Royal Academy as a student when he was twenty two years old. However Brett was more interested in the ideas of the art critic John Ruskin and the work of the artists who formed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848 than the classical ideals of the Royal Academy. In 1853 John Brett met one of the founding members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Holman Hunt. Brett's association with the Pre-Raphaelite artists and his reading of Ruskin's Modern Painters had a profound effect on his painting. His best known picture is the Stonebreaker, at Liverpool's Walker Art Gallery.

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