Two Pictures

Vernon Lushington

General Description

Date: 1856
Genre: Prose essay

Scholarly Commentary

Guest Editor: PC Fleming


In this essay, the only extensive critique of paintings in The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine, Vernon Lushington praises two pictures absent from the Royal Academy in 1856: DGR’s Dante’s Dream on the Day of the Death of Beatrice and Ford Madox Brown’s The Last of England. Like Morris’s essay on Rethel, this essay is primarily descriptive, and the strength of the essay lies in Lushington’s eye for detail, and in the narrative details he himself adds to the subjects of the two pictures.

Unlike Morris, Lushington does offer his own critical analysis. He particularly praises DGR’s use of color, and his only criticism of Rossett’s painting is the rendition of Love; he claims that the presence is the only aspect of the painting that is not believable, and as such distracts from the effect. Like Fulford, Burne-Jones, and other contributors to the Magazine, Lushington links painting to poetry, and quotes Tennyson’s “Break, Break, Break” as evidence that “the painter’s brush and the poet’s pen have worked in the self-same spirit”.

In Madox Brown’s picture, Lushington focuses primarily on the painting’s theme. He commends Brown’s “daring and complete conception [and] studied composition and profound feeling”. What Lushington most admires about Brown’s painting is the modern subject, and he ends the essay with a discussion of the Pre-Raphaelites in general, praising this “band of brave Artists” for choosing contemporary, human subjects, rather than conventional portraits or landscapes. He mentions Hunt’s Awakening Conscience and Millais’s The Rescue and Peace Concluded as embodiments of the PRB’s philosophy.

Printing History

First printed in The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine , August, 1856.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1