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