Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: Pre-Raphaelitism and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
Author: William Holman Hunt
Date of publication: 1914
Publisher: E. P. Dutton and Company
Printer: Richard Clay and Sons, Limited
Edition: Second

The full Rossetti Archive record for this transcribed document is available.

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Portrait of William Holman-Hunt (1867), by Himself

PORTRAIT OF WILLIAM HOLMAN-HUNT (1867), BY HIMSELF (Presented to the Uffizi Gallery, Florence, in 1907)

In acknowledging the reception of the portrait, the Director of the Galleries wrote: “It represents one of the chiefs of the glorious movement which exercised such a salutory influence on the artistic life of the nineteenth century.”

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Pre-Raphaelitism and

the Pre-Raphaelite



W. Holman-Hunt, O.M., D.C.L.




Vol. I


New York

E. P. Dutton & COMPANY



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Note: The call number, written in pencil, and a library stamp appear at the top of the page.
Richard Clay & Sons, Limited,


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“Thou, Nature, art my Goddess;

To thy law my services are bound.”
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Facsimile of the Initials on Millais “Lorenzo and Isabella,” 1848

Facsimile of the Initials on Millais

“Lorenzo and Isabella,” 1848

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I have to acknowledge my indebtedness to many friends for suggestions and assistance in the completion of this history. I omit the names of these lest they might be unfairly regarded as in any way responsible for the many deficiencies of the book. I have also to thank those who have generously allowed me the loan of their pictures for reproduction.

The Editor of the Second Edition owes much to the kindness of the descendents of those who are treated of in this book, for their help in procuring contemporary portraits, as also to the publishers who have permitted her to make use of their illustrations.


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I am but a single voice.—Theocritus.

Art is generally regarded as a light and irresponsible pursuit, entailing for its misuse no penalty to the artist or to the nation of which he is a citizen. It is further assumed that a being endowed with original taste may, after some perfunctory essays, be happily inspired, and that he will then, with a few days of wrapt energy, be able to convert his thought into a masterpiece.
In my boyhood a brilliant novel was based on this idea. At the end of the eighteenth century a young hero of romance, in easy circumstances, wandering about Europe to gratify his love of ancient art, found himself in the classical cities of Italy. He was surrounded by sympathetic friends, who recognised that he had been born with fine tastes and talents, who listened to him appreciatively as he discoursed of Raphael, Guido, Salvator Rosa, and other favourite Masters. After some less important artistic experiments criticised by an academic friend as wanting in orthodox arrangement; although interrupted by an engrossing love affair and by efforts to discover the true elixer of life, the amateur artist shut himself up in a weird chamber, and on the white walls he elaborated a composition representing the “Judgment of the Dead by the Living.” It was a masterpiece, as such a noble subject merited it should be.
Pictures are not produced thus. Long years are needed to train the eye and hand before a man can represent on a flat surface any forms under the simplest conditions; the difficulty grows in compound ratio with intricate design of moving figures, and the immature artist's illustration of so sublime a theme would tax more than the extreme indulgence of the most partial friends.
For the sculptor to arrive at a high perfection not less severe study is needful; but the use of calipers may so far cover ignorance of proportion, that the essays of a pretender may not be so pitiable in the eyes of the undiscriminating as they would be for similar attempts in painting. Marble, smoothly polished, is a beautiful material, and its purity of surface compensates for defects which disenchant even the superficial in looking on the ignorantly smudged canvas; excellence in either branch of art can be won only by incessant labour, such as no one will bestow who is not endowed with that passion for art which made him draw in infancy, a passion which ever leaves him unhappy when not wrestling with some besetting sin discovered in his own practice.
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Burne-Jones, once conversing upon the shortness of human life for the attainment of maturity in art, impulsively said to me that at least 300 years were needed. This, though an unpremeditated explamation, was not a baseless guess. The Greeks, Romans, and Italians eked out their acquired wisdom to pupils, and so extended individual life, and thus more surely reached the goal of their ambition. I hope to convince my readers that every student of art in the past was loyal to his own nationality, and that in these days men of British blood, whether of insular birth, or of the homes beyond the seas, should not subject themselves to the influence of masters alien to the sentiments and principles of the great English thinkers and poets.
There was matter for caution even in the days when the sober high purposes of Continental masters ensured the cultivation of correctness and respect for questions of common-sense; but now that these qualities are ridiculed and put aside, there is the greater reason for regarding the foreign training as pernicious and to be shunned by students of the race to which Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton and the great fathers of our own art belonged.
In the hope of eradicating many mischievous prejudices which are thoughtlessly handed on as unquestioned truths, I abandon reserve more than otherwise I should do.
Regarding the character of a nation's art as immeasurably more important than it is ordinarily thought to be, both for its own people and for the whole world, I may at times be led to speak with solemnity; but at the outset I disclaim all pretensions to those graces of style and deft mingling of exquisitely selected words into variegated tints of meaning, which should grace a history across whose stage will pass many of the masters of thought of the latter half of the nineteenth century. I must rely simply upon the charm of my theme when treating of men who were searching out a new perfection in life and lovingly teaching it to others.
The manner in which our particular views were conceived, and the order in which our coadjutors came together, the qualifications and the character of each, our consultations and our resolves, will scarcely be intelligible until the conditions are understood in which young artists found themselves a few years before the middle of the nineteenth century, when the future members of the Pre-Raphaelite movement were boy students. The system of apprenticeship under which was produced all of the great art of past ages had died out in the early days of the century, perhaps as an inevitable sequence of the establishment of art academies. Serious penalties, not generally considered, followed the change. A student recieved indeed valuable advice from the visitors in the Schools as to the accuracy of the studies he made in prosaic imitation; but the constant paternal guidance of the master training the inventive faculties of a particular pupil ceased to exist, and the latter could no longer see
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the original work of the master in all its stages any more than the master could follow the student in his daily ambitious efforts. We, as students, no doubt lost much good resulting from the old tradition as it would have been carried out by an altogether wise master, but we escaped what would have been fatal evils had the director been wanting in wisdom. When Millais and I compared notes in after-life, we found that each of us had mainly depended for his painting practice upon the example and advice of fellow-students more advanced than himself. Our unguided position had compensating advantages; the necessity of proving any new suggestion established in us the habit of daring judgment, which we exercised on questions more important than those of technique alone, and our previous study of the great Masters prevented our inquiries from having the taint of ignorant presumption.
To the casual cognoscenti of our youth the annual exhibitions contained all that British Art was required to display. The Press, it will be seen, testified to this judgment, as did also, in all societies, many of the representative men of the day. The general enthusiastic approbation was further indicated by the avidity with which all well-to-do homes were furnished with engravings of the favourite current pictures, and also by that repugnance to reform which the detestation of our innocent works provoked.
I can aver that we also saw much to admire in the art of the day, but for my own part there was great need to distinguish between feelings of passing enjoyment in an exhibition and the more critical judgment called for to guard one's art conscience. After some hours spent in a modern gallery I felt pride at the sensibility and skill of many British artists, yet each season I increasingly recognised that there could be no full satisfaction in merely carrying on our elders' ambitions, which had become weakened in their dire struggle for existence in those straitened days, by the need to compromise with the prejudices of social taste. Artists had to work mainly on a sort of charitable sufferance from the rich, who were not always more than fashionably refined; our predecessors, therefore, deserved the less blame for their faults and the more praise for their excellences.
It was not till later days that I learned that one of our forerunners had been mourning the expiring condition of British art.
Let the gentle Leslie's despairing tone over Constable's prophecy 1 that British art would disappear about 1852, together with his interpretation of its fulfillment in the death of Turner, bear witness to the fear of this being inevitable. With Stothard, Constable, and Wilkie dead, Etty past account, and Turner's glorious career at an end, no effort of elders could effect the imminent prospect. We young men had no disposition to lay our spring-like lives at the feet of such fatality. If the open road ended in an impassable waste, we had to make a new way; it might be to push through the forest darkness, to root out
Transcribed Footnote (page xiii):

1 See heading to Chapter III.

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venomous undergrowth, to substitute wholesome stock, grafting these with shoots, to ripen hereafter for the refreshment of travellers overcome by their toilsome march. It is by seeking out the teaching of the secret-revealing years that the young can justify their usurpation of the seats of their fathers.
Our purpose was formed with deliberation, and we had such faith in our initial thought that we disdained caution in our plans. “Will you advance guardedly?” said General Morgan to his re-engaged Ironsides fighting to raise the siege of Dunkirk, “or will you go happy-go-lucky,” “Happy-go-lucky,” replied they. We were as reckless in the manner of our advance. Their impetuosity ensured the warriors immediate victory, but our victory was for many years threatened, and has, to say the least, been much retarded by our impulsive course.
The question, Who is truly an artist? is not a new one. Michael Angelo said that carrying a box of colours did not make a painter, and in our day to flaunt trivial fancies into a dainty form, cherished by idle patrons as the choicest example of taste, cannot be consistent with the high service which art is called upon to render. To lounge about from studio to studio and confer over the things that "go off" best, or to report the highest sum given in Paris for an approved piece of manipulation, executed to suit the whim of a star of the demi-monde, may be a step towards reaching vulgar favour and opulence, but the triumph is a miserable one. With no larger aspirations than this astir, how will a people be blessed as were those to whom the artist gave a national talisman for the conquest of ignorance and brutality? Art, as of old, should stamp a nation's individuality; it should be the witness of its life to future generations.
To whom but the artist is relegated the task of giving a tangible and worthy image of the national body and mind? who else may select and uphold the visible sign of that beauty in his Race which is most heroic physically and mentally? Who shall warn the people from the cramping distortions of the ephemeral tastes of the day? the fashion for such frivolity being the mark of corruption. In antique nations, it is true, deadly vanities, insidious as tares, were so cherished, supplanting the wheat and imperilling the viguour of the Race; tares spread by the hand of that Sower who never leaves those unvexed who are constant on a great perfection.
All development has its root in a desire. Man must have a revered image in his mind's eye. The leading races of antiquity authorised art to stamp the national insignia on all products. Happy is that nation that develops a true art of its own! Nations, when feeble-spirited as to design, incapable of reflecting their own soul, have bowed to classical supremacy, and by this tribute have escaped much lurking evil. Had China accepted the teachings of Greek art the nation would have been incapable of hideously laming its women; had late ages Europe cared for healthy art one hundredth part as much as they professed to do,
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the distortions of fashion would have been defied. Even in ancient times the artists who marched in the van of thought had more than imaginary foes to overcome. Xenophon, in the early days of Pheidias, tells of the wife of Ischomachus, who, till converted to wisdom by Socrates, made use of a poisonous white lead and vermillion to heighten the charm of her complexion in her husband's eyes. The idle vulgar, indeed, have ever affected vanities to distinguish them from their more humble brethren, to whom fortune gave nothing but some implement wherewith to take part in the labour of the world. The small hand is in truth the mark of decaying vigour, but it is valued by the idle as a sign of high descent. In foppish centuries, dandies, like silly women, squeezed their bodies with stays, and false artists flattered these follies. But as priests are bound to remove all veils from vice and preach that virtue alone is imperishable, so the true limner has to show the hideousness and deadliness of sham fascination by proving the everlasting dignity of the natural proportions of the human form. It is this perfection which enables man to overcome the brute, which gives him courage to guard his belongings from murder and rapine and to repress tyranny. It is no idle fancy of Keats that “to be first in Beauty is to be first in Might.” The office of the artist should be looked upon as a priest's service in the temple of Nature, where ampler graces are revealed to those that have eyes to see, just as ever gentler chords are announced to the fuller life to those that have ears to hear, while declared Law opens up wide regions unordered and anarchic, where selfish greed has yet to be tutored into wise rule. In the circle of the initiated, responsive beings recognise the elimination of immature design in creation to be a triumph of patient endeavor, and they join in the chorus of those who “sang together for joy” on the attainment of the ideal of Heaven's Artist, who in overflowing bounty endowed the colourless world with prismatic radiance, prophesying of Titians yet to be who should go forth and charm the scales from the eyes of the blind. 1
Transcribed Footnote (page xv):

1 “We may say roughly that the spectrum of white light consists of 100 colours; since the colours of all cold natural bodies are those they reflect to us when they can get it, if they can't get it they must be colourless (dark night). I supplied the flowers with one colour only, yellow, or rather orange light. This was a hard trial for the red roses and the green leaves, and, in short, they made a mess of it, as you remember so well.”— Sir Norman Lockyer, K.C.B., June 6, 1905.

This refers to a demonstration made by Sir Norman Lockyer several years since, to prove that bodies have no power of producing colour, but can only reflect a selection from amongst the colours of the light that falls upon them. The source of all colour is therefore light.

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    Story of my family—Infant instincts for Art—I make a paint-brush—Warehouse in Alder-

    manbury—My home life—Visits to the City, and to a painter's studio—My father takes

    me from school and places me in a City warehouse—I obtain a post in Mr. James's

    office— Visit to John Varley—His kindness—I take lessons from a portrait painter . 1


    Freedom for a few weeks—Study violin and singing—Visit to the National Gallery—

    Hogarth's pictures—Richard Cobden's office—Corn Law Reform agitation—My sister

    tells me of Millais—Harrison Ainsworth's St. Paul's—My work in the office —The litera-

    ture I read—Mr Roger's and landscape painting from nature—I visit the Royal

    Academy—The Duke of Wellington—Old Hannah, orange-seller—My father's

    continued opposition to my pursuit of Art as a profession—I leave the office—Student

    at the British Museum—Academy letters—Competitors' works—Entrance of Academi-

    cians—Millais receives the first antique medal—My non-success for probationership—

    My father warns me again against my course—Meeting with Millais . . . . 14


    Fellow-students—B. R. Haydon—British art in the late 'forties—Prominent Academicians

    and Associates—I decide on an independent course—Dulwich gallery—Rossetti as pro-

    bationer—Millais in the Antique school—Millais' parents—I go to see Millais' picture—

    I go through the Academy schools—Give increasing attention to orginal work—My parents

    give me a room for a studio—I continue debate with Millais . . . . . . 31


    Description of Ewell—I attempt landscapes—Rev. George Glynn engages me to paint the old

    church—Ruskin's Modern Painters —Millais' engagement with Thomas, the dealer—

    Millais works for gold medal—Mr. George Jones as President—Millais visits my studio—

    “Christ and the Two Maries”—I work in Kew Gardens—James Key—Talk to Millais

    about Keats—Millais' studio—Candour with Millais about academic art—“Cymon and

    Iphigenia”—Art prospects and our needs—Sir Joshua Reynolds—His rules of art—

    Repudiation of academic ideals in treating nature—Millais' family parlour—Meeting

    with Etty—His system of painting—Appeal to Mulready about Varley . . . . 48



    The mysterious visitor—All night painting—Sir Charles Bell—Chartist procession and

    Fergus O'Connor—The Cyclographic Club—Watts Phillips—Tom Mulock and his

    sister Dinah—D. G. Rossetti visit my studio disheartened at his position—Leigh Hunt's

    advice to him—He asks me to take him as a pupil—I take to portrait painting again—

    Begin “Rienzi”—Sold “The Eve of St. Agnes”—I quit my father's house for a studio in

    Cleveland Street—Rossetti enters my studio—Description of Woolner—Visit Rochester

    Castle—Rossetti and Woolner at my studio—“The Girlhood of the Virgin”—Some

    comments on Brown's pictures—Baron Wappers—The School of Overbeck, etc.—Visit to

    Brown's Studio—Visit to Woolner—Bernard Smith—Proposal to extend our number—

    Consult with Millais on extension of numbers—Meeting at Millais' studio—Experi-

    mental brotherhood—Gothic revival . . . . . . . . . . 67

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    Pre-Raphaelitism not Pre-Raphaelism—Initiation of the Brotherhood—Refusal of the term

    of “Early Christian”—Completion of the designs for “Isabella”—Monthly meethings held at

    members' studios—D. G. Rossetti and his parentage—Teachings of Shakespeare—Pre-

    Raphaelitism not Realism—Art to extend beyond painting and sculpture—Dinner-talk

    at the home of Rossetti's parents . . . . . . . . . . .94



    Millais' “Isabella”—Repudiation of faith in Immortality—James Collinson—A night walk—

    Conversation with Rossetti—An old friend makes severe criticisms on my picture,

    “Rienzi”—My despair—Rossetti comes in and cheers me up—Brown's enthusiasm for

    Millais' “Lorenzo and Isabella”—I relinquish “Christ and the two Maries”—I take

    my studio—Millais goes to Oxford—Competition design for “Acts of Mercy” —Design

    “Christian and Druid” picture—“Early Christian” School —Criticism on “The Girlhood

    of the Virgin”—Millais' and my pictures hung pendant at the R.A.—“Lorenzo and

    Isabella” sold to three tailors— Athenæum reviews our paintings—Members of the R.A.

    introduce themselves to me—Mr. Nockalls Cottingham—My picture “Rienzi” returns

    unsold—Bulwer Lytton's letter—Augustus Egg visits me—Landlord distrains on me—

    Return to my father's house—Egg sells my picture to Mr. Gibbon—I pay my landlord

    and go to the Lea Marshes to paint landscape for “Christian and Druid” picture—

    Rosetti and I go to Paris and Belgium . . . . . . . . . 110



    Rossetti and I in Paris—His verses—French art—Gericault—Paul Delaroche—Ary Scheffer—

    Horace Vernet—Delcroix—Flandrin—St. Germain des Pres—Ingres—The Louvre—

    Artist acquaintenaces in Paris—Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges—The Works of John and

    Hubert van Eyck—My lodgings near Chelsea church—Rossetti's studio in Newman

    Street— The Germ—Resume work on “Christan and Druid”—Woolner on politics

    and Society—Walter Deverell—Rossetti designs in my studio whilst I paint —Deverell's

    account of Miss Siddal—Miss Siddal sits to me—A newspaper publishes the secret of

    the initials P.R.B.—Finish and send off my picture—Charles Collins—Millais talks

    about his picture—We go together to the Exhibition—He speaks his mind to two derisive

    students— Athenæum, 1850—Charles Dickens in Household Words—Continual bitter

    criticism—Mr. Dyce, R A.—Turner at Chelsea—Rossetti's status as a painter when he

    left Brown's studio and mine—Contributors to The Germ—Go with designs to patron—

    His repudiation—August Egg's commission—I begin “Claudio and Isabella” . . 128



    Millais' father and mother on the critics—William Millais—Woolner competes for the monument

    to Wordsworth in Westminster Abbey—Decides to go to Australia—Madox Brown

    conceives his painting, “The Last of England”—His attitude toward us—Bernard

    Smith—Comparison to Brown's aims and ours—Mr. Dyce introduces me for work at

    Trinity House—F. G. Stephens—Rossetti brings Scott to my studio—Afternoon together

    on the river—Druid picture returns unsold—Millais and Charles Collins paint at

    Abingdon and stay with Mr. and Mrs. Combe at Oxford—Mr. Bennet—Purchase of

    my “Druid” picture by Mr. Combe—Paint at Knole Park—Rossetti joins me in

    Sevenoaks lodgings—James Lennox Hanney—X brings his friend Warwick—The pawn-

    broker's—“The sea, the sea, the open sea”—Warwick's visit—Moneylender in Chancery

    Lane—My father's advice—Brown's generous letter . . . . . . . 153

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    Inferior places for our pictures this year—Quotations from newspapers—Lord Macauley's and

    Charles Kingsley's scriptures—Collinson resigns the Brotherhood—Ruskin defends us in

    The Times—Millais visits the Ruskins—Millais and Rossetti visit Mr. Donovan, the

    phrenologist—Am driven to abandom plans for art—Dyce's offer—Mr. and Mrs. Millais'

    kindness—Millais and I go to Ewell—His background for “Ophelia”—Mine for

    “Hireling Shepherd”—Surbiton—White porcelain pallets—Millais on our rejection

    of Charles Collins—Deverell—A. Lewis—Charles Collins—Worcester Park Farm—

    C. R. Leslie—Richard Doyle—John Lewis . . . . . . . . . 176



    Visit of the brothers Doyle—System of painting over wet white ground described—Millais'

    disclosure of our system to Brown—First conversazione of the Royal Academy—

    Liverpool Exhibition—Attack on us by an eloquent lecturer in Liverpool—Liverpool

    awards me the £50 prize for my “Valentine rescuing Sylvia”—Mr. M'Cracken buys

    my pictures “Ophelia,” “The Hireling Shepherd ”—Thames Ditton and Mrs. Drury—

    Coventry Patmore visits us—Pamphlet on Pre-Raphaelitism by Rev. E. Young—

    Ruskin's retort—Charles Collins and blackberry pudding—Millais' ridicule of Collins—

    My sketches for “Light of the World,” “The York and Lancaster Lovers,”and “The

    Return of the Crusaders”—Charles Collins at Oxford—Millais' father visits us—The

    mysterious night walker at Ewell—Meet Collins—Commence “The Light of the

    World”—Nocturnal Painting—The ghost of the avenue—Mr. and Mrs. Combe visit us—

    R. P. Martineau—Lemprière's visit—Wilkie Collins—My uncle and aunt—Brown's

    studio—His picture, “Christ washing Peter's Feet” . . . . . . . 197



    Chelsea—Painting “The Light of the World,” and “The Hireling Shepherd”—

    R. Martineau—The Collins family—Visit Mr. and Mrs. Combe—The College breakfast—

    Justification of our principles—Non-appreciation of Tennyson—“Ophelia” and

    “Hugenot”—“The Hireling Shepherd” hung on the line—“Christ washing Peter's

    Feet”—Martineau's picture—Maclise's picture, “King Alfred in the Danish Camp”—

    Arthur Hughes—Mr. Charles Maude—Mr. Broderip—Professor Owen shows his bees

    —Second visit to Oxford—Stories of Ruskin—Oxford Architecture—The correction period

    —Pay my dept to Millais—Edward Lear—Clivevale Farm—Lear and Millais meet—

    Painting on the Fairlight Downs—A visitor's criticism of Millais and myself . . . 222



    Mr. Charles Maude and “The Strayed Sheep”—We make a set of P.R.B. portraits to send

    to Woolner—Augustus Egg champions my “Claudio and Isabella” in the Academy—

    The Cosmopolitan Club—Thackeray—Austin Layard—Remarks on Chelsea philosopher—

    Sir Thomas Fairbairn commisions me to paint “The Awakened Conscience”—Lady

    Canning the Marchioness of Waterford come to my studio—Mr. Combe buys “Light

    of the World”—Mr. and Mrs. Carlyle visit me —Letter from Mrs. Carlyle—Carlyle's

    second visit to my studio to see “The Awakened Conscience” and “The Light of the

    World”—His harangue on “The Light of the World”— Deverell attacked by his old

    malady—Mr. Agnew makes a proposition—Visit to Oxford at Christmas—Millais returns

    from Ruskin's in Scotland—Thomas Seddon—I make a round of farewell calls—Millais

    sees me off to the East—Reflections on the P.R.B. . . . . . . 246

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    Paris and an old hotel—Journey to Malta—Talk with Indian officials—Arrive in Egypt—

    Nile boat—Seddon—Description of Cairo—Encamp near the Sphinx—A tent in stormy

    weather—Remove to vacated tomb—“Hippo” letter to Millais—Difficulty in getting

    models—Marriette's work—The pyramids—The Consul-General and Frederick Lockwood—

    Diabeyeh life—“The Finding of Christ in the Temple”—Temple at Beit-al-Hagar—

    Diametta—Drift among the rocks—Jaffa—First sight of Jerusalem . . . . 270



    Casa Nuova—Beamont— Athenæum and Times on “The Light of the World”—Make

    researches in the city—Doctor takes me to visit Jewish families—Design for “Finding

    of Christ in the Temple”—Mosque As Sakrah—The synagogue—Explore the suburbs—

    Use of the art of self-defense—Men of Siloam—Mechanic's story—Letter to Times from

    Ruskin—Dr. Sim—Crimean War—Prussian reports . . . . . . . 293



    Journey to Hebron—Henry Wentworth Monk—My friends leave me—Sim and I tent under

    Abraham's Oak—Visit the Mosque covering the tombs of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and

    Jacob—Determine to paint the “Scapegoat”—Mr. Porter and Beamont arrive—Deter-

    mine to accompany me to Dead Sea—Issa and I go to Hebron—Return to Abraham's

    Oak—Storm—Food exhausted —Beamonts arrive with money, call on dervish—Abou

    Daouk's encampment—Oosdoom—Sebbieh—Masada—Engedi . . . . . 310



    I resume work on temple picture—Return alone to Oosdoom—The fellahin in open revolt—

    Mukary sulky and superstitions about effreets—Abou Daouk's encampment— My servant,

    Solieman—Choose place for painting “Scapegoat”—Solieman's impatience —Dance—

    Surprise—Regarded as a dervish—Perforation by fallen meteor—A salt-gatherer—

    Illness (arrack my only medicine)—Well again . . . . . . . . 323



    Solieman warns me of approaching robbers—Deeshmen approach—They call for Solieman—

    I announce intention of departure—The goat dies—Taken prisoner—Confronted by

    sheik and followers—“I am an Englishman”—Discover I am among friends—Prussian

    doctor at quarantine—Sudden alarm—Join doctor for defence—My homeward journey—

    Marauding fellahin—Bedouin rejoin me at Jerusalem—Battle of Inkerman—Sim and I

    invent a new gun . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 332

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Vol. I.
  • p. 72, line 22, “Muloch” should read “Mulock.”
  • p. 336, line under illustration, “scapegoats” should read “scapegoat.”
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Sono io anche pittore.—Correggio.

I have begun my book with my progenitors and with childhood, partly because order gives all things view, partly because whatever we may assume, as we grow up, respecting the dignities of manhood, we all feel that childhood was a period of great importance to us.

Leigh Hunt's Autobiography.

Bacon says of dramatic poetry that by means of it the results of personal action may be made more conformable to human desires than they are found to be in simple nature. In accordance with this dictum previous historians of Pre-Raphaelitism have dramatically improved upon the facts they have undertaken to elucidate. My evidence is not derived from outside suggestions bent to suit a pretty theory, it is drawn from the records of my own memory, confirmed by the testimony left to us in the works of the active members of our circle, by documents of the time referred to, and by spontaneous admissions in the works published by the originators of the romances which I have to overturn.
I have read many volumes written upon the subject, and since I have undertaken the duties of a historian and feel myself responsible for the validity of the statements offered to the public, my narrative must conflict with most of those which have hitherto appeared on the purpose and progress of Pre-Raphaelitism.
I had long paused in writing these pages when the Life of Sir John Everett Millais 1 appeared. This book supplied the first accurate information about the relative positions of the first three active members of our Body. My memoranda had been put together only in the intervals of a much-taxed leisure, during which time many fresh writers had endorsed their predecessors' fables, and added to the credence in them, so that I lost heart, and had been more than once inclined to abandon my iconoclastic task. Sir Robert Walpole says that written history cannot by any possibility be true; the compilers of Pre-Raphaelite stories, so novel and astonishing, had for the time resigned me to agreement with the opinion of the experienced statesman; but the words of my old friend, my only companion in the beginning of the reform, as written and spoken by himself, and recorded by his son, have strengthened my original resolution to complete the unvarnished story.
Beyond the circle of Pre-Raphaelitism pure and simple it may be
Transcribed Footnote (page [1]):

1 Life of Sir J. E. Millais, by his son.

Sig. VOL. I. B
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noted that, notwithstanding the number of references to art and artists in modern books, there are few questions on which there is more need of information derived from personal experience than the practice and the actual life of men pursuing the profession of art in England.
Outside the reform struggle which made opposition the more acute, the experiences of the working members of our Body were very much those of other artists at the same period who were directing their energies to subject painting.
In view of this, I shall extend my observations of particular experiences to the more general facts of our profession.
What British artists have hitherto done has been dependent almost exclusively upon private patronage, and this often but of a very measured kind; yet the outcome is a glorious first-fruit of the exceptional artistic genius of the Race.
As chronicler of Pre-Raphaelitism, some personal element must have prominence; thus only can I unfold the circumstances which led me to the centre where those other youths were found who played their part in the Movement.
Having on my stage to present performers at first all inconspicuous, yet in fuller time made prominent enough by destiny to mingle with the distinguished of their age, it will be my privilege to add some little to the records of both. And this not as it were in Court attire, but in everyday dress; even kings and queens have sought distraction in putting aside the trappings of their royal state, and found ease in the garb of common subjects. As the records of such family life have been found pleasing by the world, so I trust that my story of the private life of these men of genius will glorify them not less than those more ceremonious histories, in which they appear as it were in stiff brocades and fine coats.
The history of my family claims a few words. Our earliest recorded ancestor had taken part against King Charles, and at the Restoration had sought service in the Protestant cause on the Continent. He returned with the army of William III., and busied himself in an attempt to recover the paternal property, which had fallen into alien hands. The law's delay drove him to engage in trade, and his children and grandchildren had to accept this as their only patrimony. My father had no admiration for those of the family “who continued hankering after the golden bird that had flown, and in doing so neglected the brood at home.” One of his uncles at the beginning of the French Revolution had, in a traditional view of freedom, made it his business to go to Paris, where he got entangled, and was eventually lost in the political maelstrom. This intensified my father's dread of vagabond courses, which, as will be seen, did not fail to affect his attitude towards my passion for art. Yet he had not forsworn his love of liberty; it was only the recognition of changed circumstances that actuated his course and made him declare, “It is better to have the worst tyranny of kings, priests, and nobles,
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than that of the hydra-headed mob.” Hence he was intent upon suppressing in the blood all flighty and unprofitable eccentricities; “Sober business alone,” he said, “was the road to recover prosperity,” and he held up to my admiration at all times steady business men who had so prospered.
Down to the middle of last century most merchants still lived above their places of business. My father, as manager of a warehouse, was living in Wood Street, Cheapside, and there I was born on the 2nd of


St. Giles, Cripplegate

Wm. Strudwick]


April 1827. I was christened at the church of St. Giles, Cripplegate, in which Cromwell was married, and where the toil-worn body of Milton lies. My orderly way of life was not to be influenced by their ambitious courses, for I was from the first meant for a citizen of the most thorough business training, the more so because from babyhood I delighted in a dangerous taste for pencil markings. My father had evidently forgotten that when a child he himself was an artist, as was early proved to me by drawings preserved, duly framed and hung by his loving old aunt in her sitting-room, with the words “drawn by William Hunt, aged 9, 1809,” written on them. I can call them up before me now in their quaker-like black and gilt frames, and I can declare they showed unusual
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aptitude of eye and hand. Dear old Aunt Nancy, with the bluest of eyes, and with cheeks vermeil-veined by the pencilling of nature, and with impulses of the most imperious benevolence! Certainly she had a


William Hunt

by W. H. H.]


fondness for all art, else when Edmund Kean came for the last time to the City to act, what made her declare that it would be shameful if the children did not see the great player? So she took a box for us, and he played Sir Giles Overreach before our bewildered eyes and my astonished intelligence. Whether the love of art went farther back in the family I know not. With my father it was early crushed, except for its indulgence in the collecting of prints and the literature of art, and in the seeking acquaintance with a few painters living in the City. From my earliest years a great enjoyment to me on Sunday nights was the inspection of my father's scrap-books, his dissertations on each picture making them the more enthralling. 1
When I was about four years old we moved into the suburbs. Shortly
Transcribed Footnote (page 4):

1 In a Lecture to students late in his life Holman-Hunt said, referring to his father's scrap-book, “I can aver that within its simple covers were all the enchantments a child's mind was capable of receiving. It was prepared by my father for the delectation of his children, and on Sunday evening, after some chapter in the New Testament had been read, this scrap-book was brought out. Then, with my father in the middle, all the little family thronged around, every one eager for the best place, and page after page was turned over, not without great reluctance in the company to part with each fading vision of beauty, and perhaps, still more hard to have come to an end, was the running commentary made by my father upon the different pictures, upon the characters represented, and upon the artists who had been the authors of the original works. The whole continent of Europe was illustrated, and the then recent history of the civilised world was pictured with its great military heroes, their triumphs, their glories, and their reverses; works of imagination also, and the faces of their authors were made familiar to us, lineaments of kings who wore crowns, and of those anointed ones who had never worn 'that hollow crown that rounds the mortal temples of a king' were known to us as our dearest friends. I can safely say that thus I learned more in a few hours than in many months of schooling, and that all better feelings of sympathy for the miserable and admiration for the noble, were first awakened in me by those fascinating picture-stories.”

To this portrait of Holman-Hunt's father may fittingly be added the testimony borne by his commonplace book, scrupulously collected from his varied reading, and as carefully inscribed, together with the library (small in bulk though it was) of chosen volumes in days before cheap reprints from the Classics had been dreamed of. Plutarch's Lives, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and Seneca were among the number; illustrated volumes of travel and Chambers's Journal abound, and early the little son imbibed the father's taste, for on the fly-leaf of a Book of Voyages and Travels, presented to him at the age of thirteen, is this quaint inscription very carefully penned: “Presented by his aunt, for which he is very much obliged, thinking it a very useful and amusing book.”

Nor should his mother be omitted in the parental portrait, for she was a person never to be forgotten by those who had met her. Stately if somewhat imperious was she, punctilious both as to receiving and bestowing due attention, with a lingering unconscious instinct for the substantial family fortunes which had been ruined in the days of her grandfather of stalwart horse-loving yeoman class. Punctilious also she was as to order and propriety in her home and surroundings, a devoted wife and a queen amongst her children.

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afterwards fever came as an unwelcome guest, and my father stayed at home the better to protect the invalids. I escaped the infection; and when he could spare the time I prevailed upon him to colour some theatrical prints which had been bought for me. It was a passionate delight to me to watch him, and at last I begged a brush and some paints, with which to follow what seemed to me his supreme achievements.
How I idolised the implements when they were in my possession! The camel-hair pencil, with its translucent quill and rosy-coloured silk binding up its delicate hair at the base, all embedded together as in amber, was an equal joy with the gem-like cakes of paint. I carried them about with me in untiring love. A day or two of this joy had not exhausted it, when, alas! alas! the brush was lost. Search proved to be all in vain. I remember going around and over every track about the house and garden. Waking up from sorrowing sleep, in which my continuing pain had been finally relieved by a dream of the lost treasure lying ensconced in some quiet corner; I hurried to the spot, only to find it vacant. The loss was the greater trouble because it was my first terrible secret. That my father should ever forgive me for losing so beautiful an object was to my distracted mind impossible. What could be done? My hair was straight, fine, and of camel-hair hue. I cut off pieces to test its fitness for the office of paint brush, and as I held a little lock I found that it would spread the tints fairly well, but what to do for a handle? Quill pens were too big, and I could not see how they could be neatly shortened. A piece of firewood carefully cut promised to make a more manageable stock; with my utmost skill I shaped this, and with a little length of coloured cotton I bound a stubborn sprout of hair upon the splint, but I was disconcerted to find that it formed a hollow tube. It seemed perverse fate to ordain that just in the handle where it was needed to be hollow it should be solid, and that the hair which should be solid would form an open pipe. Attempts to drill the stick into a tube failed; but there was an expedient for making the tuft fuller. Cutting a cross cleft in the bottom of the wood, I inserted a straight length of hair, which I then rebound with its crimson thread, with gum I managed patiently to bind down loose ends and to give an improving gloss to the whole. My fears grew apace, since every hour there was a danger of inquiry for the lost pencil. Summoning up, therefore, an assumption of assurance, trusting that my father would see no difference between my brush and his, I went forward to him, holding the trophy very tenderly lest it should fall to pieces. He turned his eyes; they became bewildered; his usual loving look made a frown from him the more to be dreaded. I fortified my spirit, saying, “Thank you very much, father, for your brush.” He took it with, “What's this?” and turned it over. Breathless, I sobbed; he burst out laughing, and so brought a torrent of tears to my eyes. He exclaimed, “Oh, I see, it's my brush, is it?” caught me up and tossed me aloft several
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times, ending with a scrubbing on my cheek from his close-shaven chin. This was the reception of my first work of art.
I cannot remember when, after, as indeed before this, I did not draw. I was as fond of noisy fun as other children, but in the intervals of play I always found a pencil to copy stray pictures within reach, or to represent what was in my memory or in my mind's eye.
My father's warehouse was now shifted to Dyer's Court, Aldermanbury. Its back looked on to Guildhall. It was one of the houses which had been built immediately after the great Fire, roomy, handsome, and meant to last till Doomsday. The space behind the ground floor had been covered to enlarge the storeroom for goods kept in stock. Beneath this ground level was a ramification of cellars which extended also beneath other houses. On the first floor the packing and ticketing of small parcels went on, and on two higher floors the stranger came upon the cause of a constant droning heard lower down. It was the rattling of a multitude of hand machines winding “Brooks'” cotton and thread into balls and on reels. When I was ascending to the upper floor my difficulty was to run through these apartments from the spring door at the top of the lower flight stealthily and swiftly enough to escape the toll of kissing which the young women winders always exacted when I was caught. The object of my quest was Henry Pinchers, of the velvet-binding room, whose wit sparkled and danced and thundered; so that I laughed, sang, and trembled in turns, all with equal delight. When I asked why he had no whiskers, he very gravely said he bit them off inside. He complained that Robin Badfellow came in the night and undid his work, and what he had to tell of him was as endless as his girth of velvet lengths that encircled twin rollers. Once I thought I had tracked him into a corner in asking if as he had stated that in walking along the slippery pavements that morning he had slid back two steps for every one he had advanced, how had he got to the warehouse at all? “Don't you see, you silly boy, I turned round and walked backwards,” was his reply.
My visits to the City generally had some special purpose; sometimes it was to see the exercise of the Honourable Artillery Company, Bartholomew Fair (held for the last time in 1855), the Lord Mayor's Show, or the Company going to a banquet at Guildhall. Whatever the attraction, the hours I thus passed furnished a highly valued treat. I was often allowed to go out with a porter, who, with knot on head, went sweating along under a weight of goods such as is never seen now on men's shoulders. Thus I learned to know the great City of London, and to love it enough to make me believe that I shall not be blamed for essaying to chronicle some phases of its picturesqueness which have since passed away: the images on the unblurred surface of a child's mind are clear and ineffaceable. Thus conducted, I saw and wondered at fascinating traces of what men who had lived in the days that were gone had put into solid form as their legacy to after time.
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Wherever we turned there were new surprises, through narrow lanes and portalled walls. Here were plots of grassy land with garden beds, and trees swinging their green branches sweetly and happily, as though knowing that for them this oasis had been kept sacred from the builders' hands from the day when first it had been left by the narrowing Thames. There elms towered with swaying crowns above protected enclosures wherein rooks cawed with careless confidence as they built their nests, or brought food from afar for their young, perching awhile to scan the crowd below, as though with pride that they were the sign of the City's retention of rural memories.
Imprisoned below such a well-thronged rocketing canopy of foliage, there could still be seen at the corner of Wood Street a worthy successor of “The bird that sang loud,” who addressed his audience from his rostrum in a palace of wickerwork all the day long. My guide had no breath for answering questions by the way, so I restrained my curiosity until he made use of one of the then frequent porters' rests; when he had deposited his burden thereon, I fired off my inquiries about the objects of interest we had passed. But porters are not historians, and I learned but little from him. As with him, so with all in turn. Each left me with the conviction that much of my curiosity was only foolishness.
To be told that Temple Bar was thus called “because there was no other name,” that nobody knew whether St. Paul's Cathedral or the Tower of London was the older, and that the martyrs were burned at Smithfield “because they were martyrs,” was not satisfyingly instructive. Yet a tone of reproof could not be doubted, and it made me fear the exhausting of my mentor's patience, and value the more such facts as he could tell. Not only did I learn the streets, the public buildings, the churches, the open places, civic halls, and the tranquil oases of green courts, and look upon the last remaining buttresses of old London Bridge, but I entered the different warehouses with my guide, and so became familiar with the ins and outs on every floor of them, and I surmise it was in part to help me to acquire this knowledge that my father put me in charge of my stalwart companion.
One day a prize had come in my way in the form of lead pencils of different degrees of blackness. Securing from the “ticketing room” a print of Britannia seated, grasping in one hand her spear and in the other her shield, the British lion at her feet, I chose a suitable piece of cartridge paper and took possession of my favourite corner, one obscured from observation. The oaken counter made an excellent, although in parts over granulous, drawing-board. Delighted with the unprecedented beauty of my chiaroscuro work, I did not notice, until they were upon me, my father and a buyer who was being taken round to see what part of a large order could be executed without the delay of ten or twelve days' transit by canal from Manchester. The stranger asked, “And is this little boy part of your stock in hand, sir?” My father replied, “I cannot say, sir, that he has qualities conducive to business, but he
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has the great merit that when provided with paper and pencil we hear no more of him for hours.”
There was one moment of the day full of awe for me. It was when all the busy noise had ceased, when each whirring wheel was dumb, when each workman, woman, and clerk had left their posts, and the floors below and above were in ghostly darkness, my father, armed with a bull's-eye, descended into the cellars, traversing each winding to its remotest corner, and, ascending, proceeded stage by stage, going slowly with every sense intent to make sure that nothing anywhere boded ill for the safety of the place. Every room, so lately palpitating with energy, lively conference, and the bandying of quick retort and laughter, was now silent as the void after a thunder-clap, and to my senses seemed as threatening; so that when my father, examining some newly arranged pile, shot a stream of glaring light into the distant mystery, it was to my awed mind like the flash of a searching eye from another world. I have known many rejoice that they were born in the green country, away from the haunts of men; I see reason to acknowledge many compensating enjoyments for any losses I may have suffered in my childish lot as a citizen.
One mid-day in the winter of 1834 my father took me with him to call upon an artist who was painting for a modest commission a picture of Herne Bay for him, the money for which he had already advanced. While the elders talked I stood enraptured before two large canvases, the objects of the artist's highest devotion. One was of the burning of the Houses of Parliament, and this was gorgeous in its display of regal flame, for the glare was supreme over the dark, half-demolished buildings, the sky, the shining river, the black barges, and the people. When my father's talk was over, I begged to be left behind to watch the painter at work. It was a startling request, and could only be granted on condition that I stayed on the stairs and looked through a little window to be opened for me. I accepted the terms gratefully, and stood there until dark. In the meantime the conflagration grew in volume to such an extent that two or three times the palette was put down, and the painter set to work with the muller on the slab to grind a fresh supply of vermilion and chrome yellow, an incendiary proceeding which I hailed, when once understood, with special acclamation, for it was ever the prelude to a fresh outburst of flame. His wife the while astounded me by her indifference to the magic of her husband's work—going to the stove, tending the grate, filling the kettle, spreading the tea-table, cutting the bread and butter, and summoning the children as though there was nothing in the world to wonder at. Then the husband, with sleeves turned up, sat down in turn like an ordinary mortal, taking his meal as though he had no more been in dreamland than had his imperturbable spouse. I watched the favoured circle from above. It was the family life of a poor artist, which I have since recognised in Dutch pictures representing the painter's studio, and to my mind it seemed as
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enchanting as could be conceived. When daylight had gone a porter came for me and took me back to the warehouse. There I soon found two sheets of paper and a pencil, and, ensconced in my favourite corner, not without sighs over the inefficiency of my colourless lead, I taxed my memory for the features of the two compositions. The porter found me at work when the drawings were nearly completed, and held them up for general observation, pointing out the details as those which he had seen in the large pictures; and so I had part of the professional artist's glory reflected upon me.  

Watching the Painter from the Staircase

W. H. H.]


From early years my father was explicit in his measured toleration of my passion for art. He told me the story of Morland, and recounted many tales to illustrate the unsatisfactory fortunes of the career when trusted to as a means of livelihood. A few artists he knew of had won great renown, but even these were generally deep in debt; and frequently, after a short period of favour from patrons, they ended their days in misery, hastened by dissipation and drink. In Roman Catholic countries there had been a steady use for painting and sculpture, he said, but here there was no settled demand for art. As a profession, therefore, it was out of the question, but as a diversion after business nothing could be more delightful. A man without a hobby was a poor
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creature. He did not, therefore, repress my disposition to draw; on the contrary, when I left home for a boarding-school he provided me with some large drawing-books and some lithographs to copy; and, when visiting me there, he looked over these, and could not resist making some sketches himself. But my persistence eventually began to make him serious. At twelve and a half he asked me what I wanted to be, and when I said I had determined to be a painter I knew by his ominous silence that I had pained him. Soon after, my mother told me that I was to be removed from school, because my father was convinced that a boy might easily enter upon a city life too late, but never too early, and that he was taking steps to place me in a warehouse forthwith. The position he sought for me I knew to be one in which there would be no opportunity to draw, and so I determined to forestall my father. My knowledge of city warehouses taught me that for two years the full hours of each day, from 9 till 8 at night, would be occupied in going about with invoices for goods; and when, two years later, promotion came, it would be to take my post in a desk elevated like a pulpit, to write out the orders for the new-comers to distribute.
About this time it happened that a boy three years or so older than myself, who lived near us, was leaving his post of copying clerk to an estate agent. I ascertained full particulars of the duties, and persuaded my friend to take me to see his master. I set out with him to the office betimes one morning. While awaiting the master's arrival, I saw a good stock of tempting old-fashioned books, and a large Dutch painting of a furious battle—a formidable warrior bestriding a white horse, luminous against blackening smoke and sky.
After an hour's waiting, the arbiter of my fate arrived, and, inquiring who I was, said good-naturedly, “And what do you want?”
“I hear that William D—— is leaving your office, sir.”
“And so he is!”
“Well, sir, I have thought that you might, if you please, take me instead. I know what he does, and indeed I could do it. I could copy letters and papers, and I am really far on in arithmetic.”
“So you know addition, subtraction, and division?”
“Oh yes, sir! I am long past simple division and all that. I understand vulgar fractions, decimals, and algebra; I am right through the cyphering book, and I'm always at the head of the mental arithmetic class.”
“And so you want to go out into the world to seek your fortune? Does your father know of this?”
“He doesn't know I've come here, but he has taken me away from school to put me in a warehouse.”
“Well, why don't you wait?”
“Please, sir, I'd rather come here.”
“Humph! What age are you?”
“I'm nearly twelve and a half, sir.”
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“Your name's William. Well, Willie Winkie, I'll tell you what I should do if I were you. I should go to the Life-guards' barracks; they want smart young fellows there. I should enrol myself in Her Majesty's service at once as a Grenadier. What do you say to that?”
Feeling my footing insecure, I replied, “I really should like your place better. Will you try me?”
“Well, show me how you can write.”
The result of trials in writing and arithmetic being satisfactory, I was set to read, and was then told that I might come on the following Monday, but only to fill the gap temporarily. My father was taken by surprise by my news, and went down to see my self-chosen master; liking him, it was agreed that affairs might take their course. After a trial of three weeks my principal fault was found to be in slowness of growth; and with a request that I would do my best to amend this, it was decided that I should stay with Mr. James.
In retrospect, it is remarkable that when circumstances outwardly seemed most unpromising, a special fate always kept open my artistic prospects. My employer, who on my introduction had made merry over my juvenility, later seemed to take more paternal interest in me on this very account. A shade had recently crossed his life which had made him kindly with his kind. Returning suddenly one day to the office, he saw me putting away a drawing in my desk. He asked about it, and examined my work approvingly. Fortunately, drawing turned out to be no crime in his eyes, and he pointed to a large cupboard, saying, “In there is a complete box of oil colours, brushes, palette, and everything necessary for painting, and some day we shall shut ourselves up and have a good day with them together, a thing I dearly love.” It was not long before we did so, and then Mr. James proved himself to be a landscapist of high poetic order, introducing on his canvas a range of mountains, a grand waterfall, an expansive lake, and, wherever trees would not hide the enchanting distance, scattered forestry in profusion. Eventually I had the box with its treasures made over to me. Some colours being wanted, my master explained how the crude pigments and oils could be bought and mixed. I soon ground these for myself, and put them in bladders; thus I was started as a painter in oil in true practical form.
Shortly afterwards I was allowed to attend a mechanics' institute in the evenings to practise drawing; and my father, having an introduction to John Varley, took me one Sunday to see this remarkable professor of water-colour landscape and “Zodiacal Physiognomy.” He lived in a neat, spotlessly curtained, six-roomed house in the Bayswater Road. He was not of grand stature, but somewhat obese; three or four very fat King Charles' spaniels were about him, which Mrs. Varley petted. It was difficult at first to get peace from the barking creatures, but spite of the noise, the artist's politeness and cordiality were admirable. In receiving me, he said he hoped that I should become as great an artist
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as his former pupil of my name, for he claimed William Hunt as of his training. Had my father been an aristocrat and I an amateur, bringing heavy purses, he could not have paid us more attention. He commented encouragingly on my drawings, and made independent sketches to explain his views; one favourite theory of his was that every object in nature was divided into triangles; and that the lines were at times curved, only veiled this fixed law.
He chatted about astrology, enthusiastically defending the science; adducing mythic histories, as explained by the rising and setting of heavenly bodies and their mutual influences. He mentioned particular animals born only at special seasons, and claimed that men appearing at the same junctures have similar characteristics. Abraham, he demonstrated, was born under Capricorn, and accordingly all Israelites had the features of this sign. Alexander the Great was born under Aries, and claimed to be the son of Jupiter Ammon, consequently he was represented by the ancients with a ram's horn. Thus our kind host talked himself out of breath. He showed us a copy of his book excellently illustrated by John Linnell and sent us away with drawings for me to copy, and with his pamphlet on the occult laws for both father and son to study, requesting my father for the exact moment of my nativity.
On our next visit, having studied the pamphlet, I recognised Mrs. Varley as the original of the profile, there given, of a native of the “House of Gemini.”
In showing Varley my copies from his originals, my father revealed that I took special interest in figure-drawing. Not a bit discouraged in well-doing, the old gentleman, born evidently with the sun in the ascendant, left his drawing of “The Dead March in Saul,” and led us upstairs to a back room, where he found some lithographic sketches of fisher boys and other rustic figures. He produced also a head in crayon, which he called a Rembrandt, and pressed me to take it home to copy. In the intervals he muttered aside to my father about my horoscope, emphasising certain dates pregnant with importance to me. I overheard that on arriving at seventeen, and again at twenty-seven, there were to be critical turning-points in my fortunes. I left him thus brimming over with goodness, never to see him any more, for he died soon after.
His cheerfulness was the more wonderful seeing that at that time he could not leave the house from fear of bailiffs except on Sundays. A friend met him one Sunday looking more than usually jolly, and on being challenged to explain, he said: “I never was in better trim in my life, for—what do you think?—I have now only three writs out against me that can actually take my person.” With a soul larger than his body, he was a man never to be forgotten.
The indulgence of these visits was only a step to the further leave granted me by my father to spend my salary on weekly lessons from a portrait painter, Henry Rogers, a pupil of Sharpe, who was himself a
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pupil of Beechy, who, in turn, had been a pupil of Reynolds. He had, if not the merits of his forerunner, at least some of his secrets of pigment and oil mediums, which had not then generally proved themselves to be of treacherous value, as since they have done. The lessons of boldness I received from him ingrained certain habits and practices which afterwards cost me pain to eradicate.
Good Mr. James, when retiring from business, sought my father, and without any prompting from me, kindly pleaded his utmost that I should be allowed to become a painter. The arguments he advanced, and the independent interest shown, had weight for three or four weeks.
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Learning taketh away all levity, temerity, and insolency by copious suggestion of all doubts and difficulties, and acquainting the mind to balance reasons on both sides, and to turn back the first offers and conceits of the mind, and to accept of nothing but examined and tried.—Bacon

I had commenced the study of music, both violin and singing, but as I had no room of my own apart, the remonstrances of the family at my scraping seemed highly reasonable. It was most undesirable to increase the trials caused by my intractability, so I abandoned fiddling to earn more toleration for my special art. Before many days of my freedom had passed, I gratified my desire to visit the National Gallery, to see with my actual eyes the great Masters of whose glory I had read with longing fancy. When the mere description of their beauties had given such delight, how wonderful, I thought, would be the perfection of the works themselves when I stood before what every panegyrist declared to be beyond the power of words to express! I went on a very cold day; the warmth of the galleries acted as a welcome. I passed through the nearer rooms; the pictures seemed appropriate enough for introductory examples; there were several that I should return to, and so satisfy aroused curiosity, but I wanted to see the “real masterpieces.” I found myself at last in a gallery apparently without exit. Going back to its entrance, I found a small door to the left. I entered; it was empty, and had no room beyond. Coming out, a tall and handsome official asked me what I was seeking. “Oh,” said I, “you will be my guide. I am wanting to find the really grand paintings of the great Masters; will you direct me?” He looked suspiciously at me for a few seconds, and then said, “Here they are around you.” I knew the man afterwards. He was said to be a descendant of the Earl of Derwentwater, perhaps only because he would have graced any noble house by his look and bearing! At this moment he had slowly become convinced that I was quite serious. Yet he saw that I needed humiliation. “Why,” he said, with extended arm turned to one canvas after another, “that's the ‘Raising of Lazarus,’ by Sebastian del Piombo, with at least the principal figure designed by Michael Angelo. The French nation made an offer for it, with payment to be made in gold coin to cover the surface entirely. That tall picture is a Parmigiano, thought to be his finest work. There are two very choice Murillos;
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and that picture before you, sir, of ‘Bacchus and Ariadne,’ is one of the finest specimens existing of the greatest colourist in the world.” Here he stopped to understand my paralysed expression. “Can't you see its beauty?” “Not much, I must confess,” I slowly stammered; “it is as brown as my grandmother's painted tea-tray.” He stared hopelessly and then left me, only adding as a parting shot, “In the other rooms there are some wonderful Rubens, a consummate Guido, a miraculous head by Vandyke, and several supremely fine Rembrandts; they will at least equal your grandmother's tea-tray; perhaps you'll be able to see some beauty in them.
I stood spellbound before the Titian, but not with sudden conversion of feeling. It was darker in tone than it is now. The dilettanti of the early century disliked bright pictures, and the dealers suited their taste with a liberal coating of tobacco decoction and other more damaging washes. About six years later the picture was cleaned, and every one was startled on seeing the difference, many declaring in the newspapers that the work, with others so treated, was absolutely ruined. I did not have to wait so long as this to know how great had been my boyish ignorance in judgment of the work of the Venetian master, for within this period I made a small study of it to discriminate the beauty of its tints and the principles of its coloration. The so-called head of Gevartius I wondered at and bowed before, and there were a few other heads that raised my interest and untrained admiration. “Venus attired by the Graces,” from the hand of Guido, a large picture which then challenged attention, offended me by its empty pretension, and this obtrusive painting prevented me from observing pictures which, years afterwards, I grew to love, when I wondered I had not admired them at first, despite the little measure of enlightenment I had on this my first visit. Vapid canvases in other rooms lowered my enthusiasm still more, till on further search I was attracted by some works which gave me calm pleasure. The “Dead Christ,” by Francia, kept me before it a long time. I never after derived so much enjoyment from it as on this first boyish visit, but it brought me a stage on the way to higher things. The “Marriage à la Mode” taxed another phase of the same feeling of pity. These pictures had then the appearance of having been only lately completed; every touch seemed everlasting and clear as if done in enamel, and they were still in this state some twenty years later when they were sent to the South Kensington Museum. There a monster named Reid, with an overbearing confidence in some system of ventilation, had his own way, and effectively baked the paintings, cracking one seriously. They were thus perfectly prepared for the restorer's hands, who, however, never brought back their pristine beauty of manipulation or sweet colour, as I saw them in the month of January 1841. When returned to the National Gallery, they were still in the exquisitely carved frames designed and executed by Hogarth himself.
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I confessed my opinion of the old Masters to my drawing and painting master, Mr. Rogers. Their merits (too deep in solemn dignity of magnificence to carry on their faces the showy dazzle I had expected) before long convinced me that perfect taste can only be earned by cultivation. The liberty which allowed me to visit the National Gallery at will was soon to come to an end, for after this freedom my father's idea that the pursuit of painting was a dangerous one revived. He told my mother than he would take immediate steps to find me a berth in a strict house of business; not a day, not a moment was to be lost; so I anticipated my father by again settling the matter myself. My engagement this time was at the London agency of Richard Cobden's Manchester business. It was in the days of the Corn Law agitation, and of Cobden's entrance into Parliament. I saw the great warrior in the days of his prime. I read with attention all his pamphlets, speeches, and the works of his friends on one side, and most of the leaders in the Times and elsewhere on the other, and feeling strongly the peril which the agitators ignored of leaving our country to depend upon the external supply of corn in the event of war, I wrote an anonymous letter to the papers in opposition to the views of my principal. The editors disdained to notice my patriotic effusion, but the rebuff did not discourage my ambition to do public service. Writing, indeed made me a more attentive reader, and my employer's example encouraged me to value the cultivation of a larger ambition than that of the mere making of a personal fortune, which my elders set before me.
About this time my sister told me that some friends of hers at Holloway had a young nephew who was a perfect wonder in his power of drawing; he was only about twelve, was already a student at the Royal Academy and four years before had won a medal at the Society of Arts. His name was Millais. The boy often came to his uncle's house and made drawings which all agreed were marvellous. What surprised me more than all else in this statement was that the boy's family were delighted at the prospect of his becoming an artist.
My faith in the future became at times very vague. It seemed as though I had done little good by acting for myself, but suddenly it turned out that even in my unpromising office I was not left without an unexpected aid to the forbidden pursuit. Before I had become thoroughly established at my post—having no previous announcement of the existence of such an habitué—a gentleman entered the back office, and after my vainly suggesting that he had better go to the front room, proceeded to take off his overcoat and hang it up. To my further question as to his business he replied in north-country accent that I should see. He then unlocked drawers in a table standing in the corner, and astonished me by revealing a drawing-board with strained white paper, a mahogany box of superfine water-colours, a porcelain slab with divided compartments, mathematical instruments, and a set of lead pencils, indiarubber, and vessels for water. “What does all this mean?”
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I asked. He answered as before, and putting the materials on the desk—my desk—by the window, he then, with the help of notes in his pocketbook, elaborated a design for a calico pattern. I immediately caught the infection, and for some weeks gave myself up with unrestrained devotion to the pursuit of ornamental design, which, it was evident to me, was one of the noblest branches of the art, and ought to be cultivated by every artist. When he left, I devoted myself to painting the panels of the room with oil, with the illustrations, on an enlarged scale, of Dickens's


W. Holman-Hunt (Aged 14

By Himself]

W. Holman-Hunt (AGED 14)

Barnaby Rudge, and of Kenny Meadows's designs to Shakespeare, which were then being issued. I also executed some original designs on millboard.
At this date Harrison Ainsworth's Old Saint Paul's was coming out in the Sunday Times. It dealt with the beloved city, and treated of all the streets and by-ways that I knew so well. Solomon Eagle was the very figure of tragic romance for a boy, and I came to the end of each instalment of the thrilling story with nervous reluctance. I could not wait a whole week for the progress of the plot, so I set to work to write down what I deemed ought to follow. When the full
Sig. VOL. I. C
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complement of matter for the next week was finished, it occurred to me that if the author were ill, or in some way hindered from supplying his quantum of excitement to the expectant public, the loss would be one that the world could never bear, and to save it from such a possible calamity I forwarded my own understudy. When the master's chapters appeared I felt obliged to bow to them as above competition in all but the startling character of the situations, in which it seemed to me I more than rivalled him.
In the front office for callers, I could not write other than business papers, nor could I draw on any scale that would be noticed; but often I could read, and took advantage of the opportunity, bringing a book from home. I thus read and re-read Sir Joshua Reynolds's Lectures, his Notes on De Fresnoy, and Percy's Anecdotes of Artists, all of which helped to make the painters of old days familiar to me. Two volumes of the Library of Fine Arts, published ten years before, made me well acquainted with British artists, and from articles by travelled architects and artists I grew familiar with the appearance of the buildings of Italy, and with many of the great pictures to be found there in churches and public galleries. I also extended my knowledge in the varieties of style of the great Masters, and their relations to different schools, which, with what I already knew—not a little of this from the admirable Penny Magazine—put me into a position to follow up clues when larger opportunities presented themselves. My weekly evenings at the portrait painter's still went on. In the summer my only opportunity of painting landscape from nature was on Sundays. I walked along roads adorned with blossoming trees showing their loveliness to the rising sun, and turned into secret lanes, to emerge at the descent into the wide leas with the rushy river in sight. Walking along its banks I spied out the shy fish, and rejoiced with the happy birds quadrilling around the sentinel trees; finally, with a walk along the canal towing-path I arrived, paint-box in hand, at old Chingford Church, and in the shade of the yew-tree unpacked my tools and summoned courage for my novice hand to interpret the rapturous charms of the place. The year before I had gone every Sunday to church, but the combination of three services into one with the reiteration of prayers palled upon me, while the stories that I had met with in Fox's Book of Martyrs, 1 of the persecution of dissenters by ecclesiastical authority in the Merry Monarch's days made me listen to the praises of a wonderful Nonconformist preacher, whose chapel then became my temple. The minister was so eloquent that it seemed desirable to record his flowing words. I rapidly took down the sermon, but though I could not always get to the end of his successive phrases, I soon found that these concluding sentences were stereotyped, and gradually I learnt from the opening of a new passage of eloquence what the end would be. I represented these by varied forms and dashes, and was thus soon brought to the conviction that I had reached the
Transcribed Footnote (page 18):

1 Published 1684 by John Daye, "with addition of persecutions up to date."

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bottom of the preacher's mine of wisdom, and that I was listening only to a learned parrot. My weekly holiday was not given to me to be used thus, and I had no further misgivings in hearkening to the birds' call and the clang of the bells of Chingford Church rather than to the tinkling of the Lady Huntingdon's Chapel.
Painting from outdoor nature without any preconception of treatment is not done without self-conflict. I had endeavoured to make my transcript true, but I was not proud of the result, so that it was not without hesitation that I showed it to Mr. Rogers. “Oh, dear no, certainly not,” he exclaimed. “You haven't any idea of the key in which nature has to be treated; you must not paint foliage green like


Chingford Church


a cabbage; that'll never do. You say that the ivy on the tower, and still more the grass below, was very bright green, but no one with a true eye for colour sees them so. Constable, who is just lately dead, tried to paint landscape green, but he only proved his wrong-headedness; in fact, he had no eye for colour. I'll show you a small picture I did when last in the country; there now, you see all the trees and grass, which an ignorant person would paint green, I've mellowed into soft yellows and rich browns.” It was so, and it looked most masterly and exemplary. I could not say that nature ever put on that aspect towards me, but he said encouragingly that if I worked in the right way, an eye for nature might come at last.
While still in the City, I fulfilled all the duties required of me without stint or complaint. In those days there were no Bank holidays, and no
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Saturday afternoon releases, and during the whole period of my engagement only once did I obtain leave of absence. It was settled the week before that a whole afternoon in June should be mine for going to the Royal Academy Exhibition. When the momentous hour to leave arrived, my master asked me to wait until he returned from a hasty call; but it was past five o'clock before I was free. Soon after, my father and I were among the pictures. There I was superabundantly gratified, for after we had made an enthusiastic general survey of them, and were returning for a reinspection, there proved to be some unwonted interest in the central room. All the public had pressed themselves into one half of the space, leaving the remainder to an elderly gentleman and much younger lady, who stood rapt in delight before a painting by Landseer representing in a marvellous manner two very sleek and shiny dogs, and a still more glossy hat. The gentleman talked with undisturbed attention to his graceful companion. He was dressed in a blue coat and white trousers. I stared at all the company in turn. When I appealed to my father he made me guess who the honoured stranger was. I had never before seen any national hero; each that I knew of by engravings I had outlined in turn. It gave to common life a sublime exaltation to have before us the Duke of Wellington dressed so simply, for slowly it dawned upon me that it was he.
I had completed nearly four years of servitude when an incident occurred which in the end severed my connection with the City. In the autumn my master had been out of town for some days, and I had merely to attend in the office at discretion. An old Jewess who perambulated the warehouse offices selling oranges called and asked me to buy of her, if only for a handsel to break her ill-luck of the morning. “I can't buy your oranges, Hannah, but if you like to come into the back office I will paint your portrait,” I said. She was delighted, and consented on condition that I should give her a duplicate for herself. I set to work on a sheet of sized paper, representing her as she walked about, with basket on head and oranges in hand. The opportunities were broken and brief, but in a few days the portrait was advanced enough to be recognisable. It was pinned up to dry one day when my master suddenly returned. After I had explained the ordinary business to him, he pursued me into the back office with questions, where old Hannah hung confronting him in all the beauty of new paint. The surprise made him forget the matter in hand. He broke into loud laughter, and went out for a few minutes, returning with friends from the nearest warehouse, who shared his merriment in their recognition of old Hannah. They appealed to me to lend them the portrait for their friends to see, and overruled my objection, taking with them my injunction not to let my father see it. In the evening he told me of an extraordinary likeness of old Hannah of which he had heard; he had not yet learned who the artist was, but he thought that I ought to see it. When he discovered the author my father went to my employer complaining
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that I had not enough to do, and said that if nothing more could be found to occupy me he must get me another berth. All this disturbance prevented the completion of old Hannah's portrait. He then talked to me seriously, adducing all the difficulties of Haydon, 1 and repeated gossip concerning Landseer 2 and others, the most elevated in the profession, which proved that even they were in incessant monetary difficulties. He referred to a former proposal of his that I should take to ornamental design, an idea suggested by the history of Sir Walter


Old Hannah

W. H. H.]


Scott, who being consulted by a young artist named Hayes as to his future, had advised him to turn to house decoration as a business instead of the career of picture painting. This advice the young man had submissively taken, prospering in Edinburgh very greatly, and becoming known as the author of a book (which my father had given me to read)
Transcribed Footnote (page 21):

1 It may here be interesting to add, as showing that art had its patrons among City warehousemen sixty years ago, that some of Haydon's pictures were hanging in the counting-house of Messrs. Bennoch and Twentyman, a firm long extinct. Mr. Bennoch was a patron of the arts, a poet of no mean order, and was wont to relate many stories of the unfortunate Haydon.

Transcribed Footnote (page 21):

2 It was only some years later that by the friendly business-like help of Mr. Jacob Bell, Landseer became prosperous in his profession.

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on Harmony of Colour. “Now,” he said, “even this prospect is disappearing, for it is the fashion to give such work to foreigners.” This had just been done at the Royal Exchange, where Herr Sangg and his assistants had come to paint the interior decoration, leaving behind them a sample of the approved taste of the time.

W. Holman-Hunt (Aged 16)

By Himself]


The contest with my father was a protracted one, and in the meantime my master put in practice the severer discipline recommended; this I bore for a while with resolve growing in my soul the stronger, until at last I said that I would wait only until somebody had been found to fill my place. I refused increased salary and prospects, and I countermined my father's caution to him not to receive my notice by saying firmly that I would enlist for a soldier rather than stay. To
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my father himself I said, “When I was twelve and a half I feel you would have been wrong, thinking as you did, to allow me to drift into a pursuit you thought objectionable. I am now sixteen and a half; if you kept me at business until I were twenty-one I should then become an artist with but a poor chance of accomplishing anything. I will not put the responsibility upon you now; I know the profession is a hard one, but I have made up my mind to trust myself to it. I have promises of work to start with, and what I gain from this will be enough to help me in my studentship.” I determined in no way to tax the family funds, as I wished to avoid interfering with a plan he had committed himself to, of adding his savings to a small inheritance from his good aunt, that it might grow into a due provision for old age.
I was resolved, however, to convince them that henceforth they must look upon me as acting, rightly or wrongly, by my own deliberate will, and regard themselves as being without responsibility for the course I took. Considering the condition of affairs at the time, I did not think my father wrong in using all just authority to restrain me. My mother had, I know, wished to take my side, but she too was sure that I was rash, and that the outlook which I faced was a bad one.
In my father's day the view taken of the profession by well-informed people may be contrasted with the equally extreme notion of this day, that success, and even fortune, must attend the pursuit of the arts, a conviction whose consequences too often involve the adventurer in disaster.
My release seemed very long in coming, but at last I bade my sympathetic master, whose portrait I first painted, farewell. My father gave me a letter to Mr. E. Hawkins of the Sculpture Department of the British Museum, asking permission for me to draw there. In accordance with my declaration of self-reliance, a suitable room in the City was found to paint the portraits impulsively ordered from me by the admirers of the picture of old Hannah. Alas! the commissions nearly all proved to be empty words. Some of my promised patrons said that as I was now studying seriously for the profession, they would prefer to wait until I had made some advance. One betrothed gentleman had miniatures painted in oil of himself and his intended bride, but his only mark of true appreciation was in taking them away, leaving me unpaid. I modernised the costume of two portraits painted twenty years before, and corrected the too jovial expression of a likeness taken a decade back for another patron, who thought he had a right to look sober. For a third, I renovated the Sea of Galilee—which certainly was unduly bituminous—in a Dutch panel of Jesus stilling the waves, and for that I gained ten shillings. While waiting for other patronage I made oil copies of prints after Teniers, the dullest of a school which had noble members in its ranks. For disciples of Isaac Walton I did copies of “The Enthusiast Fishing in a Tub,” and, in fact, anything that offered. Two or three portraits I painted for steadfast admirers,
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but these brought not enough to pay the expenses of my studio, and so it was abandoned. I was nigh to being bankrupt more than once, on one occasion only escaping by the loan of the contents of her money-box from a good sister; but I went on steadily at the Museum three days a week, and later I worked two days at the National Gallery, and sometimes at the British Institution.
I had by no means forgotten the wonderful young draughtsman of whom my sister had spoken. There was no need of inquiry, for of all the students at the Royal Academy who were looked up to as having already achieved distinction, at least amongst their discriminating fellows, no name was so often mentioned as that of Millais. I was soon


Maclise, Taken from Memory, June 18, 1852

W. H. H.]


JUNE 18, 1852

to see his work, for Sir Richard Westmacott (from an introduction secured by my father) had, in 1843, supplied me with a card of admission to the lectures, which I attended assiduously. When the competitors' works were hung in the Schools there was an earnest dispute as to whether young Millais would get the second or the first medal. The lecture room was furnished above the dais with a copy of Leonardo's “Last Supper”; Rubens's “Descent from the Cross,” copied by Northcott, was on the left, and some copies of Raphael's cartoons occupied the other walls. Attention to the masterpieces was but transient, for no eyes were long withdrawn from the door, where, by the curtain, stood the gorgeous porter dressed in scarlet. After a protracted time he put aside his saucy assumption of indifference, threw open the doors, and the procession entered, led by the stately Keeper, Mr. Jones (the President at the time being an invalid), while at his left hand walked a stunted gentleman, unimposing in form, inelegantly dressed, and shambling in gait. Part of his ungracefulness was attributable to a big head, with somewhat large features, which, although not handsome, bespoke the right to be at home in any presence. Behind came some few men of dignified appearance and bearing, Cockerell strikingly so, with white hair and black eyebrows; Leslie, Howard, and Ross following—all courtly-looking gentlemen. Next came Stanfield, Roberts, Webster, Mulready, who was then of perfect build and beautiful face, and Maclise, who was singularly handsome, of the same type as Byron, but more forceful, as an old gentleman who had known both in later days told me. Etty, with a great brow and modest deportment, though
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short and stout, looked distinguished. I turned again, with curiosity as to his personality, to the inelegant but honoured member in front, who had then stopped with the Keeper just in face of the rostrum. Mr. Jones could be seen bowing (he could not be heard by reason of the ovation), and with extended hands gracefully inviting the unknown one on his left to ascend and take the duties of the evening. He, however, merely shook himself like an unwilling child; being pressed further in the most courteous manner by the Deputy-president, he betrayed some irritation in his further gesticulations, his coat tails swept from side to side, and he brought the matter to a close by hurrying to a seat placed with its back to the audience. This was J. M. W. Turner. Mr. Jones waited to catch his eye, then bowed, ascended to the chair, and commended his address. Then the distribution of medals followed, a function which seemed of eternal moment to the students. When it came to the turn of the antique school, attention was breathless as the preliminary words were uttered slowly, and the name of John Everett Millais was given as the winner of the first prize. A moment's pause, and out of the press a slim lad with curly hair and white collar arose eagerly, and was handed from seat to seat till he descended into the arena, where, remembering his manners, he bowed, and approached the desk. As he returned, the applause was boisterous, occasioning some reluctance to advance in the less favoured competitor.
I had not until now seen either the boy of whom I had heard so much, or his drawings; I had formed so exalted an idea of both, that it would have been a pain to me had either fallen short of my standard. In the conception of a yet unknown living hero the image cherished becomes so dear that too often the reality is a disenchantment. It was not so in this case; the boy Millais was exactly what I had pictured him, and his work just as accomplished as I had thought it to be.
About this date I sent in a drawing to gain admission as a probationer to the Royal Academy. When the names of the successful candidates were published, I searched through the odd twenty, and mine was not among them. This failure sadly humiliated me, but I found a means of lessening the bitterness of the defeat to my family by explaining that I had but half-time to work at simple drawing. In the schools there were fashions in drawing, as there are in all human affairs, and I had scarcely taken pains to consider the methods in vogue; my apology was not without reason. Sasse's school in particular was recommended by Academicians, and the drawings that issued from it, with their mechanical precision, were favoured by the examiners. Many students who worked there, shaded their drawings with the most regular cross hatching, putting a dot into every empty space; thus the figure was blocked out into flat angular surfaces, which ultimately blended by half-tints, produced the required modelling; for all such systems I had neither time nor inclination.
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Among my fellow-students I had recognised that some were in advance of myself in power of drawing, and of these a few were not so old as I was. I tried hard to judge the question of my relative position impartially before I decided that others were behind me. Some of the students, by natural defect, could not by any chance ever become artists, and each fresh effort they made was a failure to all but themselves; but they were supremely content. Was it possible, I questioned, that unwittingly I was as blind as they? After six months of close work, which, however, was still in a great part on canvas with the brush, I tried again, without doubting that success would follow, but when I stood before the new list of probationers I had the bitterness of finding that my name was again absent. My father now spoke, with good right, very seriously. I was wasting my time and energy; he added that I could paint well enough to win admiration from friends, but to compete with genius, fostered by the best instruction and opportunities, was a very different matter. “Are you not yourself convinced?” he said in conclusion, and indeed his argument affected me strongly, for to be an artist only on sufferance was not my ambition; a student can scarcely judge his own position, and I had no one to tell me the truth. Ought I to conclude that want of success proved my want of ability? In less doleful mood I accounted for my failure by the fact that I had not developed the habit of methodical neatness.
It had appeared to me to be a waste of effort for an artist to rival the precision of engine-turning on a watch, and to spend days on the background of a study made to teach him beautiful form; but when I looked again on my rejected drawing, I could see that, although it might be free from slavish method, it was marked by slovenliness, and even an affectation of indifference to neatness and care, which might justly offend the eye of judges sitting on the works of candidates. It was on the strength of my determined reformation in handling, which should strike pitilessly at the root of an off-hand style, that I relied when I asked my father to delay for another six months the decision he asked from me to return to business life of some kind. If on the next competition at Trafalgar Square the verdict were against me, I promised to submit to his wish as final.
Henceforth I drew, not, indeed, on the geometric system, but with great care and delicacy. It being late in the summer, my fellow-students were holiday-making. One day, when absorbed in my work in the Sculpture Gallery, a boy who was going through the gallery darted aside and stood for a few minutes attentively behind me. After close scrutiny he went off as suddenly; observing that he had a black velvet tunic, a belt, and shining bright brown hair curling over a white turned-down collar, I recognised that he was the boy Millais whom I had seen receive the Academy antique medal. Later in the day I went into the Elgin Room with the intention of glancing in passing over the student's shoulder; he was drawing the Ilissus. As I approached he suddenly
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turned with, “I say, are you not the fellow doing that good drawing in No. XIII. room? You ought to be at the Academy.”
“That is exactly my opinion,” I returned. “But unfortunately the Council have twice decided the other way.” “ You just send the drawing you are doing now, and you'll be in like a shot. You take my word for it; I ought to know; I've been there as a student, you know, five years. I got the first medal last year in the Antique, and it's not the first given me, I can tell you.” I asked him about the method of drawing most in fashion, explaining that I must not neglect any means of increasing my chance of acceptance. “Oh, the blocking-out system serves to make beginners understand the solidity of figures given by light and shade, modified by reflections and half-tints, and to get over muddling about with dirty chalk; you know all that. Very few fellows stick to it for long. I do sometimes use gray paper with white, but I like white paper just now. You see I sketch the lines in with charcoal, and when I go over with chalk I rub in the whole with wash leather, take out the lights with bread, and work up the shadows till it's finished; but I do sometimes work altogether with the point, and if either is done well it makes little or no difference to the Council. Don't you be afraid; you're all right. I say, tell me whether you have begun to paint? What? I'm never to tell; it is your deadly secret? Ah! ah! ah! that's a good joke. You'll be drawn and quartered without ever being respectably hung by the Council of ‘Forty’ if you are known to have painted before completing your full course in the Antique. Why, I'm as bad as you, for I've painted a long while. I say, do you ever sell what you do? So do I. I've often got ten pounds, and even double. Do you paint portraits?”
“Yes,” I said, “but I'm terribly behind you.”
“How old are you?” he asked.
“Well, I'm seventeen,” I replied.
“I'm only fifteen just struck, but don't you be afraid. Why, there are students of the Academy just fifty and more. There's old Pickering; he once got a picture into the Exhibition, and he quite counts upon making a sensation when he has finished his course, but he is very reluctant to force on his genius. Will you be here to-morrow?”
“No,” I whispered, “it's my portrait day, but don't betray me. Good-bye.”
“Don't you be down in the mouth,” he laughed out, as I walked away more light-hearted than I had been for many months, my unexpected conference with the prize student in whose personality I had so long passively felt interest having cheered me up. It was long ere I saw him again.
I gained a probationership at the next trial, and in due order a student's place. It will be seen that I used to envy those who could work unremittingly only at drawing, since this was prescribed as the proper course; but eventually, although my time at the Antique and the Life
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was curtailed by continual practice with colour, I saw reason to change my favourable opinion of the approved routine. Many students who made excellent specimen drawings did them without profit for the end of study, and later they had all the difficulty of painting to encounter, as quite a strange and complicated mystery.
In the National Gallery I contrived to combine discipline with the need of providing means to purchase materials, for often I sold the copies I made, and sometimes I acted as journeyman for others, who, from want of a place on the oil list, or from the discovery of the difficulty of the task, could not do the commissions they had received. Once a shrewd fellow-student asked me to do for him a copy of all the figures in Rembrandt's “Woman taken in Adultery.” As we could not tell how much I could finish, it was agreed that the question of pay should be left till the conclusion of the work. In thirteen days I painted the whole group of figures and the immediate background, and considering the opportunity, I did it nearly as well as I could ever have done. I stated the time I had spent, and left the question of payment to him. He said he thought fifteen shillings would be fair. Astonished, I represented that a full palette would cost a shilling each day, but he turned the tables, saying, “But I observed that you were very wasteful, often having madders and expensive colours when the day's work could have been done with none but cheap ones.” This was unanswerable. I bowed to him as to a superior, and took his price. In painting the background and daubing his glazings over my work he effected its debasement. (I heard later that, by screwing in all transactions and leaving art altogether, he became a rich man.) Thus exercised, I gained a practical knowledge of the ancient Masters then represented in London; and this was fast becoming of importance in my eyes, helping me for my own guidance to look more independently upon the state of art as developed by living men. I had gained much by my humiliation before being accepted as a student, the principal good lying in the discovery that an artist must himself ever sit in judgment upon his art, and throw away the “worser part.” I was never successful in working for medals, many dunces made more presentable drawings than mine; but except that I should have been glad to cheer up my parents, I fretted little at my failures in competition. Feeling that I had many defects to eradicate, I strove with each new study until, discovering faults in the outline, I scored it to pieces with corrections rather than adorn it with fine work as an example of my latest power. Without self-satisfaction one's work is too joyless to please others, yet the satisfaction in undisturbed contentment is but ephemeral.
The British Museum, where I had commenced the special study of the human figure, was in many respects not the best drawing school for a tyro. The Pheidian marbles realise the type of perfect human form, but the mutilations they have suffered make few of them of complete educational value for the practice of a novice who has not a
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connected knowledge of human proportion. The time spent by beginners in slavish reproduction of the injured surfaces of the Theseus, 1 would be more wisely devoted to drawing from a figure whose proportions are less damaged, even though these bear less Attic dignity of design. Many of the better preserved and good figures which were in my youth placed in dark corners are now brought out into a good light convenient to the student.
Notwithstanding all the disadvantages suffered at the Museum, it provided the opportunity essential to every student of art to trace the growth of Sculpture from Egypt and Assyria, Greece and Rome, with their national characteristics.
The Print Room supplied those links in the history of painting which the picture galleries gave only in broken chain. There, could be traced the pious uprising of a meek spirit of Christian faith in Italy, in loving reliance upon the Poetry of the Story, and pride of championship, beginning with Giotto's childlike earnestness at Assisi and Padua, and developing into church magnificence and pomp, tending steadily to ecclesiastical arrogance, and finally into the corruption of the tomb. By Italy's side we studied German art, bearing on her visage the stamp of struggle and suffering, as the part she had to bear of the message of Christianity. Such absence of peace and joy in beauty stifled Art, although Albert Dürer made pity for, and sympathy with, human woe a part of his message. With him followed Holbein who, with lavishness such as the brothers Van Eyck of the prosperous Netherlands had displayed, soon cast off sadness, and gave to England a superb gallery of portraits.
From these great Masters descended the Flemish School, which in homely and convincing individuality atones for a want of that ideal grandeur which, indeed, it nearly attained in the hands of the peerless, consummate Vandyck. Side by side of this pattern of courtly grace were painters of boorish rudeness, some of whom, together with a never surpassed power of representing homely life, had profound perception of the dignity and pathos of the human face as seen in the works of the home-staying Rembrandt.
Related to these last, although of Latin parentage, rose Spanish art, as perfect in external observation as that of the Low Countries, but without evidence of the barest breath of design, for which reason it fell like a tower of cards when the hand of Velasquez, its arch-builder, was withdrawn.
Further, we had the opportunity of comparing with earlier men and with one another the compositions of Hogarth, Reynolds, Gainsborough, Flaxman, and other English workers, and summing up these observations we were led to ponder on the lesson of transmutation from stage to stage in all art of the past. It declared that, where men in humility strove against their worst nature and diligently wrestled to express
Transcribed Footnote (page 29):

1 In referring to the pedimental figures I use the names in use in my student days.

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the higher truth, their work bore the character of a message from heaven; but when their successors, provided with the skill gained by this hourly sacrifice, were inflated with vanity, the whole current of wisdom was turned aside, and it became ever after impossible to regain the path leading to national art life.
Seeing thus before one's eyes manifold proofs of rise, decline, and death, but never of the renovation of art except with the infusion of new blood, I felt that the need soon arose of deciding in what respect I could accept the verdict of the world about the old Masters, and what was the position of the British School which had been in its course so highly endowed with genius in individuals, but which had proved itself unable to hand on its teaching, and from the first had been impatient of submitting to that course of strict and childlike training which in earlier history had always preceded the greatest art. Day by day I tried to settle these questions, I carried them about with me, and weighed them in the galleries of modern art, that I might decide among the living whether there was any master to set up as a model, and, if so, with what reservation.
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In the year 1822 Constable wrote, “The Art will go out, there will be no genuine painting in England in thirty years.” And it is remarkable that within a few months of the date thus specified Turner should have died, almost literally fulfilling, as some of his admirers may think, Constable's prophecy.— Autobiography of Charles Robert Leslie, R.A.

Since virtuous superstructions have commonly generous foundations, dive into thy intentions and early discover what nature bids thee be, or tells thee what thou mayst be.

Sir Thomas Browne.

For over a year the British Museum had been my main school for drawing, and in the Academy vacation it was so still. In the old days of apprenticeship there was ever the watchful master at hand to save the boy from the penalty of rash judgment, and to give him the results of a wisdom which nothing but a lifetime of experience can furnish. In retrospect, the substitution for it of the self-guided system shows much to deplore; and I certainly did not escape evils from misdirected impulse. Together with other students I organised a designing club, which at least put our original faculties to the test. Sometimes one of the older generation appeared at the Museum, Mr. Henning, with specimens of his reproductions of the frieze of the Parthenon, or Mr. Corbould with plates from drawings of the pediment, and these old artists talked to their friends loudly enough for the student to profit by the information passing between them. Two models of the Parthenon were being made, one as it was when in perfect condition, another as it is now. However unequal these were to the exactness of modern elucidations, they were highly explanatory to the uninitiated. Occasionally the officials entered with visitors of State. H.R.H. Prince Albert was once the august and honoured guest; on another day Samuel Rogers was making an inspection of some new acquisitions, or again Sir Charles Fellowes was the attended stranger; on every such occasion there was matter of importance communicated, more or less audible to us students.
At the time I speak of, no gallery in the Museum on public days could be seen with less than thirty or forty visitors interested in the collection. In these days I note greatly diminished attendance and less interest in the visitors both here and at South Kensington Museum. “The better education of the masses” in this respect is disappointing. Sixty years ago working men read the Penny Magazine and the Saturday Magazine, and other journals issued for the diffusion of useful knowledge. What do they read now?
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When I was copying one day, Thomas Phillips, the portrait painter, who had looked on the faces of Blake, Napoleon, Byron and Sir Walter Scott, examined my drawing, making encouraging observations. (His son, Henry Phillips, was my good friend, ten years later, and I was proud to tell him of the attention which his father had given me.) The father of one of the students had as a painter stored up useful knowledge of the preparations of grounds and the methods of Gainsborough which he had derived from this great master himself, and the son showed us examples of his own done in obedience to the tradition. They were studies on a tempera ground commenced and carried far in water-colours, and finished in oil. An old gentleman who came to delight his heart with his youthful studies whenever the occupation of portrait painting allowed him, took me much into his confidence, telling me that he made a living going from village inn to town and city hostel with specimens of his skill in his paint-box, which he exhibited and so obtained employment. He let me into the secret of finding panels well-seasoned at old coach brokers, and taught me much that proved of great value to me. I cite these facts to show how the want of a master could be made up in some sort to a youth studying in public galleries, when the traditions of preparatory work had not been altogether lost.
Amongst the students, examples of early failure were frequent, as in the case of a senior who came one morning and offered his drawing-board for sale at a very reduced price, declaring that he had found out too late the miserable chances of the profession, and was determined to waste no more precious time upon it. He was not by any means the only one who repented of his devotion to art. Many turned their steps towards photography and business connected therewith, and thus found a much more tranquil career and ofttimes ampler fortune. One day, I chanced to run against a dandy fellow-student whom I had not seen for several months; when I asked what had kept him away from his accustomed haunts so long, he announced that he had finally given up painting; he could endure it no longer, “because carrying a paint-box revealed to all the world that you were only a poor devil of an artist.” Others, electing between dandyism and art in favour of the latter, were not, alas! acknowledged by her. Their rejection did not always result from glaring indolence, but they were not sufficiently passionate seekers after their chosen mistress.
In every assembly of art students the self-satisfied devotee is always liberally represented; he is generally distinguishable by a more artistic mien and dress than his fellows display, and he makes a loud profession of familiarity with the abstruse questions of his art. For the passing day such beings may be amusing enough, but the young artist will be wise to recognise that his idling compeer is not an artist by nature, and will never understand more than the slang and cant of the pursuit, being only destined to be one of the many parasites who
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in ever-increasing proportion cling about Art and rob her of her vitality.
Many of the best painters had had a hard struggle to keep their art and themselves alive during the days of poverty that followed the Napoleonic wars. Of these the bravest and yet the most unfortunate was Haydon, who, beginning without a master, and with paternal aid continuing only for a few seasons, devoted himself to the “grand style.” It was not long before he was crippled by heavy debts, by the seizure of his works, and by all the harassing consequences of unsubmissive poverty, so that opportunity for leisurely consideration of his primal deficiencies never came to him. The grandeur which he aimed at needed the breath of grace and beauty to sanctify its force; the sensuousness which impels Nature's interpreters to combine the stray riches of her hues into concord and sweetness was never his, to control the manly and ambitious designs he executed. With small and ill-lit studios, and without means to pay models, he could never do justice to his intellectual conceptions. It was probably because he felt the loss consequent upon having no master himself that he gathered about him a School. He was a profound anatomist, with advanced theories of comparison of lower and higher forms of life, and in all respects must have been a fascinating teacher; he bore his troubles with abounding spirit until he imagined there could be no hope while he lived, either for his art or his family. He committed suicide in 1846, soon after I had embarked as an artist, and the gloom of his failure increased the anxiety of all the friends of young painters. This artist was the last who tried to revive the old Masters' system of apprenticeship, yet those who had become famous under his instruction did so in ways as different from his own as could well be conceived. It is to his courageous pen that England owes the retention in our country of the once-despised Elgin marbles, which Payne Knight, the authoritative critic who led the fashionable amateurs of his day, denounced as the work of a provincial Greek mason or of a Roman copyist.
It was owing to Haydon's energetic pleading that the Government of the day invited British artists to compete for employment in the decoration of the Houses of Parliament. It was he who originated the idea of the establishment of Schools of Design to improve the deteriorated taste of our manufactures; yet he received no sort of recompense, although rewards were given to his adversaries. His first literary biographer, Tom Taylor, summarises the artist's character in these words: “Haydon was self-willed to obstinacy. He rarely asked advice, and never took it unless it approved itself to him, without reference to the sagacity of information of the adviser. He was indefatigable in labour during his periods of application, but he was often diverted from his art by professional polemics , by fits of reading, and by moods of discomfort and disgust.” With his wasted blood, let all such bitter condemnation be lost in mother-earth, and let us do honour to
Sig. VOL. I. D
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his perennial worth. Tom Taylor was too narrow-sided to take in the large proportions of Haydon's full stature, which can be seen only in the diary of the painter, edited by his son. 1
It behoves us now to consider the general state of British Art at this time. Landscape till quite recently had been almost the only branch of painting, in addition to portraiture, which had obtained patronage in England, and the pursuit of open-air nature had forced artists to depart from the conventional system which allowed only a small proportion of light to have place on the general surface of what otherwise was only partially modified darkness.
The example which these landscapists then set, gradually encouraged in a few of the boldest figure painters the desire for more daylight effect in their paintings. It was thus, perhaps, that the English School was led to differentiate itself timidly, but yet recognisably, from the Schools which had not been attracted by Nature's teaching. Still, cases of daylight effect in subject paintings, not sophisticated by Academic rule, were rare. I was still searching for a perfect guide. Although I looked upon many artists with unbounded wonder and admiration, and never dared to measure myself prospectively with the least of them, yet I could see no one who stirred my complete sympathy in a manner that led me to covet his tutelage. The greater number were trite and affected; their most frequent offence in my eyes was the substitution of inane prettiness for beauty, and the want of vigorous health in the type of it. Pictured waxworks playing the part of human beings provoked me, and hackneyed conventionality often turned me from masters whose powers I otherwise valued. What I sought was the power of undying appeal to the hearts of living men.
I was one of the public in admiration of Landseer's facility, but as an aspiring artist my feeling towards him was very reserved. He ofttimes did works of real point and poetry. His picture of “Peace” must never be forgotten; but in his pictures generally the glossy coats of his animals do not atone for their want of action, nor for the absence of firm structure. His delight in the creatures of the field, which made him so popular with the sporting world, was seldom animated by the daring and wild adventure of the chase; it was oftener that of the stealthy lier in wait to slay.
Etty, after twenty years of failure and irrepressible effort, had in his full prime become the rage. His “Syrens,” “Holofernes,” and the diploma picture will always justify his reputation; but in my youth he had lost the robustness he once had, and at last he composed classic subjects with the tawdry taste of a paper-hanger. He retained a
Transcribed Footnote (page 34):

1 His son, on reading my remarks in the Contemporary Review , wrote assuring me that Haydon used the living model to the last. I could not doubt Haydon's use of all available means to give truth to his work. I saw him come to the British Museum to draw from the bust of Nero, and later I examined the pictures in the room where he died, and I could see that the same firm spirit which actuated him at first had to the last stirred him to study his forms from Nature. Yet in that little front room, with heroic canvases in hand, how confined in every way had been the great soul!

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consummate mastery over brush and paint, with a richness of tints and tones that ranked him among the famed colourists of the world; but the paintings of his advanced age cloyed the taste by their sweetness, and his forms bore evidence of being copied with little fastidiousness from town models, distorted by the modiste's art. It was natural at first to look to Mulready as a master who would be a safe example, for to the last he was painstaking and student-like. He was ever striving to reach finer perfection, as for example in his “Bathers,” but his drawing was without any large line; he was cramped by a taste for Dresden-china prettiness, and the uncourageous desire—then well-nigh universal—to win applause for beauty by avoidance in his drawing of that fulness of form which with perfect balance justifies itself. It was the equality of empty scales. Maclise was a facile draughtsman, and a genius with a sterling power of invention; but a milesian instinct for glamour and melodramatic parade seldom allowed him


William Dyce, R.A.

freedom to appear at his best, as he did later so triumphantly in his picture of “Waterloo.”
Leslie, in the front rank of subject painters, was to me the most thoroughly inspired by the breath of Nature. His sweet simplicity, the taste for restrained colour, and the power of unaffected expression, placed him on the level of the great; but he had developed out of amateur training, and was a painter only, not an all-round artist; he saw things only from one side, not as though he could model them. The insufficiency of his early teaching was evident in a flatness of detail which would not have sufficed for large work: the two scales of work need independent apprenticeship. William Collins at the last did some admirable pictures, with rustic, Crabbe-like realism; but he had become a figure painter gradually rather than by primal intent, his men and women having been originally but accessories in landscape, and life sufficed not for his fuller aims. William Dyce was the most profoundly trained and cultured of all the painters of the time. He had for several years been driven from the profession altogether by the critics, and had to be searched for at the advice of the painter Cornelius, who had known him in Rome, the German master giving testimony to the Englishman's powers when—to the lasting honour of his nation—he declined to accept the proposed commission to paint the Houses of Parliament—which, with true British prejudice, he alone was thought worthy to execute—saying, “You have an artist in England equal to any known to me.” Dyce, when too late to find a fair field for his genius, had thus recommenced his career. He was elected a member of the Royal Academy so suddenly that the outside world said it was “by command.” Had he had a better chance, he might have influenced the English School more than he did, for although
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he saw Nature mainly through the eyes of the quattrocentists, he was not, as many modern painters have been, a mere plagiarist of their postures and expressions: in his works could always be seen some sweet trait from the freshness of the passing day over and above the


Madonna and Child

William Dyce]


culture of the great Masters whose living representative he made himself.
Turner was rapidly sinking like a glorious sun in clouds of night that could not yet obscure his brightness, but rather increased his magnificence. The works of his meridian day were shut up in their possessors'
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galleries, unknown to us younger men. George Richmond was then producing only excellent chalk and water-colour drawings, and I cannot think of any others who could have been regarded as possible leaders for the student. Many of the Royal Academy Associates of the time have now fallen into unmerited disregard, although their ingenuity in invention will not fail to be observed and appreciated when some of the travesties of art at present in vogue have been condemned as wearisome folly. Ward's picture of “Dr. Johnson waiting in Lord Chesterfield's Ante-room” is marked by these qualities of good common-sense. The fault that we found in this younger School was that every scene was planned as for the stage, with second-rate actors to play the parts, striving to look less like sober live men than pageant statues of waxwork, knights were frowning and staring as none but hired supernumeraries could stare, the pious had vitreous tears on their reverential cheeks, innkeepers were ever round and red-faced peasants had complexions of dainty pink, shepherdesses were facsimiled from Dresden-china toys, homely couples were always reading a Family Bible to a circle of most exemplary children; all alike from king to plebeian were arrayed in clothes fresh from the bandbox. With this artificiality, the drawing was often of a pattern that left anatomy and the science of perspective but poorly demonstrated.
Augustus Egg, although of this school, was of robuster mind, in being more frankly historic than the rank and file of the younger generation. He had sterling invention and remarkable power of dignified colour; the individuality he imported to his heads was not usual then, if indeed it is now. Frith—another of the band—had already made his mark.
The majority of my compeers and immediate elders were worshippers of Etty, and inquired not at all of the beginning of his greatness, nor indeed of its noonday, but strove to emulate the looser design and execution which he cultivated at the end of his career. Some followed other masters, but it amused me to observe that all alike adduced Pheidias and Raphael as the prophets to sanctify their course, and all revolted at any suggestion that the solid ground beneath their feet was the foundation on which sincere workers must stand. There was then no suspicion among artists, or the public, that Guido, Giulio Romano, Baroccio, Guercino, Murillo, Le Brun, and others of the same flock were birds of a different feather to Jove's bird, so the name of the princely Urbinite was made to cover all conventional art. We knew less of Michael Angelo in England then than now, when we have the Sixtine Chapel and the Medici tombs photographed, while Tintoretto in his might was not known at all. Della Robbia, Donatello, Luini, and Angelico were mere names in books or, at the most, to be seen in the Print Room. In their places the decadents were honoured in all the painting schools, and sober discussion seemed unprofitable. When I put down my brush, which was not often, and was assailed for my
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opinions as monstrous, I preferred to joke, and to accept the railing accusation of “flat blasphemy,” until my outspoken irreverence towards the reigning gods became a byword; though some students had no great faith in my seriousness when I said that Murillo's admired “Holy Family” in the National Gallery was vapid, and that in copying Guido's “Magdalen” one must in some degree mend the false drawing.
Altogether it was evident that I had to be my own master, getting dumb direction from the great of other ages, and correction of defects in my daily work from intelligent elder fellow-students and the paternal-minded Keeper of the Academy, Mr. George Jones, who was always eager to give extra attention to persevering students.
These confessions give my estimate of art instruction in England at the date when I was a student at the Academy, the National Gallery, the British Museum, and British Institution. The first surprising illumination which I received, and one, moreover, which in some ways determined a great change in the course of my artistic life, came about in this wise. While engaged in copying “The Blind Fiddler,” a visitor looking over me said that Wilkie painted it without any dead colouring, finishing each bit thoroughly in the day. The speaker was Claude Lorraine Nursey, some years afterwards master of the School of Design at Norwich; he had been Wilkie's pupil, and had been taught this then singular practice, which he exemplified later by showing me his own work. I tried the method, and I now looked at all paintings with the question whether they had been so executed. I began to trace the purity of work in the quattrocentists to the drilling of undeviating manipulation with which fresco-painting had furnished them. I laid aside the habitual practice of painting in three layers, together with the loose handling which it encouraged, and adopted a plan of work which excused no false touch. I was not able to succeed completely in all parts of my work, but the taste for clear forms and tints, and for clean handling, grew in me; while at the same time I guarded myself against a slavish imitation of the quattrocentists, which was then becoming a seductive snare to certain English painters. Notwithstanding that I was out of sympathy with the fashion then raging in England for making facsimiles of ancient Gothic architecture, yet the unaffected work which I saw in Francia, Ludovico Mazzolini, and their Schools, also the newly acquired Van Eyck—then in its dignified ebony frame—became dear to me, as examples of painting most profitable for youthful emulation. In the effort to express my own conceptions, I attempted humble subject pictures, and sent them to the Exhibitions, where at times they gained admittance. They were honest, though bungling, examples of my advancing aims. Frequently these were better before receiving the final toning glazes, the adding of which it took long to abjure, the authority for thus finishing a painting being universal with all my immediate elders. While in the mood for battling with myself, careful observation and the reading of Lanzi were convincing me that
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all the great Italian artists, including the cinquecentists, had grown in a training of patient self-restraint, imposed by masters who had never indulged their hands in uncertainty and dash, and that the wise and enthusiastic pupils had delighted in the devotion of humility till far on in their maturity. The dandelion clock in the “St. Catherine” by Raphael, and the flowers—notably the purple flags—in the “Bacchus and Ariadne” of Titian, were edifying examples of this spirit in the great Masters, wilfully overlooked by modern students.
For better understanding of the principles upon which the Venetians arranged their scheme of colour, I made abbozzi of a few of their greatest works—Titian's “Bacchus and Ariadne,” his “Sacred and Profane Love” from the copy in the Royal Academy, a whole length figure by Giorgione in the same place, and Veronese's “Consecration of St. Nicholas.” I also religiously copied Vandyck's amazingly subtle portrait of Gevartius, and that of Gerard Dow by himself, and Reynolds's portrait of Mrs. Siddons as the “ Tragic Muse,” amongst many others, and I made elaborate drawings of entire designs by Raphael and other hallowed authors. It is only by thus coming into close quarters with examples by great Masters that a student can understand their full glories and arrive at a decision as to what were their limitations.
Dulwich Gallery was one of my haunts. There I observed that an early portrait of his mother by Rubens had surprisingly the characteristics of care and humility; and a portrait of a man with a stubbly white beard by Holbein fascinated me with its delicate painting. It is now over half a century since I first saw these, but more notable examples of early practice have confirmed the conclusions they forced upon me, that in Art, as in other pursuits, it is a loss in the end both for Schools and for individuals to begin as masters.
It was incumbent upon me now to find out a path for my own feet. By nature, and the encouragement of my early painting-master, slovenliness was my besetting sin, through too great impatience to reach the result. To root out off-handedness is not to be done at a stroke. Once having decided what was my danger, I had continuing proofs of the need of self-restraint. What might even be profitable as a course for other students, I forbad myself; I sought in every direction for further guidance, and left others to follow their own light. This was the state of my mind in the full height of my studentship days, when I had somehow or other to support myself by my brush in the intervals of regular study.
D. G. Rossetti had entered the Academy as a probationer about the same time as myself, but I did not know of him till later. As he went abroad for a time, he did not complete his three probationary drawings in the term allowed. He gained special permission to continue the task in the next season, and with this further term the finished drawings were approved.
Millais, after some interval, came again to the Antique School to
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make his drawings for the Life. He was now nearly sixteen, and although impulsive in character, was by no means inclined to disregard the dignity of his full estate. The Antique School had no seneschal to suppress students' playful practical jokes, which were unbridled except for the half-hour when the Keeper made his rounds. Millais was still about the youngest in the school, although the first in honours. He frequently made hurried but very clever sketches of jockeys, farmers, and animals


J. E. Millais

W. H. H]


of all kinds, of incidents yet vivid in his mind of the country place where he had been staying. To this exuberant performance with the pencil he added all the chatter and clatter of the various creatures of the stables, the farmyard, and the racing paddock. The sketches were waited for by a surrounding appreciative throng, and carried off by the most persistent. Being a newcomer, schoolboy etiquette forbade my claiming his acquaintance, but when he met me he exclaimed, “I told you so. I knew you'd soon be in,” and so we came to be on saluting terms. After this, he encountered me one day in the schools,
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and pointing with his finger in child-like suddenness, he cried out, “You've had your hair cut.” The fact was obvious enough, but I had wished it to escape remark. My laughing rejoinder was that I had not lost so much hair as some students had; for all his handsome curls had been cut away, and he appeared then and thenceforth with what he called a cockatoo crop. At this time he had just finished the “Baptism of Guthrun,” which was still on his easel. I was about to send a picture of “Nell and her Grandfather” to the British Institution, and I undertook to show it to him, in a lobby at the Royal Academy, he was full of generous recognition of my picture, pressing me to come and see his present painting in my turn. Steadily interested in and proud of his work, he was always more eager to hear in what he could go beyond the mark reached than to be content with his present achievement, and he showed ambition for something higher than mere school reputation. Millais' parents lived in Gower Street, then numbered 83. The front door opened into a passage which went through direct to the studio, leaving the sitting-rooms on the right.
A small window at the end looked on to grim walls and tiles, but Millais had painted its panes with Gothic figures and patterns in imitation of stained glass, and signs of taste and order were seen inside the painting-room. With his picture of “Pizarro” on hand, it was necessary to have a large platform placed at an angle to serve for the palanquin on which the doomed Inca was being carried; notwithstanding this disturbance of symmetry, all the rest of the room was in prim order. It was in accordance with what was afterwards designated “Millais' luck” that Mr. E. Goodall had lately returned from a visit to South America, bringing with him an artistic selection of native ornaments and garments which he had lent for the use of his young fellow-artist. All of these—feathers, beads, etc.—not in actual use on the platform were arranged about the walls as an extra decoration to the small pieces of armour and the swords, which had probably seen their last active service on the fields of Dunbar or Worcester. Over the mantelshelf was a framed portrait of his half-brother Clement; on the shelf below stood the cast of a delicately modelled cow and calf, and at either end were casts of greyhounds. These were covered by glass domes.
On the occasion of my first visit to Millais, his mother, whose usual place in the studio was indicated by the presence of a lady's work-table, was in earnest conversation with her son Clement and his young wife, but with a friendly salutation they considerately walked out to continue the talk elsewhere. Millais told me that his brother had resolved to go to Australia, that the debate was about the necessary arrangements; further, that his mother and father were also saddened over the marriage and departure of their only daughter, a handsome girl of about twenty. While we chatted he said, “I find you know some friends of my uncle;
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they give some nice dances, why don't you go?” I explained that for the present I left dancing to my sisters. 1
The picture he was now employed upon was in every respect remarkable for a young painter, looking more like the work of an artist in his prime; indeed, had he been judged by this production alone, its maturity of style might have seemed discouraging to the hope of development. Through life a happy characteristic of Millais in all his different modes of work was, that there were no disorderly scrapings and blotches about the surface such as often cause untidy painters to leave their works in unpresentable guise; parts were obviously unfinished, and others only in a stage of preparation; but all, like his room, was in perfect readiness to be shown to the chance visitor. Millais was unaffectedly eager to hear my appreciation, and led me on to the points with which he was himself best content; yet he invariably challenged candour, and ended with, “You'll see I'll make my next much better!” Tea was sent into the room, and before it was over the mother returned. I was referred to as the “student who drew so well,” and “Johnnie” emphasised his compliment by asking her whether he had not spoken thus of me to her before. She was dressed in black, and was of slight build for a matron; she had quick eyes, with a shrewd but happy expression; these features were surmounted by a brow of vertical build, the nose being slightly arched at the bridge. The hair was brought forward in curls kept in form by small combs at the side, as was usual at the time. She entered at once with great zest into the merits of Johnnie's picture. It was impossible for me not to regard as truly enviable the hearty pride with which Millais' work was looked upon by all the members of his family.
Between my portrait painting and copying at the National Gallery and the British Institution, I had managed to find time to go through the course at the Royal Academy to get into the Life School. With this achieved, I discontinued my day attendance at the Antique, only satisfying my school ambition by working each evening from the living model. One night after this change I encountered my new student-friend in the hall; he, with that fascinating mixture of child-like impulsiveness and the highest manly purpose, said—
“Look here, you know I'm painting a picture as big as Raphael's cartoons, nine feet one way by sixteen feet the other. That's no end of a job, I can tell you. Twenty figures and more, all the size of life;” and coming close, he added confidingly, “ It's ‘The Widow's Mite’— it's a splendid subject, isn't it? You know there are the old frowning Pharisees, the reverential disciples, and the poor woman, giving all she's got, and of course there's the Saviour. Doesn't it afford grand opportunities? It was turned against the wall when you came last.
Transcribed Footnote (page 42):

1 As time went on Holman-Hunt became a singularly enthusiastic and proficient dancer. He used to be amused to find some of his admirers a little shocked at this in one whose mission they thought to be solely that of a painter of sacred pictures.

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I'm busy on it now, and am going to send it to Westminster Hall. I may get a prize; only think, the highest is £300. Are you doing anything for it? Now, you come and see me on Wednesday afternoon, mind you don't forget, Wednesday next.”
At the appointed time I went. The father and mother were both present; the son came forward to receive me warmly, and turned to the elders repeating his previous compliments, and referring to my picture at the British Institution. The mother was busy with crochet work, which did not absorb all her thoughts, for she at once began telling me of “important visitors” who had come to see Johnnie's picture, and who had said it was “truly wonderful.” She pointed out what had been most admired. The father I scarcely had known before. He excused himself for walking about the room putting things that had been disarranged back into their places—by which one saw how it was that things were never allowed to remain in confusion.
He was perhaps a little above five feet ten in height, and slightly inclined to burliness. The son had inherited some lineaments from him, but his spirited expression came from his mother. The fresh colour and blue eyes, with an apparently unguarded manner, were all his father's; the latter's full forehead appeared rounder from an inclination to baldness already showing itself. His thorough-hearted interest in the passing moment dissipated all my feelings of shyness which his presence might have aroused. To make the introduction more complete, the son put one hand on his father's shoulder and the other on his mother's chair, and said—
“They both help me, I can tell you. He's really capital, and does a lot of useful things. Look what a good head he has. I have painted several of the old doctors from him. By making a little alteration in each, and putting on different kinds of beards, he does splendidly. Couldn't be better, could he? And he sits for hands and draperies too. And as for mamma, she reads to me and finds me subjects. She gets me all I want in the way of dresses, and makes them up for me, and searches out difficult questions for me at the British Museum—in the library, you know. She's very clever, I can tell you.” He stooped down and rubbed his curly head against her forehead, and then patted the “old daddy,” as he called him, on the back. The father was then only about forty-seven.
In the meantime the tea-tray was brought in, and while the mother prepared the meal, I was invited to look more closely at the painting. It was undoubtedly a most masterly performance for such a boy. I unreservedly expressed my admiration. The youthful painter pointed out what had taxed him most, and what he still felt were tough knots to undo; but he had a most serviceable sanguine temperament, which was never overcome and but seldom overclouded, and which would not admit a doubt of his being able to master all difficulties.
“The head of the Christ,” the mother said, “every one admires.
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Mr. Dennis—the great connoisseur—called it admirable. You've heard of him; people call him Lorenzo de Medici, because he is so like the portrait.”
Here the father joined in: “He has a broad-brimmed hat, wears his hair long, and steps in such a stately manner that he seems as though he had walked out of an old frame;” he added in laughing mood, as if in apology, “but he's a perfect gentleman.”
“I was going to tell Hunt,” the mother added, “that Johnnie is still tempted to work on the Saviour's head.”
“I shall make it much better, you see, now,” said the boy painter.
“Well, Johnnie was passing a door in Bedford Square when a gentleman was being let out. The servant was behind, and he struck Johnnie as being the very model for the head, for he is singularly handsome and superior-looking. We've seen his master and he's quite pleased; he has been to see the picture,—he asked to be allowed to come,—and the man is to sit the day after to-morrow,” said the mother.
“Yes,” added the boy, “it is really a lucky find. No trouble is too great to try and improve upon the Saviour's head.”
Noticing my interest in a youthful head belonging to the principal group, he went on, “That's my brother Bill, you don't know him; he just suits, doesn't he? It's for St. John, the beloved disciple, and he's always made young.” After further talk, he unexpectedly turned to his father and mother in pleading tone, saying, “I've been working very hard now for a long while, and I really feel thoroughly fagged; I am sure it would do me good to have a holiday, indeed it would.” Then in a playfully lachrymose tone he proceeded, “You know they'll be sure to be playing cricket on Saturday at Holloway, and I should like to have a good day at it.” Then he turned to me, inquiring, “Do you play cricket?” Meanwhile, his father and mother vied with one another in applauding his plan, and it was arranged that he should take the last day of the week for recreation.
When we left the house, Millais wanted me to talk about his parents. “They are dear old creatures—aren't they?”
I returned, honestly, “They are particularly delightful, all the more so because I had rather expected from your name to find that your father would be a foreigner, but he's a thorough Englishman.”
“Oh yes,” he replied, “we belong to Jersey, where all regard themselves as more English than Englishmen are, because they are Normans pure and simple, who kept to their earlier home. My great-grandfather lost his property because at the beginning of the French Revolution he got infatuated with the principles of the Republicans and was thought to be compromised in the French attempt on the island, but the name is preserved as attached to old castles and buildings that once belonged to the family.” Variable still as a child, he burst out: “Now, I say, do you think I'm growing? I want to be tall. Daddy is a good height,
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isn't he? I hope I shall be as much, or more than he is.” And with many assurances from me that he had plenty of time to attain full height, we parted.
He did not now attend at the Life School at all, and, except for curiosity, he never came to the painting school. Neither did I attend this last school for practice, for I had done quite as much copying as I felt to be desirable, except for the secrets of composition which I executed on a series of rapid sketches on a white ground. Millais never spent any time in copying old Masters, yet in furnishing pictures from memory for a doll's house National Gallery, which he and his brother formed in their early teens, he had made himself practically acquainted with the characteristics of all the great painters. Seeing that I had altogether burnt my boats for retreat, my family had, with kind consideration for me, removed to Holborn, where, in the upper part of a large house, I could have a room for a studio. Here I could not paint pictures of ambitious character, but I chose a subject from Woodstock, because it belonged to the class of pictures most popular, and so offered a fair chance of sale, as well as due exercise in serious inventiveness. When I was bringing this to an end, my father, who had not failed to realise how much at the best I was checked for want of ampler opportunities, when we were one night returning home together, referred to the matter, and explained that he had been hampered in means for the last six years by having to pay off a mortgage on some house property, which the surplus of a legacy from his aunt would not entirely purchase. He had now, however, just redeemed the debt, and should be more at ease in the future. He mentioned the fact that I might consider in what respect he could now be most helpful to me.
This generous determination served only to accentuate his benevolent disposition. Soon afterwards one morning at breakfast I saw him open a letter, which he read and re-read, turned over and over, and with studied reserve put carefully into his pocket. It transpired that before he had purchased the houses, the head clerk of a solictor's firm, who had examined the title and prepared the deeds for the transfer of the property, had accepted the vendor's statement that his son—to whom, when under age, the property had been left—was dead. This son proved to be living, and now claimed not only the houses, but all the back rents. When the son was reminded that his father would be heavily punished and disgraced as a consequence of the threatened litigation, the aggrieved heir—who, it was proved, had known of the fraud and received great part of the proceeds—declared that he hoped his father would be transported. After advice from many quarters, and much consultation, with frequent veering round on my father's part from one point to another, he resolved to avoid the uncertainty of the law by making a compromise which compelled him to raise a further heavy mortgage, the burden of which he had to bear for the rest of his
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days. This was his death-stroke, although he lived for another ten years.
A prospect of room for me in the exhibition world now seemed to dawn; even though the painting of portraits might have somewhat reduced the strain on the family purse. I painted only those which came uninvited. In going on with pictures I may have appeared perverse, for so far they had been only an expense to me, without the sign of a purchaser.
On a visit to Millais' house when he was away, the father talked about the Academy school, and the treatment Johnnie had formerly experienced there. “Being so young,” he said, “ Johnnie became the sport of some of the rough, elder students, and he came home at times complaining and bearing marks of their coarse behaviour. They lifted him up above their heads and twirled him about, affecting to be acrobats. One brutal fellow, H—— (you must know him), carried the child up a ladder that happened to be in the school, encouraged the more by the poor little fellow's cries; and once he held him up by the ankles and marched with him head downwards around the school, his hair sweeping the ground. What could I do? It would not have done to make a scandal of it, but I told Johnnie to invite this burly fellow here to give advice on some design in hand. When he came I received him in friendly manner, and soon spoke of Johnnie's fragile form, saying that some rough students in the Academy were thoughtless about the delicacy of the young boy, that I felt sure he was a good, sensible fellow, but that some young men were without reflection and needed to be opposed, and that I would trust him always to protect Johnnie and save him from such horseplay. After that Johnnie was left unmolested, and we had every reason to rejoice in the effect of my appeal to H——'s better feelings.” This restraint, however, was but of transient or partial value, for the man had at bottom a cruel nature. Millais with true instinct, although not at the time admitting to himself the reason, painted him in his “Isabella” picture as the brother cracking the nut, and at the same time kicking the dog.
When I went again to Gower Street, Millais was painting “Elgiva.” It was a distinct advance in refinement upon his last picture, perhaps, because the subject afforded him the opportunity of painting women under conditions in which discriminating observation and delicate rendering of form could be exercised.
There were at that time so many varied objects I had to keep in mind, and Millais was so intent upon his work, that I saw little of him till the next season, when he asked me to come and see his new picture of “The Tribe of Benjamin seizing the Daughters of Shiloh,” undertaken in competition for the gold medal.
Our increasing intimacy induced confidential talk whenever we met; we discussed many theories of art and practice as seen both in old and modern painters, and I found him by no means bound to dogmas
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that gained general acceptance, but quite ready to re-examine settled views, even though they seemed to him at first above question.
At the conclusion of one of my visits to Gower Street, I explained, as a reason for deferring his coming to see my new work, that I was going to spend a month in the country. “Where are you going?” his mother inquired. “To Ewell,” I said. “Why, that's where Johnnie's going in the autumn,” said she, and we had a talk about Captain Lemprière, Sir John Reid, Sir George Glynn, and all the notables of the place, and of the country's sweetness and charm.
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  • Or from the bridge I lean'd to hear
  • The mill dam rushing down with noise
  • And see the minnows everywhere
  • In crystal eddies glance and poise....
  • I loved the brimming wave that swam
  • Through quiet meadows round the mill,
  • The sleepy pool above the dam,
  • The pool beneath it never still,
  • The meal-sacks on the whiten'd floor,
  • 10The dark round of the dripping wheel,
  • The very air about the door
  • Made misty with the floating meal.
Miller's Daughter, Tennyson.

Give me quickly the cold water flowing forth from the Lake of Memory.— Orphic Tablets, Gilbert Murray

Ewell—Ye well—in Surrey, at the time I speak of, had a true claim to be a home of repose. The fount in its slab-formed cradle at the entrance of the village was, in fact, only the public appearance of the newly-born stream, the true fons being hidden by a garden wall. When the pedestrian, a-dust, athirst, and sun-dazed, stepped within the surrounding rails of the crystal well, his eyes rested on the bubbling waters ere he raised them to his parched lips. The wide earth's thank-offering of a spring of water outpouring in its sparkling purity is ever a delight to man. The village itself had no sense of modern bustling or hurry; all was arranged spaciously, all work executed with deliberation, and with such unostentation that externally there was but little to distinguish the chemist's shop from the baker's, or any other tradesman's house from that of his neighbour. On the outskirts of the trading centre there were gentlemen's homes and farmsteads; and Nonsuch Park, of Elizabethan fame, still gave a stately grace farther afield, although the quaint palace had long since gone from sight. Banstead and Epsom Downs formed the horizon to the south. The water from the spring bore itself away in an opposite direction, first carolling along a pebble-strewed channel into a shallow pool crossed by a flat bridge, whence by the quiet searcher might be seen red-spotted trout poised in mid-water, and casting their sleeping sun-shadows on to the mossy gravel below, steady as though painted there. In the region beyond, the stream expanded bordered by well-tended lawns, and patterned with gaily flowered garden beds; between these widened borders lay an islet with weeping willows kissing the surface of the water.
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Peering down between the reflected boughs into the varnished shadows of the forest of weeds, the loiterer, lightly tiptoeing forward, might see


The Pool, Ewell


the suspicious fish flitting lightning-like into unsearchable caverns. A stone's-throw off, the pulsing wheel drew one's attention, and enticed


Ewell Spring

A. Hughes]


one's steps along a road to the face of the mill, where whitened men bearing sacks of flour descended and ascended inclined planks between upper doorways and vans. A further mill was so walled-up as to conceal the water in its channel. In the meadows below, the young current
Sig. VOL. I. E
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revelled in freedom, ofttimes taking a double course around mounds of earth well furnished with flourishing growth, then joining again and channelling itself through ditch-divided banks, under a forest of willows, with but occasional signs of any master's control. An opening in the wooded hollow led to a track of cart-ruts, winding round into the river, where it broadened out into a shallow ford; the wheel-marks led the way and tempted reckless feet to ford the transparent glaze of shining water, leading to a road bordered by blossoming trees and an ancient orchard, the herald of a farmhouse telling of past centuries. Beyond the house was a nave of noble elms extending in perspective to the sky-line. Stopping at the entrance to the avenue, any lover of nature's shy creatures would be drawn towards a lonely tarn, well-nigh


The Lonely Tarn


carpeted with duckweed and white blossom wherever the reeds and flags had not pierced through the surface, or where far, or near, the wild-fowl, or farm ducks and geese, had not cleared a domain for themselves. The wild-fowl met their domestic cousins on the common plain, although not with trust and unreserve, unless indeed the cackling recognition of the inquisitive intruder was intended to be, as it certainly was, the signal for the uprising of an inconceivably large flock of shy birds from the further extremity of the lakelet, the brood fleeing away beyond pursuit of sight.
Our little river below had to narrow itself to pass under the span of a brick-built arch made for neat-booted lasses and swains; it then deepened and passed between banks, husbanding the current's force for man's further will; it rippled along, circling in dimples as it was driven under sheltering willows, its banks strewn with long-disused mill-stones, discarded roller-beams, and ruined timber cog-wheels. Soon
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the flood was imprisoned by sluice gates; close at hand were abandoned huts, shuttered, overgrown, and choked with rank weeds. Here the kingfisher arrowed his way, the wild pigeon chattered and cooed, and the distant cuckoo voice noted the season. Between all could now be heard the plash and cranking of a near water-wheel. Now cut off from confiding trust, not even the lonely angler ventured thus far; the region was out of the ordinary world; being thus beyond the limits of common experience when, in the remoter solitude, a being, black as a creature of dark Avernus, passed by, he seemed fitly to haunt the scene. He was, however, only one who, for extra pay and much idleness,


Rectory Farm, Ewell


passed the day and night in turn with another man visiting at intervals a neighbouring gunpowder mill, shovelling up the deadly mixture always being ground by a revolving crusher on a circular platform. The water served two neighbouring mills, and then for a mile or so it revelled in wanton freedom, cutting deep down into hollow meadows, nearly covered by border tangle. It emerged again between well-trimmed banks for further mill service before it got finally free in wide meadow-land.
All this lucious and lonely charm of dell and meadow had very early a fascination for me, and it was natural that I should attempt to register some of its mystery by my art. Accordingly, I began a painting of the pool above one of the first mills, with the sun glistening down and penetrating through every nook of the landscape. The
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difference between the scene as it was presented to my untutored sight, and any single landscape by the great painters that I knew, suggested the doubt, when I had begun the subject, whether it was not one which a practical painter should avoid. This doubt was not removed when it grew increasingly evident that, spite of perseverance, the time remaining for the completion of my view would in no way suffice for its accomplishment.
A dear uncle and aunt who then lived at the Rectory Farm were my hosts in this pleasant place of retreat. Sometimes a cousin who was also a visitor, had a riding cob kept in the stables, and with this we made excursions, travelling ride and tie. Sometimes, with an extra mount for myself, we scampered over Banstead Downs to Epsom racecourse and to Ashted Park, and so I saw every variety of the country within miles of the weeping “eyne” of the valley.
It will easily be understood how the delights of this region afterwards became a frequent theme of enthusiastic appreciation beween Millais and myself.
The old church was condemned to demolition, and the Rev. Sir George Glynn, the Rector, engaged me to make a painting of it. While I was doing this, an Art Union prizewinner wrote offering me for my “Woodstock” picture the twenty pounds he had gained, and although I had asked double the amount, my uncle wisely persuaded me that a stranger's recognition of a first picture was worth the twenty missing pounds.
The picture had been well placed at the Academy, although under the line. While touching it on varnishing day, it was not left unnoticed by established artists; one, still young even to boyish eyes, stayed before it for several minutes, and I was afterwards told it was Frith who that year had an interesting illustration from The Spectator of Sir Roger de Coverley regarding the sign-board of the Saracen's Head, in which the painter, doing reverence to the Lord of the Manor, had painted him as an appropriate model for the ferocious Turk. When the exhibition opened many gracious words were said to me by my fellow-artists.
The money I received for this picture I determined to apply to the painting of a work nearer in spirit to my personal ambition; all previous subjects had of necessity been chosen from consideration of their small expenditure on models and accessories and their saleability in the end.
But while I was deciding on a subject, an event of the greatest importance occurred to me. One student—Telfer—with whom, wherever he wanders, be everlasting peace!—spoke to me of Ruskin's Modern Painters, and when he recognised my eagerness to learn of its teachings, all he could tell me, he gained permission from Cardinal Wiseman, to whom it belonged, to lend it to me for twenty-four hours.
Up to that day I had been compelled to think that the sober modern world tolerated art only as a sort of vagabondish cleverness, that in
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England it was a disgrace, charitably modified in very exceptional cases, and that if toleration of it lingered at all, it would not be in intellectual and elevated circles. The avowal reveals ignorance of the existence of the few dilettanti still remaining of the band which, at George III.'s initiative, had proclaimed a cult for Art, and of those younger men like Lord Egremont, who with unaffected enthusiasm cherished that instinct which in the survey of even prehistoric eras distinguishes man from the brute. To get through the book I sat up most of the night, and I had to return it ere I made acquaintance with a quota of the good there was in it. But of all its readers none could have felt more strongly than myself that it was written expressly for


The Conjurer (1844)

J. E. Millais]


him. When it had gone, the echo of its words stayed with me, and they gained a further value and meaning whenever my more solemn feelings were touched.
Shortly before this time Millais contracted a standing engagement with Ralph Thomas, the Chartist barrister, who lived in Stratford Place, and had turned picture-dealer, to paint for him, at a remuneration of one guinea per diem, every day or two a picture being finished for the employer. The young painter stayed to dinner, and during the meal the patron and his wife discussed the subject to be treated on the morrow. This was essentially of simple character, a mountebank showing his tricks, girls gathering fruit in an orchard, a shepherd driving sheep, a tired tramp having water given to him by children at a cottage door, and such-like. The preliminary business was to decide what models and objects would be needed in the morning, and these
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the employer undertook to procure. The enterprise bore good fruit to the painter in cultivating aptness and ready wit, in manipulation, and in the production of some remarkably clever pictures which brought ample profit to the dealer. Seeing this last essential advantage, Thomas's desire was to make the bargain a standing one. When Millais' attendance had been regular for some months, his parents began to question the prudence of its continuance, and urged the increasing importance of discontinuing these hurried pictures, which could not serve for exhibition, and would not extend their son's reputation. Millais at first defended his course on account of its lucrativeness, but finding this argument not accepted for long, he blurted out that he had signed a contract with Thomas to work at the rate arranged for a year or more, and that therefore he must go on with the engagement. The father laughed derisively, saying that Thomas was not such a bad lawyer as not to know that an engagement with a boy under age was not worth the paper it covered; and so the work ended.
One evening Millais, accompanying me to my studio, started talk at once with: “You know I always want you to speak to me candidly; well, I'll do the same with you. I've no fear, I can tell you. I know what you can do.”
I had grown dissatisfied with the principal figure in my picture of “Christ and the Two Maries” as it was painted at first; the canvas had had to be enlarged, and when it came back from the colourman's I found, now that the new design for this figure was ready, still more space was needed; so that, having spent all my money, and not seeing myself within reach of the picture's completion, I was disposed to be down-hearted. Whether to give it up for the time and begin another subject for the next exhibition was a question; but Millais gave me such hearty encouragement as to the character of the work that I was saved from the impatient conclusion tempting me that whatever I did was sure to fail. Relieved in mind on this point, I explained to him the system of painting without dead colouring, which I had more than ever before been following in the progress of this work. I maintained that at least for my particular aims it seemed the most suitable practice, and that soon I hoped to be able to trust to it without any retouching. While the autumn still ingered it was important to make studies of palm-trees to be introduced into this picture. Early one morning I went to Kew Gardens and worked industriously; seeing my enthusiasm, the curator in the evening considerately offered me a branch of about twelve feet in length lopped from the tree. My good fellow-student, James Key, was with me, and cheerfully made light of any difficulty in carrying it by undertaking to walk behind holding the tip while I carried the stem over my shoulder. We walked thus to Turnham Green in the increasing dusk, when suddenly my friend stopped, declaring that some mysteriously disagreeable object had fallen inside the collar of his coat; it was as large as a hand, and seemed to crawl
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cold and dry. Exmaining into the mystery with care, I eventually fished out a dead bat which had been carried unnoticed thus far in the swaying branches.
After talking to Millais of Keats, I one day took occasion to show him my deisgn for “ The Eve of St. Agnes,” representing the escape


Christ and the Two Maries (1847)

W. H. H.]

CHRIST AND THE TWO MARIES (1847) ( Unfinished. The figure of

Christ was completed towards the end of the nineteenth century

of Porphyro and Madeleine, and he confirmed me in the intention of painting this subject.
After this visit to my studio we became unreserved friends, and the father and mother treated me with great cordiality in my frequent visits to their house. He was now a tall youth; his bronze-coloured locks stood up, twisting and curling so thickly that the parting itself was lost; he dressed with exact conventionality so as to avoid in any
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degree courting attention as a genius. Gentle and affectionate as he was to his parents, he showed an increasing independence of judgement, so that I dismissed the thought of considering their prejudices when talking to the son on matters of vital interest to our art. 1
My first attempt to communicate to Millais my enthusiasm for Keats was for the moment a ludicrous failure. Going to his studio, I took the volume of Isabella from my pocket, and asking him to sit down and listen, read some favourite stanzas. Either from the solemnity of the verses, or perhaps because I had unknowingly contracted a droning delivery, after half-a-dozen verses he burst out with, “It's like a parson!”
Although perhaps a little nettled, I laughed. “I'll lend you the volumes, and you'll find the poems will bear a wonderful deal of spoiling. The Eve of St. Agnes is brimful of beauties that will soon enchant you, although The Pot of Basil is stronger, and I fancy written later. The subject that I have begun to paint is from the last stanza.”
He had now undertaken his picture of “Cymon and Iphigenia,” and during its early stage he made a change in the treatment of his family, which required persistent strength of will to carry through.
When on one of my visits to Gower Street as soon as the street door was opened to me, there was no time to make an inquiry before the parlour door suddenly opened and revealed the mother, who was full of fire, and eagerly conjured me to listen.
“Johnnie is behaving abominably,” she said. “I want you, Hunt, to hear; you would not believe it; he shuts us out of the studio altogether; he is there now all alone. For twelve days now neither his father nor I have been allowed to enter the room. I appeal to you; is that the way to treat parents? He cannot expect to prosper; can he, now? I hope you will tell him so. It is quite unnatural. Isn't it disgraceful?”
Before the dear lady had got thus far I saw the studio door at the end of the passage open, and Johnnie inquired whether it was not Hunt. Recognising me, he cut short the argument by calling out, “Don't mind what they say, but come here.”
And so, making the best assurance I could that they would find that there was some important reason for the suddenly adopted course, I joined the provoker of this discontent.
As he shut the door he said, “I'm sorry for my dear old mother, but the time has come when I can't have my studio made into the general sitting-room, and there's no way of making the change gradually. It must be done abruptly and firmly. Now how are you getting
Transcribed Footnote (page 56):

1 With regard to conversations with Millais, I cannot pretend to have recorded every exact word. But the illustrations and criticisms used, and the names of the works of art cited, are as fresh in my memory as if they had been spoken only yesterday, and therefore a revival of the conversatonal form of the interview seems to me the best way in which to convey an idea of what passed, and in our boyish talk I am sure we were characteristically profuse.

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on? You're not giving up the ‘Christ and the Two Maries,’ are you?”
“Not, I hope, finally,” I said; “but you see I'm obliged to paint portraits to get money. I shall spend less on ‘ The Eve of St. Agnes ’; I can do much of it by lamplight, and I think it is more likely to sell. We are now in the middle of February, I began it on the 6th, and I could not hope to do both. I must finish ‘The Resurrection Meeting’ another year.”
We then talked about his own work. He had committed himself to a great undertaking, but he had already drawn in the whole composition and had painted in a few of the heads very much as they were finally left. They had been painted almost or entirely at once, and to my eager eyes they seemed to have gained an immaculate freshness and precision and a nervous vitality which put them on a higher footing than his previous work. Suddenly he again reverted to the picture of mine he had last seen, inquiring what it was that prevented me from going on with it. If doubtful about the treatment of our Lord, why not look, for example, at some of the old Masters to be found in the Print Room?
I replied: “My dear fellow, my difficulties arise from whims in my own mind, which may be debatable, as to the whole treatment of the Saviour's figure, for when one phase of the question seems settled, another as formidable presents itself. My four years in the City deprived me of many opportunities for art, but I had time for reading and reflecting, through which notions have grown in my head which I find it not easy to resolve. Some of my cogitations may lead me to see lions in the path which are only phantoms, but until I have faced them I can't be satisfied; I have investigated current theories both within art and outside it, and have found many of them altogether unacceptable. What, you ask, are my scruples? Well, they are nothing less than irreverent, heretical, and revolutionary”—my two years' seniority gave me courage to reveal what was at the bottom of my heart at the time. “When art has arrived at facile proficiency of execution, a spirit of easy satisfaction takes possession of its masters, encouraging them to regard it with the paralysing content of the lotus-eaters; it has in their eyes become perfect, and they live in its realm of settled law; under this miasma no young man has the faintest chance of developing his art into living power, unless he investigates the dogmas of his elders with critical mind, and dares to face the idea of revolt from their authority. The question arises whether we are not in such a position now? Of course, we have got some deucedly gifted masters, and I love many of the old boys, and know they could teach me much; but I think they suffer from the fact that the English School began the last century without the discipline of exact manipulation. Sir Joshua Reynolds thought it expedient to take the Italian School at its proudest climax as a starting-point for English art; he
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himself had already gone through patient training which had made him a passionate lover of human nature; he had gathered on the way an inexhaustible store of riches, and was so impatient to make use of his treasures that the parts of a picture which gave him no scope for generous expenditure were of little interest to him. Under his reign came into vogue drooping branches of brown trees over a night-like sky, or a column with a curtain unnaturally arranged, as a background to a day-lit portrait; his feeble followers imitate this arrangement, so that there are few rooms in an exhibition in which we can't count twenty or thirty of the kind. Is it then premature to demand that the backgrounds of pictures should be representative of nature as well as their more important portions? Consider how disregard of this requirement affected Sir Joshua's ambitious compositions. Look at his ‘Holy Family,’ for example: the child is but a reminiscence of Coreggio's Cupid in ‘Venus and Mercury.’ His ‘Infant Hercules’ is equally dreary. The rules of art which he loved so much to lay down were no fetters to him when he had a subject like ‘The Three Graces’ to deal with, and when his unbounded love of human nature was appealed to, then his affection for Ludovico Caracci and the Bolognese School became light in the balance; his approval of togas 1 went for nothing when a general stood before him in red coat with gold facings; and the playful fancies of children suggested to him vivacious fascination such as no painter ever before had noted. His lectures were admirably adapted to encourage students to make a complete and reverential survey of what art had done in the past, for there was a danger that English painters would follow the course which Morland soon after took, of treating common subjects with only an indirect knowledge of the perfection which art had reached in the hands of the old Masters. Probably Wilkie owed his more refined course to Sir Joshua's teaching, but Reynolds was not then in sight of the opposite danger of conventionalism which has since affected the healthy study of nature; the last fifty years, however, have proved that his teaching was interpreted as encouragement to unoriginality of treatment, and neglect of that delicate rendering of nature, which had led previous Schools to greatness. The English School began on the top of the wave, and consequently ever since it has been sinking into the hollow. The independent genius of the first President could not be transmitted, but his binding rules have been handed on. I feel sure it is important to question fashion and dogma: every School that reached exalted heights in art began with humility and precision. The British School skipped the training that led to the making of Michael Angelo. Children should begin as children, and wait for years to bring them to maturity.”
“I quite agree with what you say; for as to Reynolds,” replied Millais, “he would think nothing of making the stem of a rose as big
Transcribed Footnote (page 58):

1 Reynolds urged Benjamin West, when painting “The Death of General Wolfe,” to represent him in a toga as appropriate.

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as the butt-end of a fishing-rod. 1 You'll see I intend to turn over a new leaf; I have finished these heads more than any I ever did. Last year it was the rage to talk about ‘Collinson's finish’ in his ‘Charity Boy’: I'll show 'em that that wasn't finish at all.”
I added: “With form so lacking in nervousness as his, finish of detail is wasted labour. But about the question of precedent. I would say that the course of previous generations of artists which led to excellence cannot be too studiously followed by us, but their treatment of subjects, perfect as they were for their time, should not be repeated. If we do only what they did so perfectly, I don't see much good in our work. The language they used was then a living one, now it is dead: though their work has in it humanly and artistically such marvellous perfection that for us to repeat their treatment of sacred or historic subjects is mere affectation. In my picture of the risen Christ, for instance, the old painters would have placed a flag in His hand to represent His victory over Death; their public had been taught that this symbol was a part of the alphabet of their faith; they accepted it, as they received all the legends painted at the order of the Church. Many of these were poetic and affecting; but with the New Testament in our hands we have new suggestions to make. If I were to put a flag with a cross on it in Christ's hand, the art-galvanising revivalists might be pleased, but unaffected people would regard the work as lacking living interest for them. I have been trying for some treatment that might make them see this Christ with something of the surprise that the Maries themselves felt on meeting Him as One who has come out of the grave, but I must for every reason put it by for the present. In the meanwhile, the story in Keats' Eve of St. Agnes illustrates the sacredness of honest repsonsible love and the weakness of proud intemperance, and I may practise my new principles to some degree on that subject.”
I blundered through this argument, not without many ejaculations from my companion; but here, laughing, I turned upon him with— “You see what a dangerous rebel I am, but you are every bit as bad as myself! Here are you painting a poetic subject in which you know all authorities would insist upon conventional treatment, and you cannot pretend that this work of yours is academic. If Howard or Frost undertook the subject, you know perfectly well that while they would certainly have made some of the nymphs fair, and some dark to give contrast, every care would be taken that the nymphs should rather be waxen effigies than living creatures. It would be in their several manners the same with Mulready, Eastlake, Maclise; such conventionalism is surely the sign of a declining Art, yet all the cognoscenti say, ‘How classically refined, how entirely this conception
Transcribed Footnote (page 59):

1 I never knew what particular picture he had in his mind; certainly in later years he dwelt enthusiastically upon the excellences of the great portrait painter; the self-sufficiency of youth must be remembered in the case of us both.

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belongs to the world of imagination and perfection.’ You've made living persons, not tinted effigies. Oh, that'll never do! it is too revolutionary.”
“I know,” he said, half apologetically; “but the more attentively I look at Nature the more I detect in it unexpected delights: it's so infinitely better than anything I could compose, that I can't help following it whatever the consequences may be.”
“Well, neither of us is sophisticated enough to appreciate the system in vogue, and not to feel that it ends in an insufferable mannerism and sameness of feature that soon pall upon the senses beyond toleration. All great artists have founded their beauty upon selection, and not upon the falsifying of Nature,” said I. “What gave the charm


The “Blind Fiddler”

David Wilkie]


to Wilson's works was his departure from the examples of the classical painters whose general manner he affected. Wilkie, in his ‘Blind Man's Buff,’ found no type of its sweet humour and grace in the Dutch masters; and Turner's excellence had no type of its enchantment in Claude or any other builder-up of pictorial scenery. Flaxman and Stothard are always most able in those works in which their own direct reading of Nature overpowers their obedience to previous example, and so it is with the best painters of our day. For young artists to remain ignorant of the course of their predecessors would be boorish folly, or knowing it, to despise the examples set by great men would be presumption, courting defeat, but you and I by practical study know much of the great works of antiquity and of the principles represented in them. Let us go on a bold track; some one must do this soon, why should not we do it together? We will go carefully and not without the teaching
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of our fathers: it is simply fuller Nature we want. Revivalism, whether it be of classicalism or of mediævalism, is a seeking after dry bones. Read, my dear fellow, the address of Oceanus in Keats' Hyperion, and you will see how the course of life on creation's lines is inevitably progressive, and only under debasing influence retrogressive. Nothing but fatal deterioration can come from servilely emulating the past, no matter how admirable the original. We have, as an example of trammels, the law that all figures in a picture should have their places on a ground-line describing a letter S—the authorities for convention finding this law in Raphael's works. I recognise it in many of his compositions but not in all. 1 The best that can be said for the edict is, that it varies the two sides of a composition, one being hollow and in most cases rich in shadow, while on the opposite side of the picture the objects form a protruding mass open to the light. Experiments with this canon are quite legitimate—you have used it in your ‘Cymon and Iphigenia,’ and I in my new picture—but I am convinced that the universal use of it is paralysing, why should the several parts of the composition be always apexed in pyramids? Why should the highest light be always on the principal figure? Why make one corner of the picture always in shade? For what reason is the sky in a daylight picture made as black as night? And then about colour, why should the gradation go from the principal white, through yellow to pink and red, and so on to stronger colours? With all this subserviency to early examples, when the turn of violet comes, why does the courage of the modern imitator fail? If you notice, a clean purple is scarcely ever given in these days, and pure green is as much ignored. But while our leaders profess submission to ancient authority, they don't dare to emulate the courageous independence of the old Masters, as in Raphael's audacity in the ‘Beautiful Gate,’ where he cuts the composition into three equal parts.”
Millais continued his rattling commentary as I went on, often endorsing the convictions I hazarded, and so encouraging me to be bolder, and many works ancient and modern were summoned to justify our argument.
In the midst of our earnest talk a timid knock came at the door. “Who's there?” asked my companion.
“I have brought you the tea myself,” said the mother. I was hurrying forward, when Millais stopped me with his hand, and a silent shake of the head.
“I really can't let you in, mamma,” he returned; “please put the tray down at the door, and I'll take it in myself.”
Transcribed Footnote (page 61):

1 Wilkie's “Blind Fiddler” is chosen as an excellent example of the principles enforced by academic rules; it will enable the attentive reader to trace the serpentine line as the ground plan of the arrangement of figures and salient accessories, and also the pyramidal forms of groups in the composition. As to the first and secondary lights and their relation to the tertiary lights and deepest darks, and also the cutting off of a corner by shadow, it is also edifying.

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I spoke then. “We are debating matters, Mrs. Millais, that would really be very dull to all but artists up to their necks in paint, and our talk is the deepest treason against our betters.”
She knocked again. “I call on you, Hunt, as a witness of this bad behaviour to his mother.”
Millais' only apology was, “You'll see in time how right I am;” and when his mother left he waited a minute ere he went for our tea.
We resumed our talk, reverting to the difference between vigorous and moribund art. I continued: “I had great delight in skimming over a book, Modern Painters, by a writer calling himself an Oxford Graduate; it was lent to me only for a few hours, but, by Jove! passages in it made my heart thrill. He feels the power and responsibility of Art more than any author I have ever read. He describes pictures of the Venetian School in such a manner that you see them with your inner sight, and you feel that the men who did them had been appointed by God, like old prophets, to bear a sacred message, and that they delivered themselves like Elijah of old. They seemed mighty enough to overthrow any vanity of the day. He glories most in Tintoretto, and some of a series he describes, treating of the life of the Virgin, and others illustrating the history of the Saviour, make one see the painter a sublime Hogarth. The Crucifixion is given with redoubled dramatic penetration, and he dwells upon the accumulated notes of meaning in the design, till you shudder at the darkness around you. I wish I could quote the passage. I'll tell you more of the book some day. The ‘Oxford Graduate’ reverses the judgment of Sir Joshua, for he places the Venetian in the highest rank, and disdains the Caracci and the entire Bolognese School, which until he spoke had never been quesitoned for its superiority. Life is not long enough to drivel through a bad fashion and begin again. The determination to save ourselves and Art must be made now we are young. I feel that is the only hope, at least for me. One's thoughts must stir before the hands can do. With my picture from The Eve of St. Agnes I am limited to night effect, but I purpose after this to paint an out-of-door picture, with a foreground and background, abjuring altogether brown foliage, smoky clouds, and dark corners, painting the whole out of doors, direct on the canvas itself, with every detail, and with the sunlight brightness of the day itself. Should the system in any point prove to be wrong, well! I shall know I have made a mistake and shall alter my course.”
In the midst of my talk Millais continually expressed eagerness to get away altogether from the conventions we denounced, and adduced examples of what he agreed were absurdities, declaring that often he had wondered whether something very interesting could not be done in definance of them. “You shall see in my next picture if I don't paint something much better than ‘Cymon and Iphigenia’; it is too late now to treat this more naturally; indeed I have misgivings whether there is time to finish it even as it is begun.”
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We had had our talk out for the night. He was putting things away, and collecting his brushes and otherwise making signs of departure. I held out my hand to say “Good-bye. ”
“Oh no! ” he said, “you must come in and see the old people,” which brought to my mind the prospect of a terrible quarter of an hour.
The parlour comes to my sight now. Over the fireplace was the oval portrait of Johnnie, painted when he was thirteen by Phillip—it had been done in return for sittings given for the head of Bruce in a picture representing that hero—below this portrait on either side were the small likenesses of the father and mother by their son; above the entrance door was Millais' admirable chalk-drawing of the Apollo's head. The mother sat in an armchair near the window and the father on the other side of the fire.
Johnnie burst into the sitting-room; I followed. “Now we've come to have a nice time with you, mamma and papa.”
“We don't wish, ” said the mother, “to tax your precious time at all; we have our own occupations to divert us and engage our attention,” and the crochet needles were most intently plied.
“Hoity-toity, what's all this? Put down your worsted work at once. I'm going to play backgammon with you directly;” and he straightway fetched the board from its corner and laid in on the table.
“You know, Hunt, how shamefully he has been behaving, and I appeal to you to say whether it is not barefacedness to come in and treat us as though nothing had occurred,” appealed the mother.
The us was chosen because at the time Johnnie had gone to his father with the guitar, placing it in his hand, and remarking, as he put his arms round the paternal shoulders: “Now, as we are too busy in the day to see one another, it's more jolly that we should do so after work, so just you be a dear old papa, and now prove to Hunt what a splendid musician you are. Hunt used to practise the violin once, but his family didn't like it, and he could not be annoying them in music and painting too, so he gave up his fiddling, but he's very fond of music. You play that exquisite air out of Rigoletto.” And then turning to me he added, “There's no one in England has such an exact touch as he has;” while to him he railingly said, “You want pressing like a shy young lady.”
His father was, however, already tuning the strings, when the son went over to the still irreconcilable mother, took her needles away, kissed her, and wheeled her in the chair round to the table where the opened chess-board was arranged awaiting her. The father had already commenced the air, which at my solicitation he repeated, and afterwards played “The Harmonious Blacksmith.“ The radiant faces of both parents gradually witnessed to their content, and while the son beat time to the music, he paid no less attention to the game with the mother.
After an hour of this renewed good understanding I left, without
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fear that the course my friend was taking would diminish the mutual affection of the father, mother, and son.
Since I had become a student in the Life School, which was held only in the evening, I had felt justified in giving more of my daylight to original work at home, but at the appointed hour I hurried away to the little “pepper-box” at the top of the building in Trafalgar Square.
It was here that the gods were seen in actual flesh. One evening in the past summer, running up the spiral staircase three steps at a time to secure my place before the model posed, I was brought to sudden sobriety of pace by overtaking Etty, that veteran master of colour in his generation, who was labouring to reach the top. It was with a


Etty in the Life School

W. H. H.]


feeling of shame that I found I had disturbed his toilsome climbing. I was too late to retreat, for he turned and saw me. I made my gentlest salutation to the bearer of the burden of life, the more reverently, seeing that his infirmity did not quench his ardent habitual effort. He could scarcely speak, but stood aside and made signs for me to pass. I apologised, with assurance that I would follow. Beckoning me close to him he said, as he put his hand upon my shoulder: “Go. I insist! Your time is more precious than mine.” I felt sure that he wished me to take him at his word, accordingly I obeyed his directions.
He painted on a sized but unprimed mill-board; he made the outline hastily with charcoal, dusted this out slightly, then took out his prepared palette and fastened it to the left-hand end of his board. His colours were set in order from white through reds, browns, blues, and greens to black. He began using them by rubbing in the darks with
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umber and rich browns, and then painted on the general lights in masses with accentuated prominences of pure white, tempering this gradually from patches of blanched reds and lakes kept in squares of different strengths on his prepared palette. At this stage, he made the half tints by leaving the ground more or less to show through the scumblings. After each touch his weighty head overbalanced itself to right and left, while he drew himself back for a more distant glance. At every fresh sally he recommenced by englarging the swoop of his brush on the palette. The next evening he began to clear away the excess of dried and undried paint with cuttle-fish, and circled away again with colours differing only by the inclusion of yellows and the more delicate lakes. In his after layers he never seemed to give an entire equivalent for the enchantments of his first indications of effect.
His choice of paints was not beneficial as an example to the young, for while at first he seemed to have brought certain vivid pigments for the background only, they all came gradually into the vortex of his sweeping hand, and before he had painted half-an-hour, emerald green and Prussian blue often were made to do service in flesh. He was intoxicated with the delight of painting, and when, after a careful reloading of his brush, he drove the tool upwards in frequent bouts before his half-closed eyes, I don't think that, had he been asked suddenly, he could have told his name.
We did not always have as instructors the members whose deserved renown made them coveted teachers, but in midsummer on one occasion—regarded as a fortunate one by all the students—Mr. Mulready was the visitor. It seemed he treated me with more than average favour, and perhaps it was reliance upon this apparent partiality that led me one evening, when the class had broken up, to follow him down the steps. Hearing me, he halted and turned round. I apologised for my intrusion by explaining that I sought information which would enable me to acquit myself of a duty delayed for some years. I then referred to Mr. Varley's loan of a crayon drawing, which he called a Rembrandt. While I spoke I could not but observe the visitor's features darkly clouding over, but I perservered, suspecting no evil. Suddenly he compelled a pause, and burst out with, “And how dare you, sir, assume that this affects me in any way?”
“May I explain, sir,” I went on, “that Mr. Varley once spoke of being in some manner a connection of yours; remembering this, I thought you might direct me how to find his son, to whom I might return the drawing.” Here the annoyance to which I was unconsciously subjecting Mr. Mulready was beyond toleration.
“I am astounded at your temerity, sir, in addressing me on such a matter!” he exclaimed. “He had no right to make the statement you speak of, and you, sir, have no excuse for taxing my attention with it.”
I stammered out, “I fear, sir, that I have made some great mistake, but pray believe me that I had no idea I should vex you.”
Sig. VOL. I. F
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“You have, sir, made a great mistake, a very great mistake indeed, one that I cannot at all understand.” And so he turned and went down the steps, still storming as he went, while I stood dumbfoundered. The next night, when he came his round, I stood up, bowing respectfully as I offered him my place at the drawing, but he only glared at me with his face set like a mask, saying, as he went round me, “Oh, it's you, is it?” I had most innocently made him my declared enemy. Yet I heard that he always inquired as to what I was doing at home, adding, “Ah! you'll see, he will do something one day.”
Some years later I heard what accounted for his ill-humour. He had married at seventeen a sister of John Varley of the same age; it proved to be a most unhappy union, and before the prime of life they had separated for ever, each thinking the other to blame, so that intimates refrained from mentioning the relationship. He probably assumed that I ought to have known of this.
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  • Persist if thou wouldst teach thine ends,
  • For failures oft are but advising friends.
  • Every failure is a step advanced
  • To him who will consider how it chanced.
George Meredith.

Whenever you have to do a favour, do not, as some are tempted to do, dwell upon the greatness of the sacrifice you make; but on receiving a kindness do not omit to recognise your benefactor's generosity.—Hints on Etiquette by a Lady of Quality (1840).

At twenty, one may not only be happy in a garret, but all the opportunities of life come more richly and the hours for effort last longer than in later days. Backward as I was with my intended contribution to the academy of “ The Eve of St. Agnes ,” I saw no reason at first to give up my attendance at the evening Life School. Coming home at nine, I worked on my canvas by the light of a lamp.
I was still pinched both for want of time and money, and I had to sacrifice some days in each week to paint portraits.
A visitor was brought occasionally to my studio by a friend; who sat by the fire without giving any sign that he cared for my work. His discourse was of country places, of old churches, of brasses, monuments, and other antiquarian matters of real interest to me. Yet it seemed unaccountable that he should find pleasure in coming to warm and air his memory at my glow-worm of a hearth; but blind as his choice seemed, it was impelled by kind Fate, as the sequel in time showed. The date for sending in works came alarmingly near. Millais had progressed more bravely than I, but he had yet more to do, and we agreed that neither of us could finish without working through the last nights. For company's sake, he invited me to bring my picture to his studio; his parents also urged this, and so we worked, encouraging one another hour by hour. Becoming fatigued, he suddenly, with boyish whim, conceived a prejudice against the task of painting some drapery about the figures which had still to be done, and entreated me to relieve him. “Do, like a dear fellow, work out this drapery for me; you shan't lose time, for I'll do one of the heads of your revellers for you.” His father was called in as his model, and I can to this day distinguish the part he did for me, adapting his handling to my manipulation by precise touch, while I did a part of the drapery of the Iphigenia for him.
When all were sleeping we were steadily working. Occasionally
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we refreshed ourselves with coffee; it was this, perhaps, which gave us extra energy for talk of the ideals we were raising up for ourselves, and about coeval art.
There was, perhaps, much boyish folly in our verdicts upon the old art, and in our aspirations for the new, but we wrought out the reason for each question, intending that it should be tried in the fire. We revealed all our innermost thoughts to each other, and used our conclusions to form ardent resolves for the future. It is on quiet and confidential occasions such as this that burning convictions are tested and refined, and ours at this time were beaten upon the anvil of what experience we had already had.
Our pictures were forwarded to the Academy, literally at the eleventh hour of the night, and very glad each of us was to go to his long-neglected bed.
Often when standing before them we had talked over Raphael's cartoons; at this period we again reviewed our judgment of these noble designs. We did so fearlessly, but even when most daring we never forgot their claim to be honoured. We condemned “The Transfiguration” for its grandiose disregard of the simplicity of truth, the pompous posturing of the Apostles, and the unspiritual attitudinising of the Saviour. Treating of the strained and meaningless action of the epileptic, I quoted the arguments of Sir Charles Bell, saying, “You must read them for yourself.” 1 In our final estimation this picture was a signal step in
Transcribed Footnote (page 68):

1 “Two of our greatest painters, Raphael and Domenichino, have painted demoniacal boys. In the convent of Grotto Ferraba, in the neighbourhood of Rome, Domenichino has represented St. Nilus in the act of relieving a lad possessed. The Saint, an old man, is on his knees in prayer; the lad is raised and held up by an aged man, the mother with a child is waiting the consummation of the miracle. Convulsions have seized the lad; he is rigidly bent back, the lower limbs spasmodically extended so that only his toes rest on the ground; the eyes are distorted; the pupils turned up under the eyelids. This would be the position of Opisthotonos, were not the hands spread abroad, the palms and fingers open, and the jaw fallen. Had the representation been perfectly true to nature, the jaws would have been clenched and the teeth grinding. But then the miracle could not have been represented, for one, under the direction of the Saint, has the finger of his left hand in the boy's mouth, and the other holds a vessel of oil with which the tongue is to be touched, and the grandeur of the old man makes this one of the most admired paintings in Italy.

“I have here given a sketch of the true Opisthotonos, where it is seen that all the muscles are rigidly contracted, the more powerful flexors prevailing over the extensors. Were the painter to represent every circumstance faithfully, the effect might be too painful, and something must be left to the taste and imagination. The original sketch is in the College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. I took it from soldiers wounded in the head at the battle of Corunna. Three men were similarly hurt, and in short successive intervals similarly affected, so that the character could not be mistaken.

“In the same painter's great picture of ‘The Transfiguration’ in the Vatican there is a lad possessed, and in convulsions. I hope I am not insensible to the beauties of that picture, nor presumptuous in saying that the figure is not natural. A physician would conclude that this youth was feigning. He is, I presume, convulsed; he is stiffened with contractions and his eyes are turned in their sockets. But no child was ever so affected. In real convulsions the extensor muscles yield to the more powerful contractions of the flexor muscles; whereas, in the picture, the lad extends his arms, and the fingers of the left hand are stretched unnaturally backwards. Nor do the lower extremities correspond with truth; he stands firm; the eyes are not natural; they should have been turned more inwards, as looking into the head, and partially buried under the forehead. The mouth, too, is open, which is quite at variance with the general condition, and without the apology which Domenichino had. The muscles of the arms are exaggerated to a degree which Michael Angelo never attempted; and still it is the extensors and supinators, and not the flexors, which are thus prominent.”—Bell's Anatomy of Expression.

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the decadence of Italian art. When we had advanced this opinion to other students, they as a reductio ad absurdum had said, “Then you are Pre-Raphaelite.” Referring to this as we worked side by side, Millais and I laughingly agreed that the designation must be accepted.
The first use which Millais and I made of our release from the pressure of work, was on a succeeding morning to accompany the Chartist procession; it marched from Russell Square across Blackfriars Bridge to Kennington Common; we did not venture onto the grass with the agitators, but, standing up on the cross rails outside the enclosure, we could see the gesticulations of the orators as they came forward on the van drawn up in the centre of the green. When the address was  

Drawing for Cyclographic Club

W. H. H.]


  • And still these two were postured motionless
  • Like natural sculpture in cathedral cavern.
  • The while in tears
  • She touched her fair large forehead to the ground,
  • Just where her falling hair might be outspread
  • The soft and silken mat for Saturn's feet.— Hyperion.

beginning to evoke tumultuous cheers, a solitary policeman, square and tall, appeared from the northern corner, walked through the dense artisan crowd to the foremost stand, and beckoned to Fergus O'Connor to return with him to the Superintendent of Police, under assurance of non-detention. I felt respect for both men and for the crowd as the speaker quietly descended, and a lane was made by the thousands present, while the two walked over the common as staidly as though they alone were on the ground. The Chartist champion was detained only a few minutes. He came back by himself, knowing that the roofs of the neighbouring houses were manned with riflemen and that concealed measures had been taken to quell any outbreak of disturbance.
On re-ascending the van, he advised the law-abiding people to disperse, which they did without delay. We essayed to return by the
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road we had come, but at Blackfriars Bridge a cordon of police barred further passage. We turned towards Bankside. Here at the entrance a set of stalwart roughs armed with bludgeons were determined to have their fight, and we heard, as we were about to pass, the sound of bloody strife. Who that has heard such even in its mildest form can forget the hurtle? We felt the temptation to see the issue, and Millais could scarcely resist pressing forward, but I knew how in a moment all present might be involved in a fatal penalty. I had promised to keep him out of wanton danger, but it was not without urgent persuasion that I could get him away. We went along, accompanied by but few of the crowd, till we reached London Bridge; passing this we arrived at the Bank of England and the Mansion House, crested with sand-bags to mask the  

“Ruth and the Reapers”

W. H. H.]


“And she sat among the reapers, and he reached her parched corn so she did not eat.”

soldiery. We succeeded on our round in gaining a thorough knowledge of the state of affairs. Returning by way of Holborn, the sombre sky opened its silent artillery on us with spots of rain as large as grape shot, and cleared the streets of agitators, mischief-makers, and idlers alike. With the last we scampered home as swiftly as any of the crowd.
Neither of us lost time. Millais, with his ready power of drawing, was impatient to produce some new composition. We were each of us members of the Cyclographic Club; according to the rules, a design had to be furnished about once every month, together with a criticism upon the drawings of other members; this criticism was taken out by the artist with his drawing when the portfolio came back for a further contribution. For some reason I never went to any meetings.
William Rossetti, however, speaks of a meeting which he attended with his brother. I know that at about this date, when the portfolio
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was opened at Millais' house, some designs of D. G. Rossetti's attracted our regard as an exception to the general level of the contributions, which could not be considered high in character; indeed, the Club was already in danger of splitting up, owing to the glaring incompetence of about three-quarters of its members, and the unrestrained ridicule of the remainder.
Millais had now become as ardent an admirer of Keats as myself, and we soon resolved to begin a series of illustrations in slightly shaded outline; we worked these with a fine brush in line in preference to a pen for the sake of greater freedom. The drawings were to be preparations  

The Pilgrim's Return

W. H. H.]


for copperplate etchings in illustration of the magnificent poem of Isabella. Before I could attend to such work, I had to replenish my empty purse by portrait painting of the dullest kind; and the design for Rienzi, which I had determined upon as the subject of my next picture being more urgent than the etching designs, I devoted the first hours I could steal, to its composition and to making an independent sketch in oil of its colour scheme. While I had made thus but scant progress with my Keats outline, Millais had completed his. We could not apply ourselves to finishing the whole Keats series until we could hope to tempt a publisher to co-operate with us.
Living near the British Museum, I went there whenever I could; I was now advanced enough to make a riper use of it than when I
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began to draw there; the rooms were then thronged with a band of youths so warmly intimate, that they seemed destined to be companions for life; but already their haunts knew them no more, and their places were taken by staring strangers.
When, after the lapse of fifty years, I walk again among the unchangeable masterpieces of antiquity, the old familiar faces of my fellow-students are close around me. I see them still with their imagined futures unopened; and then a second scroll unrolls with those of them whom I have known in later days, in which the circumstances of each life appear, and the younger and the older man seem strangers to one another.
One fellow-pupil in Rogers' studio was a youth, a year or two my senior; he had large prominent eyes, full features, swarthy complexion, and was of Semitic type. He talked proudly of his privileges behind the scenes of theatres with a somewhat precocious manliness. His name has since become known as the author of The Dead Heart. I met him later, and found him then ambitious of literary as well as artistic fame; yet I did not at that time see signs of that publicity which Watts Phillips, as a playwright, was to achieve after his death. At the Museum there was one tall, handsome youth, with full yellow hair and clear blue eyes who could never be forgotten; he drew with great earnestness, capacity, and modesty. His name was Tom Muloch; and frequently his sister Dinah, the authoress of John Halifax, would sit by his side. He died quite young.
When the Academy Hanging Committee had completed their work I was surprised and distresed to learn that Millais' painting of “Cymon and Iphigenia” had not been placed. He was exceedingly brave about the disappointment, and—as was characteristic with him throughout life on encountering any check to success—he was reticent on the subject, and now he hid the picture away; my “ Eve of St. Agnes,” being not nearly so large as Millais' picture, had more easily met with better fortune. It was hung in a good light, as was proved on the touching-up morning by the amount of attention which fellow-exhibitors bestowed upon it.
On the opening day of the Royal Academy Rossetti came up to me, repeating his praise, and declaring that my picture of “ The Eve of St. Agnes” was the best in the collection. Probably the fact that the subject was taken from Keats made him the more unrestrained, for I think no one had ever before painted a subject from this little-known poet. 1 I had found my mill-board volumes of Keats, on a bookseller's stall labelled, “this lot 4 d.2
Rossetti proposed to come and see me; before this I had been only on nodding terms with him in the schools, to which he came but rarely
Transcribed Footnote (page 72):

1 G. F. Watts had quoted some lines of Keats to his exquisite figure of “Echo.”

Transcribed Footnote (page 72):

2 In the Contemporary Review I mentioned that the volume had been lost by lending. A hitherto unknown friend, on reading this statement, most generously made me the possessor of a daintily bound volume in place of my original copy.

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Illustration to “Lorenzo and             Isabella


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and irregularly. He had always attracted there a following of clamorous students, who, like Millais' throng, were rewarded with original sketches. Rossetti's subjects were of a different class from Millais', of knights rescuing ladies, of lovers in mediæval dress, illustrating stirring incidents of romantic poets; 1 in manner they resembled Gilbert's book designs. His flock of impatient petitioners had always barred me from approaching him. Once indeed I had found him alone, perched on some steps stretched across my path, drawing in his sketch-book a single figure from the gates of Ghiberti. I had recently been attentively drawing some of the groups for study of their expression and arrangement, and I told Rossetti then how eloquent the Keeper had been in his comments on seeing me at work from the group of “The Finding of the Cup in Benjamin's Sack,” saying that Ghiberti's principles of composition were in advance of his time in their variety of groupings, and that his great successors had all profoundly profited by these examples. As an instance he had pointed out how Raphael, in the cartoon of “The Charge to St. Peter,” had put a little quirk of drapery projecting on the right to break the vertical line of the figure, just as Ghiberti had here introduced the ass with projecting pannier for the same purpose. The Keeper for such reasons regretted that the gates were not more often studied by young painters. Thus chatting and dilating on these quattrocento epochal masterpieces and their fascinating merits gave us subject for a few minutes' talk; but it was our common enthusiasm for Keats which brought us into intimate relation.
A few days more, and Rossetti was in my studio. I showed him all my pictures and studies, even those I had put aside for the nonce, which, at the stage I had entered upon of advance by leaps and bounds, often involved final abandonment; for in youth a month, and even a day in some cases, is an age in which, for all inventive purposes, the past acts as a sepulchre to its idea. My last designs and experiments I rejoiced to display before a man of his poetic instinct; and it was pleasant to hear him repeat my propositions and theories in his own richer phrase. I showed him my new picture of “ Rienzi,” in which I was putting aside all regard for conventional dogma, and striving by fresh search after Nature to get new life into each feature of my design.
I justified the doing of this thoroughly as the only sure means of eradicating the stereotyped tricks of decadent Schools, and of any conventions not recommended by experienced personal judgment.
While engaged on the question of the practice of painting, he confessed to me that he was disheartened about his position.
He then told me the circumstance connected with his asking Brown, by letter, to take him as a pupil, and of the amusing belligerent spirit in which Brown responded by coming to his house with a big stick! This ended with a happy life friendship for both of them, and honourable
Transcribed Footnote (page 74):

1 A later recurrence to this manner of drawing may be found on page 81.

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to the master, who had no idea that the indication of his suspicion at their first meeting had been noted by Rossetti, until I told the story in my address at the unveiling of the fountain erected in memory of Gabriel at Chelsea, when the only survivor of the friendship was present, who admitted the truth of my story with no small amusement.
Shortly before Brown's visit to Rossetti, the former met Overbeck  

Study of Bottles, by D. G. Rossetti Under F.           M. Brown, with Figure Added Years Afterwards



in Rome, and he at once undertook two subjects in the German's manner, one “Cherubs watching the Crown of Thorns” 1 (which he set Gabriel to copy), the other an elaborate design eventually entitled “Our Lady of Good Children” but at first “ Our Lady of Saturday Night.”
It was from a kindred source that Rossetti derived his “Early Christian” manner in design. The copy he finished not without some avowed impatience.
Transcribed Footnote (page 75):

1 Page 149.

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In accordance with all sound precedent, the master had set him to make a study of still life from a group of bottles and other objects which happened to be lying about in the studio. This discipline Rossetti had found so abhorrent that it had tormented his soul beyond power of endurance. 1 Thus disheartened, he had given up painting for the time and had turned for counsel to Leigh Hunt, asking him to read his small collection of poems, and to tell him whether he might not hope to rely upon poetry for his bread. My namesake had replied about the verses in the most appreciative manner, but implored him, if he had any prospect whatever as a painter, on no account to give it up, since the fortunes of an unfriended poet in modern days were too pitiable to be risked. “The heart knoweth its own bitterness.” Rossetti had thus been again driven to painting. In subsequent visits I learnt that he had not returned to Brown, but had been working alone at the studio of Hancock, a sculptor fellow-student, and there he had broken down again. “Was it necessary,” he asked me plaintively, “to go again to still life?” I assured him of my great deference to the judgment of his late master, adding that although, in ordinary cases, I should prescribe the same course to any pupil, for him I should try whether the object might not be gained by leaving him to choose one of his recent designs (seen and admired by Millais and myself as they had come round in the folio of the Cyclographic Club) 2 and that with the composition put upon canvas, the painting should be begun with the still life. I believed that invested with vital interest as links in an idea to be welded together, he would find each day's labour interesting and instructive until he had acquired sufficient proficiency to paint the figures in the picture. This suggestion he accepted with unbounded delight, and wanted at once to put it in practice, asking whether he might come and be directed in my studio.
For many reasons it was then impossible to agree to this proposal, one being that I had already a professed painting pupil, whose family had urged me to help him, and it would have been too hampering to do my work with two pupils together. But I offered to come to him, and explain all from time to time as he progressed.
My studio was now in a house, the lower part of which was an upholsterer's show-room. The furniture and hangings there displayed could not but challenge observation as wanting in artistic taste to a degree greater than could be found in any previous age or country whatever. With my youthful experience in designing patterns, I regarded decorative design as part of an artist's ambition, and I declared that furniture and costume would remain as bad as for the last fifty years they had been if we continued to leave the designing of them to tradesmen. The
Transcribed Footnote (page 76):

1 “Brown had a system of education which he would gladly apply to me. He set me to fag at some still life—drawing and painting both; but I could not stand that kind of thing, and after a time or two gave it up.”— Letter from D. G. Rossetti to W. B. Geoff .

Transcribed Footnote (page 76):

2 William Rossetti wrote: “I think it was more especially Holman who after a while considered that the Society was of little use, being weighted with too many ‘muffs’; he, Millais and Gabriel dropped it, and I fancy it survived not for long.”

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The Eve of St. Agnes

W. H. H.]


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employment of Flaxman and Stothard was the last example of artistic devotion to decorative design; since then painters and sculptors had given their attention exclusively to imitative Art.
In the intervals of chat upon questions of our profession Rossetti produced a manuscript copy of his own poems, amongst others The Blessed Damozel , My Sister's Sleep , and Jenny . They were not so complete as in their later form, the first poem being shorter.
He urged that I should give him my frank opinion of them and drew from me the confession that I wrote verses, which indeed I did only to record impressions of Nature, in simple couplets, or at the most in the Spenserian stanza. These would not here be mentioned except as prelude to the confession that his proficiency effectually discouraged any further indulgence by me in verse of any form whatever.
To provide funds, I had again to apply myself to portrait painting, but when the list of Art Union prize-holders was published, I saw that my fireside visitor during the progress of “ The Eve of St. Agnes,” had obtained a prize of £70 with which to purchase a picture from the current exhibitions. The amount being the exact price I had instructed the Secretary to put on my picture, I wrote to say that it would make me very happy if he did me the honour of selecting my work. His reply was, curtly, that he should look at all the pictures, that if any other were better than mine he should select that; otherwise he might take my picture, but in the end he bought it.
My uncle having generously refused to accept repayment of the money he had provided for the frame of the Keats picture, I now had funds with which to make a start in life.
I had already painted part of my new picture of “ Rienzi ”; the foreground with dandelion puffs and blossoms over which a bumble-bee hovered was afterwards held up by the orthodox as a mark of the prettiness of our aims, and by less impatient critics it was asked whether it did not stand for the last letter in our mystic monogram P.R.B. Being determined that the new picture should go further in obedience to my advancing aims, instead of the meaningless spread of whitey brown which usually served for the near ground, I represented gravelly variations as found in Nature. While the fine weather still lasted, I also gained the opportunity to paint a row of willow saplings on a sloping hillside of grass spangled with blossoms and flowers run to seed. The landscape was done directly and frankly from Nature not merely for the charm of minute finish, but as a means of studying her principles of design the more deeply.
I had now determined to quit my father's house, so as to feel freer for my work. Immediately Rossetti heard of my resolution he again broached the project of working under me for my hourly superintendence and instruction in painting. He had, so far, made no way in the new plan of work. This he accounted for by his want of confidence in himself; he did not believe that my proposed daily visits to his house
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alone would serve. He proposed now that he should pay half the rent of the studio and so reduce my expenses; but I had provided myself with a turn-down couch in my studio, and I wished to adhere to my plan without further explanation to any one. However, at a later interview I gave way to his insistence, and arranged to make the required additional space for him in my studio by taking a bedroom in the upper storey of the house, he paying a portion of the studio rent.

Study of Millais for Rienzi Picture

W. H. H.]


While we were giving orders for the prepartion of the room, Rossetti, whose enthusiasm for our principles grew with greater familiarity, talked much of Woolner as one of whom he had explained the resolution of Millais and myself to turn more devotedly to Nature as the one means of purifying modern art. He said that Woolner had declared the system to be the only one that could reform sculpture, and that therefore he wished to be enrolled with us. Woolner occupied the next studio to that of Hancock, the young sculptor who had allowed Rossetti to paint in
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his workroom, and there we visited him. Woolner was somewhat beyond me in age, about five feet eight in height, and of robust build; he had thick blond hair inclining to brown, and with his dark eyes he was a handsome youth.
He was then carving in marble for a fashionable bust-maker; he divided the studio with another sculptor, Bernard Smith, whose massive size formed a great contrast to the small bas-reliefs he was designing. Woolner, on the other hand, had erected a giant figure ten feet high  

Thomas Woolner

D. G. Rossetti ]


swathed in its damp cloth and for the nonce abandoned, for a model of Puck, which he showed us with paternal fondness. When darkness came on we talked about varieties of poetry, and travestied by joint composition the most blatant and vapid of its kind.
My new quarters had to be put in order. The whitewashing not being completed by the expected date, Gabriel and I spent one day in a visit to Rochester Castle, and on the morrow we went down the Thames to Greenwich (reading Monckton Milne's Life and Letters of Keats on the way), and thence to Blackheath to sketch. But Rossetti soon turned to writing poetry.
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While waiting on the barge pier for the returning steamboat Gabriel, full of poetic fire and murmurings, seeing a gaping boy staring at him, turned upon the puzzled lad, who retreated step by step before the advancing poet as he exclaimed interrogatively with solemn gesture, “Do you believe that—
  • The tyrants will reign for ever
  • Or the priests of the bloody Faith,
  • Or that they roll on the tide of a mighty river,
  • Whose waters are quenched in death.”
The boy by this time had backed to the edge of the barge and was in danger of falling into the river when an old boatman broke out,  

Sketch by D. G. Rossetti (1848)


“What's the use of asking the boy those silly questions? Why, you don't know yourself!”
Then the steamboat came to the rescue of the question and answer.
After this holiday I resumed work in the renovated studio at the end of August 1848, with Rossetti as my painting pupil and companion.
The subject for my new picture was suggested by Bulwer's romance, which gives, with but little garnishing, the facts of Rienzi's early life. Like most young men, I was stirred by the spirit of freedom of the passing revolutionary time, the appeal to Heaven against the tyranny exercised over the poor and helpless appealed to me. “How long, O Lord!” many bleeding souls were crying at that time. The composition of the picture necessitated patient working out of parts in separate studies. The costumes and armour needed research, and this made the task longer and more costly than many that might have been undertaken. My good friend who had lent me bloodhounds for my last picture, now
Sig. VOL. I. G
page: 82

Blackheath Park

W. H. H. ]


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supplied me with models for the horses. For shields and spears I went with my canvas to the Tower.
Before Rossetti had well got to work in my studio, I once returned from the Academy class at dusk and found him with Thomas Woolner in possession.
Woolner, who had lately returned from a brief visit to Paris, produced a case of brown wood bound with bright brass, containing an elegant clay pipe, stamped on the bowl 46, a number held sacred by student smokers in the French capital. Of Caparal tobacco he had still a precious remnant; he took out the prized calument with a dainty care such as a lady displays in handling a fragile jewel; his flexible fingers and thumbs were affected by habit of delicate manipulation as a sculptor. To the Westminster Hall competition, when quite a youngster, he had sent a small model of Queen Eleanor sucking the poison from the king's arm, and this had given him an opportunity of making acquaintance with some distinguished men, who were of great interest to young artists like ourselves. From the first there could be no doubt of Wooner's gifts as a raconteur, he told stories which brought these stars into our atmosphere, but his telescopic powers reached even further, and the illumination he shed on the heroes more remote from our ken equally delighted us. Of his master Behnes he expressed the highest appreciation as an artist, an opinion which he justified by reference to early work, such as the bust of the Queen as a child. While Woolner was still a boy in Behnes' studio, Haydon was leaving after a visit, and the pupil reverently hastened to hold the door open to him as an honoured guest; the painter, not satisfied at simply acknowledging this courtesy, turned and examined the boy's cranium, with words of encouragement as to his future possibilities. Beyond doubt our new friend was an entertaining reporter of the professional opinions of the time, while the unswerving faith he expressed in his own intended purpose did not fail to impress us with confidence in his future.
Rossetti had chosen his subject for painting from three prepared designs: “ Margaret in Church ” from Goethe's Faust,The Girlhood of the Virgin,” and Coleridge's “ Genevieve ”; and had preferred the second. The first step for him was to make studies from the nude for all the figures. To induce him to put the perspective right was, from this stage through, a business needing constant argument, and had it been left according to his choice it would indeed have distressed the spirit of Paolo Ucello!
In general terms he denounced the science, and objected strongly to each result of its application, declaring that what is proved to be wrong was obviously better. He brought weighty tomes from home on which the vase with its lily stood.
The aureoled dove representing the Holy Ghost, and the seven cypresses typifying the “seven sorrowful mysteries,” are all of arbitrary authority. Where I could I induced him while my pupil to take natural
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The Girlhood of the Virgin

D. G. Rossetti]


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objects as his models for these symbols, the little Gothic screen, the embroidery and draperies of the Holy Virgin were done as far as possible from nature.
When a little advance was made, I advised him, ere the season grew too late, to paint the vine, and for this part of his work he was absent about a week. He brought the painting back with foliage too crudely emerald green, but it was resolved that this should stand unmodified for a time, and so far the plan of work promised all that we had hoped.
To Rossetti's occasional expressions of unbounded enthusiasm for Brown's past works I could not always give unmodified approval. I had not time to visit exhibitions to follow up his works, but somewhere I saw his earlier large painting of “ The Execution of Mary Queen of Scots .”
The surface had what, at the time, marked the Baron Wappers School—an unpleasant sheen rather than the  

Ford Madox Brown


crystalline lustre of varnish, and the theme had to be accepted as a Continental aspiration, inspired by the fashion for such subjects as the executions of monarchs, which had already reached England.
In the British institution, where I also exhibited, I next saw Brown's picture of “ Parisina .” It had been painted (as was then usual on the Continent, for lamplight effects) with the subject lit up in an inner chamber, the canvas being outside in daylight, a condition which forced the artist to give a hot glare on the group much in excess of that observable in lamplight itself. The painting throughout was accomplished and facile; the drawing defied criticism as to correctness. The surface was less unctuous in its sheen than was the earlier picture; the style was a combinaiton of that of Rembrandt and Rubens as interpreted by the then leaders of the Belgian School
From his Flemish manner he turned to that then flourishing in Munich, and lastly, to the opposite of his Antwerpian mode, to the Overbeck School called Nazarene, which set itself to affect the childlike immaturities and limitations of the German and Italian quattrocentists.
Brown, however, added quaintnesses which marked his strong vitality, but sometimes without calm judgment, which left many of his true appreciators to wonder if he were not mocking them; it was certainly not notable at that time, that he had become a seeker after fresh paths in Art.
It will thus be seen that I had to form an estimate of his work from much more meagre data than that which connaisseurs have at hand in our day. Rossetti's outbursts of enthusiasm, tempered as they were
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by frequent merriment and volleys of laughter at his late master's eccentricities, were received by me with due reserve. However, the nervous force of his first works had so impressed me that I felt there was under all his vagaries a strong manly independence, and I was glad when Gabriel suggested that we should go over and see him in his studio in Clipstone Street. Being a widower, he lived alone in lodgings close at hand, while his infant daughter Lucy 1 was nursed in the country by relatives. He had a small annuity which provided him with means to meet the expenses of his profession. Gabriel's tone in speaking of Brown's present work was not so actively eulogistic as that adopted towards his earlier productions. His enthusiasm for certain of Brown's designs, in his Overbeck manner, which illustrated Shakespeare's King Lear, was expressed in fullest measure.
The studio was down a mews, and had originally been a carpenter's workshop. The painting in hand was “ Chaucer reading his Poems to the Court of Edward the Third .” The canvas occupied one angle of the studio from the floor to the ceiling; against the wall were two large wings to the central composition, the canvases were divided into Gothic arches to enshrine figures of poets of classic fame treated statuesquely; below were quatrefoil recesses, in which the names of other celebrities were displayed on medallions.
Brown's deliberate manner of speech and the reserve of his demeanour at this first interview suggested to me that he was offended at the manner of my intrusion between him and his former pupil. He had spoken generously to Rossetti of exhibited works of mine, so that I knew he had no former prejudice against me. I was too bashful to attempt to explain how unsought for on my part was my position as teacher of one whose pupilage under him had proved to be of but short duration, but Brown's growing cordiality soon made it clear that no unfriendliness was intended.
That I systematically examined the pretensions of my elders may appear presumptuous. That I should dare at first introduciton to sit in judgment on an artist who had made such profitable use of his advantages may indeed savour of irreverence. I am obliged, therefore, to repeat that the first principal of Pre-Raphaelitism was to eschew all that was conventional in contemporary art, and this compelled me to scrutinise every artist's productions critically. Impressed as I felt by his work as the product of individual genius, I found but little indicative of a childlike reversion from existing schools to Nature herself.
The striking characteristic of Madox Brown's design in his large painting is, to use his own word, its architectonic construction. Had the composition he was then employed upon been for a wall divided into a triptych with spandrils on the side panels, the device for filling the spaces might have been approved, and would have defended him from the charge of artificiality of treatment; and the resemblance in the
Transcribed Footnote (page 86):

1 Mrs. W. M. Rossetti.

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Chaucer Reading His Poems at the Court of Edward III

Ford Madox Brown ]


Note: The picture here illustrated is not the large oil painting Brown executed after 1845, but rather the original study for the work, titled The Seeds and Fruits of English Poetry (1843).

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central design to a builder's elevation would not have seemed so uncalled for. In Germany, subject painters had conceived a passion, encouraged by mural practice, for groups built one upon the other and contoured against the background, as if cut out of cardboard. In the composition before us, with figures in the wings, attired conventionally, each part was so studiously balanced by an opposite quantity that the method of construction forced itself laboriously upon the attention, and thus oppressed the mind by the means employed to gain the effect, not at all recognising that only the veiling of the means to this end, liberated the spectator's mind for the enjoyment of the idea treated. He ignored the admirable dictum, “Ars est celare artem.” Thus this “ Chaucer ” stood before me as a recent mark of academic ingenuity which Pre-Raphaelitism in its larger power of enfranchisement was framed to overthrow.
In Brown's last cabinet picture the same prevalent symmetrical fashion was adopted, as was conspicuous in engravings of Bendemann's “Jeremiah weeping over Jerusalem,” and Ary Scheffer's “Christ Consolateur,” and in many more designs seen in printseller's windows at the time.
While I was silently revolving this judgment, Rossetti began a sweeping tirade, against Brown's choice of poets in the side designs; growing quite warm, he declared that Shelley and Keats should have been whole-length figures instead of Pope and Burns, and the introduction of Kirke White's name, he said, was ridiculous. Brown combated the criticism as unreasonable and new-fangled, but Gabriel urged his point with great power until we took our leave. On our departure the young poet justified himself, saying that he knew “Bruno” would respect his opinion, because shortly before, when he had read his own poem of “ My Sister's Sleep,” the listener had been greatly moved.
By Brown's early return visit to my studio I was glad to find that my new acquaintance was not in any way offended with either of us. When he had finished his criticism on his old pupil, I was careful to ask him to give me the advantage of his impressions on my work. Frankly and kindly he made his comments; and as he enlarged upon the theme, he cited certain artists as unappreciated whom he championed earnestly and humorously in turns, meanwhile indulging in playful irony upon what he termed my “microscopic detail.” He was the sincerest knight-errant that ever braved adventure in the search after rectification of vulgar opinion. As a critic he always gave weighty counsel, urged by careful reasoning and naïve anecdote.
As Woolner was a proposed new member of our Brotherhood (the story of the foundation of which has yet to be told), I went with the two Rossettis on a visit to his studio in Stanhope Street, where Bernard Smith remained of the party. Woolner with his work certainly filled more than his equal share of the chamber, which by night looked vast and boundless; he guided us through the labyrinth of modelling-stools, pails of clay, plaster moulds, and casts on our way to the stove. On
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every side were signs of his industry and energy. The colossal figure, never illumined by candle-light much above the knees, stood in mid-space. At this date Woolner was still working as a marble carver for others, so that the large clay model (the object of his highest ambition) received attention only morning and night, when the wet cloths were changed and reapplied with the tenderness of a surgeon dressing a wound. It was an illustration to the text, “Lo, one generation passeth away, and another cometh”; the past generation was represented by a figure prostrate on the base, while the advancing epoch was striding over him somewhat disdainfully; the modelling had occupied many months of active study.
The many indications of Woolner's energy and his burning ambition to do work of excelling truthfulness and strong poetic spirit expressed in his energetic talk were enough to persuade me that Rossetti's suggestion that he should be made one of our number was a fully reasonable one; in due course, therefore, Millais having known him at the Academy, he was approved as a member.
The talk at my studio was often on the further extension of our number. In Gabriel's Life School he was joined by his brother William, who applied himself at night in a steady manner to the pursuit of drawing, and regularly executed conscientious, although rigid, transcripts of the nude. Gabriel was soon persuaded that, in spite of William's lateness in taking up Art, he would shortly become proficient enough to be justified in throwing up his appointment at the Inland Revenue Office and taking to painting, and with this prospect he proposed that we should make room for him in our Body. In addition to this proposal, I agreed to consider with Millais the question of the acceptance of James Collinson, who had already distinguished himself by paintings of the genre kind, but was now writing poetry in the High Church spirit. He promised now to paint in the severe style, declaring himself a convert to our views. The idea of extending our numbers so trustfully was thus originated by Gabriel. Youth is sanguine, and I offered no opposition to the experiment; and when the enthusiastic desire of these fellow-students was declared to be a sure earnest of future zeal and power, I introduced to my friends F. G. Stephens, who had not yet achieved anything as an artist. I urged that he also, with the whirl of enthusiasm in operation and under seal of promise to us, might become an active artist. 1
When on Millais' return to town I went to his studio, he shouted out, “Where is your flock? I expected to see them behind you. Tell me all about it. I can't understand so far what you are after. Are you getting up a regiment to take the Academy by storm? I can quite see why Gabriel Rossetti, if he can paint, should join us, but I didn't know his brother was a painter. Tell me. And then there's Woolner. Collinson 'll certainly make a stalwart leader of a forlorn hope, won't
Transcribed Footnote (page 89):

1 Mr. William Rossetti informs me that he did not understand that “any such assumption amounted to a condition.”

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he? And Stephens, too! Does he paint? Is the notion really to be put in practice?”
“Well,” I replied, “in order I'll tell you. Gabriel urged me to let him share my studio that I might teach him to paint, and he's such an eager fellow that my only doubt as to his success is that he may be ever beginning and never finishing. He is now working in my studio on a little picture of ‘ The Virgin and St. Ann,’ the most mediæval of his last three designs. You saw the drawing of it. It seems that lately he has seen a great deal of Woolner, and talked to him of our plan of going direct to Nature for all things, and so he expressed a desire to join us. I didn't know him, but now I think he might help to spread our principles in his branch. Probably you know his powers better than I do. Now comes the forlorn-hoper; it appears that the Rossettis are much attached to him, and Gabriel, having taken possession of him, declares he can attain a higher kind of work than he has yet accomplished, and Collinson himself has been pressing me to get him accepted. I like the meek little chap. All I can say is that there was an initial good idea in his ‘Charity Boy,’ and that the manipulation was conscientious, so that with higher inspiration he might do something good. I must not forget William Rossetti. Well, Gabriel proposes that he too shall become an artist and join us. It is very late in life; he is as old as you, without having drawn at all yet, but his brother declares that he will soon make up for lost time. Now these are proposed by Rossetti. The numbers grew so fast, and his confidence in our power was so extensive, that I determined to put a limit on the number of probationary members, which I did by adding my painting pupil Stephens; so far the novice's indispensable passion is not awakened in him, but being treated as a real artist may do it.”
Millais' rejoinder was, “Yes; but all this is a heavy undertaking.”
“It looks serious, certainly,” I said, “but then there is this to be considered. If they fail, I don't see how they can interfere with us; and if they make truly good artists, our Body will become the stronger, and we may the more perfectly revolutionise taste. Remember, however, that the whole question now rests with us, and I have said I can agree to nothing finally till your return to town.”
The conference was ended by Millais proposing to ask them all to his studio one evening that he might see how things look, for he, no more than I, foresaw harm in the plan proposed.
At the meeting at Millais' we had much to entertain us. First, there was a set of outlines of Führich in the Retzsch manner, but of much larger style. The misfortune of Germans as artists had been that, from the days of Winckelmann, writers had theorised and made systems, as orders, to be carried out by future practitioners in ambitious painting. The result was an art sublimely intellectual in intention, but devoid of personal instinct and often bloodless and dead; but many book illustrators had in varying degrees dared to follow their own fancies, and
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had escaped the crippling yoke. In the illustrations by Führich we found quite remarkable merits. In addition to these modern designs, Millais had a book of engravings of the frescoes in the Campo Santo at Pisa which had been lent to him. Few of us had before seen the complete set of these famous compositions.
The innocent spirit which had directed the invention of the painter was traced point after point with emulation by each of us who were the workers, with the determination that a kindred simplicity should regulate our own ambition, and we insisted that the naïve traits of frank expression and unaffected grace were what had made Italian art so essentially vigorous and progressive, until the showy successors of Michael Angelo had grafted their Dead Sea fruit onto the vital tree just when it was bearing its choicest autumnal ripeness.
Every circle of students has its fringe of members who are the most earnest of the whole body in all but actual work, and in lieu of this they offer such liberal substitute in assurances, that it is only in the light of later experience that the thought of their being practical allies is abandoned. Together with these are some who exhibit an enchanting gift which may be likened to “la beauté de la jeunesse,” inasmuch as it comes as a distinct gift of youth. It enables the endowed to surprise their friends with what seems to be the product of real genius. Later seasons dispel the precocious estimate, and prompt the doubt whether the first fruits were indeed products, or only gleanings picked up from the profusion of earlier workers. Our principles required that our adherents should seek inspiration from Nature herself. With the knowledge of the world attained at only twenty and odd years, we were making a random venture.
Putting aside the question of the thorough purgation of Rossetti from his adopted Revivalism, Woolner had as yet given little power beyond that of subtlety in his worksmanship as a modeller and a carver of marble. In design we trusted most to his enthusiastic anticipations of sublime conceptions yet to be elaborated. Collinson had done work which proved capacity in painting; but this stopped short of severity of either invention or treatment. After him in preparedness came Stephens, who had been through the first drawing school of the R.A., but so far had done no practical painting or designing. William Rossetti as yet had not designed at all. For all decificiencies, however, we accepted hopes for the future, and persuaded ourselves that our colleagues would represent our aims with enthusiasm and diligence. Millais would not ratify the initial acceptance of the four candidates without check on their understanding of our purpose, for he feared the distortion of our original doctrine of childlike submission to Nature. The danger we feared at the time arose from the vigour of the fashionable revival of Gothic art rather than from any similar tendency towards imitation of classicalism the power of which was fast waning. For the last thirty or forty years architecture had become mainly mediæval in character,
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and altogether slavish. At the introduction of the Renaissance in Italy new life and growth had been imparted to Greek types, the English manner of adopting Gothic examples had not been so wisely guided.
This modern Gothic spirit had at first declared itself in Architecture in an incongruous and clumsy copying of the most obvious characteristics, gathered together from examples of differing ages and styles, but the more advanced architects had gradually become more discriminating, and had led connaisseurs to accept Early English as the “perfect style” before or after which nothing was worthy of attention. Indeed, Gothic revivalism was so popular throughout England at this time, that graduates of the Universities, whether clergy or squires, fostered it eagerly, demolishing old and putting up with new churches in the “correct style” with mechanically-reproduced stained-glass designs in startling colours caricaturing the harmonious splendours of Gothic traceries.
The design of the Palace at Westminster had been adopted under the inspiration of the first revivalists, while faults of proportion in human form were regarded as merits to be imitated unreasoningly. Moreover, German revivalism was adopted in the interior-painted decorations.
Had all the artists here employed been mere resurrectionists they could have misled only the whimsical, but in fact some of the masters employed at St. Stephen's were men of such elevated capacity that they gave more than a passing charm to their Mediæval imitations, by unwonted brilliance of effect and by touches of individual genius, and this made their example a greater snare to the young and timid, who always need the support of precedent.
As we turned over the prints of the Campo Santo designs in Millais' studio we remarked Benozzo Gozzoli's attentive observation of inexhaustible Nature, and dwelt on all his quaint charm of invention. We appraised as Chaucerian the sweet humour which appeared wherever the pathos of the story might by such aid claim greater sympathy, and this English spirit we acclaimed as the standard under which we were to make our advance.
Yet we did not curb our amusement at the immature perspective, the undeveloped power of drawing, the feebleness of light and shade, the ignorance of any but mere black and white differences in the types of men, the stinted varieties of flora, and their geometrical forms in the landscape; these simplicities, already out of date in the painter's day, we noted as belonging altogether to the past and to the dead revivalists, with whom we had determined to have neither part nor lot. That Millais was in accord with this conviction was clear from his latest designs and from every utterance that came from him with unmistakable heartiness as to his future purpose, and may be understood now from all his after-work.
Rossetti's concurrence in these views was witnessed to, not by his painting in hand (which was from a design made earlier, when he was
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professedly under the fascination of F. M. Brown's Early Christian dogma), but by his daily words put into permanent form in the short prospectus for The Germ, issued a year or so later, in which Nature was insisted upon as the one element wanting in contemporary art. 1 The work which was already done, including all the landscape on my “ Rienzi ” picture, and my past steps leading to the new course pursued, spoke for me, and thus was justified the assumption that all our Circle knew that deeper devotion to Nature's teaching was the real point at which we were aiming. It will be seen that some commentators have ever since declared that our real ambition was to be revivalists and not adventurers into new regions. Why and how this misunderstanding arose it now devolves upon me to trace out.
Transcribed Footnote (page 93):

1 The endeavor held in view throughout the writings on art will be to encourage and enforce an entire adherence to the simplicity of Nature, and also to direct attention, as an auxiliary medium, to the comparatively few works which art has yet produced in this spirit. It need scarcely be added that the chief object of the etched designs will be to illustrate this aim practically, as far as the method of execution will permit, in which purpose they will be produced with the utmost care and completeness.—Preface to Germ

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Un pittore non deve mai imitare la maniera d'un altro, perche sarà detto nipote e non figlio della Natura; perche essendo le cose naturali in tanto larga abbondanza, piu tosto si deve rècorrere ad essa Natura, che alli maestri che da quella hanno imparato.— Trattato della Pittura, cap. xxiv. L. da Vinci

I believe it is no wrong observation that persons of genius, and those who are capable of art, are always most fond of Nature, as such are chiefly sensible that art consists in the imitation and study of Nature. On the contrary, people of the common level of understanding are principally delighted with the niceties and fantastic operations of art, and constantly think that finest which is least natural.—Pope

Not alone was the work that we were bent on producing to be persistently derived from Nature, not simply were our productions to establish a frank study of Creation as their initial intention, but the name adopted by us negatived the suspicion of any servile antiquarianism. Pre-Raphaelitism is not Pre-Raphaelism. Raphael in his prime was an artist of the most independent and daring course as to convention. He had adopted his principle, it is true, from the store of wisdom gained by the long years of toil, experiment, renunciation of used-up thoughts, and repeated efforts of artists, his immediate predecessors and contemporaries. What had cost Perugino, Fra Bartolomeo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michael Angelo more years to develop than Raphael lived, he seized in a day—nay, in one single inspection of his precursors' achievements. His rapacity was atoned for by his never-stinted acknowledgments of his indebtedness, and by the reverent and philosophical use in his work of the prizes that he seized. He inherited the booty like a prince, and, like Prince Hal, he retained it against all disputants; his plagiarism was the wielding of power in order to be royally free. Secrets and tricks were not what he made his own; he accepted the lessons that either predecessors or contemporaries had to teach, and they suffered no hardship at his hands. What he gained beyond personal enfranchisement, was his master's use of enfranchisement, the power to prove that the human figure is of nobler proportion, and has grander capabilities of action than is seen by the casual eye, and that for large work, expression must mainly depend upon movement of the body rather than upon marks of facial emotion. He tacitly demonstrated that there is no fast rule of composition to trammel the arrangement dictated to the artist's will. Yet, indeed, it may be questioned whether,
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before the twelve glorious years had come to an end after his sight of the Sixtine chapel ceiling, he did not stumble and fall like a high-mettled steed tethered in a fat pasture who knows not that his freedom is measured. The musing reader of history, however ordinarily sceptical, may (on the revelation of a catastrophe altogether masqued till the fulness of time) involuntarily recognise the finger of God pointing behind to some forgotten trespass committed in haste to gain the coveted end. There is no need here to trace any failure in Raphael's career; but the prodigality of his productiveness, and his training of many assistants, compelled him to lay down rules and manners of work; and his followers, even before they were left alone, accentuated his poses into postures.
They caricatured the turns of his heads and the lines of his limbs, designed their figures in patterns; and they built up their groups into formal pyramids. The master himself, at the last, in the “Transfiguration,” was not exempt from such deadly artificialities and conventions. The artists who thus servilely travestied the failings of this prince of painters were Raphaelites, and although certain rare geniuses since then have dared to burst the fetters forged in Raphael's decline, I now repeat, what we said in the days of our youth, that the traditions that went on through the Bolognese Academy (which were introduced at the foundation of all later Schools and enforced by Le Brun, Du Fresnoy, Raphael Mengs, and Sir Joshua Reynolds, to our own time) were lethal in their influence, tending to stifle the breath of design. The name Pre-Raphaelite excludes the influence of such corrupters of perfection, even though Raphael, by reason of certain of his works, be in the list.
It is needless to trace in other Schools the fall which followed pride; the Roman case is typical. At the present day it is sometimes remarked that with such simple aims we ought to have used no other designation than that of art naturalists. I see no reason, however, to regret our choice of a name. Every art adventurer, however immature he may be in art lore, or however tortuous his theory, declares that Nature is the inspirer of his principles. All who call themselves self-taught are either barbarians, or else are ignoring indirect teaching. Life is not long enough for any one who starts in Art from the beginning, to arrive beyond the wide outposts. Wise students accept the mastership of the great of earlier ages. True judgment directed us to choose an educational outflow from a channel where the stream had no trace of the pollution of egoism, and was innocent of pandering to corrupt thoughts and passions. We drew from this fountain source, and strove to add strength to its further meanderings by the inflow of new streams from Nature and scientific knowledge. Our work was condemned by established artists for its daring innovation. Now, unobservant critics, seeing that certain afterworks of our elders possess the characteristics which these elders originally cavilled at, call them our teachers. At
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the time of our boyish combination we had no thought that such pretensions could ever be made; we were too strongly engrossed with the desire to supply a defect in modern training to think of personal kudos.
In the ages intervening between the great Italian triumvirate of Art and our own there had been many attempts—some with noble results—to get down again, Antæus-like, to the solid earth; but the profit had not extended beyond their individual efforts. The marriage between Gothic and the Renaissance occurred while Art was still of one household; there had been emulations in each family, but these were as the rivalries of brethren; what each gained in strength and riches was added to the parental store. This happy unity was gradually dissolved, and never since in any nation has there existed a perfect system of handing on to the young the wisdom of the elder.
Millais and I had thought at first of husbanding only our own fields, but the outspoken zeal of our companions raised the prospect of winning waste lands and of gaining for English Art a new realm from the wilds, such as should be worthy of the Race; for, manly and poetic as individual painters had been, the means had been lacking of handing on their lifelong experience to their successors. The system of apprenticeship became doomed by Academy teaching, which superseded the private “Maestro,” so each young artist had begun his struggle without the guidance of affectionate initiation, and therefore without an advanced starting-point.
To those who look upon Art as a pretty toy, the earnestness of the notes which I recall as passing through the minds of some of us may seem out of place even as sacred music at a ball. Such objection reveals that idle regard for art which is a natural outcome of the fitful and unnational ambition of our disunited forerunners. Our impetuous hope was to replace this mere egotistical whim for art by a patriotic enthusiasm, and by accumulated effort to counteract the curse of the national tendency to extol every other country's art above its own.
Millais was the best trained of all of us; he had a precocious capacity for both drawing and colouring, and his parents had not allowed an hour of his life to be lost to his purpose of being a painter. The need of groping after systems by philosophic research and deductions was superseded in him by a quick instinct which enabled him to pounce as an eagle upon the prize he searched for. Favoured and young as he was, he had passed through an early tempering which left him firmer in will than many men ever become. This steadfastness was softened by generous enthusiasm, a sweet reasonableness, and a strong sense of the ridiculous. It was strange how from behind his practical qualities an inspiration to convey a poetic meaning would take possession of him, which was not less mystic genius because he could give no logical reason for it, or because no type of it could be found in earlier art.
He felt the fire of his message; it seemed to make his face glow, and Rossetti, justifying an expression of his in “ Hand and Soul ,” said that
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when he looked at Millais' full-face, it was as that of an angel. The expression marks Rossetti's exaltation of mind when in his more dreamy moods, he possessed, as was already proved in his black and white designs, a true novice's devotion to poetic mysticism and beauty, and a power of invention the exercise of which is meat and drink to the real artist. In this day there would seem to have been no foresight in our early confidence in his artistic future; he is judged now by what he did later, but then it needed the bold gift of prophecy to be confident  


E. Landseer]


that he would ever discipline himself enough to become a trained painter. Since he had re-committed himself to the pursuit, he ceased to express fear of defeat. It will be seen he entertained equal confidence for others, for he was with all his heart a proselytiser, and for those who had gone even less far on the painter's road than himself, he made light of difficulties. But Millais and I, it must be confessed, often doubted whether, spite of our friendly probation of the unproved candidates, Gabriel did not unduly overlook an argument against their success, in the evidence that their indifference so far to art showed the want of natural instinct for it, but his unfaltering certainty in their future shamed our scepticism. No one, however, could be more sudden
Sig. VOL. I. H
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or wholesale in correction of a too favourable estimate of his impulsively recommended protégés, whether they were those we had adopted, or outsiders over whom he at times went into paroxysms of wild laudation, until the disillusion came, he was then as trenchant in his condemnation as he had been in his too ardent praise.
In my own studio soon after the initiation of the Brotherhood, when I was talking with Rossetti about our ideal intention, I noticed that he still retained the habit he had contracted with Ford Madox Brown of speaking of our aspirations as “Early Christian.” I objected to the term as attached to a School called by the Germans “Nazarene,” and as far from vitality as was modern classicalism, and I insisted that the designation “Pre-Raphaelite” was more radically exact, and best expressed what we had agreed should be our principle. The second question, what our corporation itself should be called, was raised by the increase of our company. Gabriel improved upon previous suggestion with the word Brotherhood, overruling the objection that it savoured of clericalism. When we agreed to use the letters P.R.B. as our insignia, we made each member solemnly promise to keep its meaning strictly secret, foreseeing the danger of offending the reigning powers of the time. The name of our Body was meant to keep in our minds our determination ever to do battle against the volatile art of the day, which had for its ambition “Monkeyana,” frivolities, “Books of Beauty,” Chorister Boys, whose forms were those of melted wax with drapery of no tangible texture; and the illustrations to Holy Writ feeble enough to incline a sensible public to revulsion of sentiment.
Equally shallow were the approved imitations of the Greeks, and paintings which would ape Michael Angelo and Titian, together with designs (the latest innovation from Germany) that affected without sincerity the naïveté of Perugino and the early Flemings.
The designs for Keats' Isabella to be etched by Millais and myself, were chosen from the first stanza explaining the position of the lover in the house of the two brothers. In spare hours I made progress with my black and white design of Lorenzo at his desk in the warehouse. In this, my business experiences were of some help, as Gabriel pointed out soothingly—when I was blaming my fate for having taken me away from school so early, and having placed me in the City—he argued that the knowledge of men and human ways which it gave me was not the only example of what I had obtained as equivalent to the loss of early acquirements gained from teachers, labelled by him at the moment as “of very little use in life.”
I had already painted the face of Rienzi in my picture from a fellow-student with a fine head, but soon I became convinced that the racial character would be more satisfying if Gabriel would serve as my model. This he good-naturedly did, and accordingly I cleaned the canvas and made the new head a portrait of him, as far as the character of the strong man of action I had to represent would warrant.
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Note: A library stamp appears in the bottom right corner of this page.
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One enduring pleasure and advantage I enjoyed at this time was in the crystallising of my friendship with William Rossetti, a man of highest integrity of character, and ever ready to serve us while spending his spare time in our studio. He sat to me for the “youth” with hand on his breast in my picture “Rienzi.”
Monthly meetings held in turn at the studios of the members were our means of considering the progress of affairs and the manner of extending our operations. In my notebook of the time I come upon a scribble of the six other members when they happened to have arranged themselves in a form that seemed worth impressing upon the memory.
To no one at this period did Gabriel reveal himself with less reserve than to me. It is with his art career that I am concerned to deal, and if I am ever led outside the margin of this interest, with him as with other  

W. M. Rossetti

W. M. Rossetti

friends, it is because previous writers have already passed the sacred barrier of reticence, and have given false impressions of our Movement which I alone am left to correct. The pictures and the poems that Rossetti published will ever render him a person of vital interest, and worthy of keenest study. He is before my mind's eye now, as daily communion with him at the most impressionable period of life made him appear. Imagine then, a young man of decidedly Southern breed and aspect, about five feet seven in height, with long brown hair touching his shoulders, not caring to walk erect, but rolling carelessly as he slouched along, pouting with parted lips, searching with dreaming eyes; the openings large and oval; grey eyes, looking directly only when arrested by external interest, otherwise gazing listlessly about, the iris not reaching the lower lid, the ball of the eye somewhat prominent by its fulness; the lids above and below tawny coloured. His nose was aquiline and delicate, with a depression from the frontal sinus shaping the bridge; the nostrils full, the brow rounded and prominent, and the line of the jaw angular and marked. His shoulders were not square, and only just masculine in shape. His singularity of gait depended upon his width of hip. Altogether, he was a lightly built man, with delicate hands and feet; although neither weak nor fragile in constitution, he was altogether unaffected by athletic exercise. He was careless in his dress, which was, as then not very unusual with professional men, black and of evening cut. So indifferent was he to the accepted requirements of society, that he would allow spots of mud to remain dry on his clothes for several days. He wore a brown overcoat, and, with his pushing stride and careless exclamations, a special scrutiny would have
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been needed to discern the refinement and tenderness that dwelt in the breast of the defiant youth; but any one who approached and addressed him was struck with surprise to find all critical impressions dissipated in a moment, for the language of the painter was wealthy and polished, and he proved to be courteous, gentle, and winsome, generous in compliment, rich in interest in the pursuits of others, while he talked much about his own, and in every respect, as far as could be shown by outward manner, a cultured gentleman. He delighted most in those poems for which the world then had shown but little appreciation. Sordello and Paracelsus he would give from memory by twenty pages at a time, and in turn came the shorter inventions of Browning, which were more within the compass of attention suddenly appealed to. Then would  

The Pre-Raphaelite Meeting, 1848, by Arthur Hughes, From Sketch by W. H. H.


Figure: Standing, from left to right: D.G. Rossetti, F.G. Stephens, W.M. Rossetti.

Sitting, from left to right: Millais, Woolner, Collinson.

follow the grand rhetoric from Taylor's Philip van Artevelde, in the scene between the herald and the Court at Ghent, a scene very much to my taste, with my picture standing on the easel designed to show the sword of Justice, inevitable in the fulness of time, on all such as being strong scourge the weak, and being rich rob the poor, and “change the sweat of nature's brow to blood.” To this would follow the pathetic strains of W. B. Scott's Rosabel (which latter I have always been inclined to think originated Rossetti's interest in the area of reflection to which belonged the subject called “Found”). 1Patmore's Woodman's Daughter was a novel interest to all of us eager to find new poems. Tennyson's
  • You might have won the Poet's crown,
  • If such be worth the winning now,
came out at this time, and nowhere was its scorn more profoundly echoed than round our hearth. Poe's Raven, his Ulalume, and other of the
Transcribed Footnote (page 101):

1 Life of W. B. Scott, edited by W. Minto, vol. i. p. 289.

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woeful singer's polished strains succeeded, with countless varied examples of melodious pathos; all showed a wide field of interest as to poetic models, nearly all of sad or tragic tenor.
Gabriel told me the story of his parentage, which, as far as I can remember, ran thus. His father, Gabriele Rossetti, was born in the Abruzzi about the time of the first French Republic; in his early years he went to Naples when one of the many revolts under the Bourbon kings broke out. He had come as a young poet, writing songs for the people of inflammatory discontent and roseate promise in reform.  

D. G. Rossetti, 1853

W. H. H.]

D. G. ROSSETTI, 1853 1

The king's government recognised that Gabriele's strains encouraged the rebellious to prolonged resistance, and when the army gained the mastery the police were directed to apprehend the writer. He was in hiding, and an English admiral who was cruising in the Bay received information of his plight and his place of retreat. A company of sailors was landed, and marched through the city as if to see the sights; in anticipation a suit of sailor's clothes had been sent to the place of refuge, and the concealed offender had arrayed himself as a British tar. As the
Transcribed Footnote (page 102):

1 This portrait of D. G. Rossetti, attributed to his pen by F. G. Stephens in his memoir of Rossetti in the Portfolio, was a hasty scribble made by Holman-Hunt in his Cleveland Street Studio, and the unconsidered trifle was given by Rossetti to A. Munro, who gave it to Arthur Hughes, who gave it to W. H. H.

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real seamen were marking time, as if retarded in their progress, in front of the house, Rossetti slipped into their ranks; imitating his new comrades, he marched down to the quay, where all descended into the gig which was waiting, and the fugitive was soon on board the English flagship. Shortly after, a summons was received from the Government to deliver up the proscribed poet. The answer was that he was now under the English flag; soon the sails bore him to England, where he quickly found friends. The post of Italian professor was given him at King's College, London, and he prospered as a private teacher. The Polidori  

The Deposition

Rossetti of Volterra]


family was already established here, and the escaped revolutionist proved the innate love of peace in his breast by winning one of the daughters, who became the mother of Maria, Gabriel, William, and Christina.
The father had written a commentary on the Vita Nuova , in which he interpreted the story as altogether allegorical. He naturally possessed a large store of trecento poems; thus Gabriel and the other children had grown up familiar with the imagination of the earliest Italian poets, and a strong although vague inclination towards early art. It may be doubtful whether the Rossettis knew that an accomplished painter of their name flourished in the cinquecento. His picture of “The Deposition” is a masterly work; to be seen at Volterra.
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Native disposition had not led Gabriel to profess respect for natural science; never would he evince any regard for the remote stages of creative development or the early steps of human progress. He regarded questions on such points as altogether foreign to poetry. The language used in early times to describe the appearances of Nature he accepted as the sanctified and ever-sufficient formulæ. Modern scientific discoveries had no charm for him; neither had the changed conditions of the people who were to be touched by Art any claim for special consideration; for when men were different from the cultured of mediæval days they were not poetic in his eyes.
I have no intention of criticising this philosophy. It was inherent in him; the character of the literature he had most dwelt upon had fostered it, and Brown's recent indulgence in quaint mediævalism had confirmed the predilection. It was impossible then to decide whether the determination he expressed was altogether final, for at the same time he agreed that the radical want in modern art was a stricter study of Nature. Our estimate of the genius he already showed and our confidence in the leading of the new inspiration had removed any doubt of his fitness for combination with us.
We often trenched on scientific and historic grounds, for my previous reading and cogitations, without making me profound, had led me to love these interests and to regard them as of the greatest poetic and pictorial importance; I argued that the appeal we made could be strengthened by adopting the knowledge which human penetration had acquired.
In my boyhood, when first opening the volume of Shakespeare with misgiving of my ability to understand the reasonings of the master, I was astonished at the condescension of his mind, and it gave me infinite encouragement to find that many of his fancies had passed through my own young brain, and had so moved me that I had feebly attempted to express them to my intimates with but scant encouragement. I realised that he was no dramatic teacher to despise the groundlings; indeed I concluded that the large measure of welcome awarded to this kingly genius was but a just response to his own great-hearted sympathy with his fellows of every class; he catered for the unlearned not less than for the profoundest philosopher. In Hamlet the plot is made so clear that it enthrals the mind of the child who yet for many years cannot understand its reflections on the mysterious problems of life, problems which no other teacher conceives so healthily or expresses so richly. The charity of his example had led me to rate lightly that kind of art devised only for the initiated, and to suspect all philosophies which assume that the vulgar are to be left for ever unredeemed.
While Rossetti often agreed with me in this view, Dantesque shapes of imagery became his habitual alphabet, and in his designs, as in his poems, his mind expressed itself in a form independent of new life and joy in Nature. This partiality had never been counterbalanced by
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rough experience of the battle of life, and he shunned new fields of interest for the work of either poet or painter. It surprised me that Rossetti, of Italian blood, had no longing to satisfy his eyes with the sight of native soil sanctified by great memories, just as did also his indifference to the subject of a poetic image; it was the finished phraseology, the mode of delineation, that dominated him.
We yearn most for what seems denied to us. Long and bitter to me had been the days when, turning eyes from book visions of the renowned cities of Greece, of Italy, and of Egypt, I saw only blank walls, unchangeable summer and winter, and the threat thereon written large, that my fate was to know only through others of the sky-piercing mountains, of the sea calm and wild by turns, and of adventures by flood and field. The trial had been borne sadly; my father had endured it before me, and still retained delight in the wonders of the world; neither then nor since have I met many men keener than he was on such matters, they had a real fascination for him. A prison many a time has become a study and a workshop; in my old office I had found some geometrical and mathematical books, and my master had helped me with the problems; he had also set me to do geological and astronomical diagrams, and these studies seemed to me full of poetic suggestion. But Rossetti despised such inquiries; what could it matter, he said, whether the earth moved round the sun or the sun circled about the earth, and in the question of the origin and antiquity of man he refused to be interested.
This was coupled with the view which he maintained that attention to chronological costume, to the types of different races of men, to climatic features and influences, were of no value in painter's work, and that therefore oriental properties in the treatment of scriptural subjects were calculated to destroy the poetic nature of a design. He instanced Horace Vernet's Bible pictures treated orientally, “Rebecca giving Eleazar to Drink,” and some others, to justify his opinion. I insisted that Vernet, although a remarkably skilful composer and executant, being destitute of poetic fire, could not under any conditions or systems enchant any but the dull. It was the question of the value of my plan, carried out five years later, of going to Syria to paint sacred subjects which brought this discussion to a head. My contention was that more exact truth was distinctly called for by the additional knowledge and longings of the modern mind, and that it was not outside the lines of the noblest art.
Despite differences, we both agreed that a man's work must be the reflex of a living image in his own mind, and not the icy double of the facts themselves, for we were neverRealists.” I think Art would have ceased to have the slightest interest for either of us had the object been only to make a representation, elaborate or unelaborate, of a fact in nature. Independently of the conviction that such a system would put out of operation the faculty most Godlike in man, it was apparent
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that a mere imitator gradually comes to see nature claylike and finite, as it seems when illness brings a cloud before the eyes. Art dominated by such a spirit makes us esteem the world as without design or finish, unbalanced, unfitting, and unlovely. It is needless to give modern examples; alas! they have multiplied of late. I can instance Polembourg as one of the old landscapists who made God's sky look hideous, although his handling and surface were careful; we once all agreed that a bright March sky was too crude, and too much like this man's work to be painted.
It is now high time to correct one important misapprehension. In agreeing to use the utmost elaboration in painting our first pictures, we never meant more than to insist that the practice was essential for training the eye and hand of the young artist; we should not have admitted that the relinquishment of this habit of work by a matured painter would make him an apostate Pre-Raphaelite. I am the freer to say this as I have retained later than did either of my companions, the restrained handling of a student.
My original account of Rossetti, published soon after his death, was dictated by a desire to treat the memory of my early friend with liberal appreciation, but this has not been met by equivalent recognition of what was due to Rossetti's fellows. My tributes to his honour have been too often interpreted as an acknowledgment of a “leadership” in him, though this was far from my intention. With no limitation of my tribute I now add other facts essential to the correct balance of the story; this would be but of trivial importance if the issue were merely a personal one, to determine whether Millais, Rossetti, or I most had the responsibility of Pre-Raphaelitism, but it involves the question as to the exact purpose of the Movement, and this is so vital in my eyes that if it were decided to mean what the Brown-Rossetti circle and critics, native and foreign, quoting them, continually ascribe to it, Pre-Raphaelitism should certainly not engage my unprofessional pen.
My criticisms upon the base and vulgar forms and incoherent curves in contemporary furniture, to which I drew Rossetti's attention on his first visit to me, encouraged visions of reform in these particulars, and we speculated on improvement in all household objects, furniture, and fabrics. Nor did we pause till Rossetti enlarged upon the devising of ladies' dresses and the improvement of man's costume, determining to follow the example of early artists not in one branch of taste only, but in all.
For sculpture Gabriel expressed little passion; he professed admiration of many men engaged in plastic work, but he could not understand their devotion to what in those days rarely rose to the height of human interest. The reason of this baldness lay in neglect of drawing and painting, by exercise in which the great sculptors of old made themselves subtle designers and masters of form, light, shade, and colour. We agreed that architecture also came within the proper work of a
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painter who, learning the principles of construction from Nature herself, could apply them by shaping and decorating the material he had to deal with. Music at that time Rossetti regarded as positively offensive; for him it was nothing but a noisy nuisance. In our scheme, when we obtained recognition, each of us was to have a set of studios attached to his house, some for working in diverse branches of art, some for showing our production to admirers, who would be attended to by our pupils when we were too busy to be disturbed. We were also by such means to introduce worthy students, and to make art take its due place in life.
All these castles in the air were pleasing visions; only when Rossetti in bandying hopes extended the grandeur of the dream of our fortunes, I expressed some curiosity to know how due appreciation could be counted on from a people so committed to the idea of subdivision of labour, and so self-complacent in their tastes as were our contemporaries, who had none of that far-seeing spirit which made Locke profess his ignorance in order to learn more. Rossetti dismissed such fears to the winds, asking me if I could not understand that there were hundreds of young aristocrats and millionaires growing up who would be only too glad to get due direction how to make the country as glorious as Greece and Italy had been. I was fain to hope that this view was the correct one, as with his father's experience as a professor among persons of high degree I assumed they had met more than one modern Mæcenas; I was glad to encourage in myself the belief that the rich would in time know how to use their influence and to spend their money worthily.
There remain now but a few more personal particulars of the interests of that time to be recorded. Our combination had much of happiness in it. Gabriel had progressed greatly with his picture, and had painted St. Joachim and the draperies of the principal figures.
There were frequent days when he would leave his appointed task to engage himself with some other invention in form or in words that had taken possession of his fancy. When he had once sat down, and was engaged in the effort to chase his errant thoughts into an orderly road, and the spectral fancies had all to be kept in his mind's eye, his tongue was hushed, he remained fixed and inattentive to all that went on about him, he rocked himself to and fro, and at times he moaned lowly, or hummed for a brief minute, as though telling off some idea. All this while he peered intently before him, looking hungry and eager, and passing by in his regard any who came before him, as if not seen at all. Then he would often get up and walk out of the room without saying a word. Years afterwards, when he became stout, and people, with some faint reason, found a resemblance in him to the bust of Shakespeare at Stratford-on-Avon, and, later still, when he had outgrown this resemblance, it seemed to me that it was in his early days mostly that the soul within had been truly seen in his face. In those days he worthily rejoiced in the poetic atmosphere of sacred and spiritual
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dreams that then dwelt within him in embryo, though undoubtedly some of his noisy demonstrations hindered many persons from recognising this inspiration at once.
Soon after Gabriel came to my studio, I was invited by the Rossettis to dine with them, when the old gentleman was then relinquishing the use of English. He was beginning to be an invalid whose sight needed protection by a projecting shade. Gabriel has left an excellent drawing of him at a slightly later date. The mother was the gentle and presiding matron we see Saint Ann to be in “ The Girlhood of the Virgin.” The elder sister was overflowing with attention to all, expressing interest in each individually, and Miss Christina was exactly the pure and docile-hearted damsel that her brother portrayed God's Virgin pre-elect to be.
The father arose from a group of foreigners around the fire to receive me. All were escaped revolutionists from the Continent, and some bore names made glorious in history. He addressed me in English in a few words of welcome as “Mr. Madox Brown,” a slip on which his eldest daughter rated him pleasantly. He was so engrossed in a warm discussion going on that some minutes afterwards he again made the same mistake. The conversation was in Italian, but occasionally merged into French, with the obvious purpose of taking into the heat of the conference refugees unfamiliar with the former language. The tragic passions of the group around the fire did not in the slightest degree involve either the mother, the daughters, or the sons, except when the latter explained that the objects of the severest denunciations were Bomba, Pio Nono, and Metternich, or, in turn, Count Rosso and his memory; with these execrated names were uttered in different tones those of Mazzini, Garibaldi, and Louis Napoleon, who as a refugee had once been their visitor. The hearth guests took it in turn to discourse, and no one had delivered many phrases ere the excitement of speaking made him rise from his chair, advance to the centre of the group, and there gesticulate as I had never seen people do except upon the stage. What I knew then of French was only by reading, and I was surprised to discover that it helped me scarcely at all to follow it when spoken excitedly and quickly. Each orator evidently found difficulty in expressing his full anger, but when passion had done its measure in work and gesture, so that I as a stranger felt pained at not being able to join in practical sympathy, the declaimer went back to his chair, and while another was taking up the words of mourning and appeal to the too tardy heavens, the predecessor kept up the refrain of sighs and groans. When it was impossible for me to ignore the distress of the alien company, Gabriel and William shrugged their shoulders, the latter with a languid sign of commiseration, saying it was generally so. As the dinner was being put on the table some of the strangers persisted, despite invitation, in going; some still stayed round the fire declaring solemnly that they had dined. At the conclusion of the meal the
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brothers and I saw the remainder of the company established at dominoes and chess before the arrival of the other members for the P.R.B. meeting upstairs.
We de facto members were anxious to see what the probationary ones were preparing for future work to justify our expectation of them. William Rossetti could not yet give up his Inland Revenue clerkship, but he showed us some of his extremely painstaking outlines from the life, and these were a proof that he kept in mind our understanding of his obligation as a P.R.B. to become an artist. Other probationers from whom we expected work, appeared with neither work nor apology, an omission which we tried to construe into evidence that extensive designs were being prepared as a surprise in store.
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  • Attempt the end and never stand in doubt,
  • Nothing's so hard but search will find it out.

Let her hang me. He that is well hanged in this world need fear no colours.— Twelfth Night.

As iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”— Proverbs.

At the beginning of the autumn of 1848 Millais had still some panels of the series of decorative designs in monochrome for Leeds to bring to completion, and these occupied him so late in the season that there seemed a danger that the first essay in our new manner would suffer. Once free of his contract he painted a small portrait of Mr. Fenn, so strong in form and finish, and so rich in well-justified colour, that it resembled a perfect Van Eyck or Holbein, and yet its excellence was in no way mere truth at second-hand. This was the earnest of what his picture would be, but in that he would have to ride not a single horse but to drive a team. It was towards the end of October 1848 that his new canvas was installed on the easel. Any fresh design must have been undertaken with the disadvantage of not having been re-judged after the heat and prejudice of the original drawing had died away; he therefore settled upon the composition made for our intended series of etchings for Keats' Isabella. It certainly seemed to be a great undertaking for the time available before the date of sending in, but a very few days' work on the picture, each part being completely finished at a sitting, was convincing that the artist's estimate of his own range of power in the character and in the extent of work he had to do was perfectly justified; so exact was the pitch of tone and colour of each fresh venture, and so unerring and rich in unexpected graces was the performance in all respects, that it was easy to see how much strength it would give to the status of our Movement. Every visitor to his studio brought away a higher report than the last. Gabriel, who sat for one of the figures in the picture, became perfectly unbounded in his admiration, and William, who had also acted as a model, turning his head aside, raising his eyebrows, and extending his hands, intoned in separated notes, “It certainly is distinctly marvellous,” and so the reputation of the picture grew with its own growth.
Once in a studio conclave, some of us drew up a declaration that there was no immortality for humanity except in reputation gained by man's own genius or heroism. We had not yet balanced our belief in
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Voltaire, Gibbon, Byron, and Shelley, and we could leave no corners or spaces in our minds unsearched or unswept. Our determination to respect no authority that stood in the way of fresh research in art seemed to compel us to try what the result would be in questions metaphysical, denying all that could not be proved. We reflected that there were different degrees of glory in great men, and that these grades should be denoted by one, two, or three stars. Ordinary children of men fulfilled their work by providing food, clothing, and tools for their fellows; some, who did not engage in such labour, had allowed their minds to work without the ballast of common-sense, but the few far-seeing ones revealed vast visions of beauty to mankind.
Where these dreams were too profound for us to fathom, our new iconoclasm dictated at least a suspended judgment, if not distrust; for of spiritual powers we for the moment felt we knew nothing, and we saw no profit in relying upon visions, however beautiful they might be.
Arguing thus, Gabriel wrote out the following manifesto of our absence of faith in immortality, save in that perennial influence exercised by great thinkers and workers—
We, the undersigned, declare that the following list of Immortals constitutes the whole of our Creed, and that there exists no other Immortality than what is centred in their names and in the names of their contemporaries, in whom this list is reflected—
Note: This list is printed in two columns.
  • Jesus Christ****
  • The Author of Job***
  • Isaiah
  • Homer**
  • Pheidias
  • Early Gothic Architects
  • Cavalier Pugliesi
  • Dante**
  • Boccaccio*
  • Rienzi
  • Ghiberti
  • Chaucer**
  • Fra Angelico*
  • Leonardo da Vinci**
  • Spenser
  • Hogarth
  • Flaxman
  • Hilton
  • Goethe**
  • Kosciusko
  • Byron
  • Wordsworth
  • Keats**
  • Shelley**
  • Haydon
  • Cervantes
  • Joan of Arc
  • Mrs. Browning*
  • Patmore*

  • Column Break

  • Raphael*
  • Michael Angelo
  • Early English Balladists
  • Giovanni Bellini
  • Giorgioni
  • Titian
  • Tintoretto
  • Poussin
  • Alfred**
  • Shakespeare***
  • Milton
  • Cromwell
  • Hampden
  • Bacon
  • Newton
  • Landor**
  • Thackeray**
  • Poe
  • Hood
  • Longfellow*
  • Emerson
  • Washington**
  • Leigh Hunt
  • Author of Stories after Nature*
  • Wilkie
  • Columbus
  • Browning**
  • Tennyson*
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William Rossetti quotes from Canon Dixon and W. B. Scott expressions of Gabriel's astonishment made in his last years that men should assume that he denied an after life, seeing that what he had painted and written ought to convince them of his belief in immortality, and not many weeks after the signing of this document I was designing my “ Christians and Druids” picture honouring the obedience to Christ's command that His doctrine should be preached to all the world at the expense of life itself. Our non-belief in the immortality of the soul, therefore, was not long retained. The treatment we accorded in our document to painters and poets illustrates the character of our tastes and aims at this time. Beginning with an agreement that three stars should be given only to the greatest, it will be seen that the author of Job, and Shakespeare alone gained that distinction, but there was another Captain of men who could not but be regarded as paramount among heroes; one who had not only sung persuasively of the way conducting to peace, but had trodden the thorny way Himself; Commander and at the same time foremost of His army.
He must, we said, be above all, and on this account we extended our purpose, and placed four stars after the name of Jesus Christ, that He might stand supreme above all others.
Some twenty years ago I came upon my copy of this document in an old desk, and tore it up when making a clearance, from no horror of the practical atheism it professed; a man should come face to face with himself on all momentous questions. The list included further names than those in the present copy, amongst them many contemporaries now utterly forgotten. Sic transit gloria mundi. My good father had copied the first draft carefully, and it is from this copy of his that I have printed the list.
James Collinson had been an amiable fellow-student, painstaking in all his drawings, and accurate in a sense, but in his own person tame and sleepy, and so were all the figures he drew. “The Apollo Belvedere,” “The Laocoon,” “The Wrestlers,” “The Dancing Faun,” and the drunken gentleman of that race, all seemed to belong to one somnolent family. No one, a year later, could have trusted his memory to say whether our quiet friend had or had not been in the Schools at any given time, so successfully had he avoided disturbing any one in any way. It was a surprise to all when, in the year 1848, he appeared in the Exhibition with “The Charity Boy's Début.” To represent the bashfulness of a poor boy appearing before his family in the uniform of his parish was an honest idea, and although the invention did not go far beyond the initial conception, the pencilling was phenomenally painstaking throughout. It transpired that he had roused himself up of late and entered the Roman Church, and had summoned effort to paint this picture. All the students blamed themselves for having ignored Collinson, but Rossetti went further, and declared that “Collinson was a born stunner,” and at once struck up an intimate friendship with him,
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deciding that Collinson only wanted our enthusiasm to make him a great force in the battle. Accordingly he was elected, with right to put the secret initials on his works, to attend our monthly meetings, and to receive us in his turn.
Whether we were at Collinson's in the Polygon, where a dragoness of a landlady, six feet in height, provided quite a conventional entertainment—for he still had a liberal allowance from home—or at our Bohemian repasts in Cleveland Street, he invariably fell asleep at the beginning, and had to be waked up at the conclusion of the noisy evening to receive our salutations. He could but rarely see the fun of anything, although he sometimes laughed in a lachrymose manner, and I fear our attempts to enliven him were but futile. Once, concluding a meeting at my studio, on going to the door with him near midnight, we discovered that it was a magnificent moonlight night, and we resolved that, instead of going to bed, we would take a long walk in the country. He pleaded that he must go home to bed, and when we pointed out that for a real change, which might be of great permanent benefit to him, he should consider that he had had enough sleeping, he insisted that he must really go back to change his boots; and eventually we let him depart with the promise that he would be ready for us when we should call in half an hour. We arrived punctually, but knocked for a time in vain. In ten minutes a voice from the second-floor window thundered out to ask why we went on knocking when we knew Mr. Collinson had long since been in bed. It was the conclusion that he was asleep which had made us knock so loudly, we said, and we hoped the landlady would take no further notice while we continued the same measures to wake him; on which she invited the aid of a passing policeman, who, however, was persuaded that we were strictly within the law in insisting upon seeing the gentleman himself. Collinson came to his window sleepily entreating to be left alone; but when we explained that we had chosen a northerly course solely on his account, and that he must not now disappoint us, he gave in, and came with us on our walk.
The long night stands out in my memory ever clear, precious, and surprising, although many midnight skies have since in distant lands revolved above my wandering steps. Passing through streets which were fast emptying, some of them echoing to our ears the footsteps of Keats, we climbed the hill that shut us off from the true country. Above and beyond lay moonlight and moon-shaded heath and common land, decked with drowsy trees against the unchanging and unclouded heavens. Walking down the vale we saw a settlement of haze, level as water sleeping in the hollow, broad as the ancient river must have been which scored it out, and this vapour gradually immersed the trees on the descending slope from roots to topmost branches. As we reached its margin we played with the phantom water and descended step by step, until, breast deep, we reached out our arms feigning to swim; lower and lower we went under chill thick mist; arriving at the little bridge
Sig. VOL. I. I
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over the dwindled stream, as we looked up we saw the haloed moon casting spoke-like shadows from the branches of the trees round about us. From the depth of this rayed region we ascended to the farther margin of the mist lake into the crystal air. Continuing our journey, we arrived at a village, where, surrounded by a semicircle of cottages, we seated ourselves on the pedestal of the village pump. Our conversation at first was exclusively for our own benefit, but in the end we set up a lusty shout with a view to waking Collinson for the homeward journey. It was a great hurrah; at the same instant we saw a candle lighted in the first-floor window of each cottage of the little hamlet, and twenty or thirty nightcapped heads were thrust out simultaneously at the surrounding casements.
On our return journey, moonlight was slowly exchanged for ever-increasing dawn and sunrise, with London, seen from Hampstead Heath, offering its first incense to the waking day. Frequently our poor Collinson dozed on the way, leaning on one or other of us, and we aided him with gentle support, but I must confess that no treatment adopted thoughtfully for his good either on this journey or elsewhere seemed permanently to relieve his prevailing tendency to sleep. When Gabriel had got fairly entangled in a new design he would refuse the attraction of home, meals, out-of-door engagements, or bed, and sit through the night, sleeping where he sat for an hour at a time, recommencing his work when he woke. He ate whatever was at hand when hunger suggested, and when time came for bed on the second night he would ask me to leave him; in the morning I would find him still at his engrossing task. “ The Girlhood of the Virgin ” had a special trial in store not to be lightly passed by, for when he advanced to the painting of the child angel, for whom he had four or more models in succession—an untried one ever promising to be more manageable than the last—he increasingly lost patience. The unsteadiness of one mild little girl so overtried him that he revealed his irritation beyond bounds, storming wildly, overthrowing his tools and stamping about, until the poor child sobbed and screamed with fright, clinging to her conductress, much too alarmed to listen to any comfort he repentantly offered her. After this scene, which had raised clouds of dust and destroyed my tranquillity of mind, further work that day was out of the question. This was one of sundry experiences which caused me to doubt whether his enthusiasm for the painter's art would survive the needful pressure of self-denying labour; I therefore invited him to go out walking with me, and in the shining wintry sun, on the broad walk of Regent's Park, I asked him to consider the certain consequences of action such as his as fatal to his prospects of becoming a painter, he had an undoubted right to give up his own work I said, but he must not destroy my chance of getting my picture done, since its completion was a vital matter to me. I added that my power of work was affected more than he imagined, and that unless he could observe a calmer demeanour we must separate, whereas I could
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assure him that latterly I had hoped that not only he would master all that he desired, and bring his picture to a conclusion in the fulness of time, but that he might do so early enough to appear with Millais and myself at the next Academy Exhibition. He took my remonstrance in the most generous spirit, and assured me that he would put an effectual curb upon his impatience for the future. He held to his promise manfully, and with a fresh model for the angel brought this part of his work to an end. It was to me a striking mark of his increasing self-reliance that about this date when in a difficulty he called me to his aid, and I as usual held out my hand for his brush and palette, he asked me to trust to him to carry out my suggestions, seeing that he felt it would otherwise be said that I had painted the picture throughout, and I recognised at this pass that the “drudgery” of Brown's system stood him in good stead by hastening his proficiency in handling.
If this history may appear to be a revelation of personal events disconnected with professional efforts, it is because I feel myself under pledge to recount faithfully the individual trials of an artist's career in those days, and therefore I am led to reveal the burden brought to me in a dark hour when I was altogether beaten down. On the way back from the Life School one night, I chanced to run against my old friend and master, who told me that he was anxious to understand what I had been about since leaving my father's house. I explained that it had seemed better to defer invitation for him to see my work until all was completed, but that if he were free then, the picture was not too much out of order for him to understand it; and, as there was but a fortnight to the sending-in day, his frank opinion would be of use to me. Entering the studio, I brought my picture to the light, and explained its subject, Rienzi, in all its details. My old friend only sighed mysteriously from time to time, and finally turning to me, asked impressively, “Did you tell me that there is only another fortnight in which to finish, and that what is done has already cost eight or nine months?” I assented. “Do not then, Willie, I charge you, cherish the futile idea of being able to complete the picture; indeed, if for a moment we assume the difficulty were overcome, and even that the painting were accepted, could you persuade yourself that such a weak piece of work could command any attention? It is obvious enough that all the minutiæ introduced must have taxed the greatest patience and labour, but who do you think would trouble their heads about that? No, take my advice. Look! turn your canvas endway up; it's of beautiful proportions. Now, do a tragic-looking head screaming war, famine, and slaughter; in one hand make him holding a flaming torch above his head, throwing a lurid glare on the face, let him carry a threatening sword in the other, and make the background black as possible.” He looked exultant, putting an encouraging hand on my shoulder. “In a fortnight you will get it finished, and so you will gain your object of having a picture in the Exhibition, and one, too, which no
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spectator could fail to see.” He was so insistent upon the idea while I conducted him down the fitfully lighted stairs to the street, that he had no suspicion what was behind my spasmodic and irrepressible laughter.
I remounted to the room; a chill had come over my spirit, it trickled between my shoulder blades. I shut the door, turning the key, and sank doubled-up in a chair to hear this accusation formulating against myself: “Why, when with only enough means to do your appointed task with undisturbed leisure, did you hamper your hopes by subjection to daily hindrances? Now, you see your time is nearly spent, most of your money gone, your health reduced, and a sensible friend comes and laughs at the calculation that you can finish your work in time, and you know that you had before dreaded that it might be as he thinks; at the best, you see the work is incapable of making any impression. What is the good of struggling? your chances in life are overweighted, and you have not the sense to make the burdens less.” After having sat for a time frozen through listening to these fancied reproaches, a step ascended the stairs; it stopped on the landing, and a hand was put familiarly upon the door knob, turning it without effect. At first I did not feel inclined to move, but on Gabriel shouting out twice or thrice I opened the door; he came in, peered about and said, “Who's here? I heard some one talking to you. Who the devil was it?” “It was the devil,” I replied. “Whatever is the matter? Why is your picture put endways up? Isn't there some one else here? The fire is out, you haven't had your coffee yet. I say, bring it out and let's have the stove alight at once.”
Soon we were seated at a comforting meal, and gradually I was drawn on to tell and act my friend's visit; Gabriel enjoyed it as a screaming joke, and ended in a burst of laughter, exclaiming, “But the man's a born fool.” “No, Gabriel, he's not, he is a really superior man; I have a true affection for him and quite a considerable respect for his opinion as an index of the intelligence of the public that has a little knowledge of art; his verdict seems only a forecast of theirs, and gives a dismal enough outlook for me.”
“Tell me,” Gabriel next asked, “do you really believe in the devil?” And then followed a talk (at intervals somewhat rollicking) on spiritual mysteries, which are now quite beside the mark.
In sober moments we had agreed that orthodox religionists made such claims to entrammel judgment, conscience, and will, that they drove thinking men to the extreme alternative of throwing away all faith in divine over-rule; yet on whichever side we argued we were merely testing how far our theories would bear the strain of life. Each position that we held was a sincere one for the time, whatever was the standpoint assumed. I felt debarred from painting subjects not in accordance with my position, as much as I should have been in making declarations against my conscience. For Rossetti, the fact that so many modern
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poets had been defiant, captivated him with revolt, while the precedent of the older poets and artists in song and design encouraged the ecclesiastical strain of work he favoured; supremacy of genius alone taxed his loyalty, and perfection in Art was synonymous in his mind with the amplest Wisdom. Yet beneath all his discordant phases of profession he still cherished the habits of thought he had contracted at his mother's knee, and I do not think he altogether cast away the gentle yoke in later years.

The Vicar of Wakefield

F. Madox Brown]


About mid-winter Madox Brown had commenced his cabinet picture of “King Lear Asleep in the Tent with Cordelia.” He brought it to exhibition pitch in due time, and sent it to the Gallery at Hyde Park Corner, but it did not reach its present state until some years later. He listened to the reports which any of us made of Millais' painting and its wonders with nothing but a very self-possessed smile, saying, “Yes, I daresay he has improved since he did ‘The Widow's Mite.’ He was very young then.”
Exciting rumours of Millais' picture came towards the sending-in day, and then Brown went to Gower Street with the stream of visitors.
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On his way back he called at my studio when I alone was there, and seemed impatient to cancel every detracting word already uttered on Millais' merits, intensifying the force of his latest testimony by an extra syllabic precision, saying, “ I assure, you, Hunt, I never was so astonished in my whole life. Millais is no longer merely a very satisfactory fulfiller of the sanguine expectations of his prejudiced friends, he is a master of the most exalted proficiency; no one since Titian has ever painted a picture with such exquisite passages of handling and colour, and these charms, with a rare naïveté of character of his own, make the work astonishingly enchanting.” He went from point to point of the picture, dwelling much on the drawing of the foremost figures and on the design of the hounds, discriminating with exquisite pleasure on the colour of the majolica plates and fruit, and on the pure tints of the costumes; coming slowly to a climax, he at last well-nigh closed his eyes in rhapsody on the perfection of modelling and tone of a white napkin hanging over a servant's arm. Brown, spite of his original prejudice against the painter's pretensions, was too true an artist to count the cost of his praise of a noble performance.
The earliest work by Madox Brown reproduced in this volume, necessary to show his development, is a picture illustrating an episode in The Vicar of Wakefield . It is a loyal and clever revival of French art before the classicalists swept away the prestige of the worn-out followers of Watteau, when Fragonard held the field with his tapestry cupids and dry flower wreaths, and when Dresden china artificialities were in favour. It was in Rome that Brown first turned to the Munich type of Art in his picture of “ Chaucer ”; this was one of the passing phases in the course of his career.
One scarcely expressed purpose in our Reform, left unsaid by reason of its fundamental necessity, was to make Art a handmaid in the cause of justice and truth. Millais in childish faith wrought out his fancies in this spirit. In the range of subjects then in my mind, eschewing all whose tenor I could not justify as according with my existing convictions, I had relinquished the painting of Christ with the “Two Maries.”
My “ Rienzi ,” spite of late fears to the contrary, was finished, and I took it myself late at night to the Academy to make sure that it was in time. Rossetti had painted the two principal heads of his picture at his own home, and did them charmingly, but at the last he surprised us by revealing that he sent his picture to an Exhibition at St. George's Place. This gave him a few extra days for finishing his contribution, although the Gallery opened a week before the Academy.
The course he thus took was not in accordance with our previous understanding. William Rossetti has since told me that one of the reasons for his brother's action was that he could “buy” a space on the walls of this gallery, which he did, rather than risk rejection by the Academy.
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Millais and I might have been excused for taking a substantial rest on release from our tasks, but we had pressing reason for getting to new pictures. Millais went eagerly to paint landscape near Oxford; Gabriel came no more to my studio, but some weeks later sent a porter for his properties, explaining, to my surprise, that he had closed his partnership in the studio on the last Lady Day, and he remained designing in his father's house.
My tenancy of the extra room could not close till after a quarter's notice, but I made a compromise with the landlord, and at the earliest date dispensed with it. Very few sovereigns still remained in my purse, but I had a right to count as something my chance of sale at the Exhibition; so I encouraged myself to begin another picture in the hope of snatching a booty from jealous Fate, and, disregarding claims not yet due, I started on a new design.
The Royal Academy had for the forthcoming Gold Medal contest given as a subject “An Act of Mercy,” and I was moved by ambition to compete for this. I pondered over a design illustrating the conflicting influence going on when Druidism was established in England and the energetic Apostles came to destroy the bloody creed. As I worked out my composition it was apparent that the regulation size of the Academy canvas would not allow me to add a margin, most precious in my eyes, on which to paint the landscape from nature.
I therefore gave up the ambition to become the foremost student of the time, and enlarged my canvas so that the composition should have the landscape painted in accordance with our principles.
Notwithstanding that the Government had already committed itself after hard pressure to seek painters and sculptors for the embellishment of the New Houses of Parliament, and thinking men had revealed admiration for the work exhibited for competition in Westminster Hall for this purpose, a very respectable proportion of the community still looked askance upon Art as an untrustworthy exponent of moral ideas, remarking that taste for it had ever been the precursor of a nation's decline, not considering what degree of estimation the nation would have lost had she failed to register worthy Art amongst her honours.
Under existing baneful prejudice the artistic career was not strictly considered as a profession any more than that of the ne'er-do-well who chalked the pavement or of the strolling player disguised in motley. The statement that sublime truths could be brought to mind by the Art of such professors would have been denounced as absurd.
While our pictures were shut up for another week at the Royal Academy, Rossetti's was open to public view, and we heard that he was spoken of as the precursor of a new School; this was somewhat trying. In fact, when Rossetti had made selection from his three designs of the subject he should paint under my guidance, he chose that which was most “Overbeckian” in manner. This I had regarded as of but little moment, thinking the painting would serve as an exercise, possibly
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never to be finished when it had prepared him for future efforts. It turned out, however, that the picture was completed and realised with that Pre-Raphaelite thoroughness which Brown's mediæval supervision would not have instilled, so it appeared with our monogram, P.R.B. That Millais and I did not then exaggerate the danger of distortion of our principles is shown by the altogether wrong interpretation of the term Pre-Raphaelitism which then originated, and which has been in some circles current to this day. The fact is that the “Early Christian“ School had been introduced into this country several years before Brown adopted it, by Herbert, Dyce, Maclise, Cave-Thomas and others.
Antiquarianism in its historic sense was being instructively pursued in connection with Art, and in its proper place it did good service, leading to the presentation of ancient story in a strictly historic mould. In determining the character of costume and accessories in historical pictures it was of modern introduction and great value towards the realisation of the story, and with intelligent people this tended to break down some of the prejudice against modern Art, but antiquarianism as to manner of design and painting was quite foreign to our purpose.
At the Hyde Park Gallery Rossetti's picture, “ The Girlhood of the Virgin ,” appeared pure and bright, and was the more attractive by reason of its quaint sweetness. The Marchioness of Bath bought it for eighty guineas.
The notice in the Athenæum ran thus—
It is pleasant to turn from the mass of commonplace to a manifestation of true mental power in which art is made the exponent of some high aim; and what is of the earth, earthy, and of the art material, is lost sight of in a dignified and intellectual purpose. Such a work will be found here, not from a long-practised hand, but from one young in experience, new to fame, Mr. D. G. Rossetti. He has painted “ The Girlhood of the Virgin Mary ,” a work which, for its invention and for many parts of its design, would be creditable to any exhibition. In idea it forms a fitting pendant to Mr. Herbert's “Christ subject to his Parents at Nazareth.” A legend may possibly have suggested to Mr. Rossetti also the subject of his present work. The Virgin is in this picture represented as living amongst her family, and engaged in the task of embroidering drapery to supply possibly some future sacred vestment. The picture, which is full of allegory, has much of that sacred mysticism inseparable from the works of the early masters, and much of the tone of the poets of the same time. While immature practice is visible in the executive department of the work, every allusion gives evidence of maturity of thought, every detail that might enrich or amplify the subject has found a place in it. The personification of the Virgin is an achievement worthy of an older hand. Its spiritualised attributes, and the great sensibility with which it is wrought, inspire the expectation that Mr. Rossetti will continue to pursue the lofty career which he has here so successfully begun. The sincerity and earnestness of the picture remind us forcibly of the feeling with which the early Florentine monastic painters wrought; and the form and face of the Virgin recall the words employed by Savonarola in one of his powerful sermons: “Or pensa quanta bellezza avea la Vergine, che avea tanta santita, che risplendeva in quella faccia della quale dice San Tommaso che nessuno che la vedesse mai la guardo per concupiscenza, tanta era la santita che rilustrava in lei.” Mr.
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First Design for “Christian Priests Pursued by Druids”

W. H. H.]


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Rossetti has perhaps unknowingly entered into the feelings of the renowned Dominican who in his day wrought as much reform in art as in morals. The coincidence is of high value to the picture.
On the first Monday in May, outside artists were admitted to the Royal Academy to touch up their pictures from 7 a.m. till 12, when the galleries were given to the public. Millais and I had heard that our works were hung as pendants in the large room just above the line in honourable places. Millais sold his “ Lorenzo and Isabella ” for £150 to three tailors in Bond Street who were making an essay in picture dealing; the price was a reduction from his original demand, in consideration for which a suit of clothes was included. The dealers who made the venture in partnership were so discouraged by unappreciative comments that they parted with it before the end of the season for the same sum. It changed hands later, year by year, always at a considerable profit to each chapman, until it became the property of the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, where I believe it will permanently justify my contention that it is the most wonderful painting that any youth under twenty years of age every painted. The Times that year was bursting with political surprises, and had no notice of the Exhibition, but we heard that another important paper spoke at great length of our contributions as the novelty of the show. 1 Several of the members of the
Transcribed Footnote (page 122):

1 The review in the Athenæum of the pictures by Millais and myself was evidently dominated by the key-note of antiquarianism found in Rossetti's work, otherwise its comments are not without phrases marked by independent perception.

“There is so much ability and spirit in two works by men young in age and in fame, mixed up with so much that is obsolete and dead in practice, that some remark is demanded on a system whose tendency may be hurtful to our growing artists and to our School. The ‘ Isabella ’ (311), by Mr. J. E. Millais, imagined from a poem by Keats, and ‘ Rienzi ’ (324), by Mr. Hunt, are both by artists with whose names we have had before but slight acquaintance. Both are a recurrence to the expression of a time when art was in a state of transition or progression rather than accomplishment. If the artist must have some particular model for his practice, the perfect rather than the imperfect would surely be a wise adoption. To attempt to engraft the genius of foreign nations upon our own is a most dangerous experiment. National art and taste are infallibly destroyed, and foreign excellence is rarely if ever attained. The justice of these remarks as applied to the imitative system in painting must be evident, and the inconsistency to which it leads is subversive of all national characteristics. The faults of the two pictures under consideration are the results of the partial views which have led their authors to the practice of a time when knowledge of light and shade and of the means of imparting due relief by the systematic conduct of aerial perspective had not obtained. Without the aid of these in the treatment of incident and costume we get but such pictorial form of expression as, seen through the magnifying medium of a lens, would be presented to us in the mediæval illumination of the chronicle or the romance. Against this choice of pictorial expression let the student be cautioned. He may gain admirers by it among those whose antiquarian prejudices may be gratified by the clever revival of the merely curious, but he will fail to win the sympathy of those who know what are the several integral parts necessary to making up the great sum of truth.

“In classing together these two works it should be understood that reference is made merely to the correspondence of views which has actuated both artists. In their several elaborations there is a marked difference. Mr. Millais has manifested the larger amount of resource. There is excellent action, painting, and character in the several heads of his picture (well distinguished in age and sex), and in certain occasional passages of incident and of form, but the picture is injured by the utter want of rationality in the action of a prominent figure carried almost to the verge of caricature. This figure extends his unwieldy legs to the immediate front of the picture so as not merely to divide attention with, but to appropriate all attention from the lovesick Lorenzo and the fair Isabel, who

  • Could not sit at meals but feel how well
  • It soothed each to be the other by.
In addition to this absurd piece of mannerism there is in the picture that inlaid look, that

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Lorenzo and Isabella

J. E. Millais]


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Academy introduced themselves to me as I was on a ladder touching up my work, and quite confused me with compliments, so that I felt fortified in the hope of the sale of my picture, but the day passed without any patron appearing, and I returned home much discouraged at the apathy of amateurs. When the patter of dissatisfied critics was heard, an enlightened public had no doubt about our demerits, and my chances grew less, but I worked just as determinedly on the new picture to which I had committed myself; although I had to confine my attention to juvenile figures, as it was possible to find models for them at less cost than adults.
An encouraging circumstance indeed occurred in the appearance of one, Mr. Nockalls Cottingham. He was an architect about thirty-five years of age; his father had been a celebrated restorer and builder of Gothic churches and cathedrals. The object of this visitor was to declare his great admiration for my picture and for the character of the work of all our School. The Reformation we had inaugurated was exactly what was wanted in England, he said, and in his position he would be able to find us an abundance of employment; later he would give us choice of really important paintings to undertake; for the moment he had to offer a humble commission to me; it was to paint four spandrils, illustrating in light decorative manner Morn, Noon, Evening, and Night, for a house which he was then decorating; he could afford just fifty guineas for each work. I accepted the commission, whereupon he gave me an order upon a colourman for a tube of gold to be employed on the paintings. On the expression of his desire to know all our Brotherhood, I wrote for him introductions to Gabriel and Woolner. To the first he gave commissions for small designs; from the sculptor he bought at a very much reduced price—in consideration of future commissions from millionaires—a statuette of a female figure just modelled and cast ready for the marble reproduction.
Our whole party was invited by this stylish and much-bescented appreciator to his house in the Waterloo Bridge Road. There, after surveying Gothic treasures in other chambers of the house, we were led to a magnificent balustraded fourteenth-century flight of steps, with pillars and groined roofing leading down to what had originally been the coal cellar, now occupied by canopied tombs, statues, family effigies, and brasses, and in what must have been further excavations were columns and arches of a chapel crypt, while in places where light could be gained was stained glass in casements of the choicest rarity, all of which his father and he had improved off the face of the sacred edifices which the firm had been called upon to "restore in the correct style."
In those days this form of iconoclasm was regarded as meritorious
Transcribed Footnote (page 124):

hard monotony of contour and absence of shadow which are due to the causes before stated. In Mr. Hunt's picture it is the intention or design alone which can be estimated, and there are force of thought and concentration of purpose, though expressed in such affected language.”— Athenæum, 1849, p. 575.

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rather than otherwise, for the restorer replaced everything considered necessary, in what was decided to be the most correct “Early English,” and antiquity was then in no way accounted for.
While my patron was conferring with his principal, and I was making my designs, he one morning brought a lady with a request that I should at once begin a portrait of her. This I immediately set myself to do, and he took it away with him shortly after, together with my first sketches of two designs. These he was greatly delighted with. Not hearing from him for a week or so, I wrote saying that it would be a kindness to me if he would, when speaking to his principal, say that while I was bringing the paintings to an end, I trusted he would think it right to make me an advance of half the money on each picture. This I said it was the more necessary to apply for, since I had determined, with a view to greater economy, as also to gain fresh experience, to paint them in Paris. The following were the terms of his letters in reply—
43, Waterloo Bridge Road,


11th August, 1849.

Dear Sir,

My patron declines advancing without security and I regret your making the request as regards limit of price, and giving you a positive letter, as though my word were insufficient.

The commission, however, I have to offer as you desire to have it stated in strict terms as follows—

To paint the two pictures of night and morning on panels finding all materials of the best description for the sum of Fifty Pounds to be paid on their completion within six months of the date of this. The pictures to be both painted to my satisfaction in every respect and if they are not so, my fulfilment of this offer to be optional....

You are at perfect liberty to decline the commission if you please as I am acquainted with plenty of men with first-rate ability, who will readily undertake it.


You will find hereafter in life that a man may be too grasping and greedy, and so overreach himself. I have consulted my patron. At his request I now return you your sketches, as he will not avail himself of your services, and I have to beg that you will by return restore to me the order I wrote for the gold paint.

Yours obediently,

Nockalls Cottingham.
I was never paid for either portrait or designs. Woolner soon afterwards saw his statuette exhibited in a shop window repeated in Minton ware, and on going in was informed that it was an exquisite design by the rising sculptor Nockalls Cottingham, from whom the firm had purchased the copyright. Not long after it turned out that the gifted genius had left his native shores for America, and we then found on comparing notes that, although he had been too clever for others, Rossetti had proved his match by exacting some money in advance for drawings never
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to be claimed by the patron, for the ship in which this miserable man sailed ( The President) was never heard of. The whole business wasted precious time, and reduced my nearly emptied purse, but had the business gone on, it might have been worse.
In the first week of August I went to fetch away my unsold “ Rienzi” from the Academy.
I had received the following gracious letter after the opening of the Exhibition—

Allow me to say how much I was pleased and struck by your picture from Rienzi. I appreciate the compliment you have paid my work.

The Picture is full of genius and high promise.

Your obliged and admiringly,

E. Bulwer Lytton.

Charles Street,

Monday, 1 st June.
Although Rossetti had ceased his attendance at my studio his friends  

Augustus Egg, R.A.


frequently came; when some of these visitors were one day present, I heard repeated knockings at the street door. The Irish servant, having a landlady mistress who indulged too copiously in distilled waters, had her own views of duty, which did not at all times include attention to callers. As the visitor might very well be for me, I descended, and there found a gentleman whom I recognised as Augustus L. Egg. He apologised with the most courteous mien for his intrusion upon me without formal introduction, assuring me that it was his great admiration of my picture—with the further interest aroused by the intimation he had received that it was not sold—which had induced him to come with only the claim which intimacy with mutual friends might establish. I declared with genuine warmth that I was honoured and grateful at his visit, and invited him to come up to my studio. Mr. Egg declared that my picture looked better than before, and went all over the passages from one point to another with comforting praise, finally making most tentatively a suggestion here or there for my consideration if I should be disposed to touch upon it again. His visit was a ray of sunshine to me, clearer than any given by the autumnal day, tarnished as it was by the coppery atmosphere of unlovely streets.
In a few days my new friend came again. This time he assured me he had to beg a great favour. A friend of his, an invalid, had been sincerely disappointed at not having been able to get to the Exhibition, where he had wished particularly to see this work. Egg's desire now was that I should send it to his own house to be seen by his friend, accordingly one evening I delivered it at Bayswater.
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The next morning my landlord came in very irate, and seized all my sketches, the marketable furniture, and most of my books; I was ejected, and had to go back to my father's house.
Although I was received with kindness at home, my vacation was not a cheering one, but in two days a note came from Egg asking me to call. He told me that his friend Mr. Gibbons, the well-known collector, had bought the picture of “ Rienzi ” for £100, generously making the cheque for £5 extra to pay for the frame. When I presented the cheque at the bank I requested to leave the money on account and to have a cheque-book; I went with a reserved air and paid off the landlord, who was persuaded, as I heard later, that I had been “shamming poverty.”
With replenished purse I went off to the Lea marshes for a month; the river and the meadows were pure and beautiful at that date, the lucid streams were stocked with innumerable roach and dace and other silvery fish, and the gorgeously panoplied dragonflies, preying upon the careless butterfly, darted with lightning speed over the water. The region was well appreciated by anglers, but appeared to be out of the route of the landscape painter. All, all, alas! have now disappeared; the actors have gone, and the stage itself has sadly changed, but then it was not difficult to find a rich landscape for my “ Christian and Druid ” picture. I painted the hut and its appendages from a shed near by my lodgings there. I had no studio, and was very fagged with long, hard, and anxious work, so it seemed a good opportunity to go, together with Rossetti, to see ancient and modern Art in Paris and Belgium, as we had long planned to do.
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The anti-classicists did not rise in France until about 1827; and in consequence, up to that period, we have here the old classical faith in full vigour. There is Brutus, having chopped his son's head off with all the agony of a father, and then calling number two; there is Eneas carrying old Anchises; there are Paris and Venus, as naked as two Hottentots; and many more such choice subjects from Lemprière. But the chief specimens of the sublime are in the way of murders, with which the catalogue swarms....I don't know why the merriest people in the world should please themselves with such grim representation and varieties of murder, or why murder itself should be considered so eminently sublime and poetical.—Thackeray.

Such an important event as the opportunity of examining the works in the Louvre, to which our National Gallery then compared less favourably than it does now, and of seeing what the artists of France—so much more favoured than those of England—were doing, was, to two students eager to track the way leading to poetic art, of vital import. It was regarded by us with great seriousness, and some of Rossetti's sonnets will prove how far he was moved by all examples of art that had the ring of the romantic age. He wrote one on Ingres' “ Roger and Angelica ,” another on Mantegna, 1 and rendered poetic homage to Leonardo and to Giorgione. 2 This comprehensive allegiance disproves any suggestion of
Transcribed Footnote (page 128):

1 A Dance of Nymphs by Andrea Mantegna; in the Louvre.

(It is necessary to mention, that this picture would appear to have been in the artist's mind an allegory, which the modern spectator may seek vainly to interpret.)

  • Scarcely, I think; yet it indeed may be
  • The meaning reached him, when this music rang
  • Sharp through his brain, a distinct rapid pang,
  • And he beheld these rocks and that ridg'd sea.
  • But I believe he just leaned passively,
  • And felt their hair carried across his face
  • As each nymph passed him; nor gave ear to trace
  • How many feet; nor bent assuredly
  • His eyes from the blind fixedness of thought
  • 10To see the dancers. It is bitter glad,
  • Even unto tears. Its meaning filleth it,
  • A portion of most secret life; to wit;—
  • Each human pulse shall keep the sense it had
  • With all, though the mind's labour run to nought.
(D. G. R. The Germ, 1850.)

Transcribed Footnote (page 128):

2 A Venetian Pastoral, by Giorgione; in the Louvre.

(In this picture, two cavaliers and an undraped woman are seated in the grass, with musical instruments, while another woman dips a vase into a well hard by, for water.)

  • Water, for anguish of the solstice—yea,
  • Over the vessel's mouth still widening
  • Listlessly dipt to let the water in
  • With slow vague gurgle. Blue, and deep away,

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narrow limit in the variety of the enthusiasms which we shared. We did not, it is true, either with old or new favourites, take all their productions, or every quality in the best of them, for admiration; and I think thus we were saved from much confusion of mind. We brought with us a double judgment; the first was to decide whether a work interested the eye and the mind, and if so, whether, and in what degree, it was rich in artistic grace and accomplishment. Now in France it was obvious, that for most of the past century, scarcely any works not interesting intellectually had been rewarded with public favour; but when we considered their value from the æsthetic point of view, the examples we found were singularly questionable, while for moral beauty the prospect was poorer still, since for the unexpected charm of ecstatic innocent love we looked almost in vain. There was nothing to make intelligible the axiom that “art is love.” The startling antithesis was proclaimed that art is hatred, war, murder, lust, pride, and egoism. It is true that there were to be found larger and more ambitious compositions than had been executed in England at the same period, and these in an admirably workmanlike manner, with drawing that well deserved the epithet “correct,” if freedom from false proportion and from ambiguity warrants the phrase. British painters had not often found an opportunity of working on a large scale and for reasonable payment. When this opportunity in any form had arisen, they had rarely failed to express themselves with a tempering grace of human sympathy, with freedom from that boastfulness indicated so often on foreign pictures by the large written name of the author. A striking example of the French School, in the dying days of powerful classicalism, was “ Le Naufrage,” by Gericault; it represented a crew of maddened men, famished and dying, aroused to contending desperation by sight of a passing sail. The trained draftsmanship and the colouring of the figures defied disrespectful criticism, and it struck us as being an admirable illustration of the incident. The scene cannot but make onlookers ponder with commiseration over the sufferings of those who engage in the perilous but peaceful enterprises of the world; it presents that kind of heroism which is perhaps too often forgotten, and the painter in recording it performed a noble service. The sea in this painting possesses a tragic heaviness; the horizon sky, empty and wind-swept, gives force to the cruelty of the situation; and the treatment must be called dramatic; there is all that a man of mere practical sense would conceive
Transcribed Footnote (page 129):
  • The heat lies silent at the brink of day.
  • Now the hand trails upon the viol-string
  • That sobs; and the brown faces cease to sing,
  • Mournful with complete pleasure. Her eyes stray
  • In distance; through her lips the pipe doth creep
  • 10And leaves them pouting; the green shadowed grass
  • Is cool against her naked flesh. Let be;
  • Do not now speak unto her lest she weep—
  • Nor name this ever. Be it as it was—
  • Silence of heat, and solemn poetry.
(D. G. R. The Germ,1850.)
Sig. VOL. I. K
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or require, but one may search in vain for further grace either of human love or of artistic charm in this picture.
“The Decadence of Rome” had just been added to the Luxembourg. It was so highly rated that we had to regard it as a representative work; and how could we avoid deciding that this was done by a well-trained workman saying with every touch, “You see what a clever fellow I am!”
The one man still in full force, who had often soared grandly above the mechanical level, was undoubtedly Paul Delaroche. He had, it is true, indulged a taste for bloodshed and murder unworthy of a man of genius, but in “The Children of Edward IV” he had aroused sympathy for the imprisoned brothers by the pathetic sign that their only guardian was the vigilant but helpless spaniel that too surely recognised the approaching enemy, revealed by the glare of a torch beneath the door. “ The Hemicycle ” was then just completed, and we agreed that the circle of artists as represented was as worthy as the theme, noble as it was, deserved it should be, and that the central figure of Fame was ideally graceful, with scarcely a shade of Parisian theatricality about it such as often marred the delicacy of many creations then issuing from the French capital.
It was the mode in England, as on the Continent, to rate Ary Scheffer among the greatest of painters. He had doubtless exhibited some capable works, then in private collections. Of these we knew by engravings “Mignon regrettant sa Patrie” and “Le Christ Consolateur.” The first undoubtedly possessed grace, the second took the young admirer captive for a whole week like a popular air, but his later works accentuated the effeminate taste which had made his fortune; and no one looking with impartial eyes, who had followed the history of art, could fail to foresee that his work courted the fate of the feebly rooted and the sterility of meretricious. Mere prettiness has nothing to do with real beauty, all enduring creations in any art are virile.
On our return F. Madox Brown, still retaining his prejudice of earlier days, was outraged when Gabriel and I declared our verdict on Ary Scheffer. The younger man proclaimed his rebellious opinion too abruptly to convert the elder, and perhaps the suspicion that the heresy had begun with me made Brown the more disconcerted.
Delacroix was the master in greatest vogue among the French students we met, and Rossetti declared an admiration for him which I could not endorse. We differed most about a work at Versailles, “The Siege of Constantinople,” which to me was not admirable either in plan or form, and in colour stainy and nauseating; later years have confirmed my opinion. Horace Vernet was a wonder of the day, who had worked ably as an illustrator of military books, indeed, his designs for the life of Napoleon were admirable; his huge paintings in brand-new asphaltum, of the war in Algiers, with carnage that flattered the current taste for martial glory, were so beset with excited admirers as to give rise to the thought that, to the men of the day, bloodshed was not the dread means but the grand end of a nation's life.
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Flandrin's paintings in the church of St. Germain des Pres we found admirable for their complete fulfilment of the artist's purpose; they were undoubtedly the highest examples of ecclesiastical art of the day. Gabriel, with greater respect for dogma than myself, did not at the time recognise the real limitation of their excellence to be in the combed and brushed condition of the saints represented, and in the frequently adopted expedient of cutting out the handsome profile of a patently dignified saint against the flat plate of glory encircling the head. This  



made me dub the designs, although of high rank, as marred by theatrical taste. It was a great loss that we could see no examples of Madame le Brun's innocent and truly lovely portraiture of women and children. Lemud, an artist who published designs in lithography, gained our high applause; the poetic strain in them was sterling, and this atoned for a mannerism which might in time have been wearisome.
Full evidence existed that the masters drilled their pupils to their own proficiency, but it seemed to us that the type of ideal art was stilted and stagey, and that the revolt against this was coarse and ugly. Naturalism was, in fact, a repudiation, rather than a purgation, of art. Ingres 1
Transcribed Footnote (page 131):

1 “Angelica rescued from the Sea-monster,” by Ingres; in the Luxembourg.

  • A remote sky, prolonged to the sea's brim;
  • One rock-point standing buffeted alone,
  • Vexed at its base with a foul beast unknown,
  • Hell-spurge of geomaunt and teraphim;
  • A knight, and a winged creature bearing him,
  • Reared at the rock; a woman fettered there,
  • Leaning into the hollow with loose hair
  • And throat let back and heartsick trail of limb.
  • The sky is harsh, and the sea shrewd and salt.
  • 10Under his lord, the griffin-horse ramps blind
  • With rigid wings and tail. The spear's lithe stem
  • Thrills in the roaring of those jaws; behind,
  • The evil length of body chafes at fault.
  • She doth not hear nor see—she knows of them.

The same.

  • Clench thine eyes now,—'tis the last instant, girl;
  • Draw in thy senses, set thy knees, and take
  • One breath for all; thy life is keen awake,—
  • Thou may'st not swoon. Was that the scattered whirl
  • Of its foam drenched thee?—or the waves that curl
  • And split, bleak spray wherein thy temples ache?—
  • Or was it his the champion's blood to flake
  • Thy flesh?—Or thine own blood's anointing, girl?...
  • ...Now, silence; for the sea's is such sound
  • 10As irks not silence; and except the sea,
  • All is now still. Now the dead thing doth cease
  • To writhe, and drifts. He turns to her; and she
  • Cast from the jaws of Death, remains there, bound,
  • Again a woman in her nakedness.
(D. G. R. The Germ, 1850.)

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had just then painted “La Source,” and we admired this truly excellent picture as one that would seat him among the great, notwithstanding its timid restraint as to colour; but we searched for other examples of his genius, and could find none. We had no means then of divining the existence and the subsequent career of Millet, whose treatment by the patrons of la belle France proves that he did not represent the city he lived and studied in. He was representative of something higher than the artificiality of modern day Paris. With great admiration for Millet's work, in its human sympathy and poetic purpose, I must feel that his defect of grace in the human form, and of living colour in the “Angelus” and other of his works, marred his claim to be a mature painter of the first order.
One reason for sober men approving of the French School for students, was derived from the fact that John Cross had recently astonished the Art world with a fine, although melodramatic painting of “Richard I. pardoning his Murderer.” He had been taught in France; but the defect in his style increased with every subsequent painting, and I think all would agree that his career was in the end far from a recommendation of the influences which had affected him. In sculpture, sterling training must have been operating, or such supreme naturalistic work as that of Dalou could never have arisen, but I have to confess with some sense of shame that we missed the sign of this coming life. In design the current coinage of France was far superior to that of England. In monumental sculpture neither France nor any other country in modern days had done better work than thorough Englishmen have executed here—many works might be cited to justify this opinion.
The collection in the Louvre enchanted us. Fra Angelico's “Coronation of the Virgin” was of peerless grace and sweetness in the eyes of us both. We had hitherto seen nothing of this painter's original work. Titian's “Entombment” showed the artist's sympathy for sublime sentiment such as we had rarely seen him reach. Leonardo's “ Monna Lisa” appeared to us as the first example of his supreme power to express dreamy beauty. The large composition by Tintoretto gave us some idea of his dignity, but the arrangement of figures sitting in a half-circle and seen from below was so common to painters of his century that his use of it in this picture fell short of the exalted excellence appraised by Ruskin as the due of the “San Rocco” painter.
“The Contest of Apollo and Marsyas,” one of the best of Raphael's easel pictures, was not there till recent years; it had only just then been discovered in London, and it was taken about Europe, and offered for sale in vain. It was refused at £400 by our authorities. A “Virgin and Child” by Vandyck made me regard the author as a poetic painter of the rarest discrimination for beauty, and we greatly delighted in the Paolo Veronese.
We made several interesting acquaintances in Paris through an introduction we had to a young artist studying there; native artists,
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in consequence of the political disturbance, had been for a long time unable to gain any income, but a certain Madame Charles, who kept a laiterie at which we breakfasted, trusted these impecunious and reckless painters. One morning their places were vacant, and Madame whispered that the police had been making inquiries about them on account of proceedings of theirs in the last outbreak, which all had vainly hoped were forgotten. We were sorry to be debarred thus from the society of such truly bons garçons as they were. Thinking of our friends thus under a cloud one morning, we were stopped by a particularly good-looking smart man, scrupulously shaven; we wondered whether we were under police surveillance ourselves, till suddenly, as we were staring hard, he put up his finger to suggest caution, saying, “Don't you know me? I am glad of this opportunity to say good-bye. I am on my way to the country.” It was one of the whilom bearded fellows, who evidently better deserved to be trusted by Madame Charles than by Monsieur le Président.
When we had stayed our full time and spent three-quarters of our money, we started for Belgium. 1
Transcribed Footnote (page 133): 1 The Carillon. “Antwerp and Bruges.”

(In these and others of the Flemish Towns, the “Carrillon,” or chimes, which have a most fantastic and delicate music, are played almost continually. The custom is very ancient.)

  • At Antwerp, there is a low wall
  • Binding the city, and a moat
  • Beneath, that the wind keeps afloat.
  • You pass the gates in a slow drawl
  • Of wheels. If it is warm at all
  • The Carillon will give you thought.

  • I climbed the stair in Antwerp church,
  • What time the urgent weight of sound
  • At sunset seems to heave it round.
  • 10Far up, the Carillon did search
  • The wind; and the birds came to perch
  • Far under, where the gables wound.

  • In Antwerp harbour on the Scheldt
  • I stood along, a certain space
  • Of night. The mist was near my face;
  • Deep on, the flow was heard and felt.
  • The Carillon kept pause, and dwelt
  • In music through the silent place.

  • At Bruges, when you leave the train,
  • 20—A singing numbness in your ears,—
  • The Carillon's first sound appears
  • Only the inner moil. Again
  • A little minute though—your brain
  • Takes quiet, and the whole sense hears.

  • John Memmeling and John Van Eyck
  • Hold state at Bruges. In sore shame
  • I scanned the works that keep their name.
  • The Carillon, which then did strike
  • Mine ears, was heard of theirs alike;
  • 30It set me closer unto them.

  • I climbed at Bruges all the flight
  • For Belfry has of ancient stone.
  • For leagues I saw the east wind blown;

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Our estimate of Rubens at Antwerp was not so much heightened as we had hoped it would be. The magnificent “Descent from the Cross” was away at the restorers, we made some efforts to get an opportunity of examining it, but in vain, and we had to judge of the painter from works which appeared to me, although masterly, far from enchanting. “The Nativity,” with one of the Magi in a vermilion blanket, and the “The Pieta,” representing the dead Christ in the arms of the Father, with bleeding wounds also vermilion, were to our eyes so coarse, that the wonderful facility of drawing and painting scarcely added merit to the productions. In all the collections abroad, except in the case of rare portraits by Rubens, and the painting over his tomb, we saw nothing of his of equal merit to four or five of our paintings in the National Gallery.
We studied attentively the works of John and Hubert Van Eyck;
Transcribed Footnote (page 134):

  • The earth was grey, the sky was white.
  • I stood so near upon the height
  • That my flesh felt the Carillon.
October 1849. (D. G. R. The Germ, 1850.)

“A Virgin and Child,” by Hans Memmeling (in the Academy of Bruges).

  • Mystery; God, Man's Life, born into man
  • Of woman. There abideth on her brow
  • The ended pang of knowledge, the which now
  • Is calm assured. Since first her task began,
  • She hath known all. What more of anguish than
  • Endurance oft hath lived through, the whole space
  • Through night till night, passed weak upon her face
  • While like a heavy flood the darkness ran?
  • All hath been told her touching her dear Son,
  • 10And all shall be accomplished. Where he sits
  • Even now, a babe, he holds the symbol fruit
  • Perfect and chosen. Until God permits,
  • His soul's elect still have the absolute
  • Harsh nether darkness, and make painful moan.

A Marriage of St. Katherine,” by the same; in the Hospital of St. John at Bruges.

  • Mystery; Katherine, the bride of Christ.
  • She kneels, and on her hand the holy Child
  • Setteth the ring. Her life is sad and mild,
  • Laid in God's knowledge--ever unenticed
  • From Him, and in the end thus fitly priced.
  • Awe, and the music that is near her wrought
  • Of Angels, hath possessed her eyes in thought;
  • Her utter joy is hers, and hath sufficed.
  • There is a pause while Mary Virgin turns
  • 10The leaf, and reads. With eyes on the spread book,
  • That damsel at her knees reads after her.
  • John whom He loved and John His harbinger
  • Listen and watch. Whereon soe'er thou look,
  • The light is starred in gems, and the gold burns
(D. G. R. The Germ, 1850.)

An example of the confusion into which posthumous chroniclers may be betrayed is Mr. Hueffer's treatment of old papers which he finds in the handwriting of Rossetti and myself, entitling the find as a journal of our tour in France and Belgium.

According to these historic MSS., we were able to dismiss the whole Louvre with the one word “slosh” and to apply the term “filthy slosh” to all painters “from Rembrandt to Rubens.”

These papers were evidently intended as an extravagance without a thought that they would serve any purpose beyond raising a laugh at the passing moment. The words were indeed part of such slang as characterised Rossetti's somewhat reckless talk at the time of his studentship, and which he indulged in for several years. The paper, it is said, was intended for the Germ. Although I was prone to enjoy any surprising nonsense, I should certainly have put my veto upon any such publication as expressing our sober conviction.

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the exquisite delicacy of the workmanship and the unpretending character of the invention made us feel we could not overestimate the perfection of the painting, at least that of John van Eyck. “ The Adoration of the Spotless Lamb ” did not satisfy my expectations, although there was much suggestion derived from the Apocalypse which affected Rossetti to write of it. The same applies notably to Memmeling; he was led to love these paintings beyond their artistic claim by reason of the mystery of the subjects. The one master whose glory was extended in my appreciation was Vandyck, for I found him in ideal work as well as in portraiture an artist peerless in nerve of line and in colour.
Rossetti was a perfect travelling companion, ever in the best of temper, and our journey was overbrimming with delight in the beauties both of nature and art. We came back with richer minds, but without change of purpose. It was now desirable to resume active life in the house near the church on Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, with a front room for studio facing the mid-day sun, essential for my “ Druid ” subject. Gabriel and I had been tempted by the capacious Queen's House lower down the river; it was to be had at a very low rate, but remembering my experience in Cleveland Street, and that my resources and chances would not warrant an uncertain expenditure, I relinquished the idea, Gabriel taking a studio in Newman 1 Street, where he began his “ Annunciation,” and made preparations for a large picture from Browning.
The business of starting The Germ was now occupying our Circle. I had already done my etching for it, and had made myself responsible for a share of the expenses, but when I had helped Collinson with the method of his etching, I held myself for the time free from other demands of the undertaking.
My “ Druid ” picture was so full of varying features that without constant application it was certain it could not be completed in time. Thus I could but rarely visit Gower Street, and then only after dark, so the seeing Millais' new work was put off for daylight, which he always counted upon as the only means of examining the picture advantageously.
Transcribed Footnote (page 135):

1 On going to press I receive the following interesting information from my friend Mr. John R. Clayton—

“I refer to an incident which took place in Rossetti's studio in Newman Street, and which, from its literary interest, you might deem worthy of reference in your book.

“At the time W. M. Rossetti was writing in The Spectator as a reviewer, when free from his work in the Revenue Office. This connection of his with the publishers enabled him to secure an advance copy, before publication, of Tennyson's new and mysterious volume, which excited such great interest on its announcement.

“On the night referred to, a large group of art and literary men had assembled at Rossetti's. I was of the number. After long waiting, when the clock indicated nearly midnight, there was a ring at the bell, and footsteps on the stair intensified expectation, until William burst into the room, waving the little brown cloth book over his head in triumph. It was In Memoriam. The volume was at once passed on to Gabriel, who then read the whole of it without faltering in his unapproachable tones and inspired interpretations, to the delight and amazement of all present, who had listened in rapt silence.

“I spoke in recent years of the incident to a friend of Tennyson, who was then still living. My friend repeated my story to Tennyson, who, as I afterwards learnt, broke out into enthusiastic pleasure in knowing thus how his work had affected a group of young men all under thirty years of age. I can understand how the incident must have touched his inner sympathies.”

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My Beautiful Lady

W. H. H.]


As the frontispiece of one number of The Germ was an etching by Holman-Hunt, an illustration indeed to a poem, but the latter having so little reference to it, that it may well stand for an independent picture, truly a song without words, for out of its golden silence came voices for all who would hearken, telling a tale of love. Two lovers are together in a meadow, by a pool of standing water, and behind them a circle of trees is throwing morning shadows on the grass; she is kneeling, stooping forward to gather wild flowers growing on the bank, clasped and circled by the arm of him who loves her and shall be her future lord, he is bending lovingly over her, shielding her from harm; yet there is no peril in the water, and the space between her and the edge is great, still he clasps her tightly, guarding her from a danger that is not; judge of it, O lovers! how true it is. But below, in another scene, lies a figure flung upon the foreground, lying all his length, and his face pressed deeply into the fresh mould of a grave, for behind him, in the distance, the nuns are passing, singing Dies irae and Beati mortui, and the bell is sounding close behind him as he lies quiet. Surely he will never rise and come away! Wherefore did she die, and how? and was it long after the flower-gathering by the water side on the summer day? I know how it all came to pass, and you would also if you saw the picture; silently, quite silently has the story taken form. I would not tell the legend as it comes to me, for your version would be altogether otherwise, and yet both must be true; something like this we cry for, is it not like a cry for food? (Edward Burne Jones. Oxford and Cambridge Magazine . 1856.)

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His new subject was suggested to him by a sermon he had heard at Oxford in the past summer on the text, “What are these wounds with which I am wounded in the house of My friends?” He had shown me his pen-and-ink design, which suggested great capabilities.
Woolner's co-operation in our joint ambition was for the time retarded by his ordinary occupation of carving marble for others, yet the meetings at his studio had a most romantic character. Wreaths of tobacco smoke environed our circle, and seemed to elevate us above immediate cares. The world was then too agitated with discontent not to call forth all our political views; those of our host were strong, and decidedly complicated. “I loathe from my very soul,” he said, “all money grubbers, all who grovel to scrape up filthy lucre.” Most severe was his disdain for our governing and wealthy classes. This he justified by truly terrible stories of how dishonourably some had gained their exalted positions and wealth. He was taken by some for a democrat, but he disproved this by carrying menacingly a handsome shoot of an ash tree which he called the antipleb, and also by frequent indignant outbursts against the people. These scornful sentiments might be traced to an unquestioning adoration of Shelley's wildest poetry. He wisely took occasion to seek Gabriel's and William's opinions in turn on disputed judgments of standard poems, inquiring also about metres, and rhymes, and differences of verse, bringing forward efforts of his own, a sonnet on M. Angelo being one, and the first verses of My beautiful Lady.
When Patmore's Woodman's Daughter had been recited by Rossetti, Woolner expressed regret that it could no longer be obtained at the publishers, whereupon Gabriel advised him to write to the author direct, and this led to the making of a valuable new friend for us all, and an introduction to the most interesting literary circle existing. As we broke up and walked down Stanhope Street, political consistency did not prevent us from joining in the chorus of the “Marseillaise” or “Mourir pour la patrie,” sung primarily by Gabriel as leader. The refrain continued until we came to our successive parting points, and ceased only when each felt responsible for his own share in the harmony.
Walter Deverell had been a fellow-student with us all at the Academy, and being a son of the Secretary at the School of Design, he had received encouragement and some instruction from the masters there which had enabled him to make essays in original painting. He was an eager reader, and had contracted the prevailing taste among the young of that day, which Carlyle had inaugurated and Charles Kingsley had accentuated, of dwelling on the miseries of the poor, the friendless, and the fallen; together with Art he indulged a taste for writing verse, and he took important parts on suburban stages; doubtless his good looks had been his best introduction to theatre managers.
A constant buoyancy of disposition, even after heavy and increasingly threatening troubles were breaking like thunder clouds about him, might
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have tempted strangers to assume that he had no proportionate thought of “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” He would drop in upon me any evening by chance, chattering and laughing like a young child, but as he drifted through his gay prattle he would light upon a sad passage, and then his note would show the deep vein of pity, and even wrath, in his nature. The reader may be allowed to hear of the part he took unconsciously in a romance, upon which I should yet remain silent had not other versions of it already been made public by those  

W. Deverell

W. H. H.]


who had a better right than I to decide what events in the life of the persons principally concerned should be revealed. I therefore invite my reader into my studio when first Dante Gabriel Rossetti heard the name of Elizabeth Siddal.
Rossetti at that date had the habit of coming to me with a drawing folio, and sitting with it designing while I was painting at a further part of the room. One evening Deverell broke in upon our peaceful labours; he had not been seated many minutes, talking in a somewhat absent manner, when he bounded up, marching to and fro about the room, and, stopping, he whispered emphatically, “You fellows can't tell what a
page: 139
stupendously beautiful creature I have found. By Jove! she's like a queen, magnificently tall, with a lovely figure, a stately neck, and a face of the most delicate and finished modelling; the flow of surface from the temples over the cheek is exactly like the carving of a Pheidean goddess. Wait a minute! I haven't done; she has grey eyes, and her hair is like dazzling copper, and shimmers with lustre as she waves it down. And now, where do you think I lighted on this paragon of beauty? Why, in a milliner's back workroom when I went out with my mother shopping. Having nothing to amuse me, while the woman was tempting my mother with something, I peered over the blind of a glass door at the back of the shop, and there was this unexpected jewel. I got my mother to persuade the miraculous creature to sit for me for my Viola in ‘ Twelfth Night ,’ and to-day I have been trying to paint her; but I have made a mess of my beginning. To-morrow she's coming again; you two should come down and see her; she's really a wonder; for while her friends, of course, are quite humble, she behaves like a real lady, by clear commonsense, and without any affectation, knowing perfectly, too, how to keep people at a respectful distance.”
I could not accept Deverell's confiding invitation, but Gabriel was less pressed for time, and on the morrow came back with no diminished account of Miss Siddal's beauty, and with the announcement that he had prevailed upon her to sit to him. I had the idea of making the young woman tending the priest in my picture of a fair Celt with red hair, and as I had no one who would serve as a model, I asked Rossetti whether he thought I could ask Miss Siddal to sit. He advised me to write to her, with the happy result that she agreed to come. With my desire to give a rude character to the figure, and my haste to finish, certainly the head bore no resemblance to her in grace and refinement. Rossetti, although he expressed great admiration from the beginning, did not for a year or two profess any strong personal feeling for the lady.
He was painting his “ Annunciation ,” Millais his “ Carpenter's Shop ,” and I my “ Druid ” picture; each anxious to improve the position that we had gained last year at the Exhibition, when suddenly a newspaper in its gossiping column published a spirited paragraph revealing the meaning of the initials P.R.B. on our pictures, about which there had been hitherto only the most laughable guesses. It held the whole Body up to derision. The effect of the announcement proved how wise had been our intention of secrecy. Our immediate forerunners had nearly to a man declared themselves hostile to us, and the bitterness had grown wilder and wider. Now with the exposure of our “wicked” designs an almost universal fury was excited against us; far and near it seemed as if the honour of Raphael were the dearest feeling existing in the bosom of Englishmen, and in our imputed hostility to this master we had put ourselves outside the pale of toleration. We knew that some one of our Body had revealed the meaning of our mystic letters and at the next meeting, when we insisted
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upon a searching investigation being made, Gabriel avowed that "little Munro" had long persisted in beseeching him to tell the riddle, till, under pledge of secrecy, the mysterious monogram had been explained. It became evident that he had told the writer, Angus Reach, the meaning of the initials, as the announcement appeared immediately after.

Charles Allston Collins

J. E. Millais]


Our prospects with The Germ were perhaps not affected by this exposure, as there were sufficient reasons to hamper the success of that journal in the fact not only that we had no capital, but that we had little matter in reserve, that all the important contributors were men deeply taxed with other work than that of writing, and were even incessantly in danger of collapse in the immediate struggle for a free course in their main pursuit. But the consequences of the revelation of our secret
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insignia were to be expected in the reception of our new pictures, and this we did not underrate. I had to labour on mine with determination, rather than faith in the sufficiency of time, to achieve all.
Late in the evening the van arrived, and my kindly landlord and his wife asked leave to look on while I was putting the final touches of loving anxiety. At this juncture Millais came, bringing as a new visitor Charles Collins. I had no time but for my picture. While I confided it to the men, taking care that the covering did not touch wet paint, I could hear the most amusing cross assumptions going on between the old couple and Collins, whom I had known before only at the Academy schools and who said tenderly—

Berengaria Recognising the Girdle of Richard I. Offered for Sale

Charles Collins]


“It is an unspeakable gratification to me, believe me, to have the privilege of seeing such a noble picture as this by my old fellow-student. You must, I am sure, understand what reason you have for pride in it, and you must really permit me to congratulate both of you, as well as himself, upon its production.”
“Indeed we are, sir,” replied the old gentleman, “thoroughly proud. I shall be so, sir, to the day of my death at the remembrance of its development under my own roof. The artist is young, sir, young, but he is most industrious, morning, noon, and night; I assure you it is all the same to him.”
“You have been so wise in encouraging him,” said Collins, “and now there can be no doubt you will be rewarded.”
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“Well, sir, it's very little that we could do. I am sure had we been called upon to do more we should have been only too glad; we are indeed more than recompensed.”
“Just stop Collins,” I said to Millais, in passing; ”he thinks the good old couple are my father and mother!”
What a relief it is to send off a picture at which one has been working for months! It seems like cutting a cord binding one to a millstone. When we sat down we each compared our feelings, which in my case were complicated by the fact that I had not once seen Millais' picture, and that now it was out of sight for a month. Collins had sent in a picture of “Berengaria seeing the Girdle of Richard offered for Sale in Rome.” Under the influence of Millais he had in this work discarded his early manner, and striven to carry out our principles.
I was curious to gather from Millais the character of his own work, and I noticed that while he never wavered in confidence in the excellence of that part of the painting which had been completed long enough for him to exercise impartial judgment upon it, he spoke with less certainty when dwelling on those portions which he had done last. This would impel him to say, “Well, I don't know; I tell you frankly sometimes I thought it all splendid, and at others I was much out of spirits with it.”
As week by week flowed by the doubt about his work was healed, discontent visibly diminished, and his enthusiasm grew quite confident. “I declare to you,” he exclaimed, “and this is no exaggeration, that when painting the body of the little St. John, as I finished it and turned my eyes from the boy who stood for me, back to my painting, so thoroughly in relief did it appear that on looking again to the model I could not at the moment tell which was which. As for the St. Joseph,” he went on, “I would not have a lazy model who had never done any work in his life. I was determined to choose a real carpenter, whose frame and muscles had been formed by the very exercise that had been the toil of the Virgin's husband, and for the background I went to an actual carpenter's shop in Oxford Street where they had some planks of real cedar; there I worked for days,” and then, mimicking in the most inimitable manner, he rehearsed the chatter that went on among the workmen, with the sound of centre bits and sawing, enacting the arrival of an artisan caller who exclaimed, “What! having a picture made of your shop?”
He wished to be present when I first saw his picture in the Exhibition that he might gather my instinctive impression; accordingly I slept at his house on the Sunday to be in good time on the morrow, when artists were able to see and retouch their works until twelve o'clock. We knew that our pictures were again pendant in the first large room. By seven o'clock we were admitted at the students' entrance, and, bounding up the steps quickly, stood before Millais' picture. Between my admiration of the exquisite painting of all, the beauty of some of the figures, the
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spring-like naïveté of the scene, and the puzzling anachronisms such as the clean-shaven face of St. Joseph, I was dumb for some moments, when Millais suddenly uttered in undertone, “It's the most beastly thing I ever saw. Come away!”
“My dear fellow,” I returned, “the picture is truly marvellous. It  

Varnishing Day, 1850

J. E. Millais]


In the first edition, the date of Millais' drawing written on it by me some years afterwards was 1851; this was a mistake, it is now corrected to 1850.—W.H.H.

is indeed! But I really don't know how to express myself till I have taken it all in.”
I had scarcely arrested the impatient self-judge when two tall fellow-students of vainglorious mien rollicked into the room, and, seeing us standing there, walked between the picture and ourselves, courting our regard as they looked at Millais' work, and then turned and laughed in our faces. Before they moved another step, Millais had advanced, and putting his hand on the shoulder of the least imbecile, said to him,
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“Do you know what you are doing? Don't you see that if you were to live to the age of Methuselah, both of you, and you were to improve every day of your lives more than you will in the whole course of them you would never be able to achieve any work fit to compare with that picture?
“But we did not say anything,” they each pleaded with a pitiable affectation of innocence.
“No, but you did this, you laughed at my painting, and you did so defiantly to my face, so that you should not be surprised at my telling you that you were egregious fools.”
They slunk away crestfallen.
Millais came back with me early from the Academy to Chelsea on the first day of the Exhibition, and there he took up a pen and sketched the scene representing our rivals' wrath at our pictures, with others engaged in touching up their own work.
Gabriel's picture of “ The Annunciation ,” shown at Portland Place Gallery, did not escape the storm, though it attracted considerable admiration from thoughtful artists. The effect of rancorous criticism upon Rossetti was such that he resolved never again to exhibit in public, and he adhered to this determination to the end. The dividing of himself from us at first, in the place and date of exhibition, was with no sense of corporate interest, and now Millais and I were left to bear the whole brunt of the storm. When the press gave their verdict it was with one voice of condemnation. 1 The critics exhibited their indignation
Transcribed Footnote (page 144):

1 “We have already in the course of our Exhibition notices of this year come in contact with the doings of a school of artists whose younger members unconsciously write its condemnation in the very title which they adopt (that of Pre-Raphaelite), and we would not have troubled ourselves or our readers with any further remarks on the subject were it not that eccentricities of any kind have a sort of seduction for minds that are intellectual without belonging to the better orders of intellect. It is difficult in the present day of improved taste and information to apprehend any large worship of an Art Idol set up with visible deformity as its attributes, but it is always well to guard against the influence of ostentatious example and fascination of paradox. The idea of an association of artists whose objects are the following out of their art in a spirit of improved purity, making sentiment and expression the great ends, and subordinating to these all technical consideration, is not new. The difference between the proceedings of a band of German painters who in the early part of the present century commenced such an undertaking in Rome and those of these English Pre-Raphaelites is nevertheless striking. The Germans in question (who had each tested the difficulties of composition in his own several style, each encountered the struggle of pictorial principle in his own studio) yearned to throw off the yoke of conventionalism which, commencing with the eclectic ages before, had brought the art in their time in Italy down to its lowest level, etc., etc. With all their good taste and acquirements their formal recurrence to amend art has been repressive of the first great condition of success (originality of thinking). That a body of young painters (untravelled, without experience, and below these Germans in intelligence, going back for revival to a yet earlier period from a yet later) should fail far more signally and find that they have arrived at an absurdity might have been expected beforehand from the mere conditions of the case. This school of English youths has, it may be granted, ambition, but not of that well-regulated order which, measuring the object to be attained by the resources possessed, qualifies itself for achievement. Their ambition is an unhealthy thirst which seeks notoriety by means of mere conceit. Abruptness, singularity, uncouthness are the counters by which they play for game. Their trick is to defy the principles of beauty and the recognised axioms of taste. Again these young artists are mistaken if they imagine that they have reverted to any early period of art for their type of pictorial expression....In all these painters the absence of structural knowledge never resulted in positive deformity. The disgusting incidents of unwashed bodies were not presented in loathsome reality, and flesh with its accidents of putridity was not made the affected medium of religious sentiment in tasteless revelation. Purity of presentment inspired by

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with the more effect by giving their own interpretation of the revealed meaning of the word Pre-Raphaelite, and what naturally made our enormity more shameful beyond artistic circles, the great Charles Dickens wrote a leading article in Household Words against Millais' picture. It was prompted by blind partisanship for his painter friends, but now, who is there of his admirers, of whom I am one of the heartiest, that would not wish he had never written the foolish words in question?
It is just to speak of his onslaught as upon the whole of us. Although he did not attack my picture, the prejudice excited was more practically damaging to me, as Millais had sold his work, while mine still waited a buyer before I could take up new work.
The difference was very marked in the reception of our pictures by members of the Academy from that of last year; not one complimented me in any way, but those I saw turned away as though I had committed a crime. Yet I can remember some kind words from independent artists, Robert Hannah amongst these, who thereupon became my friend.
Three hundred pounds was the sum for which Millais told me he had sold his picture, therefore I had concluded that the same sum would not be excessive for my larger one. Millais, as I have intimated before, was unwilling to dwell upon reverses, but I gathered later that to prevent Farrer, the dealer, from suffering loss by the fulfilment of his engagement in paying for “Christ in the House of His Parents,” the terms had been made easier to him, so I decided to abandon my first price, as will be seen later.
Sometimes I went timidly to the Exhibition, hoping to hear some unprejudiced opinion expressed, but as soon as the public arrived at my picture they invariably said, “Oh, this is one of those preposterous Pre-Raphaelite works,” and went on to the next without looking again upon
Transcribed Footnote (page 145):

devotional enthusiasm marked the works of these old rude masters....Let us conjure these young gentlemen to believe that Raphael may be received as no mean authority for soundness of view and excellence in practice. They stand convicted of insincerity by the very cleverness of some of their pictures. What a wilful misapplication of powers is that which affects to treat the human form in the primitive and artless manner of the Middle Ages, while minor accessories are elaborated to a refinement of imitation which belongs to the latest days of executive art! By the side of their affected simplicity and rudeness they write the condemnation of the same, saying ‘You see by the skill with which we can produce a shaving that we could joint and round these limbs if we would. We show you that which some of us could, if we chose, do as well as they who use the enlarged means and appliances of art; we can also do and choose to do as ill as they who wanted our knowledge. We desire you to understand that it is not for want of knowing what nature is that we fly to affectation.’ In point of religious sentiment Rossetti stands the chief of this little band. Mr. Hunt stands next in his picture of ‘ A converted British Family ’ (No. 553). There is a sense of novelty in its arrangement and of expression in its parts and a certain enthusiasm, though wrongly directed in its conduct. Mr. Millais, in his picture without a name (518), which represents a Holy Family in the interior of the carpenter's shop, has been most successful in giving the least dignified features of his presentment, and in giving to the higher forms characters and meanings, a circumstantial Art Language from which we recoil with loathing and disgust. There are many to whom his work will seem a pictorial blasphemy. Great imitative talents have here been perverted to the use of an eccentricity both lamentable and revolting. ‘Ferdinand lured by Ariel’ (504), by the same hand, though better in the painting, is yet more senseless in the conception, a scene built on the contrivances of the stage manager, but with very bad success. Another instance of perversion is to be regretted in ‘Berengaria's Alarm for the Safety of her Husband’ (etc.) (535), by Mr. Charles Collins.” — Athenæum,1850.

Sig. VOL. I. L
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the canvas. One fellow-student, some years my senior, told me that he regretted to see me mixed up with this charalatanism, that he perfectly understood that our object was to attract great attention to ourselves by our extravagant work, and that when we had succeeded in making ourselves notorious, which, being undeniably clever fellows, we should soon do, we should paint pictures of real merit. I thereupon mischievously said that he had divined our purpose, and besought him to respect the secret, on which he led me to his contribution for the year, telling me that, through the course we had taken, his work, being of modest aspect—and it was this—was entirely overlooked.
One gain my picture brought was a note from Mr. Dyce asking me to  

Study for Druid Picture

W. H. H.]


call upon him. When I went, he welcomed me with recognition as the student in the Life School with whom he had often chatted, and congratulated me greatly on “ The Christians and Druids .” His proposal was, since he had learned I had not sold my picture, that I should make a copy of his “Jacob and Rachel,” then in the Royal Academy. The work had to be undertaken between six and eight in the morning; the price to be paid was £15, to which I gladly agreed, and forthwith set myself to this task. I once encountered my old painting master, Rogers, standing before Dyce's picture; he sadly lamented the character of the Exhibition, but made no reference to my picture there, and I was not in a humour to provoke his comments.
Some distraction is needed under stress of weariness, and this we felt when one sunny afternoon Charlie Collins visited me and I tempted him to come out for an hour or two boating. We went to one Graves, a boat-builder above Chelsea Bridge, who at once approached us to learn our business, but seeing a sailing craft arrive on shore and an old gentleman stumbling out of the boat, Graves abruptly hastened away to his habitual customer, whom he carefully helped up the inclined slope.
Collins was vexed at the neglect we suffered and said, “Had we belonged to any of the recognised professions, the church, the law, the army, or medicine we should not have been left to wait here to the advantage of that antiquated fogey.” I surveyed the ill-fitted back—the only part visible of this interloper—with wonder as to which of the learned pursuits its owner might belong.
I followed him with my eyes up and across the narrow road and
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down into the garden of a small house distinguished by a railing at its upper window.
The elfin sprites were doubtless grinning at us that afternoon as we pulled our boat to and from Hammersmith, for few knew who the strange figure was until on his death, a year and a half later, it was known that the mysterious occupant of the little house with the railing at its upper window was William Mallard Turner, the most consummate of landscape painters either past or present, the ancient friend of Charlie Collins' home, who had dandled him on his knee as a baby.
What Walter Thornbury says about the artist having degraded habits is simply evidence of the  

Turner's House, Cheyne Walk, Chelsea



delight of the unemotional in lowering the eminent who have indulged in eccentric whims. It may be doubted whether the boatman Graves knew who the patron was whom he attended so assiduously, but may be there is reason to assume that he had no prejudice against our despised calling seeing that his two sons took to drawing, and were the authors of the drawing of the corner house in Cheyne Walk as it existed when I was there painting “The Light of the World.” 1
I had seen, only at intervals, Rossetti's last picture, “ Ecce Ancilla Domini .” It was in contemplation that we should have further painting together from out-of-door nature, otherwise he had passed from my hands as a pupil. The fable has been repeated in an off-hand manner, with varying degrees of circumstance, that he was already a trained painter when he had left Brown's teaching. I have no kind of care what may be agreed upon as most in accordance with the requirements of romance, but as this is a history of the Brotherhood, I must record facts and repeat that I led him through the portals of original picture painting in oil. He might possibly, in course of time and after many mischances, have got through this dreaded gate, but had he not been very closely, thoughtfully, and affectionately guided by me, hour by hour, in my studio for seven or eight months, I unhesitatingly maintain that he could not have appeared as a painter in 1849, and not even in 1850. The nature of the service he received from Brown and from myself can best be judged by considering the two oil studies done under Brown's tuition, one a copy of “ Angels watching the Crown of Thorns ,” the
Transcribed Footnote (page 147):

1 Page 149

Note: The page citation listed here directs to an image of Rossetti's “ Angels Watching the Crown of Thorns ,” and not “The Light of the World,” which is reproduced on page 261 instead.
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other from the group of bottles which had driven Gabriel to desperation before he came to me, and which, some years afterwards, he partly transformed in idle mood by the addition of a female on a couch in the background. Any intelligent persons can compare them with “ The Girlhood of the Virgin ,” painted under my guidance, and they may then estimate whether Brown's course of instruction or mine most led to Rossetti's becoming a master in his art. That the drilling I prescribed was so successful arose greatly, beyond doubt, from his own unswerving energy and determination.
Gabriel about this time was indefatigable in beating up literary contributors to The Germ . At one meeting an objection to the title was debated with over-sensitiveness; some said that it was too pretentious, while others, with equal show of reason, found it too humble. Mr. Cave Thomas brought a list of thirty or forty alternative names, and “Bruno” (as Rossetti called Brown) and other friends advised us as to the best means of pacifying the disappointed subscribers, who were wonderfully undemonstrative in their grief, although they were not supplied with the third number till the end of the month, under the new title of Art and Nature . The public were thus coaxed to consolation by seeing at least the names of the months in due course on the series of the magazine.
Millais had completed an etching for the June issue as an illustration to Rossetti's story, but the other needful contributions could not be collected, and all further hopes of continuing the publication had to be abandoned.
Gabriel offered his picture of “ The Annunciation ,” while in the Exhibition, for fifty guineas, but no one came forward to buy it. When it returned he worked upon it with characteristic fastidiousness; and then, much needing ready money, he announced that he would take £40 for it. Even then he did not sell it for a year or two. It was purchased for the National Gallery in 1886 for £800, a sum twenty times more than the artist required to enable him to go on freely with his pursuits. In his emergency he had to tax the liberality of his generous brother and other relatives, and executed water colours of original designs, which he sold for small sums to artists having independent means.
When my earnings on the copy from Dyce's picture were exhausted I was again in the direst impecuniosity, for I would not return to my father's house. On one occasion I had written a letter and had no stamp for post. I threw myself back in my arm-chair with the feeling of being defeated; thrusting my hands deep down between the seat and the back, my fingers came in contact with an evasive disk, which I drew up, with the happy discovery that it was half-a-crown! It was like one of Robinson Crusoe's surprises, from an unseen Providence.
Still I knew not how to get a picture ready for next year. My two companions were using the summer profitably; I was losing mine.
To one chance I was now impelled to trust. When the elder members
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Angels Watching the Crown of Thorns

Copy by D. G. Rossetti from Ford Madox Brown]


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of the Academy had so much complimented me the year before upon “ Rienzi ,” one of them had gone so far as to say that had he been able to spare £100 he would have become its possessor, but that he should still hope to obtain a picture of mine of less importance. He could afford £50, and for that he wished me to paint a picture of one or of two figures from Shakespeare, Tennyson, or any other well-known poet. At my leisure I was to do a design, he said, and let him see it. I had wished to delay taking this up until I had money enough to carry out the chosen design, but at last I directed my attention to this prospect as my only one of being able to work. Among the subjects which I was eager to paint, three presented themselves as most suitable: one of “The Lady of Shalott with the web breaking about her,” the second of “Claudio and Isabella,” and the last treating an idea which I have never yet painted. I worked on these designs almost unceasingly for several days, and then, pressed by impatience to see the result, and to hear my encouraging friend's approval, I sat up all night to complete the drawings, refreshing myself at daylight with a swim in the Thames.
I walked to my patron's house in time to catch him as he rose from breakfast. I had not then seen him for many months, and apologised for my delay in having the designs ready for submission to him, and announced that I had at last brought them. To my consternation he declared that he had never proposed anything of the kind, and that he had always disliked my work too much to have thought of such a request. Watching the effect of this repudiation, he condescendingly added that since I had the drawings with me he should like to look at them. To escape showing signs of resentment I opened my parcel. Not less abruptly than before he burst out, indignantly, “Had I ever wished to have a picture of yours the sight of these designs with their affectation would have cured me of such desire.” I knew that, at bottom, this man was not an altogether bad-hearted fellow, but the whole circumstance was an example how prejudice may warp judgment, memory, and good breeding.
I went away, and for a few minutes I felt too giddy and bewildered to take any course.
My good friend Augustus Egg lived near by. Had he also gone over to our enemies? It would be well, I thought, to see him, so I went at once to his cottage in Queen's Road.
I found the painter still at the breakfast table. I told him my tale, and said that it was no affectation to declare that for me to judge of the designs I had with me was impossible, that I was tired and disheartened for the time, and that perhaps the inventions I had been busy upon lacked the spirit which my reading of the author's meaning had made me determined to see in them. Would he therefore tell me quite candidly his exact opinion? He had been somewhat extra-critical lately, but I had none the less reason to believe in his kindliness. A keen reader and renderer of human expression, he had distinguished himself from his
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compeers by the freshness of his pictorial dramas, so that he reached at times the realm of poetic interpretation. With distinctly deliberate judgment he silently turned the drawings over, but hummed and ha'aed ambiguously, till he broke silence by asking questions about the design from Tennyson and the Shakespeare subject, which showed what in them most interested him. Finally, with the “Claudio and Isabella” in hand, he spoke: “And Did ——— say that these designs were hideous and affected? Did he say that he had never given you a commission?  

Claudio and Isabella (1851)

W. H. H.]


Did you offer to paint any of these for fifty pounds?” Then he added, “ I declare they are admirable ,” and, raising the Shakespeare design, he emphatically proceeded, “This delights me; well, I have been thinking that you must be very hard up, you have not sold your picture, and you've not got any paying work in hand. I can't spare fifty guineas, but will you do a small subject for a single figure for twenty-five guineas? Think of a subject, and let me see the design; and in the meantime I will write you a cheque for a few pounds.” I answered, “I am always losing my summer. If I don't get to work now, other hindrances will come, next year I shall not put in an appearance, and thus there will be permanent
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defeat. I have a panel at home well seasoned, of the right proportions; you like the ‘Claudio and Isabella’; let me begin the picture for your commission.” He object that the work would be far too much for the money, but added, “I wish to see it in hand. Take some cash on account for a future picture, and commence the ‘Claudio and Isabella’ at once. We will settle about its ownership afterwards, and you shall do my little picture when it's convenient.”
I went away rejoicing to commence the picture. Permission being gained to paint inside the Lollard prison at Lambeth Place, I went in a few days, very much outdone in smartness by a man whom I had engaged to carry some of my traps, so that I doubt not he was taken for the master and I for the man. Several important parts beyond the mere interior I painted there; and afterwards at home I advanced the work sufficiently to make a well-established beginning.
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When the master of the horse rides abroad, the dogs in the village bark, but he rides on his way all the same.—Carlyle.

We are told much of the tyranny of the strong over the weak, but believe me this is far exceeded by the tyranny of the weak over the strong.—Arthur Helps.

Millais, with keen remembrance of the sacred earnestness and the high aspiration with which he had designed and painted his picture of “ Christ in the Home of His Parents ,” had undoubtedly a momentary shock when, after the pause which he had hoped would enable him to see it from an outside standpoint, he arrived before it to pronounce sudden judgment upon its general aspect. What original maker has not been dejected at finding that a sincere effort does not reach his sublimest expectations? expectations, perhaps, no more to be perfectly satisfied than infinite space can be measured. Millais had not had time to settle his mind to the peaceful level of an impartial registrar; but when he recognised the condemnation to be none other than the inspiration of personal jealousy and party interest, the conviction, forced upon both of us, induced no thought of surrender in either, but rather the disposition to be the more unflinching.
We had hoped in our eager enthusiasm to arouse an unexpected joy in men who had grown apathetic to Art because, in those respects most dear in their regard, it was uninterpretive, and because—formed in a mould unchanged for centuries—it had become monotonous and exhausted. But affluent connaisseurs, whatever their independent instincts might be, did not in modern England decide upon art by their own judgment, but were guided by the voice of critics and dealers. We had been deceived in our hope, yet we knew we were not deluded; many artists had quite modestly set themselves to follow our example.
The reform with which we were identified was not, as I have already insisted, resolved upon without a recognition of the greatness of much work done under the conventions in vogue. Our daring had been rather in the decision that these conventions had now served their purpose as swaddling clothes, our new start was childlike in its impulse.
It was at his home when he was absent that the cruelty of the attack on Millais was most apparent. There the mother, taking the different papers and journals tremblingly in her hand, having had
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experience hitherto of unchequered triumph following in the wake of her brilliant son's indefatigable enthusiasm, read with little short of incredulity the insults heaped upon his young head. “Think,” said she, “what other much more competent judges than these self-appointed anonymous newspaper critics have said of Jack” (it was only lately that he had stamped out the pet name of Johnnie), “think what Sir Martin Archer Shee said, although he had declared it would be preferable to be a chimney-sweeper than to take to art. ‘Madam, seeing indeed that that young child did these drawings, there can be no question whatever that at any risk he should become a painter, and there is no doubt whatever that he will gain great distinction.’ And what has not Jack done since? Has not he gained all the medals? Didn't he win the Leeds prize for decorative design? And have not all the artists said to me that he was destined to be one of the greatest ever known? Did not Etty last year predict that he would be elected an R.A. at an earlier age than any one had ever been? Listen to what this man writes of Jack's principal work: ‘Its manner is a foretaste of the grave; the figure of St. Joseph is painted from a subject after having served a course of study in the dissecting room.’ Then in the Times, after abusing you all in general terms, the critic returns to the attack, and says of Jack's picture: ‘It is, to speak plainly, revolting; it is disgusting.’ Dickens tries to outdo all in savageness, writing: ‘In the foreground of that carpenter's shop is a hideous, wry-necked, blubbering, red-haired boy in a night-gown who appears to have received a poke in the hand from the stick of another boy with whom he has been playing in an adjacent gutter, and to be holding it up for the contemplation of a kneeling woman, so horrible in her ugliness that (supposing it were possible for any human creature to exist for a moment with that dislocated throat) she would stand out from the rest of the company as a monster in the vilest cabaret in France, or the lowest gin shop in England.’ Is that not wicked? I declare the article has the essence of malice, and is expressed so that the abuse reaches the sacred personages themselves, and cannot be designated as other than blasphemous. It is indeed base to study to ruin a young man in such manner. Unfortunately people are so foolish that they will be led away by it, and it will damage all of you, however much we may despise it ourselves.” Thereupon the dear lady sat quite upright, and, obeying a singular habit she indulged in when irritated, drew her open hand in front of her face, and with extended forefinger traced her handsome profile from the height of the forehead to the throat, and, recommencing, repeated the action until the point of the nose was reached, which she pressed down in her haste to follow up another movement; drawing her scarf more closely around her shoulders, holding the extremities for a moment like wings, she then wrapped them close to her breast and threw herself back in her easy chair. The father meanwhile was walking about with a cane in his hand, which he switched, making it whistle in the air, and
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breaking out into indignation, clenching his fist and swearing that if he knew where to find the anonymous brood of abusers he would drag them out into the street and thrash them within an inch of their lives. And in his heat he meant what he said. “Ah,” continued Mrs. Millais, “the pity is that Jack ever altered his style, he would never have provoked this outrageous malice had he not changed, his manner was admired by every one. I say let every one keep his own style. His was right for him. Yours, Hunt, is quite right for you; an excellent manner, I call it. It is the forming yourselves into so large a body and all the talking that has done the mischief. I wish that you had never had anything to do with that Rossetti.”
“Poor Rossetti, how is he to blame in the matter?” I urged. “Jack had quite agreed upon his new course long before Rossetti came here, when in fact Rossetti had not begun to paint pictures. In the Academy Schools I am pretty certain they never spoke ten words together.”
“Ah,” said Mrs. Millais, “I don't like the look of him; he's a sly Italian, and his forestalling you by sending his first picture to an exhibition, where it was seen with your joint initials upon it, a week before the pictures by you and Jack would appear, was quite un-English and unpardonable, when you had taught him and treated him with great generosity.”
When the outraged old lady ceased the father began: “I don't admire his behaviour; he loudly indulges in insulting denunciation of persons who have the right to be treated with respect, and asserts himself generally so as to offend people quite unnecessarily. Moreover, I agree with my wife, his forestalling you in the exhibition of your first pictures, and his letting out of the P.R.B. secret, was quite unpardonable, and most injurious. I am convinced that he makes you many enemies.”
“Well,” I said, “his conduct with Munro was certainly wrong, but I persuade myself that Rossetti did not steal a march upon us designedly.”
The father continued: “Mrs. Millais does not of course mean that Rossetti influenced you or Jack, who had painted for years, to change your styles; she thinks really that he goes about stirring up ill-feeling towards your principles of art, without doing his part to justify the reform you attempt. If Jack and you had gone on your courses quietly no one would have been offended; now, all the Associate brood are stirred up as in a death struggle. Dickens is their friend, and out of good comradeship has adopted their interests. You see how effectively he uses the revelation of the meaning of P.R.B. Dickens has committed a great wrong, and that's what I would tell him if I met him. He was treated kindly on his first appearance, and he should have remembered that fact.” Growing warmer as he thought of the whole phalanx of enemies, he walked about the room bursting forth with, “But there's one question I would ask: What is the purpose of this Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood? I thought there were to be seven of you; why should the fight be left only to you and Jack? Rossetti's picture of ‘ The
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Annunciation,’ whatever critics may say, is undoubtedly very dainty and chaste, but the principle he carries out is not Pre-Raphaelitism as you and Jack started it. His is church traditional work, gilt aureoles and the conventionalism of early priesthood, which we did away with at the Reformation. Jack has treated his ‘ Holy Family ’ in a strictly natural manner, and you have painted your ‘ Early Missionary ’ so, and when the subject was historical that was what, as I understood, you originally intended to do. Rossetti provokes the common-sense of the world, and you suffer his penalties as well as your own. But whatever he produces he ought to exhibit at the Academy to bear fair comparison with you, and take his full share of the fight. Who goes to the Portland Gallery to see pictures?”
I replied that his mediævalism certainly needed explanation, but this I found in the fact that the “ Annunciation ” design was a sequence to his last picture which he had made before coming under our special influence—when, in fact, he was inspired by Brown in his Overbeckian phase—and that I had agreed to the choice of this composition for his essay in painting under me as an experiment. However, I regretted that on account of the rancour of the Press, and perhaps also of the non-sale of his “ Annunciation ,” he had finally determined never again to exhibit in public.
“Ah! that accords with my reading of his character,” said Mr. Millais, shaking his head. “What's the good of an ally who keeps out of the fight, disowning his friends if they are beaten, and claiming part of the conquest if they win? Then what are the others about? Was not Collinson to have done wonders? Is it a sham to all but you and Jack? The fact is they make the tumult, and raise up the whole country to destroy you. They have all the pleasure of making a fuss and playing the important, while you get the wounds.”
During all this expression of the parent's honest indignation, as an accompaniment from above, a magnificent tenor voice could be heard singing to the strains of a pianoforte snatches of operas, principally Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Suddenly the instrument stopped, but the voice still rolled out the notes as the performer descended the stairs and threw open the sitting-room door. It was the elder son, senior by two years to John. He was the model of untroubled good nature. As he entered without immediately ceasing his notes, he burst out, “Ah, Hunt, how are you? I say, Jack and you have been catching it finely. Did you ever hear such abuse? I never did. The Times calls your pictures ‘deplorable examples of perverted taste,’ and says your ‘Druids sins by the same intolerable pedantry which seems to brave the first laws of space.’”
“You've come in the very nick of time,” I said, “to help in our discussion. Your father thinks all should help to do the fighting, but, you see, Woolner has not been able to exhibit, Rossetti shirks the public struggle, Collinson's picture goes for nothing one way or the
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other, and William Rossetti is obliged to continue at his office, and so the hard knocks are for Jack and me; Charlie Collins and a few other outsiders get a stray drubbing by the way; if Rossetti could be roused to come more forward, by all means, say I, let him help; he might soon be a tower of strength; but don't let us be urgent with the remainder; and we must make the best of it. Taking the part of an invisible chorus they more mysteriously impress the unthinking public; besides, the work of our sleeping members, if it could be produced, might be of no certain benefit. We persuaded ourselves they might take fire at our combined enthusiasm, but it was a mistake, and Jack I am sure agrees with me.” So ended this lament of Millais' family.
Woolner as an established P.R.B. early made sign that he would, as opportunities offered, strive to strengthen our Body. There was a monument to be put up to Wordsworth in Westminster Abbey, and a public competition was invited by the Committee. Woolner put aside all other work to make a clay model, showing the poet seated on a chair raised above side-supporting groups; on his right was a father coercing and reproving a stubborn boy, and on the other side was a mother with a daughter in charge who was being led by example to pray. The boy was writhing in obstinate temper to get free from the father, whose pose and expression excellently portrayed determination to exercise authority and to teach submission, and the mother as obviously taught her precept. All was admirably conceived and worked for a rough design, and as no well-established sculptors would jeopardise their reputations and positions by submitting their work to the judgment of a Committee, probably incompetent to tell the difference between good and bad, our friend had every right to count upon his prospects as substantial. Woolner sent in his model, and we all waited for the result with eagerness. On the date for the judgment it was announced that the award was postponed, and this delay was repeated, very tiresomely. In the end the decision was in favour of Thrupp, but certain of the Council insisted that an expression of their appreciation of Woolner's design should be given him, with the avowal that the delay in the arbitration had arisen from doubt whether it would not be more just to give the commission to him, instead of to his older competitor.
This decision made a cruel difference to Woolner's immediate future. Rossetti urged him to abandon sculpture as a hopeless career, recommending painting instead. Accordingly Woolner made an essay in oil colours of a lady floating upon a cloud—the title by me forgotten—much in the manner of the eighteenth century, but as Bernard Smith had mooted the plan of going with the ever-increasing flow of gold-diggers to Australia, he adopted the idea, pressing me to join the small artistic company emigrating in the hope of acquiring enough to return and pursue art without check and anxiety for “that eternal want of pence.” The prospect had no temptation for me, but Woolner broke up his
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large model of “The Generations”—the work of many self-denying months—and took his passage to the Antipodes at once
Ford Madox Brown was much moved with commiseration by Woolner's discouraging defeat, and went with him on board the Australian ship; while there he stored up memories for his touching picture “ The Last of England ,” the two principal figures of which are perfect portraits of his wife and himself.
Brown's enthusiastic acknowledgment of the perfection of Millais' “ Lorenzo and Isabella ” was but a fitful tribute to our School, for although he took passing occasion to express sympathy with our principles he was still radically critical. But it could not be overlooked, spite of detraction, that he was in every day's painting, perhaps quite unconsciously, setting himself to work more exactly from Nature. It was a marked departure from contemporary German examples in favour of simplicity that he removed the wings of the Chaucer painting (perhaps at the Council's direction) when it was on exhibition, and in finishing the details of the work he showed many signs of a love of natural treatment which had not appeared in his earlier work. Yet I remember dear Dicky Doyle's reluctant admission—for he was the least captious man alive—that the composition was too artificial for his taste.
It was not long before Doyle became our warm supporter, and discriminated, as an increasingly few others did, between our aspirations and those of the German Revivalists.
A story has gained currency, that we invited F. M. Brown to be one of our Body, and that he refused. William Rossetti writes—
“Madox Brown declined to join the Pre-Raphaelites on the ground partly that he had no faith in coteries, and partly that the Pre-Raphaelites insisted upon copying from a model exactly as he or she stood, and without permitting any modification of visage, etc., to suit the picture.” 1 Now, if the overture had been made, it would have been after the Rossettis had enlisted his help to keep The Germ going. Nothing would surprise me less than to have it shown that Gabriel at this date conceived the idea of incorporating his first master in the Body, and even of considering that his own will would remove all obstacles. It is proved that about the same time, in a book given to Bernard Smith, Gabriel inscribed, “To his P.R. Brother.” This naturally gave to Mr. Gordon Crawford, Smith's nephew, the notion that Bernard Smith had been an original member, but William Rossetti himself decided that, notwithstanding this recognition by Gabriel, there was not the slightest foundation for the belief that Bernard Smith had ever been a P.R.B. I do indeed remember some talk by Gabriel about the desirability of electing Brown, but at once I felt that the act would be beset with misunderstandings of the most damaging kind,
Transcribed Footnote (page 158):

1 Another reason alleged for the asserted refusal of F. M. Brown to join us is that the experiment of young artists combining in fellowship had been tried in Germany and failed. Certainly the coterie he referred to was more respected by him than by us.

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and my very admiration for his genius and force made this appeal to be the greater. We were challenging the whole profession with a daring innovation, and it had aroused an alliance of half the art world against the cause. We were intending to stand or fall by the determination to cut away all conventions not endorsed by further appeal to unsophisticated Nature. Overbeckianism was Brown's last form of allegiance to that Continental dogma which was one of the principal enemies we originally committed ourselves to destroy. Moreover, Brown's grim grotesqueness of invention was calculated to startle the essentially conventional public. Why should we increase the unavoidable prejudice against originality by adding Brown's gratuitous peculiarity to our first measure of offence? If after three years' struggle we had taken into our boyish ranks one seven or eight years our senior, it would have looked like an admission of weakness such as we had no mind whatever to make. I knew perfectly well that Millais would agree with me, so if I heard that Rossetti had put the question to Brown, I took care not to propose to have it repeated officially, nor to promise any attempt to gain Millais' approval.
Had the proposal been brought to the vote, it would certainly have evoked from us the outspoken declaration that the P.R. Brotherhood had become a thing of the past. Brown's generous letter of appreciation 1 is further testimony to his position with regard to us.
While I was doing my utmost to advance the “Claudio and Isabella,” Mr. Dyce again wrote to me offering work such as he had himself done thirty years before; in the cleaning and restoring of the wall paintings by Rigaud at the Trinity House. He wished to know whether I would take it at one guinea per diem. I agreed, and commenced the task. The work was disagreeable enough; the paintings were imitation bas-reliefs with a dingy sky-blue background, principally occupying the cove of a large hall with no ventilation above, while below were extensive walls reeking with the fumes of constantly renewed white lead. With scrubbing-brush and flannel I worked away, for no one of the workmen could be trusted to go over the field of these perishing Academic works of the master of the last century.
After a few weeks' delay Mr. Dyce was invited to go and decide as to what more was needful to be done; he insisted that the whole should be retouched by me, as the flues had in some places burnt away the paintings, and damp had done other injuries; but as there was then but a very restricted time, I stipulated that I should have two guineas per diem, and a guinea for an assistant to do the flat shadings, and Mr. F. G. Stephens accepted the post. Mr. Dyce took me back with him to the House of Lords, where he was working. He talked then of the rigour of the Press against his attempts of thirty years before to introduce a severer taste in art. It was when Wilkie, Hilton, and indeed all figure painters, competent or incompetent, were drowning
Transcribed Footnote (page 159):

1 Page 175.

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their canvases with asphaltum. Dyce, it was said, was shamefully servile, because his works resembled the quattrocentists. His retort had been that since the others imitated the cinque and sei centists, there was at least not less originality in his choice of the masters of an earlier date; “but the critics completely overwhelmed me,” he added. On board the steamboat by which we made our way up the Thames I expressed my sense of the joy it must be to him to have the opportunity of exercising his powers on the State building where he was employed, and on so large a scale. I shall ever remember the sadness with which he said, “But I begin with my hair already grey.”
My work now was fine fun. Father Thames, like London Bridge in the old nursery song, had to be built up again, and he had to be brought out of a fog too. I stood on a springy plank dashing away at him with large brushes, and when he had a new suit of paint from  

F. G. Stephens


top to toe I rescued a bale of goods, a globe, a pair of compasses, three or four volumes, a triton or two, perhaps a Mercury with his caduceus, and a mermaid and merman, and I emphasised the eye of Providence for a day's work; here and there I came across the trenchant touchings of Dyce, which, if possible, I always left. A bas-relief of “Charity,” on the staircase, was fortunately so far ruined that I could repaint the whole without much regard to the original outlines, and I won great praise because no one could tell from the landing, the only point whence it could be seen, that the surface was not raised. For my share in this public work—the only one I was ever honoured with—I gained about £30, which helped to clear off my back accounts, and leave me the opportunity to make a short stage's advance on “The Measure for Measure” panel.
When I was working at Chelsea, Gabriel brought W. B. Scott with him to my studio; I had seen him before in Cleveland Street, but in a more casual manner. This visitor from the North was a man of about forty, and in height fully five feet ten. He had brown hair, flowing, although not long. His regard, when talking to a new friend, was singularly penetrating and deliberate, while his speech was entertainingly measured and naïve, so that all the mischief that might be imagined in his Mephistophelian expression was dissipated in a breath, and I was at once hail-fellow-well-met with the newcomer. That which contributed to the arch-fiend expression was the angle formed by his eyebrows, which from their parting centre ascended sharply, and ere they deflected shot off a handsome tuft, some of the hairs of which curled downwards like young moustaches. Gabriel did a careful water-
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W. Bell Scott

D. G. Rossetti]


Sig. VOL. I. M
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colour drawing of him at this date which proves that this new friend was in his prime both handsome and interesting. He and I spent a few pleasant hours together on the river, I pulling while he talked away. As I was sculling, Scott expressed himself as surprised at my boisterous humour, and in a slow, measured phrase said that from my works he had conceived me to be a most sedate and taciturn man. At that I laughed all the more, and I liked him the better for accepting me irrepressible as I then was, but Scott did not stay in town long enough to join the jaunts which sometimes took place after evening gatherings. Our taste for night expeditions was altogether Bohemian, and it was characteristic of him that Millais always declined the proposal to join in them. We had good company in addition to our immediate circle, James Hannay, the author of Singleton Fontenoy, was not such a man as could be found every day, for he was of inexhaustible spirits and had a fund of recollections of ever-living words from the lips of men who had gone otherwhere. The Queen Anne and Georgian writers he quoted with unceasing zest. John Tupper and sociable Blanchard Jerrold were sometimes of the crew. Contributors to The Germ , with others who drifted away like “Waring,” were yet good company in their day.
My “ Druid ” picture came back unsold and uninquired for. It is now established in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and it can still be seen there with some of my other works in as perfect preservation as when it left my hands in the year 1850. I can look at it now dispassionately, as though the young man who did it had been some other. I can see its shortcomings and its faults; some of them the young man saw himself without having time and means to correct them, and I can see its merits; and I can see them more clearly than the youthful workman could when he was tired out with his night and day devotion to the work, ever persevering to express his meaning, tired, although the labour was the fascination of his life, and only dispirited, not defeated, when the world gave him not one word of encouragement or commendation. And I wonder at the little originality of taste there was among our forbears when the picture was offered to them for a beggarly sum, and they, dealers and rich men of taste alike, turned away from it with contempt. I instance this as a lesson against the artistic blindness and perversion of taste which comes from unquestioning obedience to the prevailing fashion of the day. If the position thus taken up should be looked upon as a mark of egoism, let me declare that such self-confidence was necessary for all of us at the time, and that the stormy wind sent to blow away our cloak was not at all calculated to make us leave it behind us in life.
The wisest course that I could follow at the time was to work at a few details, incomplete before, with intention to send my picture to the Liverpool Exhibition. Indulgent Fate, however, had in store for me a means of relief from further buffetings that season. Millais and
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Christian Priests Escaping from Druid Persecution

W. H. H.]


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Charles Collins had been painting together at Abingdon. Mr. and Mrs. Combe of the University Press, Oxford, hearing of them, drove over to visit the artists at their work. The young painters had jocularly recounted the hard fare to which they were reduced by the uninviting cuisine of their landlady. In a few days Mr. and Mrs. Combe reappeared,  

Proctorising Millais and Collins



Fashions at Oxford (1850)



their servant being armed with a tempting pie. The visitors both delighted in the perfection of the partially finished pictures, and enjoyed the buoyant spirit of the young painters. Finding the landscape was nearly completed, they invited the youths to come and continue their work in Oxford, where there were good opportunities for painting further accessories in their pictures.
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At the Clarendon Press they became acquainted with Mrs. Combe's uncle, Mr. Bennett. He was a gentleman of very mature years, rich and not inconsequently inclined to indulge the caprices of old age. As  

Fashions at Oxford, by Millais


Mr. Combe was churchwarden of the parish, and many of the visitors at meals were clergymen, it was but occasionally that any of these stayed at table after the host, who, having no disposition to sit over his wine, habitually went away with the ladies, leaving Mr. Bennett to look after the guests. The old gentleman, as I have heard, was at
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times disposed to resent his host's independent and over-temperate course, but he became very confidential with his convives, and more than once began his colloquy by looking around to see that there were no black-frocked gentlemen still in the room, and, beckoning to the remaining guests, addressed them thus: “Look ye, I don't like your priests after the order of Melchisedek, they don't suit me, and if this fashion of leaving guests alone after dinner didn't take away the priests too, I should the more dislike it. My niece's husband ought to stay to hand round the wine, but, by Jove, it is good of him to go, if otherwise the High Priests and the Levites would have to stay with him.” With a deaf talker's “Eh! eh!” he went on, “Wine does a man good; it never did me any harm, you see, and I'm getting on in years. Ah, I've known lots of friends disappear because they did not put good port wine under their waistcoats. Take my advice, follow the right sort, be good fellows. Take a glass with me now. I drink to ye, gentlemen.” After such avowals once he went on: “Now I tell you what, I will trust you. I want a little advice about a very delicate business. Well, ye know, I've been here several weeks, and Pat's (Mrs. Combe's pet name) husband has been very kind, although he leaves me a good deal alone, well, well, he's a busy man. Now I have given them a deal of trouble, and I want to make them a handsome present. Now what d'ye think they'd like? That's the question. Eh?”
“Why, my dear Mr. Bennett,” said Millais, “I will tell you the very thing of all others. It's Hunt's picture in the Academy. You've heard them talking about it, for they saw it at the Exhibition, and they admired it, and they've said often in your hearing they wanted to see it again. Is it not the very thing, Charlie?” and Collins endorsed the opinion warmly in judicious tone. “Why,” continued the first, “Hunt only wants 160 guineas, and in a few years I will undertake to say it will be worth ten or twenty times the sum.”
“Do you really think so? Eh? eh?” said the old gentleman.
“I am sure of it,” said Millais.
“But now the Exhibition is over, our friends can't see it again. What can we do? Eh? eh?”
“Why,” returned Millais, “I will write to Hunt, and he'll send the picture here, and you shall see it yourself.”
“Capital,” nodded the old gentleman, “but don't let them know yet; keep it a secret till the painting comes,” he said chuckling.
After this momentous conference the next post brought a letter from my friend with the urgent request that the picture should be sent off immediately, accordingly I had it packed and forwarded. On its arrival in Oxford all was determined so speedily, that in a day or two I received a letter containing a cheque for 160 guineas.
What an act of practical generosity it was that my brotherly rival thus performed! I was at the time helpless and without the prospect
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of carrying on the emulative competition we had entered into. How few would be have had faith to recognise the chance which Mr. Bennett's passing whim afforded to benefit a friend, but he, regarding my welfare as dear to him as his own, again secured to me the opportunity of  

Mr. Bennett

C. A. Collins]


carrying on the contest with him, which, it will be seen, he continued to do until I had found my fair chance of making my effort by his side. Perhaps a clue to the non-appearance of the name of the old gentleman in the cheque may be found in the fact that once he in a testy humour told Mr. Combe that he was not considered as much as he should be, on which the latter said all his house were glad to have him as guest
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while he was happy there, but that if he failed to find himself so, it would be much better that he left. This outspokenness the old gentleman declared would prove to be costly, as it apparently did in the settlement of his property.
My receipt of the 160 guineas brought to a conclusion for the time a period of sore trouble, and I revelled in the peace obtained for further work. I had already made a design for “The Two Gentlemen of Verona,” for the painting of which it was necessary to find a background in nature. I settled upon this in a preliminary visit to Knole Park, and as the season was getting near “the sere and yellow leaf” it was desirable without loss of a day to take my canvas down there and begin. Rossetti had promised to use any such opportunity to work out of doors; accordingly we took a lodging together in Sevenoaks. He had to paint a boscage as a background to a design illustrating a passage in Dante, and he found what he wanted conveniently near to my own place of work. I ran up occasionally to see him, and found him nearly always engaged in a mortal quarrel with some particular leaf which would perversely shake about and get torn off its branch when he was half way in its representation. Having been served thus repeatedly, he would put up with no more of such treatment, and left canvas, box, and easel for the man to collect when at dusk the barrow came for my picture, he stalking back to the lodgings to write and to try designs, in one of these making use of a song in Philip van Artevelde as motto. He did not succeed in satisfying himself, and so abandoned it. He stayed on with me to the end of my work; this was protracted until dank and chilly October was far advanced, and during the time he was ever a good-humoured and pleasant companion.
When I returned to town I had to advance drawing from models, and it was necessary to energise and hurriedly get together my materials for the picture, for which there was bare breathing time in any respect. Mr. W. P. Frith kindly lent me some armour, which the “slavey” in my lodging announced as a “tin waistcoat and trousers,” although she had certainly not read Tom Hood, who jocularly makes a somewhat similar description of a knight's panoply.
I was fortunate enough to obtain as the model for Valentine, James Lennox Hannay, then a young barrister; for Proteus, James Aspinal, also a barrister and journalist, who eventually went to the Colonies and made a great position in the local parliament. I was at no loss for Sylvia; the beauty and grace of Miss Siddal would make her a perfect type for the duke's daughter, but I had not seen her for several months. I wrote doubtingly as to her ability to come, but one morning in the spring the lady appeared. I should have done more justice to my model had not circumstances occurred to hinder my work beyond all expectation.
X was a fellow-student whom circumstances had at frequent intervals thrown much with me; he had doubtless many merits; but devotion to
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Design for “Valentine and Sylvia”

W. H. H.]


page: 170
diligent plodding was certainly not one. He had made friends with a gentleman whose descent from one of the leading heroes of the Wars of the Roses gave him charms which dispensed with the need of humdrum virtues such as might be expected in men of less illustrious family line. I was assured by X that this friend of his, whom we may call Warwick, was the idol of his parents, although at the moment he was not in favour because he had not altogether satisfied their worldly prudence in a marriage he had chosen to make without consulting them. Since leaving college, he had in turn, simply to humour them, been a medical student, an articled clerk to the law, and a novice in a City house, whence he had chosen to be drafted to a branch house in Germany; and then, business not being congenial to his knightly mind, with a needful interval of exclusive devotion to billiards, cards, and boating, he had elected to study engineering under an eminent firm in Westminster. He was professedly still their pupil; but as obliging aunts and uncles were continually dying and leaving him little legacies of from £3000 to £10,000 at a time, and as he would eventually come in for a very large fortune, he took his pleasure as a true gentleman should, and in doing this he managed to make other “true gentlemen” too of his fellow-pupils. This new friendship accounted for a very much increased love of boating flannels in my old chum X, and a great fluency in river-side vocabulary and cultivation of the ideals aspired to by dandy amateur boatmen, all of which he luxuriated in as he lounged about on a summer morning, tiring out my patience when I was hard at work by repeating the assurance that it would do me a world of good to come out for a little “spin.”
X had one day brought his splendid friend, who was well featured in a way, and finely dressed. He made the greatest show of openheartedness, and was overflowing with professions of admiration and desire for my friendship, so that I felt disarmed of every captious reservation. He was glad I boated at times, and hoped that I would often come out with him and try his outrigger, a cranky one that made him laugh now when he thought of the duckings it had given many too self-confident greenhorns. Individuality of view he proclaimed on many general subjects. Poetry, he declared, in modern days did not exist. What could be more unpoetic than the jingle of counted rhymes? Painting, on the other hand, with the glorious vista that our School was making for it, was quite a different thing. “We have indeed a grand prospect in that” (and the “We” was quite royal). He enlarged on all his achievements, laughing very much at the disconcertion of the “ governor” and of the heads of the different establishments he had been in, and on his disregard of their admonition as to his mad pranks. An invitation followed to come over to Clapham two hours early for dinner, for practise during daylight in his garden with duelling pistols of exquisite make. To an intending traveller like myself the exercise was appropriate enough, but it was not thoroughly approved
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by the fidgety neighbours. So far the new friend had been sufficiently amusing, and when, at the very beginning of the summer, he wrote from Margate saying that he had hired a fishing boat to cruise about in the channel, “just for the fun of the thing,” and that he wanted me to be of the party, if I did not mind roughing it, I was tempted to accept; but where was the money to come from for my passage to and from the coast? While deliberating on “that eternal want of pence,” I espied a copy of a National Gallery picture against the wall, and it struck me that I might persuade some representative of the Medici to give me a few pounds for it. In all my previous straits I had proudly avoided their benevolence as a source of relief, but this moment seemed an occasion for the new experience. I took the canvas thereupon under my arm and walked off, calling at houses bearing the distinctive coat- of-arms. My memory of the experiment leads me to recommend the process as an extremely salutary one for any young painter whose experience is only of the appreciation of near friends. I had thought that a painting should be seen strictly from a front point of view; not so did the Medici; every other point of sight but the central one did they prefer, until, looking along it when extended as a tennis racket in one hand, they passed it back, without inquiry as to price, declaring that the article was not in their line. Eventually in the Borough, with abated pride, I felt quite dishonest at closing with a rash admirer who advanced 8 s. 6 d. for the custody of the despised thing, and with but little more I at once took flight to “the Sea, the Sea, the open Sea.” It would be outside my theme to tell the adventures of the journey, but they were amusing enough to make the intimacy between myself and Warwick more unreserved.
On my return, while advancing with “ The Two Gentlemen of Verona ,” I was surprised by a visit from X, so absorbed had he been of late by his new friend; he did not hesitate for long, but soon explained his errand. “Look here, old boy! Warwick is worried about the lawyers' delay in paying him a large legacy left by a rich old relative, they have made all manner of preposterous delays in the business only to swell their accounts, and as it ought to have been settled months ago, he has not made provision for the present hitch, so that he is actually in need of pocket-money. Of course he could draw on the Union Bank, but he has reasons for not lowering his balance, he could even sell out, but the matter will be settled this week, and he has asked me for five pounds just for a day or two, and I should be sorry not to oblige him, so I want you, like a good fellow, to lend it to me.” It would have seemed brutal to refuse, but I asked him if he was quite sure of the facts, and his reply was, “As if I didn't know!” So I took out the sum from my diminishing store, urging him not to allow Warwick to forget to return it within a few weeks at most, and worked on unsuspectingly.
In another ten days Warwick came to see me, radiant with affection.
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“My dear steadfast old Apelles, all the devils in limbo have been worrying me out of my life, or I should have been long ago to see you. How you have got on! My soul! what a picture. Won't this knock the breath out of the crew in Trafalgar Square, and here have I been wasting my life in lawyers' offices first here, then there, Chancery Lane, Doctors Commons, until at times I have wished there were no fortune at all coming to me. Ah! but really you are to be envied. I always say that no money is so sweet as that worked for, and I know lots of rich people who all say the same thing. Experience is the true teacher, and I tell you, confidentially, I have been having some absurdly bitter annoyances just now. The governor is indignant. I wouldn't for the world go to him, and I don't want strangers to understand, you know. X has been such a trump! I told him, and, by Jove, the next day he stumped up five pounds just for pocket-money. I know it was deuced hard for him. I wouldn't ask him again, and so I've come to you for fifteen pounds just for a day or two. My legacy must be paid now in eight days, and then I can let you have hundreds beyond my debt, if you like.”
I confess the request disturbed me. I decided upon candour. “Warwick,” I began, “that desk in the corner is my bank; it still has in it thirty pounds. For paying models, my framemaker, and the rent it will last me to the end of my task, and leave perhaps one or two pounds over for my pocket. If you took fifteen pounds out of it, and you did not return the amount five weeks before the sending-in day, I should be obliged to stop work, and should lose not the five weeks only, but all the cream of my back year's labour. If you can't be certain to bring the money again in three weeks, you ought not to ask me for it, if you can be quite certain you shall have it.”
“Three weeks! In less than ten days you shall have it, my dear boy. Why, how can you doubt that I would sell every stick in my house rather than you should be kept an hour beyond the date I fix?”
Then I counted out the sovereigns. They shone more peerlessly than gold had ever appeared before, for they signified freedom to finish my picture, and he went away boisterously happy, which I responded to but feebly, although I quite hoped the best. Ten days were told off by me. Neither Warwick nor letter came. Three weeks wound themselves off the roll of time without the much-needed repayment, and then I wrote to my gorgeous friend telling him of my astonishment; still there was no answer. I had to put off models and paint only still life.
X had no money, and now had no confidence about the termination of the legacy business. I was in desperation, but one sunny morning when, after a sleepless night, I was staring at my canvas, which looked like a half-arranged puzzle for which the further pieces could not be found, Warwick mounted the stairs and burst into the room. He was
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rich in expressions of contrition, but declared now that he had come to pay me. “It was the lawyers' fault,” but when I reminded him of the terms of his promise, “Oh yes, it is truly disgraceful, but you know from one half-hour to the other I was always told the affair would be finished.”
“Well then,” I said, “give me the money and let me write to my models at once.”
“All right, you have truly obliged me,” but he went on talking until I had to explain that lost time had to be made up, and I must be left to work alone.
“Well, put on your hat and come with me.”
“Come where?”
“Come to the City.”
“But I can't; I must not leave my work.”
“Oh, it won't take an hour; we'll go by the steamboat, and you can come back at once; otherwise I can't give it you.” This decided me.
At Temple Bar he turned into a confectioner's, and there supplied himself with pen and ink and wrote what seemed like a cheque. Turning it over to me he said, “You'll have to endorse this.” Uplifting it I read, “I promise to pay three months after date sixty pounds, etc., etc.” When I glared at Warwick he was perfectly self-possessed, and to my inquiry he returned, “The simplest thing in the world, my dear boy; it would never do for me to raise the wind for fifteen pounds. Don't you see how unreasonable you are? X doesn't bother me like this. You want the money, and I'm willing to oblige you. You'll get that bill cashed, and I can hand you the fifteen pounds, and you can go back to Chelsea at once. It is to save time for you. It's hard upon me, for I have an appointment in the City.”
It was clear that he had me in his clutches, and there was no one to save me. If I tore up the bill I should return home, as it seemed ruined; if I cashed it there might be ruin still, but not for three months. “Where am I to take the accursed thing?” I asked.
“Oh, Solomon, an old rogue in Chancery Lane, will do it. He has made thousands out of me.”
I went to the narrow-windowed, misery-begrimed house, up a steep staircase to the second floor, where stood a posse of shabby men. Surveying these for a few moments while I waited, I heard a door opened, and from a room behind came a short, bloated, dirty, satin-waistcoated Jew of about forty. “Wha' d'ye-want?” said he as he snatched paper after paper out of the hands of the company. I followed him into the office, where sat clerks behind a screen. “What d'ye-com'-for?” he said to me.
“I've brought a promise to pay from Mr. Warwick, whom you know.”
“Don'-know-'im. Shixty pounds,” and, turning the paper over, he asked, “What is dis name?”
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“It is mine. I've endorsed it,” I replied.
“An artist.”
“Ged some other name,” and he smartly gave the bill back, and turned to a further client. Returning to the confectioner's I found Warwick, furious at the ingratitude of the man. Resignedly, he took the bill from me, put it in his pocket-book and told me not to mind, he would come with the money before the day was out.
In the evening my father came to see me, being anxious to know how my chance of completing the picture stood. I avowed all my folly to him, and declared uncertainty as to the possibility of getting done in any way for the Exhibition. He had too many difficulties himself then to spare money help, but he gave me advice which was worth more than money. “Do not ever count upon getting back Mr. Warwick's debt,” he said deliberately. “He has no legacy coming to him, I feel sure. Your object now should be to recover the bill, otherwise he will negotiate it for something, and at the end of the term the holder will come upon you for the full sixty pounds, which they will soon make mount up to whatever in any way you might be sold up for.” Then I saw that my trouble of yesterday had been made ten times worse to-day, and I set to work at a persistent badgering of Warwick by letter; at first this seemed to be in vain, but eventually, on opening an envelope, I breathed what seemed sweet peace again at finding the “kite” enclosed, with many feeling reproaches at my mistrust of the intended flyer.
The fifteen pounds I never recovered, but I heard of the great descendant of the King-maker working an invention for an improved system of snuffing candles, another for a new form of advertising, and pursuing any wild scheme for making a lucky coup, particularly in West End gambling hells. As all these failed, he professed engineering, went to Australia to manage a mine, whose reports henceforth were of the most promising kind, till the shareholders in time grew dissatisfied and superseded him, and then he became lost to public history.
How I managed to bring my picture to conclusion it would be difficult to explain. I only know that I determined not to yield to my evil star, and with the aid of an idler, for whose services I had to pay dearly, in the end I completed the figure of Proteus, and delivered the work at the Academy not an hour too soon.
My content was marred because of the shifts I had been obliged to make, in finishing the picture, through Warwick's dishonesty. Perhaps a fevered sensitiveness made me see these out of due balance. At least this was my hope after I had read the generous letter which here follows from Ford Madox Brown. I had left my easel for an hour to see Millais' pictures, and in the interval Brown had arrived and my landlady had allowed him to go up to my studio. The personal compliment in this letter would have been a reason for hesitation in publishing it, but
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the evidence it contains, bearing upon the relative position of the members of our little circle at the time, makes it too important to be suppressed.
17, Newman Street.

My Dear Hunt—

I could not pass this evening in peace if I did not write to tell you how noble I think your picture. I went up to see it after some resistance on the part of your landlady. I can scarcely describe the emotions I felt on finding myself alone with your beautiful work (quite finished and you out, that was something of a triumph), but certainly your picture makes me feel shame that I have not done more in all the years I have worked. You will now have one long course of triumph, I believe—well you deserve it. Your picture seems to me without fault and beautiful to its minutest detail, and I do not think that there is a man in England that could do a finer work; it is fine all over. I have been to see Millais. His pictures are wonders in colour and truth; in fine, admirable for all they intend, but I like yours better for my own use, although there are qualities in Millais which never have been attained, and perhaps never again will be. If Rossetti will only work, you will form a trio which will play a great part in English art, in spite of Egg's predictions. I mean to be much more careful in future, and try next time to satisfy myself . I wish I had seen you to-night, for I am full of your picture, and should like to shake you by the hand. I have had serious thoughts of joining ( sic) P.R.B. on my pictures this year, but in the first place I am rather old to play the fool, or at least what would be thought to be doing so; in the next place I do not feel confident enough how the picture will look, and unless very much liked I would not do it; but the best reason against it is that we may be of more service to each other as we are than openly bound together. I wish you all the success you deserve.

Yours sincerely, Ford M. Brown.
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  • His name was Talus, made of yron mould,
  • Immoveable, resistless, without end;
  • Who in his hand an yron flale did hould,
  • With which he thresht out falsehood and did truth unfould.
Spenser's Faerie Queene.
  • The mountain and the squirrel had a quarrel,
  • And the former called the latter “little prig.”
  • Said the latter to the former “you are doubtless very big,
  • But all sorts of times and weather
  • Make up a season and a sphere.”
In 1851 Millais had painted “The Woodman's Daughter,” “Mariana of the Moated Grange,” and “The Return of the Dove to the Ark.” Rossetti made no appearance in public this season.
Our pictures this year had less good places than before; they were separated, and all suffered as to their key of colour and effect by want of support. The wrath against us now was of triumphant tone, our enemies spoke as though we must see that we were defeated. Yet there were painters who stood attentive, before the pictures, and in the end turned and shook our hands heartily saying, “Do not heed all this clamour.“ No sooner had the Exhibition opened than we found that the storm of abuse of last year was now turned into a hurricane. The following quotations will illustrate the studied determination to destroy us altogether—
“We cannot censure at present as amply or as strongly as we desire to do, that strange disorder of the mind or the eyes which continues to rage with unabated absurdity among a class of juvenile artists who style themselves P.R.B., which, being interpreted, means Pre-Raphael-brethren. Their faith seems to consist in an absolute contempt for perspective and the known laws of light and shade, an aversion to beauty in every shape, and a singular devotion to the minute accidents of their subjects, including, or rather seeking out, every excess of sharpness and deformity. Mr. Millais, Mr. Hunt, Mr. Collins and—in some degree—Mr. Brown, the author of a huge picture of Chaucer , have undertaken to reform the art on these principles. The Council of the Academy, acting in a spirit of toleration and indulgence to young artists, have now allowed these extravagances to disgrace their walls for the last three years, and though we cannot prevent men who are capable of better things from wasting their talents on ugliness and conceit, the public may fairly require that such offensive jests should not continue to be exposed
page: 177

Valentine and Sylvia

W. H. H.]


Sig. VOL. I. N
page: 178
as specimens of the waywardness of these artists who have relapsed into the infancy of their profession.
In the North Room will be found, too, Mr. Millais' picture of “The Woodman's Daughter,” from some verses by Mr. Coventry Patmore, and as the same remarks will apply to the other pictures of the same artist, “The Return of the Dove to the Ark” (651), and Tennyson's “Mariana” (561), as well as to similar works by Mr. Collins, as “Convent Thoughts” 1 (493), and to Mr. Hunt's “ Valentine receiving Proteus ” ( sic) (59), we shall venture to express our opinion on them all in this place. These young artists have unfortunately become notorious by addicting themselves to an antiquated style and an affected simplicity in Painting, which is to genuine art what the mediæval ballads and designs in Punch are to Chaucer and Giotto. With the utmost readiness to humour even the caprices of Art when they bear the stamp of originality and genius, we can extend no toleration to a mere servile imitation of the cramped style, false perspective, and crude colour of remote antiquity. We do not want to see what Fuseli termed drapery ‘snapped instead of folded,’ faces bloated into apoplexy or extenuated to skeletons, colour borrowed from the jars in a druggist's shop, and expression forced into caricature. It is said that the gentlemen have the power to do better things, and we are referred in proof of their handicraft to the mistaken skill with which they have transferred to canvas the hay which lined the lofts in Noah's Ark, the brown leaves of the coppice where Sylvia strayed, and the prim vegetables of a monastic garden. But we must doubt a capacity of which we have seen so little proof, and if any such capacity did ever exist in them, we fear that it has already been overlaid by mannerism and conceit. To become great in art, it has been said that a painter must become as a little child, though not childish, but the authors of these offensive and absurd productions have continued to combine the puerility or infancy of their art with the uppishness and self-sufficiency of a different period of life. That morbid infatuation which sacrifices truth, beauty, and genuine feeling to mere eccentricity deserves no quarter at the hands of the public, and though the patronage of art is sometimes lavished on oddity as profusely as on higher qualities, these monkish follies have no more real claim to figure in any decent collection of English paintings than the aberrations of intellect which are exhibited under the name of Mr. Ward.— Times, May 7, 1851.
Of the Pre-Raphaelite brethren little need now be said, since what has been already said was said in vain. Mr. Charles Collins is this year the most prominent among this band in “Convent Thoughts” (493). There is an earnestness in this work worth a thousand artistic hypocrisies which insist on the true rendering of a buckle or a belt while they allow the beauties of the human form divine to be lost sight of. Mr. Millais exhibits his old perversity in a scene from Tennyson's “Mariana” (561), and in “The Return of the Dove to the Ark.” The last is a good thought marred by its Art language. ”The Woodman's Daughter” (799) is of the same bad school, and Mr. Hunt brings up the rearward move by a scene from the Two Gentlemen of Verona, “Valentine receiving ( sic) Sylvia from Proteus” (594).— Athenæum, 1851, p. 609.
Not satisfied yet, one critic wrote that although the Academy had been too indulgent to such folly as ours, it was a matter for congratulation that no gentleman of taste who valued his reputation would purchase such atrocious examples of art. There was only one paper in England that did not join in the hue and cry. This exception was The Spectator, the editor of which permitted William Rossetti to defend
Transcribed Footnote (page 178):

1 Millais, with characteristic optimism, wrote to Mr. Combe: “I have designed a frame for Charles' painting of Lilies, which I expect will be regarded as the best frame in England.”

page: 179

Convent Thoughts

C. A. Collins]


page: 180
our cause according to his best light. No stalking-horses were now used in the attack upon us. In the lecture-room of the Academy a professor improved the occasion by referring to our productions in such terms of severity that the sense of fairness in some of the bolder-minded students was so far aroused that they indulged in the unprecedented course of expressing their dissent aloud; but many went with the stream, and one, whom none of us had ever regarded seriously, sent a message to Millais to warn him that he would be cut in the street when next they met. My part seemed to be that of a convicted felon, without any of the pity which interesting criminals often excite; the post brought anonymous insults, and our further fortunes seemed as dark as they well could be. What was being quoted by influential talkers in society may now be gathered from examples of the utterances of such revered authors as Macaulay and Charles Kingsley. 1
Their appreciation would have cheered us at this time of stress and its influence with the public would have been great; as it now is, their words are of value in the example they afford of great men's minds suffering from stagnation where an art with which they are not conversant is concerned, rendering them incapable of understanding the reforms of younger men, vital though they be.
In the first month of this year Collinson, who was assumed to be deep in hibernation, had suddenly waked up and sent in his formal renunciation of the Brotherhood. At the same time he sold his easel, painting materials, and lay figure by forced sale, and went to Stonyhurst to study for the priesthood. He was an amiable fellow and in a year or so he was convinced that after all his true vocation was Art, and he retired from conventual life. He then gained a footing in the Society of British Artists, and there exhibited paintings of genre and ecclesiastical type. Certainly he had more reason to feel the pure and sweet peace of an innocent life than many more daring men may enjoy at the end of their days. If I have dwelt too exclusively upon his weaknesses I must plead that it was necessary to explain how the nominal extension of our number to seven had now become a means of weakness, of confusion, and of serious mischief to our cause. Collinson had been by no means our least effective probationary member, but his qualities were not those of a vanguard soldier in a reforming army.
During all the humiliation which we now suffered, my good father most unfairly had a share in the disgrace; he was met in the City by acquaintances not too sympathetic to laugh and quote the Press comments, offering to bet ten pounds that the pictures would be sent back within a week. He asked sadly whether I thought the suggestion
Transcribed Footnote (page 180):

1 “Pre-Raphaelitism is spreading, I am glad to see; glad, because it is by spreading that such affectations perish.” —(Lord Macaulay's Life and Letters .)

“The result was he had caricatured every wrinkle, as his friend has in those horrible knuckles of Shem's wife....The only possible method of fulfilling the Pre-Raphaelite ideal would be to set a petrified Cyclops to paint his petrified brother....A picture is worth nothing, you say, unless you copy Nature. But you can't copy her. She is ten times more gorgeous than any man can dare represent her.”—(Kingsley, Two Years Ago.)

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would be acted upon. I calmed his mind by telling him that I suspected the object was to get a strong support for the exclusion of our works next year. He expressed, with all tenderness for me, his confirmed conviction that in this country it was impossible, without rich and influential friends, to succeed as an artist. There were too many established interests, he said; and continued meditatively, “I wish now that I had persevered in my effort to get you into the Blue Coat School or St. Paul's, for I notice that it is a great advantage to a man in a difficult career to have the comradeship which a public school promotes.”
Another relative, with the kindest feelings of friendship, said that to show talent enough to please partial friends was one thing, and not  

Poet Reciting His Verses

W. H. H.]


at all to be despised, but to challenge the judgment of great public critics who knew all about the subject was another and very serious matter, and of course it could not have been expected that I should win such approbation. I had made my experiment boldly and perseveringly, and—well! I had failed. I was not, however, the first in such a case, and it would be wise to give up further hopeless effort.
Indeed, the case every day grew worse. I had been asked to do illustrations for an edition of Longfellow, and I did three drawings; but when I sent them the publisher declined them, saying he had made arrangements with another artist. No one would have his portrait painted by me while my name was treated as a proverb of ignorance and wrong-headedness little short of criminality. The conclusive fact could not be overlooked that I was now altogether worse off than ever; that there was, indeed, no further prospect for me. I was losing the season for my most important work, and the loss threatened failure to appear in the next Exhibition. Rossetti had ceased to exhibit, and
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he had been obliged to discontinue work on the large picture from Browning which he had begun. Millais could more boldly defy our enemies. With me debt was increasing every day. I was determined not to drag on, repining over hard fate, but to look at facts fairly and use my best reason in accepting the present defeat.
Many of our literary friends expressed their sympathy with us, and declared indignation at the treatment we had received. Patmore said he knew of no such organised conspiracy at any date against young men, and David Masson wished that he had sufficient art knowledge to be of use to us.
One chance, however, seemed to offer. The post of draughtsman to the Mosul exploration under Layard was vacant and I applied for it to Sir R. Westmacott, in whose hands the appointment rested. He answered that had I not been one day too late he would have given it to me.
In the midst of this helplessness came thunder as out of a dark sky—a letter from Ruskin in the Times in our defence. The critic in that paper had denounced our works as false to all good principles of taste, and also as wrong in linear and aërial perspective; he should surely in decency have had something to urge in justification of a statement that was open to scientific demonstration. I knew that my picture would bear scrutiny on both heads, yet I expected to see some attempt made at justifying the accusation, but the critic refrained from taking up the challenge. Ruskin's letters here follow—
“Putting aside the small Mulready, and the works of Thorburn and Sir W. Ross, there is not a single study of drapery, be it in large works or small, which for perfect truth, power, and finish, could be compared for an instant with the black sleeve of the Julia, or with the velvet on the breast and chain mail of the Valentine of Mr. Hunt's picture; or with the white draperies on the table of Mr. Millais' ‘Mariana,’ and of the right-hand figure in the same painter's ‘Dove returning to the Ark.’ And, further, that as studies both of drapery and of every minor detail, there has been nothing in art so earnest or so complete as these pictures since the days of Albert Dürer. This I assert generally and fearlessly. On the other hand, I am perfectly ready to admit that Mr. Hunt's ‘ Sylvia ’ is not a person whom Proteus or any one else would have been likely to fall in love with at first sight; and that one cannot feel very sincere delight that Mr. Millais' ‘Wives of the Sons of Noah’ should have escaped the deluge, with many other faults besides, on which I will not enlarge at present.”
In a second letter to the Times the writer proceeded to note a few of the principal errors of the Pre-Raphaelite School, “partly,” as he says, “for the consideration of the painters themselves, partly that forgiveness of them may be asked from the public in consideration of high merits in other respects; the most painful of these defects,” he continues—
“—is unhappily also the most prominent—the commonness of feature in many of the principal figures. In Mr. Hunt's ‘ Valentine defending Sylvia
page: 183
this is, indeed, almost the only fault. Further examination of this picture has even raised the estimate I had previously formed of its marvellous truth in detail and splendour in colour; nor is its general conception less deserving of praise. The action of Valentine, his arm thrown round Sylvia, and his hand clasping hers at the same instant as she falls at his feet, is most faithful and beautiful, nor less so the contending of doubt and distress with awakening hope in the half-shadowed, half-sunlit countenance of Julia. Nay, even the momentary struggle of Proteus with Sylvia, just past, is indicated by the trodden grass and broken fungi of the foreground. But all this thoughtful conception, and absolutely inimitable execution, fail in making immediate appeal to the feelings, owing to the unfortunate type chosen for the face of Sylvia. Certainly this cannot be she whose lover was
  • as rich in having such a jewel
  • As twenty seas, if all their sands were pearl.
Nor is it, perhaps, less to be regretted that while in Shakespeare's play there are nominally ‘Two Gentlemen,’ in Mr. Hunt's picture there should only be one, at least the kneeling figure on the right has by no means the look of a gentleman. But this may be on purpose, for any one who remembers the conduct of Proteus throughout the previous scenes will, I think, be disposed to consider that the error lies more in Shakespeare's nomenclature than in Mr. Hunt's ideal....And so I wish them all, heartily, good speed, believing, in sincerity, that if they temper the courage and energy which they have shown in the adoption of their system with patience and discretion in framing it, and if they do not suffer themselves to be driven by harsh or careless criticism into rejection of the ordinary means of obtaining influence over the minds of others, they may, as they gain experience, lay in our England the foundations of a school of Art nobler than the world has seen for three hundred years.”
Ruskin's letter detected a weak point in my picture; Sylvia's head had suffered most from the Warwick torment. I afterwards rectified this important centre of the work.
After leaving a sufficient interval to follow Ruskin's last letter in the Times to make sure that we should not be influencing in any degree or manner the judgment of the writer, Millais and I posted a joint letter to thank him for his championship. The address at Gower Street was given in the letter, and the next day John Ruskin and his wife drove to the house, they saw my friend, and after a mutually appreciated interview carried him off to their home at Camberwell and induced him to stay with them for a week.
Ruskin and his guest held independent views about particular examples of art, but they did not the less become friends; some of Turner's work Millais especially refused to approve. The pen-and-ink designs of modern episodes which my companion had made were highly appreciated by both Mr. and Mrs. Ruskin, and Millais' exuberant interest in human experience, as well as his childlike impulsiveness in conversation, made him in a few days like an intimate of many years' duration. The literary circle was in a flutter about the success of Mr. Donovan, a phrenologist practising in King William Street, Strand. Tennyson, who had walked into the oracle's temple quite unknown to the High Priest of Craniology, was, after attentive examination, declared
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to possess powers that ought to make him the greatest poet of the age. Ruskin (weighing the suggestion that perhaps the poet was already known to the phrenologist, or that the visitor had revealed his passion for poesy by display of interest in the plaster casts of eminent men adoring the shelves of the sanctum) proposed that Millais, not being widely known in person, would be an excellent test of the Professor's ability, but my friend flatly refused to spend any of his few guineas upon the experiment. Ruskin, however, urged that it would be for his own particular satisfaction, and asked to pay the fee. In the end Millais yielded, and the next morning sallied out, dressed as usual in the most correct style, neatly folded umbrella in hand. As he entered the establishment the phrenologist himself was busy dusting the effigies  

J. E. Millais


of distinguished criminals, and of less brutal disturbers of the public peace.
“I have come to have my bumps examined,” said Millais.
“Certainly, sir,” replied Mr. Donovan. “You shall not be delayed more than a few minutes by my present task, which I cannot trust another to perform. Excuse me, you will perceive that these heads are almost unique; they could not be replaced. Here, for instance, is the mask taken from life of Oliver Cromwell; that is Henry VII, from his tomb; that is Lord Bacon; you see the great depth of his skull. We have all kinds, you will find. That head is from the notorious murderer Greenacre, while here we have John Keats, and at the side Daniel Maclise.”
“All murderers, I assume,” said Millais.
“Oh dear no, sir. Keats was a poet, and Maclise is a celebrated artist still living, greatly admired in his work, although otherwise not quite exemplary, you understand! All denoted by the form of his head, sir.”
“Poor fellows,” said the imperturbable visitor, and pointing with his umbrella, “Who may that old lady be?”
“Which, sir? That? Why, that is Dante Alighieri, the great Italian poet.”
“Not of a very cheery sort, I should imagine.”
“No, sir; not often gay, it is true, but now I rejoice to say,” tucking up his wristbands, “I am quite prepared to examine your developments, and pronounce on your natural qualities.”
As the Professor with his investigating fingers searched about the cockatoo tuft of his patient's cranium he made encouraging comments: “Not bad, not bad at all; good indeed,” he murmured; “the perceptive
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faculties decidedly well formed, the reflective faculties also very fair, Comparison good, Benevolence well built up, and Veneration quite normal, Weight and Numbers both well up to the mark, Animal faculties amply balanced, the Business organs, in fact, beyond the average. Well, sir, coming to a conclusion, I may distinctly congratulate you upon the possession of very excellent practical qualities. You may trust to your business-like powers; they should be a good security to you; much more profitable than the poetic faculties, which many aspire to gain honour by, but which often bring unhappiness in their train.”
“But what are you driving at?” said the client.
“I'll explain, sir,” said Mr. Donovan. “Many young gentlemen on leaving college, and indeed before, often wish to be guided as to the career they should pursue; you possibly wish for such direction. Now I feel grave responsibility with youthful visitors like yourself, and I must be very candid; in a business career I feel strongly you have all the organs to secure you success; you should rise to great prosperity. On the other hand, there are pursuits in which encouragement from me would be misleading, for in them there would be no prospect of your rising; in the Church, for example, although you have religious instincts; and at the Bar, I give you caution, you would fail, for you have not the power of eloquence; and in Poetry, Literature, or in Painting, Sculpture, or Architecture you would be fighting against fate.”
“But I do draw a little,” said the amused incognito.
“Possibly it may be a pleasant accomplishment as an amateur, but you have no organ of form, none of colour, and you are deficient in ideality; for the guinea fee, however, I must apprise you that a paper will be drawn up and all your developments scientifically balanced one with the other; in the concluding remarks the general suggestions of our examination will be carefully balanced, and this may be studied much more advantageously at leisure than any words I might impulsively use now could be. If you will kindly furnish me with your name and address, I will undertake to deliver this to-morrow morning.”
“Oh!” said Millais, “I won't trouble you. I shall be passing here to-morrow at the same time, and I will call for it.”
On the morrow Millais presented himself at the shop; all was ready, and the paper, folded up, was handed over to him by the phrenologist.
The recipient made a show of opening it. “Pardon me, sir,” said the master; “to perform my duty justly, I have had to draw attention to personal characteristics which should only be studied in private and with deliberation. I would rather, therefore, that you deferred reading it until you return home in quiet.”
Millais put the paper deep into his pocket.
“Now I have one favour to beg,” said Mr. Donovan. “I keep in this book, you will see, a list of all my clients, with their addresses; it is an interesting and valuable record, and I should be glad that you should write your name and address in it.”
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“Certainly,” said Millais, and he took the pen and wrote “John Everett Millais, 83, Gower Street. ”
The Professor turned the book towards him and read with undisguised attention. “Tell me, sir, are you the son of the artist who painted a picture which attracted great attention last year, and of another this year which has excited violent discussion?”
“Oh no,” said Millais.
“Perhaps you are his brother, sir?”
“No,” said the young client, “I am the painter himself.”
“Indeed, indeed, ” he said; “well then, I must ask you to let me have the paper again.”
“No, ” said the other, “I have paid for it, and I can't have it altered.”
“Yes, ” said Mr. Donovan, “but there are some extraordinary exceptions to the rules of our art, and you, I assure you, are one of the most remarkable, and I merely want to note it on your paper.”
“I would not part with it, ” said Millais, “for a thousand pounds,” as he walked out of the shop.
For a while Millais told this story with great relish, but when he came to reflect, as Carlyle had done, that there are many millions of people in the world, and that these are mostly fools, his prudence counselled him to hide the paper, and enforce silence for the time on his own tongue and on those of his friends concerning the oracle's pronouncement. I give it now because the “fools” have nearly all been silenced in their noisy disparagement of Millais' wonderfully poetic and artistic powers.
Rossetti soon after paid a visit to Mr. Donovan to see certain busts of those celebrities which he did not know. “To what particular faculties,” he asked of the High Priest, “do you attribute the poetic genius in Keats?”
Donovan replied, “I trace his poetic strain fundamentally to scrofula.”
Rossetti laughed irreverently, and inquired further how he accounted for Dante's poetic faculty.
“To scrofula too,” said Donovan, “which, provoking an irritability in the brain, often produces the longing for poetic expression.” Thus our knowledge of this great phrenologist came to an end.
The “Oxford Graduate's” generous championship was most gratifying to us all, but the Exhibition went by without sign of the mending of my fortune in the least.
I now felt that delay for me would be supreme folly, so I came to the resolution to give up the artistic career, an idea which I had already falteringly entertained; earlier it would have seemed like a timid admission of defeat in the struggle, but now I could retreat like many better men who had not found the world they desired to influence ready for them. I had the offer of an appointment as assistant-painter to Dyce.
page: 187
I could have desired no better superior, but I had no inclination to follow the profession on the terms of working out the ideas of another. I preferred to give up the pursuit altogether as an impossibility for me. The question was between applying myself to a course of scholastic education, or going to my good yeoman uncle for a twelvemonth to get a knowledge of farming and cattle-breeding wherewith to emigrate to Canada or the Antipodes as a settler. In any case I should hope to make my life profitable in a career less jealous and more open to common-sense than that of Art had proved to be, and I comforted my bereaved self with visions of the old settler in the decline of life having children about him, each of whom, with their mother, should be painted by his hand, the pictures to be ranged in the backwood home, and to be handed down as heirlooms in the banished family.
But my companion, Millais, would by no means take so gloomy a view of my prospects as I had done; he was sure I should succeed, and he announced that he had paid off five hundred pounds to liquidate a claim due to his parents, that he had some other money in hand, and that I should have every farthing of that if necessary, little by little, as I wanted it. I was surprised and overcome, appreciating but not tempted to accept such impetuous liberality. My reply was, “What do you suppose your father and mother would think of me?” As we parted he reminded me that I had engaged to come to him in the morning. I said, “Mind you don't say a word to them of your proposal”; but the next day at his home, when the door was opened, the good couple burst out of the sitting-room crying, “Is that Hunt? Come in here! Jack has been telling us all about his plan, and he has our fullest concurrence.” I had quite made up my mind not to give in, but it seemed impossible in the face of such goodness to refuse further. I am as proud now to acknowledge my indebtedness as my friend was ever shy of having his generosity published; it is a joyous act of friendship to record, and was greater then than may now be readily conceived, for there was still great risk of our double defeat, and he had only in the last week or two gained freedom from personal straits himself.
Millais agreed with me that for the subject of “ Ophelia in the Stream ,” which he had settled upon, and made a hasty sketch for, and for mine of “ The Hireling Shepherd ,” there was good probability of finding backgrounds along the banks of the little stream taking its rise and giving its name to our favourite haunt, Ewell; accordingly we gave a day to the exploration. Descending the stream for a mile from its source, I soon found all the material I wanted for my landscape composition, but we looked in vain during a long tracing of the changing water, walking along beaten lanes, and jumping over ditches and ruts in turn, without lighting upon a point that would suit my companion. Many fresh hopes were shattered, until he well-nigh felt despair, but round a turn in the meadows at Cuddington we pursued the crystal
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driven weeds with reawakening faith, when suddenly “Millais' luck” presented him with the exact composition of arboreal and floral richness he had dreamed of, so that he pointed exultantly, saying, “Look! could anything be more perfect?” and we sat down to enjoy its loveliness, as surely as many thousand other revellers in the beauty of such scenery have since done before the finished picture. Afterwards we searched out lodgings at Surbiton, and in the evening dined at a little inn where we had in the morning ordered a repast, well earned by sundown. When we reached the distant station it turned out there was  

Ewell Inn


no train to town, so we trudged home, arriving about 2 a.m., very well satisfied with our day's work. In a few days we returned to Surbiton, provided with all painting needs, and commenced the landscapes of our pictures. Our course when established was a steady one; we started each morning after an early breakfast to our respective places of work, parting at a stile on the road, where we met again on our way home in the evening.
Millais was eager to see how I should place upon the canvas the features of the landscape I had chosen. He relinquished his work an hour earlier than usual to satisfy himself, and I was no less impatient
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to see the commencement of his painting, so I made a detour in my morning walk to see the beginning of the “ Ophelia ” background.
For the sake of avoiding the contamination of hue resulting from the use of palettes only partially cleansed, we used white porcelain tablets which would betray any remains of dried paint that would otherwise work up into tints that had need to be of pristine purity. We knew how impossible it was to give the purity and variety of nature's hues if we allowed our pigments to get sullied. The inconvenient weight of porcelain palettes induced us afterwards to use for such purposes papier-mâché.
In walking to and fro we often discussed matters of interest belonging to our position.
On one occasion Millais referred to our rejection of Charles Collins, when proposed for election as a P.R.B., adding that it had cut Collins  

Study for the Hireling Shepherd

W. H. H.]


to the quick. I argued, “You can understand that the question of his rejection was affected by the present condition of the nominal Body. We two were the practical members at the beginning, and we are the only ones still, in the eyes of the general public, seeing that Rossetti has never exhibited at the Royal Academy.”
Millais replied: “What Rossetti does at the present time I know very little about except from your report; even when I see him in town he seems little desirous to court intimacy, but I can quite believe that, as you say, the designs he does are full of excellence; his drawings were always remarkably interesting, but I want to see in them a freshness, the sign of enjoyment of Nature direct, instead of quaintness derived from the works of the past. I hoped Pre-Raphaelitism would give him this, but I don't see much sign of it.”
“At best we can but count three working members,” said I. “Woolner at the Antipodes is lost to us, Deverell is an unknown
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quantity, and the others seem to think that our associating together is simply for monthly meetings, and that painting has little to do with it, for William Rossetti has now no chance of taking to painting. On the other hand, there are many young artists who in spirit aim at working out our principles. Enrolment, I maintain, has proved to be an utter delusion. You can't make any one not born an artist an enthusiastic student in any manner whatever—not even, it seems, by continually saying, ‘We are seven.’ Art is too tedious an employment for any not infatuated with it, yet although the P.R.B. combination fails to give strength to our Movement, and in fact weakens it, to have had illusions may have had its uses. One objection to Collins  

Millais at Work

W. H. H.]


was that none of the sleeping members knew him, and they suspected he was very much of a conventional man who would be out of his element with us.”
On which Millais said: “But you see he is as good a little chap as ever lived, with no nonsense about him, except perhaps his new inclination to confession and fasting, and he does not let strangers see his asceticism, which is only the result of his being hipped in love.”
“Yes,” I returned, “but Deverell was known to all of us. The real conclusion that I am driven to is, that we must let the nominal Body drift, and while we are working we must hope that the right men will collect, and with these we may make a genuine artistic brotherhood, if discreetly chosen. Collins is happier, I think, in being left for this future combination rather than he would be in Collinson's place. His
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‘Berengaria’ and, still more, his ‘Convent Thoughts,’ with all their oversights, place him at once on a higher level in manipulation than other outsiders.”
We often discussed such matters in the morning, on our road, and as Millais left me at the stile where we parted on our ways to work, whistling an air according to his mood, I could trace his distance by the diminuendo of the notes, and on returning to our trysting place in the evening his approach was announced by the wafting of sounds graduated in crescendo as he came over the fields.
The monotony of our meals was somewhat more than we had calculated upon; we had bargained with our landlady that we should require only plain food, such as chops and potatoes for our dinner, and chops and potatoes were what we had, without variation from Monday to Monday. My father came one evening, and after dinner, when the tobacco followed, he handed the jar to Millais.
“No, thank you, I don't smoke,” said he.
“No!” said my father. “I have always been told by artists that a pipe is of incalculable comfort to the nerves, and that when harassed by the difficulties of a problem it is a solace.”
“That is the very reason, it seems to me, for not smoking. A man ought to get relief only by solving his problem,” said Millais.
In after years Millais took passionately to smoking, and although his fastidiousness as a painter showed no abatement, I doubt whether, had he not smoked so ardently, he might not still be amongst us to grace English art. 1
In a few weeks we changed our lodgings to Worcester Park Farm, a house built originally as a hunting box for one of Charles II's courtesans. There a glorious avenue of elms still flourished, seen for many miles as the dispersing and attracting point of a noisy brood of rooks, who wended their long flights to and fro in the drowsy morning and evening.
We were not allowed to go on together uninterrupted in our single-minded labours. Millais had begun in town a portrait of a lady, to be finished at future leisure; but the husband was impatient, and wrote saying that the opportunity should not be lost to complete the picture. To break away from his present task of completing the group of wild flowers, some in blossom, would entail a very serious penalty, and Millais, after grave talk with me, wrote frankly to our friend, stating his reasons for postponing his return for the present, but the reply was, that if delayed, the completion of the likeness could never be so satisfactorily performed, and the husband pressed the painter not to delay on any account to return and do what he so much desired. This strain was continued in frequent letters, till at last Millais, in no good temper, decided to depart at once. He was away for four or five days, and came back impatient to secure freshness of verdure for the remaining foliage ere the advancing autumn should have worked irreparable ravage. He spoke with but stinted contentment of his forced labour
Transcribed Footnote (page 191):

1 Millais died August 13, 1896.

page: 192
in town. “On the last day,” he said, “some of the colours of the picture had sunk in, and it would have been prudent to leave it for a term to get thoroughly dry; but I was not going to be subject any more to the importunities of the husband, and I coated it all over with varnish, notwithstanding the prospect of cracking; in very truth, I cease to care what becomes of the picture.”
When in town Millais casually met John Lewis, the painter of Egyptian social scenes. He was of particular interest to us because he had recently declared to Leslie, in Millais' presence, that on his return to England after seven years in Egypt he had found English art in the woefullest condition, its only hope being in the reform which we were conducting, and he had told Millais to speak to me of his appreciation of my work. Millais assured our new champion that when he brought his work to town he hoped he would come and see the background he was now painting in the country. Lewis exclaimed, “I shall frankly tell you what I don't like in it.” Millais said he should expect him to do so, and then Lewis, who betrayed to his companion the uncertain temper he was reputed to have at times, added, “You should know that although I think your painting much better than that of most of the artists exhibiting, I am sure that oil painting could be made more delicate than either of you make it; not sufficient pains are taken to make the surface absolutely level. Why should it ever be more piled up than in water colour? But stop, I must have a cigar; come in here.” Being furnished with his usual sedative, he walked on, resuming his diatribe: “I intend to take to oil colours myself, and, damme, I'll show you how it ought to be done. The illusion of all modern painting is destroyed by its inequality of surface. Hang it, this cigar won't draw!” and he stopped to give it attention with his penknife. “Holbein's art and Janet's paintings are as smooth as plate-glass. Why should not yours be equally even?” And then denouncing his cigar as atrocious, he went on, “Parts of your painting are level enough, I admit, but in your deep tints there is a great deal of unseemly loading.” Stopping still, he then broke out into an unmodified oath, and threw the roll of tobacco into the road, adding, “Everything goes wrong to-day. Good-bye, good-bye.”
Charles Collins now joined our party at Worcester Park Farm. He was the son of William Collins, R.A., the younger of two brothers, the elder being Wilkie, who became the novelist. Charles, while still a child, had shown a talent which had induced Sir David Wilkie, a great friend of his parents, to declare that he must be a painter. I had known him at the British Museum. He was then a remarkable looking boy with statuesquely formed features, of aquiline type, and strong blue eyes. The characteristic that marked him out to casual observers was his brilliant bushy red hair, which was not of golden splendour, but yet had an attractive beauty in it. He had also a graceful figure. While still a youth he imparted to me his discomfort at the striking colour of his locks, and was anxious to find out any
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means of lessening their vividness. As he was one of the successful students in his application for probationership at the Royal Academy when I failed, our boyhood intimacy ceased. In succeeding years he obtained places for two pictures, one of “Eve,” after the manner of Frost, and another of “Ophelia.” Later he came under the influence of Edward Ward with a picture of “Charles II.” He then suddenly revolted to Pre-Raphaelitism with his picture of “Berengaria.” Changes in his views of life and art were part of a nature which yielded itself  

Charles Robert Leslie, R.A.

From an early portrait by himself]


to the sway of the current. He was now bent on painting, with arboreal richness, a Nativity.
Millais and I being one day in town, and walking together from the Academy School, encountered C. R. Leslie, 1 when he stopped Millais,
Transcribed Footnote (page 193):

1 Since writing this I have come upon a note of invitation from this lovable man to W. H.-H. which, simple as it is, illustrates his modest courtesy to one of the young generation.

Hampton, Middlesex,

“16 th September, 1852.

...“I hope we may have the pleasure of seeing you without hurrying you in the picture you are engaged upon, we have no temptation to offer you at all worth putting you to any extra trouble, but shall be delighted to see you...with no inconvenience to yourself.”

Sig. VOL. I. O
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who had shortly before sat to him for a study of a head. Not knowing this elder painter, I walked on, but he called me back, assuring me of his pleasure in meeting me. He was of the gentlest manner, and I observed that when he talked he looked upwards and about him, following any architectural line above his head, but he turned to me as he spoke, saying that he was sure Mrs. Leslie would be pleased if I could come to a little dance she was giving, and this I appreciatingly accepted. It was a young party, full of life and spirit, but this did not prevent me from profiting by the opportunity of talking with the gracious host, whom I honoured as the painter of some of the most delightful illustrations of human innocence ever produced.
To me it was interesting that at his age—nigh sixty—when staying with his family at Hampton Court, he should have set himself to school again in making a copy, and this of life size, of the two heads of boys  

R. Doyle


near the altar in Raphael's “Sacrifice at Listra.” When I referred to his humility in making this copy, he looked upwards, scanning the ceiling as was his habit while discoursing, and nervously interlacing his fingers the while, he assured me that he felt the charm of these heads was a lesson that no artist could study too much, and he told me that he had lately for his own edification been copying a whole-length portrait of Lord Cornwallis, and that if I had any interest in seeing it, he would take me at once up to his studio, and there I saw the copy, which it seemed to me he had made because the picture, in addition to other admirable characteristics, possessed rich chestnut and scarlet hues, such as Leslie himself rarely ventured on in his original pictures.
At this party, amongst several other artistic and literary people, I met our once critical champion, John Lewis, who had exhibited at “The Old Water Colour Society” a picture of the introduction of a new slave into the harem. I also met the unique and delightful Richard Doyle, a man overflowing with witty stories but with never a word of uncharitableness, who from this time became my prized friend until his life's end. 1 He was standing leaning against the wall, crush
Transcribed Footnote (page 194):

1 On the Death of Richard Doyle

  • A light of blameless laughter, fancy-bred
  • Soft-souled and glad and kind as love or sleep,
  • Fades, and sweet mirth's own eyes are fain to weep
  • Because her blithe and gentlest bird is dead.
  • Weep, elves and fairies all, that never shed
  • Tear yet for mortal mourning: you that keep
  • The doors of dreams whence nought of ill may creep,
page: 195

Science and Art Conversazione

Richard Doyle]


page: 196
hat in hand, one leg crossing the other. He was still quite young, and his face spoke a happy mixture of interest and humour. Shortly after this time he retired from Punch, on account of its continual attacks upon the Papacy, for he was a brave Catholic. His designs illustrating “Ye manners and customs of ye English” had made his name a proverb throughout England, and he became a special idol of our Brotherhood. His eyes were dwelling upon every incident of the room with merry twinkle, and when in facetious talk with another an idea struck him, he bent his face down towards his chest, thus producing a rudimentary double chin, while he chuckled and held up his hat, as a lady might use a fan to hide her laughter. His brother Henry was also of the party, and both were so cordial that we did not hesitate to ask them down to Worcester Park Farm to see our advancing backgrounds.
It is to be regretted that the interest of his designs in gentle satire of the manners of the day will not be appreciated to the full in succeeding generations, from want of knowledge of the individuality of each figure in the various groups. 1
Transcribed Footnote (page 196):
  • Mourn once for one whose lips your honey fed.
  • Let waters of the Golden River steep
  • 10The rose-roots whence his grave blooms rosy-red
  • And murmuring of Hybælan hives be deep
  • About the summer silence of its bed,
  • And nought less gracious than a violet peep
  • Between the grass grown greener round his head.
Algernon Charles Swinburne.
Transcribed Footnote (page 196):

1 (I) In the left-hand corner will be seen W.H.H. standing over a portfolio of drawings of the East.

(2) Professor Owen.

(3) Livingstone.

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  • “For Friendship, of itself an holy tie,
  • Is made more sacred by adversity.”
The Hind and the Panther.

“Men do not throw stones at trees which do not bear fruit.”— Arabic Proverb.

When we had again got into harness for our work in the country, we were delighted by the visit of Richard and Henry Doyle. We showed them the originals of our landscapes, we walked about the lovely meads, and returned to a repast at our farm. Among the matters of interest they retailed was a story of Thackeray being in the smoking-room of his club when the first few numbers of Vanity Fair were appearing. His friends warmly expressed their delight at the excellence of the story and its surpassing treatment. Thackeray mysteriously treated the encomiums with only the ejaculation, “Ah, ah, ah!” shrugging his shoulders the while, so that the company concluded that he did not think them sincere. This led them to express their laudation with greater fervour, at which Thackeray exclaimed, “ I wish to goodness the Public would find it out, for there are only 500 copies sold yet.” Very soon afterwards the world became converted, and the publisher had not only to satisfy English readers, at home, but those beyond the seas.
While Millais and I had been conferring about systems of painting, we had dwelt upon the great value of a plan we had both independently adopted of painting over a ground of wet white, which gave special delicacy of colour and tone. Millais in earlier works had relied upon the system to produce the effect of sunlight on flesh and brilliantly lit drapery. The head of the boy in “The Woodman's Daughter” may be taken as example of what my friend had done before. I, quite independently, had practised this novel system. The heads of Valentine and of Proteus, the hands of these figures, and the brighter costumes in the same painting had been executed in this way. In earlier pictures the method had been adopted by me to less extent. In the country we had used it, so far, mainly for blossoms of flowers, for which it was singularly valuable.
The process may be described thus. Select a prepared ground originally for its brightness, and renovate it, if necessary, with fresh white when first it comes into the studio, white to be mixed with a very little
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amber or copal varnish. Let this last coat become of a thoroughly stone-like hardness. Upon this surface, complete with exactness the outline of the part in hand. On the morning for the painting, with fresh white (from which all superfluous oil has been extracted by means of absorbent paper, and to which again a small drop of varnish has been added) spread a further coat very evenly with a palette knife over the part for the day's work, of such density that the drawing should faintly show through. In some cases the thickened white may be applied to the forms needing brilliancy with a brush, by the aid of rectified spirits. Over this wet ground, the colour (transparent and semi-transparent) should be laid with light sable brushes, and the touches must be made so tenderly that the ground below shall not be worked up, yet so far enticed to blend with the superimposed tints as to correct the qualities of thinness and staininess, which over a dry ground transparent colours inevitably exhibit. Painting of this kind cannot be retouched except with an entire loss of luminosity. Millais proposed that we should keep this as a precious secret to ourselves.
Ford Madox Brown's manner of work, as I have said, had up to this time often changed in style; he had, when we first knew him, left behind him the example of Baron Wappers, and gradually, step by step, abandoned the practice of the Munich mural painters, taking to a closer following of natural composition and intense study of out-of-door effect. In his then more sympathetic mood towards us he took no pains to conceal the source of this influence. The tracing of Brown's early stages of work will always be the more difficult by reason of the habit he indulged of repainting and changing the original character of his design, in part and in whole. He never did this without improvement, or without greater reference to our manner of work. The stages of his conversion are, however, illustrated by his best known pictures. That of “Pretty Baa Lambs,” painted by Brown in the summer of 1851, was strictly the first figure picture he had made in the open air; this was two years after my “ Christian and Druid ” picture and my exhibition of “ The Two Gentlemen of Verona ,” three summers after my “ Rienzi ” and one year after Millais exhibited “The Woodman's Daughter,” all painted with unprecedented care for their landscapes, with the sky serving as the ceiling of our studio.
Brown's little painting called “Waiting,” remarkable for its refined pencilling, was also begun in 1850, although not finished till 1854; 1 these works represented the stage he had reached when he, with William Rossetti, visited us at Worcester Park Farm in the autumn of 1851. After showing our pictures to the visitors, Millais increased his intimacy with Brown by a warm conversation on music, illustrated by the humming and whistling of airs by both. Turning to matters of interest in our own art, when Brown cordially complimented us upon the purity
Transcribed Footnote (page 198):

1 Hueffer's Life of F. M. Brown.

page: 199
and brilliancy of our pictures in the Exhibition, Millais impulsively burst out, “How do you think Hunt and I paint flesh and brilliant passages in our pictures?” And when Brown showed curiosity to know more he detailed the whole process.
Brown expressed unbounded astonishment and pressed to master exact particulars. When this was done in detail, he became enthusiastic, and enlarged on the mystery as nothing less than the secret of the old Masters, who thus secured the transparency and solidity together which they had valued so much in fresco, the wet white half dry forming an equivalent to the moist intonaco grounds upon which the master had to do his painting of that day while the surface was still humid. The practical effect of this communication upon Brown, and an instance of his generous feeling towards ourselves at this period, is illustrated by the following letter to Lowes Dickinson—which appears in Mr. Hueffer's Life of F. Madox Brown , p. 77. 1
In the pen-and-ink sketch by Millais 2 of “The Varnishing Morning” at the Academy in 1850 will be seen a figure holding a paint-box behind him, with an expression of half-conversion on his face, notwithstanding the attempt being made by another to stir him up to the general fury.
When Millais, pointing to it, said, “That's Brown,” I demurred, “But Brown wasn't there,” to which Millais replied, “Oh! That doesn't matter, it's quite fair to put him in as one of the unconverted.” This revelation of the temper which Brown was indulging towards our School in May of that year furnishes a link in the evidence of our relative positions at the time.
The first Conversazione held by the Royal Academy was assembled this year; it was an experiment; we as exhibitors were invited, and as we had not left our posts before, we determined to spend the evening in town. Linnell and some other elders in the profession sought us out and expressed admiration for our past works, and this hospitality
Transcribed Footnote (page 199):

1 “As to the pure white ground, you had better adopt that at once, as I can assure you you will be forced to do so ultimately, for Hunt and Millais, whose works already kill everything in the exhibition for brilliancy, will in a few years force every one who will not drop behind them to use their methods. Apropos of these young men, you must be strangely puzzled to know what to think of them if you see many of the English papers on the present exhibition. For the amount of abuse that has been lavished on them has been such as to impart dignity to a name which used to be looked on more as a subject of mirth than anything else. You will remember that with all of us, whatever used to be thought of Rossetti's, Hunt's, and Millais' talents, the words Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, or the letters P.R.B., used to be looked upon as the childish or ridiculous part of the business. But now, I can assure you, that I pronounce the words without hesitation as an ordinary term in the everyday of art. The term will now remain with them, and, in the course of time, gain a dignity which cannot fail to attach to whatever is connected with what they do. For my own opinion, I think Millais' pictures, as small pictures, more wonderful than any I have yet seen, and Hunt's picture is a truly noble one. This is my sincere opinion. I also know that Mulready, Maclise, and Dyce think most highly of them; so that, after these opinions, backed by old Linnell, who told Anthony that he thought them the finest pictures in the Academy, I cannot put much reliance on the invectives of Frith and such a lot. As to newspapers, you know how much we value them, but I think I see more than usual spleen in their effusions, and I have no doubt but that Stone and Hart, and other disgusting muffs of influence, are at the bottom of it. I have just heard from Marshall that Ruskin has written a letter to the Times in defence of them.”

Transcribed Footnote (page 199):

2 Page 143.

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gave us opportunity of extending our acquaintance with men of mark in letters and art, who asked us to visit them on our return to town.
Going down on the morrow of the Conversazione by an early train, we hurried from the Malden station to our respective al fresco studios. I discovered that two powder-mill houses contiguous and several treetops had disappeared near the shed where my canvas case was stored; there had been a “blow” during the night, but my belongings had altogether escaped injury.
At the beginning of August we had again to return to town for a few days, to receive our works back from the Exhibition. Millais had but little to do beyond distributing his pictures to their respective owners, but my “ Valentine and Sylvia ” needed retouching in a few parts, and for this I had to keep very close to my easel—often wishing for more leisure to perfect the portions of the design which had suffered by my money difficulties in the weeks preceding the sending-in day—I then dispatched the picture to the Liverpool Exhibition. We were glad to return to our pastoral life, and continued steadily at our landscapes for the succeeding months.
When the Liverpool Exhibition opened I almost daily received anonymous letters and newspapers from the Mersey city with every variety of abuse of my picture, both in prose and doggerel. There happened to be a painter employed in Liverpool at the time who was the son of a diplomaed celebrity, who delivered lectures on the infamies of our heretical sect; his paintings were so patently incompetent that we concluded he must be a supremely entertaining lecturer, since it was said he drew large audiences. His denunciations of my unfortunate work were sent to me, with the assurance that the diatribes were largely appreciated in the town. The whole attack was a bear-baiting in which I had to play the diverting part of poor Bruin; and whether the baited be Ursus Major or Ursus Minor, he is not unnaturally liable to irritation if the game be long continued, and to make a blind rush at the onlookers. I became, perhaps, unreasonably so when I arrived at the conclusion that the Council of the Institute of Liverpool countenanced my assailants. I took Millais into my confidence, in what I confess was an audacious project, and declared that I would not allow any one to assume that I had become broken spirited by the attacks upon me. It had been announced that a fifty-pound prize would be awarded at the opening of the Exhibition to the most approved painting. This had not been allotted, although several weeks had elapsed since the day fixed for the decision. I had not seriously entertained a hope that my much-abused painting would receive the award, but I determined to write to the Committee stating that I had sent my picture trusting to an announcement that the prize would be awarded on the opening day to the best contribution, and that as many weeks had gone by since the date fixed, I had to beg the favour of information why I had not received notice of the prize being given to me! That
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evening, happily, absorbing designing work and a book kept me too late to carry this preposterous extravagance born of irritation into effect. The next morning I was painting near the house when Millais came over calling out, “Another letter from Liverpool.” It boasted an imposing official seal. Millais was all impatient, and I opened it to find that the Council at a deferred sitting had awarded to me the prize. We there and then gave three heartfelt cheers for the courageous Council of Liverpool. 1
This award was greatly encouraging, not to me alone, but to the whole of our circle. It turned out that Mr. John Miller, the head of the Liverpool Council, was a passionate lover of art, some equally independent and enthusiastic artists and amateurs being with him. The storm, with all its noise, was directed at them in the hope of turning their minds from a suspected partiality for my work. It was strange that this favourable testimony to its character did not impress any purchaser who had seen the picture but a collector from Belfast, who had never seen it. He was not a rich man—then no rich person had the independent judgment to buy pictures from me—he told me of pictures he already possessed, saying that he hoped soon to get to Liverpool to judge of mine, so notorious as an apple of discord amongst amateurs. He asked if I would take part of the price, two hundred pounds, in pictures? Eventually I agreed to accept a landscape by young Danby in part payment, and the remaining money to be paid by monthly instalments of ten pounds.
Millais had now completed his background of “ Ophelia ,” and brought it up to the farmhouse, and I had far advanced my landscape
Transcribed Footnote (page 201):

1 From a provincial newspaper of the date—


To the Editor of the Albion.

“Sir,—The award by the Liverpool Academy of the fifty-pound prize to Mr. Holman Hunt, for his painting from the “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” has caused such an outburst of surprise, I may add, contempt, from a number of even professional artists, that I trust you will afford me some little space in your columns for a few observations on that remarkable production.

I shall not enter into the vexed quæstion of “pre-Raphaelism,” but merely treat of the picture on its own individual merits, apart from any school. I will, however, just mention that it is classed as pre-Raphaelite, and that, considering the overbearing obloquy with which pre-Raphaelism has been assailed, it shows a high moral courage on the part of the Liverpool Academy in having resisted the popular opinion, and giving their prize on the abstract merit of Mr. Hunt's production.

In my own opinion, there are more originality, meaning, accurate conception of character and incident, truthfulness, and inspiration in this picture than in any other in the exhibition. Compared with many other highly-finished and matured productions there it is like the infant Hercules compared with full grown pigmies.”

The following very interesting Message “To the Frequenters of the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool,” was received from Mr. HOLMAN-HUNT on the Opening Day, 1907—

Perhaps what I have already said elsewhere of the service which the Liverpool Academy, representing your City, in the year 1851, rendered to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood might seem sufficient; but I must not be deterred by fear of appearing egotistical from acknowledging the great service Liverpool rendered our Body by awarding me the annual prize. After a lapse of over half a century I gratefully bear witness to the conscientious courage of the Council which incurred contemporary odium by its championship of our efforts at Art reform.

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for “ The Hireling Shepherd .” He set to work to paint a garden wall as a background to an illustration of Tennyson's Circumstance, “Two Lovers whispering by a Garden Wall.” I wished it had been another subject, but his reply to my comment was that it was too late in the year to undertake anything but a make-weight second picture, as he should rely mainly on “ Ophelia ” for the advancement of his reputation.
As we sat together one night revolving many matters he said to me:  

Two Lovers Whispering by a Garden Wall

J. E. Millais]


“I have received a letter from a Mrs. Drury, who lives at Thames Ditton. She disputes the will of queer old Drury with whom I used to stay at Shotover, you remember? And I propose walking over there to understand what she wants of me. What do you say, old Cockalorum, to coming too? You have got on far enough with your picture to feel comfortable about it, and I am sure you deserve a rest from your sheep. Come, like a good fellow, and walk over with me to-morrow; it will be a rest for both of us, for we've each been working deuced hard.” I agreed, and we started immediately after luncheon. We passed through fresh fields with beautiful trees that had not yet a tinge of autumnal sadness in them, and so into the Kingston Road, where still were hundreds of delights to our eager senses. We talked of the
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feminine beauty most enchanting, and, growing enthusiastic, he traced with the point of his stick a profile with a retroussé nose, of a type the exact opposite to his own. When I had traced my counter ideal he exclaimed, “Why, I say, that's a portrait of my pretty cousin!” “Ah, then you have sadly neglected your duty in not giving me the advantage of meeting her,” was my reply. “Give me for my adoration a stately Rachel or Rebecca, and I will try to charm her by laying all my extensive fortune at her feet. Item, one finished picture much abused, one unfinished from Measure for Measure, already paid for and the money spent, a third representing several acres of land, arable, grazing and corn-field divided by ditch, hedge, and tree fence, a clear sky, and a white space for a shepherd and shepherdess, and my queen shall claim the whole domain as her marriage portion. Add to these the fancies still hidden in my brain. If you by chance meet my love, tell her that I lay my heart whole in her hand.” “Now this is a good opportunity,” said Millais; “tell me what you mean by saying that pictures should not deal with the meetings of lovers merely as lovers.”
“Because,” I returned, “when I go to meet my Rebecca or Rachel I shall not invite you to look on, and you will not require my presence when you go to make love to your graceful charmer—
  • Close in a bower of amaranth and musk,
  • Unseen of any, free form whispering tale;
  • Ah, better had it been for ever so,
  • Than picture-gazer should call out “Peep oh!”
Seriously, I don't think that lovers should be pryed upon by painters. Pictures of them always appear to me to be intrusive. Selfishness, Love's cousin, has its proper place in life. Lovers appeal alone to Heaven as witness of their sacred pledges; a poet may dwell upon their meetings as links in the chain of their story, and so pass on, but not so the picture-maker. Tennyson, in the poem you are illustrating, makes it merely a step in the progress of two lives. It may be a crochet of mine, but I have none but passing interest in pictures of lovers, as lovers devoid of other interest, and, good gracious! how they crowd on us on May Monday. If they are badly done I despise them, and if they are well done I feel that I ought not to be there. In your hand I know the subject will be treated with a manly vigour that will elevate it, so, as far as my judgment affects your subject, regard it only as a whim of mine.”
“I understand your position now,” said Millais, “and I quite agree with you about the danger of maudlin sentiment. I feel some force too about the difference in the treatment of the matter by poets and artists, but I have my design finished, and the background of it advanced, and what remains will give me as much work as I can do before the end of the season. We've more than enough difficulty in fighting for our manner of work, without offending our enemies at present with theories of ”the higher purpose of Art.’”
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Suddenly my companion's attention was arrested; he turned round and directed his face to another point of the compass; inhaling the perfumes of the soft wind, he exclaimed, “Is there any sensation more delicious than that awakened by the odour of burning leaves? To me nothing brings back sweeter memories of the days that are gone; it  

J. E. Millais

W. H. H.]


is the incense offered by departing summer to the heavens, and awakens a happy conviction that Time puts a peaceful seal on all that has gone.”
Further in our walk, Millais checked our pace and looked intently at a constable who had marched past us. “Whatever is it that makes you have such a sudden and absorbing interest in the policeman? He won't do for your lover,” said I.
“Look at him,” said Millais; “could any one regard him as a boy;
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he's a man, and yet probably he is not older than you; and whatever you think of yourself, I can tell you you only appear like a lad; and as for me, I know I look like a child; in fact, the critics, you know, always write of us as ‘juveniles.’ Why does that man look so adult? I'm not sure, if you could dress as a policeman, that any one would treat you with respect such as he could inspire; it's a mystery to me,” and, turning his back to me, he said, “Does my hair hide the nape of my neck?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“That's it,” he said triumphantly; “that man has the nape of his neck clear, and it helps to make him look so sedate and respectable. I'll have my hair cut short directly I get to town,” and after I had laughed at him, he resumed his talk about old Mr. Drury.

Coventry Patmore

T. Woolner]


On nearing Thames Ditton we looked at our watches, and Millais said, “I hope this lady will give us tea. Old Drury was extremely strange in manner, but very kind to me, and all the more entertaining from his eccentricity. He died a short time ago, and his estate is in dispute. I don't know what this woman is aiming at, but she wants to ask me some questions, and we shall see.” Soon we found the house, and were received with great eagerness and with gentle thanks to Millais for his visit. The lady had wished so much to have some information from him about her singular relative, who had kept himself so strangely secluded from the family, but who had been so well known to Mr. Millais. While she talked the maids prepared the tea-table, and to our bewilderment carried in a child's chair with its occupant, whose strange appearance could not but arrest our attention. He was no bigger than a boy of four, but his face and figure marked him as stunted and deformed; it was impossible to make any guess as to his
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age. When we had seated ourselves the lady said, “I beg to introduce my son, for whom I desire to win your good grace; he is now past twenty-one.” The poor victim muttered and looked at her helplessly; it was a painful moment, and the mother explained that he, if Mr. Drury's will could be put aside, was the heir to the estate. She then went on: “You, Mr. Millais, must have observed how very erratic and disturbed Mr. Drury's mind was. We hope to establish that he was of unsound mind, and trust that you will be able to support our contention.” The effect of this appeal upon Millais was magical. All that childish humour that came at times upon him was dispelled. “Mrs. Drury,” he said in an unwavering tone, “I must not encourage you to think that I can support the allegation that Mr. Drury was not  

William Allingham


of sound mind. He was eccentric most undoubtedly, and he obeyed independent impulses. His invitation to me, a stranger, when I was fishing in his ponds, to come and stay with him, illustrated this. Men may be very eccentric without being at all out of their mind, and I am sure that Mr. Drury was one of these.” A damp fell on the party, and we talked of other things, but hastened our departure. When we had got into the road a few paces off, Millais broke silence, saying, “That was, I think, the most piteous trial I have ever had, the interview, with that poor miserable before us; when Mrs. Drury spoke, I felt that unless I broke off from all entanglement of the desire to be agreeable, I should not be able to be honest, and I had to blurt out the truth that was a ruin to all her hopes. Come along; I can't walk slowly; let us run.” So we raced homewards. To close this subject I may say that eventually, when the painful question was tried at Oxford, Millais gave evidence so clearly that the judge complimented him on the convincing character of his testimony.
Coventry Patmore 1 when visiting us suggested the value of a diary. Millais was thus induced to commence his naïve and graphic records of our life at the farm which his son has recorded.
It was at about this time that William Allingham, the poet, became well known in our Circle.
The season was now already advanced autumn, and our evenings
Transcribed Footnote (page 206):

1 “Holman-Hunt was heroically simple and constant in his purpose of primarily serving religion by his Art, and had a Quixotic notion that it was absolutely obligatory upon him to redress every wrong that came under his notice. This mistake sometimes brought him into serious trouble, and more than once into danger of his life.” — Memoirs and Correspondence of Coventry Patmore .

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after dinner were cosy and pleasant; one we spent in sitting in judgment on the Thirty-nine Articles; on another we read the pamphlet on Pre-Raphaelitism by a Rev. Mr. Young; and Ruskin's Retort. We always enjoyed the wholesome fare provided by the capable farmer's wife. Blackberry pudding was hugely in favour with Millais, and on one occasion he ridiculed Charlie Collins for refusing the dainty dish, taking the despised portion in addition to his own, so that the pudding when it returned to the kitchen bore no trace of want of appreciation. On our return to the sitting-room he bantered our abstemious friend on his self-denial, saying, “You know you like blackberry pudding as much as I do, and it is this preposterous rule of supererogation which you have adopted in your high-churchism which made you go without it. I have no doubt you will think it necessary to have a scourge and take the discipline for having had any dinner at all.” He was so persistent in his attacks on poor Charlie, and his appeals to me to second him, that when these became troublesome I turned away from the fire and took up a recently commenced design at a side table. Millais continued his sarcasm until Collins somewhat prematurely took his candle and wished us good-night. When he had gone Millais turned to me and said, “Why didn't you pitch into him? We must cure him of this monkish nonsense. You scarcely helped me at all. It is doing him a deal of harm, taking away the little strength of will he has.” He then came over to me, and, laying his hand on my shoulder, exclaimed, “I say, whatever is that you are doing?” I replied, “I was on the point of telling you; there is a text in Revelation, ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock.’ Nothing is said about the night, but I wish to accentuate the point of its meaning by making it the time of darkness, and that brings us to the need of the lantern in Christ's hand, He being the bearer of the light to the sinner within. I shall have a door choked up with weeds, to show that it has not been opened for a long time, and in the background there will be an orchard. I can paint it from the one at the side of this house.”
“What a noble subject!” he cried. “But what is this small sketch at the side?”
“It is one,” I said, “that I want to talk to you about as an example of what I meant by having an interest beyond that of the initial one, when lovers are the theme of the design. You see the interest of the York and Lancaster wars has never been drawn upon by painters, and it ought to be engrossing. My design is to represent two lovers, the lady being the daughter of a Lancasterian. They are seated on her father's castle walls; her dress will be white with red roses all over it. He will be a Yorkist, with a jacket of red with white roses embossed upon it; the castle walls will have shields in the entablatures with red roses painted upon them, and upon the flag blown by the wind, to make the spectator more sure that she belongs to the castle and that he is a stranger. I shall make him booted and spurred, and the rope ladder
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The First Design for “The Light of the World,” Scribbled on one side on an Envelope. Another for “The Eve of St. Agnes”



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First Sketch of “Light of the World.”

W. H. H.]


Sig. VOL. I. P
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by which he has ascended will be attached to the castellated parapet. I shall make him urging her to flee with him, while her sense of duty to her family raises the struggle in her mind as to which impulse she shall obey.”
“What a splendid idea!” said he; “it will just do for the lovers in my picture. I will paint him a Yorkist, dressed as you say, and her a Lancasterian; it will do splendidly.”
“But,” I rejoined, “you can't do that; the subject would be spoilt;  

Design for York and Lancaster Subject

W. H. H.]


you have no castle ramparts, nor view of the distant country to which he is pointing, and the purpose would fail to explain itself.”
“Well, that is true,” he added. “I'll make my man a Cavalier and my girl a Puritan, and I'll suggest that she has come to him by stealth in an old garden. That will do admirably.”
“Yes,” I said, “but I think the theme of the Cavalier and Roundhead has been rather worked to death in our day.”
He paused a moment. “I have got it,” he said,—“the Huguenots. You remember the opera? All good Catholics have to wear a badge somehow; I will write to my mother and she'll find out all about if for
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me at the British Museum. But here's another sketch at the back of your paper. What is that?”
“I have not worked it out yet, but I think it is a good subject. I should quote a passage out of the Proverbs, ‘The meeting of a friend with his friend is sweet, but far sweeter is the meeting of a man with his wife.’ I should make her in a tower with a flight of steps, such as I saw at Carisbrooke when I went that walking tour with Brown and Anthony. She would be working tapestry, glorifying the deeds of her husband, a Crusader; he has come up the steps unseen by her, and has caught her in his arms. A young son of five or six will be introduced, whom I have tried here as swinging on the gate; down below in the courtyard will be seen a body of soldiers, fresh from the war, boisterously saluting the old retainers and young girls. In the distance over the castle walls would be an arm of the sea, with a fleet of galleons anchored and pennons flying.”
“Why, you dog,” he said, “that would be as stupendous a subject as any of them; but you will begin with ‘Christ at the Door,’ won't you?”
“Yes, I shall send for a canvas for that immediately,” I answered.
“I will tell you what I'll do,” he added, with his accustomed impetuosity; “I'll at once make a companion design of the sinner with the door opened, falling at Christ's feet.” 1
I confess I felt somewhat staggered, but I paid little attention to this last remark, because often, if left to himself, he discovered reasons for not persevering in projects that had absorbed his attention at first; but two nights later he showed me a sketch he had made of “The Repentant Sinner,” and then I felt the necessity of protest.
“Sit down, my dear fellow, and consider. One strong interest in my design depends on the uncertainty as to whether the being within will respond; your picture would destroy all this. Besides, as you paint with greater facility than I do, your subject would be done first, and perhaps exhibited before mine, and thus the possible effect of Christ's appeal would be presented ere the cause of it were understood; this would be confusing, and would give the impression that I was developing your idea. In our Brotherhood each is independent; but your picture would encourage people to speak of me as your imitator. You won't mind my objecting to this. I must therefore ask you not to paint a companion picture, at least at present.”
He hastily said, “My dear fellow, I see you are perfectly right; I won't attempt it.”
He soon got the particulars of the Huguenot 2 from his mother and made his new design, which enabled him to decide where his inimitably painted ivy leaves and brick wall should encroach. The canvas for my
Transcribed Footnote (page 211):

1 On the lines of this early design his later picture of “Romans leaving Britain” was founded.

Transcribed Footnote (page 211):

2 For the evolution of this picture, see Mr. J. Guille Millais' report of it in Life of Sir J. E. Millais, vol. i. pp. 136-41.

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new picture arrived, and I was able to prepare for the background. One night I went out with Millais, who carried the lantern that I might see the effect of light upon the face and figure shining from below.
At this time, Collins, in his irresolute way, expressed an inclination to go one Saturday afternoon to town and spend the Sunday with his mother. It was dread of the dark path on his return at night along the lone road from Kingston station across the fields to our farm that deterred him. “Nonsense,” said Millais; “what do you fear most, ghosts or foot-pads?” The other evasively replied, “Both, perhaps.” “Now, really, Charley, you need not worry; we will meet you as the train comes in, and walk back with you; we'll both go with you on the road at once, or the dark will overtake you before you catch the train to-night.” Stopping near the station, Millais shouted out, “Good-night, old Timidity; hurry up or you'll have all Tam o' Shanter's troupe after you.” And as a parting shot he added, “Give my love to Harriet, and tell her that I shall soon want her to fix the day for the wedding.” Harriet was no other than Collins's mother, whom in rollicking way we pretended to court. The old lady, never failing in either wit or temper, took the joke in good part with an amusing retort. Charley held up his hands deprecatingly as we watched him advancing daintily, one foot before the other, in a straight line as though he were walking on a tight-rope. Although slight, he was a very proper man, and his blue eyes looked at a challenger without sign of quailing. “Why should he be so fearsome?” we said one to the other as he gave a final salute from the distance. “In some ways,” Millais said, “the good fellow has the unflinching resolve of the conductor of a storming party. When he left Oxford he got hipped about a fancied love affair, and becoming a High Churchman, changed the subject of his picture from being an illustration of the lady in Shelley's Sensitive Plant
  • “Who out of the cups of the heavy flowers
  • Emptied the rain of the thunder showers,”
to a picture of a nun with a missal in her hand, studying the significance of the passion flower. He can act on sudden resolve, and yet withal he is as fearful as a mouse. He ought to be made to get over such folly.”
The next afternoon, to our delight, Millais' father appeared quite early; we took him to our places of work, and to the shelters where our progressing pictures were housed, and in every direction satisfied his pent-up curiosity, until the sun warned us to prepare our visitor with refreshment for his return. We accompanied him to Maldon station, and when the train moved away that evening, it bore a father justly happy in full proof of the promise of a son who could bear the attacks of ignorance and malice, and surmount the toils of detraction unruffled, without dread of the issue. Millais pirouetted smartly, saying, “Now, isn't that a dear old Daddy? I am sure he enjoyed his
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visit; come along, we have had a good stretch over the fields far and near.”
On our way we overtook two graceful damsels, servants at a house where Millais visited. He at once called my attention to the fitness of one of these for the face of Ophelia, and approached her, saying he intended to ask their mistress to allow her to sit to him. As we got near home he assured me of his conviction that we should both make a success next year, and that we could not fail to get soon appointed to do some national mural work, by which we could win the world to approval of our principles by our invention and delicacy of expression. This brought us to our home and our dinner. Soon after the meal, when Millais was lying comfortably on the sofa, I observed that it was time to start out to meet Collins, and I suggested that he should put on his boots and come at once.
But he was tired, and said, “I'm not going to humour him. Yesterday I didn't know the dear daddy was coming and that we should have to walk miles over rough fields. Let Charlie come and learn that illuminated turnips do not bite and that foot-pads are not now more numerous than policemen.” So I started alone, he shouting after me, “I know your little game; you want to cut me out with Harriet, but I'll be even with you!”
I was impatient while the lantern was being fitted up, for it was fully late.
At first, looking from the upland across the country, the furthest horizon of the darkened earth could scarcely be distinguished from the lustreless sky, for the eyelids of that day's wakefulness had closed. My outlook was soon altered, for in a few minutes I was descending into a thick plantation, where the objects commanding my sight were only those on which the spoke rays of the lantern were shed, the grass and pebbles on the road, the ferns and weeds which swept my knees, the trunks of trees and network of their overhanging branches against an indigo sky. Sometimes I stopped, not only to admire the tracery of delicate leaves, but to observe exactly how far the light I carried brought objects before me into visible being; it may have been my intrusion alone that made the twittering sentry birds start away from their nests with alarmed cry, or that my light revealed some nearer enemy which made the awakened guardian of a nest noisy in his alarm. My further steps led me into a path at the side of the stream. Between me and the water was a hut long since abandoned by gunpowder workers. With my new picture in view I had special reasons for wishing to see the further side by night, and walked through the thick grass to explore it. On the river side was a door locked up and overgrown with tendrils of ivy, its step choked with weeds. I stood and dwelt upon the desolation of the scene, and pictured in mind the darkness of that inner chamber, barred up by man and nature alike. When I had regained the road and was making progress, a four-years
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old memory of an altogether unexplained experience came into my mind.
At that date, arriving by the last train from London at the Ewell station on the other side of the village, the stationmaster shut up his office and came out with a lantern to walk home. I accompanied him, being glad of his light. When we had entered under some heavy trees I cautioned him that some white animal was advancing towards us. “It will be sure to get out of our way,” he said, and walked on unfalteringly. Yet I kept my eyes riveted on the approaching being. When we had come nearer I interrupted our idle chat, saying, “But it is steadily coming towards us.” He turned up his gaze and was stopped by what he saw. The mysterious midnight roamer proved to be no brute, but had the semblance of a stately, tall man wrapped in white drapery round the head and down to the feet. Stopping within a few paces of us, he seemed to look through me with his solemn gaze. Would he speak? I wondered. Was his ghostly clothing merely vapour? I peered at it; it seemed too solid for this, and yet not solid enough for earthly garb. We both stood paralysed and expectant. Then the figure deliberately marched to our left, making a half-circle around us, till he regained the line he had been travelling upon, and paced majestically onward.
Clutching my companion's arm I exclaimed, “What is it?” He faltered, “It's a ghost.” “Let us follow it,” I said. “I have seen it more than enough,” said the stationmaster. “Lend me your lantern,” I urged, “that I may pursue and examine it.” But he refused. The figure was still visible striding towards Nonsuch Park in the thick darkness. Had I dared to follow it without a light, the striking of the church clock would have reminded me that I was already fully late for my uncle's demure household, and I left the mystery unsolved. At the point where our road met the village, we came upon two sober men, of whom we asked what person it was that had lately passed them. They said they had been standing there ten minutes, and nobody had gone by. Next day, and for long after, investigations were made by the stationmaster and his friends, but nothing more was heard to unravel the mystery.
Four years had gone since then. Being now alone, I tried whether by any stretch of imagination I could again conjure up the same apparition, but no effort of mine succeeded in resurrecting any spectre whatever.
Dismissing this mysterious recollection, I reached the main road, with its few stragglers passing to their homes. The first was a solitary countryman, who returned my salutation in cheerful manner; soon I heard a hilarious party coming along from afar in a light cart who in passing joked me about Guy Fawkes and his lantern and continued their loud chatter until, in intermittent gusts of merriment, they passed out of my hearing. Then came a husband and wife with crying
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children, disputing as to who had been the cause of the delay in returning home.
After this I felt it questionable whether Charlie might not have missed me going by another path; but, afar on the other side of the road, there sounded the stirring of timid feet on the grassy footway. I crossed and stood in front of the person, the shadow of the lantern hiding my face, till with uplifted hand I discovered my friend, the picture of absolute terror. “All right, Charlie,” I said, putting my hand upon him to give him comfort. “Oh,” he gasped, “when I saw your lantern crossing the road and making for me so determinedly I gave up myself as lost, and as the light was raised and I could not see you, I did not know you till you spoke. What I have suffered on the road is beyond conception, and how I should get over the fields filled me with terror. How thankful I am to see you! Where's Millais?”
“His father came this afternoon, and after walking about a good deal he was too tired to come,” I said. “I've enjoyed my walk.”
We chatted on till Charlie gained breath and composure. “Now I want you to tell me about Wilkie and the other great artists,” I said. “Turner, Stodhard, Constable, Etty, and their like, whom you had, to me, the inconceivable luck of knowing in your earliest days.”
“Will it seem perversity to say that I think you were more to be envied than I?” said he. “You looked upon these men as lights in a distant temple that you were striving to reach. You saw the peril of becoming one of those who faint by the way, and you were prepared to encounter obstacles; you put out all your strength to arrive at your goal. In doing this you were forced to tread new ground, and you acquired the habit of doing so. The difference with me was that I was already enjoying the brightness and glory of the haven where they were resting, talking of the race they had run only as a part of their youth. I was dandled on their knees. I took to drawing from mere habit, and they all applauded my efforts. I looked upon their diadems as a part of manhood that must come, and now I begin to doubt and fear that was a mistake!”
“My dear Charlie,” said I, “learn something from me. I have many times in my studio come to such a pass of humiliation that I have felt that there was not one thing that I had thought I could do thoroughly in which I was not altogether incapable. After I had drawn from the antique and life for years, it has seemed to me that I was so incapable in the most elementary part of design that I have set myself to practise making lines and curves of all kinds, like a beginner. It has been the same with painting. There has on occasions appeared to me no salvation but in working in black and white; in doing this I have affected being a beginner. In our Pre-Raphaelitism, determination to eliminate all traditional masterliness, when we design without Nature before us, makes us often draw less well than we did before. However, it seems better thus to make sure of our footing in order to sauter mieux.
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This first part of our experience you are now troubled by, but you must not doubt or fear. Let us do battle, but do not let the fighting be that of a fatalist who thinks Heaven is against him.”
Collins and I thus philosophised until we reached the farm, where night reigned supreme, and Millais was soundly sleeping.
It was continually interesting to note the differences between my two comrades, one fated to win honours, whatever the obstructions might be; the other, spite of original gifts and of strenuous yearnings, doomed to be turned back on the threshold of success by want of courageous confidence.
It was late in the autumn, but I had matured my preparations for “The Light of the World” enough to work in the old orchard before the leaves and fruit had altogether disappeared. To paint the picture life size, as I should have desired, would then have forbidden any hope of sale. For my protection from the cold, as far as it could be found, I had a little sentry-box built of hurdles, and I sat with my feet in a sack of straw. A lamp, which I at first tried, proved to be too strong and blinding to allow me to distinguish the subtleties of hue of the moonlit scene, and I had to be satisfied with the illumination from a candle. I went out to my work about 9 p.m., and remained till 5 a.m. the next morning, when I retired into the house to bed till about ten, and then rose to go back to my hut and devote myself for an hour or two to the rectifying of any errors of colour, and to drawing out the work for the ensuing night. My first experience in nocturnal labour was alarming. The handsome avenue in front of the farm was, of course, reported to be haunted. I promised to be on my guard against the shameless duchess or any of her crew, that they should have no excuse for taking away my character. For an hour the stillness was chequered by the going in and out of farm servants, then my friends came out ere they retired to sleep and chatted with me, wrapped against the cold. Shortly after, the lights seen through the windows were extinguished one by one, and a quiet, deep sense of solitude reigned over all. The noises of life ceased save the draggling pulsation of the powder mill down in the vale below, whose measured beating timed the black night. I plied my brush busily, in turn warming my numbed fingers in my breast. About midnight I could hear that there was another noise, like the rustling of dead leaves, and that this grew more distinct, evidently coming nearer as I paused to listen, but the road trodden by the thing of night was hidden from me. Yet I could not the less certainly measure the distance of the waves of disturbed dried leaves. The steps had arrived at the face of the house, and now were turning aside to the orchard, where soon indeed I could see a hundred yards off a mysterious presence. I shouted out, “Tell me who you are.” A flash of light shot across the orchard, and then with solemn step the village policeman approached. “I thought you were the ghost,” I said. “Well, to tell the truth, sir, that was what I thought of you.”
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Henceforth he was a nightly visitor, and accepted my tobacco while he chatted to me for half an hour. When I asked him whether he had seen other artists painting landscapes in the neighbourhood, his reply was, “I can't exactly say as I have at this time o' night.”
I resumed my nocturnal work every full moon while people skated in the daytime in the valley two hundred feet below. After I had made my corrections in the night picture, I had still to apply myself to the sheep in my other canvas.
Late in the autumn Mr. and Mrs. Combe were in town, and they came down from Oxford to visit us. This was my first introduction to two of the most unpretending servants of goodness and nobility that their generation knew. They were surely “the salt of the earth” to  

Thomas Combe Monument, Stratford-on-Avon

W. H. H.]


a large circle. He was born at Leicester, and seeing the great likeness in him to the monumental portrait of Shakespeare's friend Thomas Combe 1 of Stratford-upon-Avon, I asked him later in my acquaintance if he could trace the connection, but he seemed indisposed to make a claim to this ancestor, not altogether perhaps unmindful of the raillery of the poet upon his friend's activity as a usurer.
The worthy couple saw my pictures, and from that moment declared the greatest interest in the beginning of the “Christ at the Door.”
Before returning permanently from Surrey I took the opportunity of being in town late in the year to call on R. B. Martineau, who, having heard of my success with Rossetti, had, through an old fellow-student, notified his wish to become my pupil in painting. He had already been through the schools of the Academy, gaining some honours, and wished at this point to train himself to paint subject pictures. Concluding
Transcribed Footnote (page 217):

1 To whom Shakespeare bequeathed his sword.

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that he thought I was very prosperous, I tested him by saying that up to this present time, although I had lived more self-denyingly than any lawyer's clerk would have done, I had not succeeded in paying my way, and that I was heavily in debt, with nothing but pictures as assets which nobody would buy; indeed, from all experiences I could scarcely regard painting in England as a profession at all, and advised, if he could reconcile himself to any other life, that he would abandon the idea of becoming an artist. But to him the question of the lucrativeness of the pursuit was not a vital matter, which fact removed  

Robert B. Martineau

W. H. H.]


the scruples I had against encouraging any one of English birth and needing to live by his profession from becoming a painter in this country. In the end he became my pupil, and remained my close and much-valued friend until his death, nearly twenty years later. I encouraged him to complete a design he had begun from The Old Curiosity Shop, and this he painted in my studio, while I finished “ The Hireling Shepherd .” He never became a facile executant, but from the first he produced admirable pictures. His greatest work was “The Last Day in the Old Home.”
Gabriel Rossetti had not been to see us, although once or twice we had expected him. William Millais came and stayed, painting a
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Wilkie Collins

J. E. Millais]


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small landscape, and Wilkie Collins also came. In youth he had thought of being a painter, but had gradually drifted into literature. He was a man now, slight of build, about five feet seven in height, with an impressive head, the cranium being noticeably more prominent on the right side than on the left, which inequality did not amount to a disfigurement; perhaps, indeed, it gave a stronger impression of intellectual power. He was redundant in pleasant temperament. His immediate concern was in his brother's recent inclination to extreme Church discipline and rigorous self-denial in matters of fasting and calendar observances, which in Wilkie's mind could only be prejudicial to health and to the due exercise of his ability. He charged us not to be too persistent in our comments upon the eccentricity, believing that, if left alone, Charlie would not long persevere in his new course. Wilkie took a lively interest in our pictures, and professed a desire to write an article on our method of work, leaving the question of the value of results entirely apart, that the public might understand our earnestness in the direct pursuit of nature, which, if not establishing the excellence of our productions, would at least be convincing proof that our untiring ambition was not to copy any mediævalists, as it was so generally said we did, but to be persistent rather in the pursuit of new truths. This intention was never acted upon.
Before we left, Millais' friends the Lemprières, Sir George Glynn, and many worthies of the neighbourhood came to see us.
My uncle at Ewell and his admirable wife were among our visitors. They were full of deferred curiosity to see the pictures we three had been doing, and they drove over in their light chaise to luncheon; they both highly enjoyed dwelling on the landscapes of our paintings, but they caused us much laughter in their bewilderment about a water rat which Millais had put in his “ Ophelia.” The creature was perfectly correct in its perspective, but it appeared inexplicably large. The painter wanted to test how far the rat was a good likeness, and would not help the critics in determining what animal it could be. The water rat had been introduced to enhance the idea of lonely peacefulness in the spot, but its presence also had a painful suggestion, and although the head had been exquisitely treated, eventually Millais reluctantly erased it, on the advice of C. R. Leslie when he saw the picture.
With all our work done we took leave of the farm household and came up to town in December, parting from one another where the Waterloo Road and Strand met, thinking that we should often again enjoy such happy fellowship, but, alas! no two dreams are alike. Never did we live again together in such daily spirit-stirring emulation. I feel this deeply in my old age when I alone am left of the little band who painted together with so much mutual love and aspiration. I have dwelt much on homely details of the time; they carry with them a significance that no artist will deny.
Brown had now taken a studio at the back premises of a house
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occupied by Bailey the sculptor; it was capacious enough for the large picture of Chaucer still in progress. We found him with the picture of “Christ washing Peter's Feet” on the easel, and he was conducting it on our plan communicated at Worcester Park Farm. The head of St. John and that of another disciple were painted from W. M. Rossetti. My father sat for one of the disciples and I for another, but as these were in tone they were not much dependent upon the strict principle of our system, and in the end they were altogether repainted, either from other sitters or from fancy. I never understood why Brown, being the independent thinker that he was, represented Peter as a burly man of sixty, since the active career of the apostle took place after the event recorded, before his martyrdom, which occurred at least thirty years later.
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For God is Perfection, and whoever strives for Perfection strives for something that is God-like.—Michael Angelo.

True painting can be learnt only in one school, and that is kept by Nature.—Hogarth.

Naturally all my friends came to see the work done in the country. Gabriel felicitated me upon the choice of my sacred subject, saying he had quite recently read the whole Testament through from the first word to the last, in the hope of finding some hitherto untreated circumstance suitable for painting, and he had not noticed the text in Revelation. Miss Siddal kindly came to let me study the effect of the light and shade on her beautiful copper-coloured locks. She told me that she had seen a small print in a Catholic book shop illustrating “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock,” which was in every particular exactly like my conception even to the flitting bat, Christ crowned and robed, and carrying a lantern, as I had designed my figure.
The statement was highly provocative of fear that at least some of my original thoughts had been anticipated. I therefore went at once to see the print, but the only resemblance was in the fact that the Saviour was standing and knocking at a door. In truth all the accessories which had given so much value in my eyes to the subject did not exist at all, but had been transplanted from my picture to the Overbeckian design by the imagination of the lady. One of my first duties was to design the lantern; the windows and openings had to be carefully studied in relation to the rays they would emit from the central light. It had to be made in metal; it seemed to me that tin might serve the purpose, which could be lacquered to represent gold. A metal worker agreed to make it for a small sum, but afterwards represented that the cost would scarcely be greater if made in brass, and as this seemed too trifling a consideration, I assented, but was not a little dismayed eventually at finding the price was over seven pounds.
On moonlight nights at Chelsea I was able, by some dried tendrils of ivy—which I had brought from the door in Surrey and fastened to an old board—to advance what I had done on the spot itself. In the daytime I worked on “ The Hireling Shepherd ,” and in the intervals I was directing my new pupil exactly on the system I had adopted with Rossetti. Thus Martineau's work progressed beyond expectation.
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As a pleasant and cheering distraction I occasionally dined with the Collins family. Nothing could well exceed the jollity of these little dinners. Old Mrs. Collins did not make our smoking after the meal a reason for absence from our company. We were all hard-worked people enjoying one another's society, and we talked as only such can. Many of the stories that were told were of artists and authors of the last generation. Verily a man has not played his full part when he is buried. While yet his contemporaries old or young have tongues wherewith to re-echo and reanimate his unforgettable personality, he is still often called upon to come forth and repeat his rôle. David Wilkie, with his simplicity, his absent-mindedness, and his strong Scotch accent; Turner, with his unpolished exterior and his direct and piquant speech;  

Design for Lantern in “The Light of the World”


Constable, with his contempt for modish sophistication of Nature, and, besides these, others who had been of mark only for a passing season, not infrequently came before us. Bailey the sculptor, to wit, was a man who took an ephemeral success as one betokening unending glory for himself, and on the strength of this prospect drove about in handsome equipages until one day he discovered that the summer warmth on his brilliant wings had gone by for ever. The view of Morland lying brutally unconscious in drink's debasing slavery was revealed to us, a warning to all men sent out on the mission of life; and how our emotions changed their notes in the successive scenes that came before us! Records as imperishable as the life of the figures on Keats' Greek urn. In talking of painters like Romney, Constable, Turner, and Leslie, who had found friends and patrons in Lord de Tabley and Lord Egremont,
page: 224
full recognition was made of the services of those lovers of painting in opening a way for British art outside of portraiture, to which at first it seemed confined. “Do not, however,” said Wilkie Collins, “think that these noblemen were any but signal exceptions in their attitude towards Art. The majority of the English aristocracy have no care for their country's art. The works of the old Masters, done for the satisfaction of the Church centuries ago, which some of them collected, might all have been bought for English collections without advancing  

Mrs. Combe

J. E. Millais]


native art one whit. The men who really opened the way for you painters were the manufacturers when finding themselves rich enough to indulge in the refinements of life. ‘We want works that will be within our own intelligence and that are akin to our own interests,’ they said. ‘Jupiter, Venus, and Minerva, and such gentlemen and ladies may be proper in ancient houses, and the pictures of the Virgin and Child, as also subjects of apocryphal tradition, are strictly in the vogue, but we want living ideas within our own comprehension and on the walls of our homes, landscapes familiar to us, and illustrations of a literature breathing national sentiment. Those were the appreciators who founded English art, and they showed their good common-sense.
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You artists and the whole country owe them a debt of gratitude for having done it, and given English painters something better to do than in doctoring old Masters suffering from decay.” Wilkie Collins by family tradition had knowledge of the interests of Art for more than one past generation; thus he spoke with the more experience on the matter.
Amongst my studio visitors were Mr. and Mrs. Combe. They invited me to spend Christmas with them and join in the Oxford festivities, particularly the celebration in Magdalen Hall. I gladly availed myself of this pleasant opportunity; it was evident that they overflowed with good thoughts for me, as for all their protégés. Mr. Combe had, some  

Conversazione, Oxford

W. H. H.]

few years before, been appointed head of the University Press. When he came into control the printing of Bibles and Prayer-Books and the publishing of a few choice Classics, although a business monopoly, was in a languishing condition, and occasioned an annual loss to the University, but his energy and capacity had already changed the deficit into a gain. He lived in one of the two conjoined houses in the quadrangle. The architecture of the group of buildings was as bare as it could well be, but by means of a basin in the courtyard, with a fountain shaded by a weeping willow, the luxuriant growth of plants and flowers around the
Sig. VOL. I. Q
page: 226
confines of the square, with the occasional visits of peacocks from a yard behind, a park-like look was given to the small enclosure. The sitting-room had ranges of books at one end, and many choice prints and drawings about it. A fragment of a beautiful drawing of Mrs. Combe was framed over the mantelpiece. It had been done with great care by Millais, and was just completed when the doctor entered. He had been the link which had brought the new friends together, and he was at once asked to pronounce on the likeness. It happened to provoke some merry strictures, on which Millais snatched it away, tore it in bits, and threw them into the fire; the face was rescued by Mr. Combe. Mrs. Combe, though still young, was the foster-mother of the whole parish; she knew the troubles of every house, and left neither  

J. Hungerford Pollen


good, bad, nor indifferent without her solid sympathy. I had not been long her guest before Dr. Acland and John Hungerford Pollen called upon me, and so began lifelong friendships; both were at the time amateur artists, the latter having already painted the roof of Merton College Chapel.
I had looked forward to my Oxford visit with no little nervousness. It seemed appalling to face the learned fellows and dignitaries of this University, and I knew that my introduction would be to them rather than to the undergraduates. The apprehension of their stiff exclusiveness made my experience of their genial and unaffected hospitality the more enjoyable. My estimable friends had won me favour, and on my presentation it seemed that every elder had put on his suit of youth, and had hidden away all his just claims to importance. I received a shower of invitations.
One morning at a college breakfast with many dons present, each of whom had soon become warmly engaged in general conversation, my neighbour quietly asked me to reveal to him the true purpose of Pre-Raphaelitism. I essayed it in confidential tones, charging him to dismiss all explanations published in the Press, and went on to say that British art when installed under George III was encouraged by what seemed the best judgment to take the highest development of Italian art as the starting point of its own emulative ambition. Reynolds in 1769, it must be remembered, was then the spokesman of the new Academy just founded by the King; he declared his belief that the result of this school would be so glorious that its work would soon eclipse that of all present art, and he was thus prejudiced to look upon the
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founders of all Academies, not excepting Le Brun, as the grand luminaries of the past. The requirements of the age and the special character of our Race were equally ignored; but the genius evolved by the British School did not owe its existence to the exotic system prescribed; the “grand style” had no congenial atmosphere in which to flourish. The first President pronounced that rules are not the fetters of genius, but only of those who have none. When he worked at his highest he proved a force, in each of the double meanings of his words, for although he observed the rules, his inventiveness came from the independent working of his own mind. In accepting traditional convention he certainly expedited the course of each work incalculably; undoubtedly he humoured the prejudices of the conventional connaisseur, but unbiassed mankind was not gained by his one-eighth of pure light and his seven-eighths of scientifically modulated bituminous dark, but by the truths he gathered

Dr. Plumptre


anew from Nature. 1 Reynolds' own kinship with Nature moves the untutored to delight at his seizure of graces and charms which no one before him had secured. But his academic dogma having been preached, it became a merit in the dull and pretentious to show their fetters by rivalling the artificialities of the grand masters. Art was to be kept in bounds from fear of incendiarism, and so fresh fuel was not sought.
While thus speaking I noticed that my other neighbour, having come to a break in the chat with his gossip, turned to hear my treason, and then his companion joined our little circle. From a lingering bashfulness of youth I felt the more need of hushed privacy in my discourse, till suddenly there was a distinct turn all along the table, and a doctor from afar in the most sedately polite manner asked whether I would have the kindness to speak somewhat louder, as he was sure he was not alone in wishing to hear an exposition of Pre-Raphaelitism. Oh! modest reader, did you ever in youth have such an experience? If so, add to your own cause for trepidation that which I felt owing to the irregularity of my education, and imagine my tremor
Transcribed Footnote (page 227):

1 “When I was in Venice the method I took to avail myself of their principle was this. When I observed an extraordinary effect of light and shade in any picture, I took a leaf of my pocket-book and darkened every part of it in the same gradation of light and shade as in the picture, leaving the white paper untouched to represent the light, and this without any attention to the subject or to the drawing of the figures. A few trials of this kind will be sufficient to give the method of their conduct in the management of their lights. After a few experiments I found the paper blotted nearly alike; their general practice appeared to be to allow not above a quarter of the picture for the light, including in this portion both the principal and the secondary lights; another quarter to be as dark as possible; and the remaining half to be kept in mezzotint or half shadow.”—SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS’ Notes to Du Fresnoy.

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Canon Jenkins, Jesus College, Oxford

W. H. H.]


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in unexpectedly finding myself discoursing to more than a dozen of the learned of the University. For a moment I wavered, but a supreme effort sent me on once more, in bungling manner doubtless; the proposition that had to be urged was that while artists must ever be beholden to example from the past for their tuition, the theme that they treat must be new, or they must make it so by an infiltration of thoughts belonging to their own time. In our art, as in all others, I urged, there are continually new prizes to be found.
  • The fair new forms
  • That float about the threshold of an age,
  • Like truths of science waiting to be caught,
  • Crying, “catch me who can,” and make the catcher crowned.
“Stop, pray,” said a don; “please tell us whom you quote?”
“I was quoting a passage from Tennyson's Golden Year , which expresses my meaning better than anything I could say,” I replied.
“Tennyson!” was the chorus from several voices. “You don't regard Tennyson as a poet,” and some lines from the May Queen were cited to settle the question.
I gave up that poem as poor, but justified my admiration by quoting others. The digression went on warmly, and soon all the church clocks rang out our dismissal. Throughout the whole of the gracious and pleasant converse with those whose friendship I was happy enough to make in Oxford there was but one man, a fellow of Jesus, who endorsed my enthusiastic defence of Tennyson. I was often invited to various college dinners, and there continued my arguments as to the need of a reform in art. It is noteworthy that there was less disposition to yield to me on the point of the excellence of the future poet laureate and D.C.L. than on the reasonableness of the views of our new School of art. How rarely new teachers find ready converts among their elders! In Memoriam my courteous and learned hosts were ill-disposed even to consider. Whatever they conceded to me in art questions was the more charitable as they were pledged to approval of Ary Scheffer and Overbeck, examples of whose work were displayed with pride on the walls of the most advanced of art admirers. They naturally regarded my rebellion against authority—at least on this point—as an example of youthful self-sufficiency.
Before I left the University I had cordial invitations to visit my disputants at Commemoration, to which the Combes had also asked me to return.
I worked steadily at “ The Hireling Shepherd ” till the sending-in day. With this departed, I devoted myself to finish the original coloured studies of “ The Two Gentlemen of Verona ” and “Claudio and Isabella”; the latter work however, much exceeded my calculation in the time taxed for its fastidious elaboration.
A certain amateur dealer came when these pictures were standing
page: 230

The Hireling Shepherd

W. H. H.]


page: 231
in their frames. He announced his intention of opening an exhibition of sketches, and, having chanced to hear of mine, he had asked me to contribute them to his collection. I explained that I must defer reply until I had shown them to an experienced friend, because I was obliged to ask a higher price for the smaller one than I had at first proposed. I had hoped to finish it in a week; but notwithstanding incessant diligence it had employed me for three weeks. My visitor urged that I should send both to his rooms, the “ Valentine ” he would strive to sell for me for my price, forty pounds, and if I would fix a small additional sum, say two pounds, on the “Claudio and Isabella,” 1 he would take it at once, he said. I repeated my intention of first gaining a professional opinion of the market value of the works, but on the dealer's insistence that he had only a small  

Study for Shepherd's Head

W. H. H.]

Study for Shepherd's Head

amount to expend, and that he must settle the question ere he went to see other artists’ sketches, I closed with him for seven pounds ten shillings.
The next day Augustus Egg called saying that a friend of his had asked whether I would finish my original study of the “Claudio and Isabella” for him. I explained that I had finished and sold it. My story made him indignant with “the old sharper,” for his friend had proposed to give forty pounds. On the private view of the sketches, the secretary informed me that “ Valentine ” was bought by the dealer for forty pounds, but reduced for me by ten per cent. commission.
Transcribed Footnote (page 231):

1 “Claudio and Isabella” was sold at Foster's Auction Rooms some months after for one hundred and ten pounds, and in another year or two for two hundred and ten pounds.

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Ophelia ” and “ The Huguenot ” were both finished by Millais for the Royal Academy of this year. They were hung well, and were received with whispering respect even tending to enthusiasm. My “ Hireling Shepherd ” was also hung on the line in a good place, and certainly it won many converts on the varnishing morning. I was sorry to see that Madox Brown's “Christ washing Peter's Feet” was posted up above the line in a most unworthy place; even there it looked like a great work, but the artist was justly very sore about its treatment. While he stood near me, frowning more than he perhaps knew, Mr. Francis Grant came up to him and said he had been deputed by his fellow-members to state how much the picture was admired by them, and to explain that the committee had been caused anxiety by the fact that certain madder lake used in some drapery—which was not dry on its arrival—was found to have streamed over the lower part; that Mr. Mulready had cautiously removed the colour, and had used a soft rag to rub away the remaining stain; and finally, he repeated the Academy's congratulations and his own on the picture. The practical outcome of this professed admiration was more than Brown's temper could bear. He glowered at the speaker till the last word, then pivoted on his heels without uttering a remark. The body of the Saviour in the picture was all but nude at the time, Brown having interpreted the passage, “He laid aside His garments,” as having this meaning. That the picture was mainly painted on our system was more conspicuous when the figure was nude, than now, but any discriminating observer will trace our method in the face, arms, and hands of the Saviour, which are left uncovered as they were at first; the pearly, sage dress was added some years later. In all of the exposed parts it may be seen that the transparent colour was put on in streaks, with evidences that the brushes used for the carnations were long and round in shape and were less flat than we should have used, and the opportunity of blending it with soft cross touches while the layer was still wet was lost. Notwithstanding the want of this mystery, the effect at a short distance was rich and imposing. Brown's mastery in colour and form made all fall into fine concord.
The beautifully painted copper bowl will further elucidate the use of our discovery of working over wet white. The picture was in Brown's possession for several years, during which he frequently worked on it, and as frequently improved it, until it became the glorious example of design and colouring we now see. 1
Brown's picture “Pretty Baa Lambs” had been “skied” at the Academy; this, indeed, was serious to him; he had lately married again, and his moderate annuity needed increase. He was about thirty-two
Transcribed Footnote (page 232):

1 It was in the year 1856 that he took up this picture to cover the body with drapery and make other changes. He did this to its manifest advantage, as was always the case when he retouched his pictures. See Hueffer's Life of F. M. Brown, Chap. VII. p. 182.

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years of age, and so far his profession had been only an expense to him; never again did he appear at the Academy.
My pupil Martineau had his picture of “Kit's Writing Lesson” very favourably placed for a first work in the Exhibition.
With these pictures of Brown and Martineau were many others evidencing the influence of our School. Maclise had a painting of “King Alfred in the Danish Camp,” in which the overhanging blossoms of a May tree were elaborated with the utmost precision and delicacy. Arthur Hughes, who had been a steady disciple from the beginning, had a painting of “ Ophelia ,” but this was placed too high to be seen  

Kit's Writing Lesson

R. B. Martineau]


without a ladder, from the steps of which Millais expressed warm congratulation of the poetic younger artist. Many others also were—some with, and others without, avowal—working in our spirit. The system of painting over a wet white ground was tested afterwards throughout the profession. Frith told me a few years later that he had tried it on a cap in the “Derby Day,” and that after persevering for a few hours he produced the most hopeless mess he had ever seen before on any canvas; he therefore wiped it out and painted it in the ordinary way.
The opening day of the Academy went by without inquiries after the price of my “ Hireling Shepherd ,” but it was evident that people were wavering. Weeks passed, and it seemed as though again success was to be indefinitely postponed, when a very courteous letter arrived
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from an unknown gentleman, Mr. Charles Maude of Bath, stating that he was an enthusiastic admirer of the picture, but could not afford the price, three hundred guineas. He did not think this too much, but he wished to know for what sum I would repeat the group of the sheep by itself. I proposed seventy guineas, and he agreed. Mr. Maude then  

Arthur Hughes, by Himself


wrote to say that a friend of his had no less enthusiasm for the “ Hireling Shepherd ” than himself, and that he trusted I would excuse him for inquiring whether I could agree to take the money for it in instalments, one hundred and fifty pounds in a first payment, and the remainder as his friend received his own stipend, quarterly, in sums of about sixty pounds; if so, he would be ready to purchase it. I closed with this offer,
page: 235

Sir Richard Owen, K.C.B.


The robe worn in this portrait was that of Harvey, who discovered the circulation of the blood. Sir R. Owen decreed that he should be buried in it.

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and the same polite gentleman then wrote to say that this friend was his cousin, Mr. Broderip, the magistrate and naturalist, from whom he conveyed to me an invitation to luncheon. This gave me the opportunity of seeing two of the most pleasant old gentlemen I ever had the felicity to meet. Nor was this all, for Mr. Broderip then said that his great and valued friend, Professor Owen, wished to know me, and had asked him to drive me down on an early day to pass the afternoon with him, a proposal which I felt it an honour to accept. Accordingly, with an explanation on the way that our host had been one of my stoutest champions throughout, I was introduced on a sunny summer noon into the portals of the sweet little cottage in Richmond Park which Her Majesty had given him for life.
It so happened on that afternoon there was another painter visiting the Professor. He was quite of the conventional faith; and spite of the fact that the battle over our principles had been raging for three years in the press, he at length, as we were assembled in the sunny little drawing-room, asked, as if it were quite a novel idea, whether I could explain on what grounds I put aside the canons of art which laid down the need of a restricted focus as the scheme of chiaroscuro in a picture, and why I disregarded other laws of effect discovered and composition practised by the greatest Masters. I had entered upon a preamble, when the host held up his hand as by a happy surprise, saying, “By the bye, I must now, while the sun still shines, be allowed to show Mr. Holman-Hunt my bees,” and he led me out to the end of the garden, where, with his large eyes turned on me, he said, “You know, Mr. Painter is a most excellent gentleman, and I am glad to see him here at times, but what he says about art cannot be of interest to any one whatever, and it is certainly not worth your answering, so you must excuse me for interrupting you,” on which he invited my pity for a poor bumble bee, hopelessly intoxicated in a canterbury bell.
The time for my Commemoration visit was now at hand, and I gladly went up to see my friends at Oxford. One of the Fellows of Christchurch, whose acquaintance I had been happy enough to make, was the Rev. J. Gordon, who had been the tutor of Ruskin. He gave me many interesting accounts of his pupil's time at the University; when Ruskin had temporarily lamed his ankle, he obtained permission from Ryman, the print-seller—who had a rich collection of Turner prints and drawings—to go into the back shop and make sketches from some of these. Mr. Ryman was intimate with Turner, and it happened that the latter, coming to Oxford at the time, entered the shop, and seeing the Gentleman Commoner engaged in copying one of his works, asked Ryman who the young man was thus wasting his time. Ryman replied that the stranger was a most enthusiastic admirer of Turner's work, and that nothing would delight him more than to be introduced, at which Turner went forward; thus began the personal friendship between the two.
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I was at the very centre of the High Church party in Oxford; what they had done hitherto in introducing certain changes in the furniture of churches and in breaking down what may be called the beadledom of Church Service was altogether to my taste; but many serious men were anxious about the end these ecclesiastics had in view, and certainly there were utterances by them which seemed ominous of impending priestcraft. One of the new School, for example, deplored that “so beautiful” a monument as the Martyrs' Memorial should be erected in honour of such Protestants as Latimer, Ridley, and Cranmer; yet in those days I found it difficult to believe that any Englishman would so far forget their national character as to desire in sober mind to suppress liberty of conscience. Two independent Movements were affecting the Universities.
The older of the innovations was directed to abolishing the taste for classical architecture, the first example of which was the porch of St. Mary's Church, built in 1637 under Laud's influence. The fashion then established in Oxford slowly degenerated in character to a style of architecture that might be called Hanoverian, without any grace of the Renaissance, bald and heavy, and constructed of stone doomed to unsightly decay. In London, from Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren to Adams and Chambers—with admirable ornamental designs in wood, stone, and metal, carrying out the architect's details—the choice of classicalism had fully justified itself. Although now nowhere in England had Classicalism vitality to claim admiration. In Oxford its heavy structures could only be tolerated as a foil to Gothic buildings. It was not wonderful that the revival of “Gothic” should have been hastily made under the influence of literary reversion to feudal poetry and the picturesque; and perhaps the revulsion was hastened by the memory that the lovely cloisters of Magdalen only escaped destruction in Queen Anne's time through lack of funds for completion of the projected quadrangle, of which the “New Buildings” was the commencement. Perhaps Blore's staircase at Christchurch was the first effort of the attempt at Gothic revivalism. The passion for classical taste died hard and, it may be said, not without a certain honour; in the erection of the Taylor Buildings by Cockerell.
By 1850 the University taste for modern Gothic was established beyond recall; and don and undergraduate indulged in a glossary of terms, despising all styles not of the “correct period.”
While the graduates spread all over the country as squires and parsons, churches and mediæval buildings of “incorrect date” in whole or part, were, under their influence, improved off the face of the earth, to make way for restorations of the approved pattern, and more destruction was wrought than had been suffered by the historical architecture of England since the havoc of Henry VIII or the Puritans. With the dislike of all but one type of design for new buildings, every detail was expected to conform with the approved pattern; and I could only conclude that
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when pictures might be desired for their embellishment, works of revivalist character would alone be sought for.
The second Movement, of later origin, was for the establishment of scientific teaching in the University. Dr. Acland was the chief representative of the proposed reform, and he worked with both discretion and courage. His artistic instincts made him love the picturesqueness of Gothic architecture. The danger from the blindness with which its champions had introduced it was not yet foreseen, and when the building of the Museum was canvassed he joined force with those who favoured one of mediæval design. When, shortly afterwards, the building by Woodward and Deane was in progress, many powerful elders expressed discontent in no measured terms.
The Literature and Art of an age are ever inspired by a kindred spirit, the latter faithfully following the former.
My championship of Tennyson was still challenged, but I have reason to believe that had the name of the author of Ulysses, In Memoriam, and Sir Galahad been uttered in a company of undergraduates at the University at the time, its reception would have been very different from that which their elders, either in the University or outside it, gave it.
The fashion for making robbers, regicides, corsairs, and betrayers of homes and innocence, into heroes of romance, which Byron, Schiller, Goethe, and Shelley had followed, still captivated the elder world. This rebellious fashion had been provoked in natural reaction from the hollowness of pious sentiment expressed in monotonous diction by previous rhymers, and the resultant outburst had found favour in the great genius of its reckless exponents. The prophets of disorder had commanded sonorous metre to their service, and made rivalry, in the race for outrageous liberty, fascinating. Thus while weak-minded readers were left to follow out the sentiment in practice, others of the elect in taste acquiesced that poetry should not be judged by standards of right morals or common sense, though when they put down the affecting volume and took up the newspaper, or engaged in their duties as members of society, they felt disgust at records of wickedness, the suffering of penalty for which had drawn tears on the perusal of the poet's verses. The young of the first years of the nineteenth century who had been enslaved by this bombastic heroism had grown venerable at the time I speak of, and still unquestioningly retained their taste, while a newer generation had found in Keats, Wordsworth, and Coleridge, the manly heroism of simple virtue which Tennyson and Browning followed, a basis on which Chaucer and the early English poets had founded our Verse. Yet a puerile display of false pathos and religion still lingered both in Literature and Painting.
It was high time for the winnowing of chaff from grain. Thackeray, most uncompromising satirist of the mawkish authors who indulged in sickly pathos and fevered sentimentality, had barely yet won general
page: 239
recognition among the Oxford elders, but it was obvious that the undergraduates accepted the bracing influence which he, Carlyle, Browning and Meredith were exercising; the pendulum was in action.
Soon after my return from Oxford I had the pleasure of going to old Mr. and Mrs. Millais and paying the remainder of my debt. Seeing that I was removed from the keen money pressure which had made me agree to the repetition of a group in “ The Hireling Shepherd ,” I longed to paint an original picture instead of a copy, and when I proposed this change to Mr. Maude he agreed without  

W. M. Thackeray


About this time Robert Martineau spoke to me of Edward Lear, 1 and brought me an invitation to his chambers in Stratford Place to see his numberless drawings, which were merely in outline, with little to indicate light, shade or colour.
Lear overflowed with geniality, and at the same time betrayed anxiety as we turned over the drawings, deploring that he had not the ability to carry out the subjects in oil; in some parts of them he had written in phonetic spelling comments which the outlines would not explain— “Rox,” “Korn,” “Ski,” indulging his love of fun with these vagaries.
When I was about to take leave he frankly inquired of me what I should do to make use of such material,
Transcribed Footnote (page 239):


A Sonnet: By Eden Phillpotts

  • Amid the silent lodges of the dead,
  • Beneath the terraced hills of Italy,
  • He lies, with sunny cypress at his head
  • And mourning purple of the fleur-de-lys
  • Upon his marble. Roses of white and red
  • Twine there, and round about the mystery
  • Of olive groves their twinkling silver spread
  • Along the sapphire of the Inland Sea.
  • Sleep, laughter-maker of a vanished day.
  • 10What merry jester of them all can vie
  • With your mad fancies, whimsical and gay?
  • No sorrow here! We'll pass this pillow by
  • In happiness of gracious thoughts, and pay
  • The tribute of a smile; but not a sigh.

Mr. Phillpotts writes: “Among the notes and sketches brought home with me from my holiday in France and Italy, I find this little sonnet, written last month. Edward Lear, the famous author of the Nonsense Book —perhaps the first real nonsense book ever written—lies at San Remo, and his flowery grave inspired these lines.”

Edward Lear was born in the year 1812, and became a popular painter. The Earl of Derby, who was his patron, sent him to Italy and Greece, where he painted many landscapes which were exhibited in the Royal Academy. His Nonsense Book was dedicated to the children of the Earl of Derby, and subsequently went through twenty-nine editions.

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whether, in short, I could, as Roberts and Stanfield did, realise enough to paint pictures from pencil sketches. “For when I set myself to try,” he added, “I often break down in despair.”
“To speak candidly,” I said, “I could not attempt to paint pictures in a studio from such mere skeleton outlines.”
He looked dejected and said, “What can I do?”
“Let us consider a particular one,” I said, and took up a drawing of “The Quarries of Syracuse.” “Now the rocks forming this were,  

Edward Lear, Aged 50

W. H. H.]


you tell me, of limestone. Without going back to Sicily you could find such weatherworn escarpments and a place where figs grow. Now what more do you want? You have indicated the presence of innumerable rooks. These you could easily paint without leaving England.”
“Oh!” he exclaimed, “I will do this at once, but I should want you to help me.”
“Well,” I said, “I am going to begin a picture at Fairlight, and I am going down to take a lodging in some farmhouse. Will you come with me?”
He said, “Let me save you the trouble. I will go down and find
page: 241
apartments and we will lodge together.” This he promptly did, but a day or two before I started, a letter came from him, saying that it was unwise to do things on the impulse of the moment, and that he felt we ought at once to take precautions not to make our living together a cause of possible discord; that we should arrange to divide the house, only meeting at meals, but I was too busy to give much attention to this caprice. William Rossetti, having a week's vacation, agreed to come with me, and we went down together. The unexpected guardedness of Lear's reception of us was amusing, but he gradually thawed, and by the end of dinner he was laughing and telling good stories. When the cloth was cleared he said, “Now I had intended to go to my own room, but, if you do not mind, I'll bring down some of my drawings and pen them out here, so that we may all be together.” While going over his pencil lines with ink he continued his conversation with William in Italian, in order to begin a course of lessons which I was desirous to receive. The proposed separate apartments soon became a joke, and he explained laughingly that a dread had suddenly seized him that I might be a great lover of bulldogs, and that I might come down with two devoted pets of this breed. Dogs of all kinds, small and great, were his terror by night and day.
The Martineaus, who lived close by, had a large Newfoundland dog called Cæsar.
To Lear, a man of six feet, with shoulders in width as of Odysseus, the freaks of this dog were truly exasperating. “How can the family,” said he, “ask me to call upon them when they keep a raging animal like that, who has ever his jaws wide open and his teeth ready to tear helpless strangers to pieces? They say it is only his play. Why, in the paper I lately read of a poor old woman who was set on by just such a beast! It was only his play, they said; yes, but the poor old creature died of it nevertheless; such monsters should not be allowed to go at large. In Albania and Greece the shepherds have dogs for guarding their sheep from wild beasts, and when one is in such countries one cannot wonder if these ferocious creatures sometimes attack strangers, but to keep them as family pets is not to be borne.” In the early morning he occupied himself in an extensive correspondence; sometimes he would write as many as thirty letters before breakfast. For the first ten days he accompanied me to the cliffs. Thus he obtained acquaintance and watched my manner of work; professing himself satisfied with this, he found some limestone rocks, which served exactly for his “Quarries of Syracuse,” a canvas some five feet in length, and his occupation separated us till the evening meal. With a great deal of joking and singing,—for he had a delicate tuneful voice,—he exercised me in Italian, and beat out new Nonsense Rhymes which afterwards found a place in his popular volumes.
Lear, on account of his health, had made Rome his home for thirteen years. He was twenty years my senior, but this did not
Sig. VOL. I R
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prevent him from addressing me as “Pa,” and enacting the part of a son.
Certainly fate could not have sent me a more agreeable or helpful companion to prepare me for my settled purpose of painting in the East. While we were at work out of doors he would tell stories of the incidents of his many wanderings, thorough Calabria, Albania, and Greece, of which he had hundreds of drawings. He surprised me by revealing that he was uncombative as a tender girl, while at the same time the most indomitable being in encountering danger and hardship. Nothing daunted him, and yet no one could be more fearful than he of certain difficulties he had to face as the fixed conditions of travelling. He would rather be killed than fire a pistol, horses he regarded as savage griffins; revolutionists, who were plentiful just then, he looked upon as demons, and Custom officers were of the army of Beelzebub. On the other hand, he had the most unquenchable love of the humorous wherever it was found. Recognition of the ridiculous made him a declared enemy to cant and pretension, and an entire disbeliever in posturers and apers of genius either in mien or in the cut of the coat or affectation of manners. He kept what he called “Ye Booke of Hunte,” in which he wrote down my answers to inquiries as to pigments and systems of painting, and he exercised me with funny sentences in Italian of every variety.
While the singer of nonsense rhymes and I were busy working, a letter from Millais announced that he would come down on Saturday night and spend Sunday with us. Lear had not seen him, but he was anxious to know what manner of man this already widely renowned one was. I had described him so glowingly that Lear remarked he was indeed a fit being to bring in the “Millaisnuem” of art, but he inquired, “Is he disposed to lord it over others?” “Well,” I replied, “you know there are men who are good-nature itself, but who have a knack of always making others carry their parcels.” “Oh, but I won't carry his!” said Lear. “Yes, you will,” I returned; “you won't be able to refuse.”
When the visitor arrived good comradeship was quickly established. The next day we started early to reach Winchelsea and Rye, and take our chance for luncheon at the inn. We descended to the beach by Fairlight Cliffs, where we walked between pools of water left by the receding tide. These had been undisturbed and clear as crystal to the bottom where families of crabs were basking in the sun. On our approach they began to burrow into the sand, raising little mounds behind them; we had not walked far when we came upon cuttlefish bones lying about, clean and unbroken. Millais, when he had picked up a few, declared that he would take them home. The argument that they could be bought at any chemist's in London availed nothing, neither did the remark that with our system of painting they were scarcely wanted. Millais said he had never before seen such good ones, and
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that a painter never knew when he might find them essential, so he filled a large handkerchief with the spoil. At the end of ten minutes he came up to me and coaxingly said, “I say, carry these for me now, like a good fellow, do.” Lear was already exploding with laughter, while I said, “I am not going to spoil you. I will put them down here; no one will take them, and you can get them on our return, or carry them yourself, my dear boy.” Millais said, “They might be trodden upon,” and could not understand why Lear laughed so helplessly, but his ardent good humour induced Millais to appeal to him. “You carry it for me, King Lear,” he said. At which that monarch of merriment, doubled up with laughter, declared that he would take the bundle, which he did with such enjoyment that he was incapable of walking sedately while the memory of my prophecy was upon him. “He doesn't carry his own cuttlefish,” passed into a proverb amongst us.
We were all delighted with the place we had walked to see. We examined the church and the country round about, which made such an impression upon Millais that two years later he returned with Mike Halliday as his pupil, and painted “L'Enfant du Regiment” and “The Blind Girl” while he superintended his pupil in painting the background of “Measuring for the Wedding Ring.” Both Thackeray and Leach were guests at different times. I took occasion soon after to go again to Winchelsea, and made a pencil drawing of the city gate and the hillside, which I gave to Coventry Patmore.
At the end of a fortnight the heavenly weather we began with was broken up by a great storm, and although this disturbance passed away, the interval was followed by a succession of rainy days, causing woeful interruption to out-of-door work.
One calm morning, on arriving at my cliff, there was so thick a sea mist that I could not see the distance. Leaving my picture-case still closed, I spread my rug and took out a book to read. I was disturbed by advancing footsteps, and, on looking up, a visitor—proved by canvas and portentous easel in hand to be a painter—was close upon me. As I did not wish to encourage interruption, I resumed my study. Soon my brother of the brush stood behind, challenging me with “A fine morning!” I said, somewhat curtly, that it was not much to my taste; but my visitor remained. He inquired whether I was making a sketch of the spot in oil- or water-colour, and chattered on that many distinguished artists had been working in the neighbourhood lately. Clint had only left last week. Did I know him? Tom Danby had also been sketching there. “Do you know him?” “Yes; indeed, in my small and choice collection, I am happy in being the possessor of a picture by him,” I said. At this his opinion of me seemed to grow, and he talked of other celebrated artists and of what they were doing, not at all discouraged by my show of desire to continue my reading. At last I hazarded the remark that painters of late appeared to make a great point of working direct from Nature. “Yes,” he responded, “all but the
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Pre-Raphaelites.” “Oh!” I said, “I understand that they make a principle of doing everything from Nature.” “That's their humbug; they try to make ignorant people believe it; but, in fact, they do everything in their own studios.” At this I looked up from my book and said, “I have been assured positively that, whatever their failings and incapacity, they do give themselves the chance of getting at truth by going to the fountain-head, so your statement to the contrary surprises me. May I ask whether you speak from hearsay or from your own knowledge?” He said, “You have been entirely imposed upon. I know them as well as I know myself.” “Personally?” I asked, looking fixedly at him. “Yes,” he said, “and they are all thorough charlatans. Don't you know how they do their landscapes? I will tell you. I've seen them do it. When they want to paint a tree they have one single  

The City Gate, Winchelsea

W. H. H.]


leaf brought to them, and a piece of the bark, and they go on repeating these until they have completed their Brummagem tree. They paint a field in the same manner, repeating one single blade of grass until the whole space is covered; and they call that Nature. Once, indeed, I saw the root of a tree fresh from the ground taken into Millais' studio.” “By Jupiter!” I ejaculated, “I am quite surprised to learn that they are such barefaced impostors.” Whereupon my visitor wished me “good morning,” saying that he was glad he had been able to undeceive me; and called out as he walked away to a cottage up the glen, where he was painting, “You may take my word for that.” His word for it! It was as good as “the very best authority,” quoted often then and now for enforcement of conclusions! I never saw him again, but I felt a singular satisfaction in the thought of the pleasant quarter of an hour he would pass in seeing my picture at the Royal Academy Exhibition of the following May.
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The “Strayed Sheep ” was only finished after the equinoctial gales and their suite of rains and wind had often marred the day's work, and my extension of the original limits of the picture had proved a more serious addition to my labours than I had contemplated, so that my expenditure had already exceeded the price which was to be paid for the picture.
Lear now had to move his place of painting to the other side of Hastings. He found a spot with an abundance of fig branches rooted in the fissures of the rocks, with rooks in hundreds. Thus he obtained all the materials for his picture, which became an impressive work.
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The Christian Religion under every theory of it, in the believing or the unbelieving mind, must ever be regarded as the crowning glory, or rather the life and soul of our own modern culture. How did Christianity arise and spread among men? It arose in the mystic deeps of man's soul; and was spread abroad by the preaching of the word; by simple altogether natural and individual efforts; and flew, like hallowed fire, from heart to heart till all were purified and illuminated by it, and its heavenly light shone, as it still shines and (as sun or star) will ever shine through the whole dark destinies of man.—Carlyle, Signs of the Times (1829).

Altogether I was in low spirits when I returned to town, and I dreaded to look at my work lest it should be disappointing, but after some three or four days I opened the case, and was relieved to find how far it represented my intention. I then wrote to Mr. Charles Maude, telling him that I had given the additional inches to the canvas solely for my own satisfaction; that I had intended to say nothing whatever about it, but finding that it had resulted in so much extra work, and in causing a substantial increase of value to the picture, I trusted he would not be shocked at my proposing that after all I should make the repetition of the group of sheep in “The Hireling Shepherd” for him as at first proposed, and that I should have “The Strayed Sheep” to sell independently. This was suggested, however, with full acknowledgment of his claim upon the painting for the price agreed upon, for in correspondence I had always spoken of it as his picture. He generously admitted my argument and offered £120, which I gratefully accepted. 1 To this work was awarded in 1853, the prize at Birmingham; which was a double success for our School, as Millais' picture of “The Huguenot” obtained the prize at Liverpool. The recognition of our claims was thus proved to be growing.
I worked steadily throughout the winter on “Claudio and Isabella,”
Transcribed Footnote (page 246):

1 (From a letter of Charles Collins congratulating W. H. H. on the sale of “Strayed Sheep”): “Poor old weather-beaten canvas—thou shalt no longer be bandied about on the shoulders of gunpowder monarchs from marshmallow beds and elecampane plantations to punts and then to potato sheds for a night's resting-place, or still worse, to inflammable outhouses where gunpowder menaces thy existence every minute, but thou shalt rest in silken curtained and carpeted drawing-rooms, safe and clean and, let us hope, appreciated.”

“Those obstinate, fervid, often wrong-headed Pre-Raphaelites, who will set us wrangling with their enthusiastic, ascetic crotchets and poetic extravagances, are strongly represented here....Perhaps the most beautiful and magical picture in the room is that by their Coryphæus, Mr. W. H. H., “Fairlight Downs.”— French Gallery, Athenæum , Oct. 30, 1858.

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Strayed Sheep

W. H. H.]


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and on moonlight nights at the picture, which Ruskin, who visited me, called “The Watchman.” In addition to the long-delayed commission for Egg, I exhibited “New College Cloisters” and “Strayed Sheep” in 1853.
My earliest professional champion and friend, Augustus L. Egg, had watched the “Measure for Measure” picture from the beginning with the greatest kindness, and had always approved of my putting it aside whenever there was an opportunity of doing more pressing work; I now hoped to see him justified in his favourable view of the design.
We had continual signs that there was a division in the camp of our enemies. Every exhibition contained examples of attempts to work from Nature, in avowed, and still more often in unavowed, accordance with our principles, and the efforts made by professed adversaries to appear confident of our defeat were not always very impressive. Neither was their curiosity to see our last production indicative of contempt.
After we had sent in our pictures to the Exhibition we gave up a full day to a task which proved that we had not forgotten our bond of good fellowship. Woolner had in his letters explained his want of fortune in the gold-fields, and had again made art his profession by establishing himself as a portraitist in medallions and busts, and it seemed that his practice in this branch of work was improving. He informed us further that as our names appeared so often in the home newspapers it would be an advantage to him with the colonists to have visible evidence of our friendship. We therefore all met one morning at Millais' studio, and set to work to complete a collection of our portraits, in pencil, chalk, or pastel. Millais did William Rossetti and Stephens. William, if I am not mistaken, did make a beginning with some one, but gave up his purpose. Stephens abstained from any attempt. Gabriel chose me for his subject, and I managed to get Millais and Rossetti done, although the slowness of Gabriel, with his appeals for special posings from me gave the dusk the opportunity of overtaking us before I had quite finished Millais. Rossetti's tendency in sketching a face was to convert the features of his sitter to his favourite ideal type, and if he finished on these lines, the drawing was extremely charming, even if you had to make-believe a good deal to see the likeness, while if the sitter's features would not lend themselves to the pre-ordained form, he went through a stage of reluctant twisting of lines and quantities to make the drawing satisfactory. With unlimited time his work became eminently true and artistic too. On this occasion he had to leave off when my likeness stood between the two stages, so that the verdict given was that it made me twenty years older than I could claim to be, and William Rossetti suggested that it resembled Rush, a notorious murderer of the day. However, the drawings all went as they were left that evening, and they were framed together to hang in Woolner's
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Dante Gabriel Rossetti

W. H. H.]


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studio at Melbourne, and afterwards in London, not without the desired effect upon his clients, while he was waiting for recognition. 1
On the Sunday before opening day, Augustus Egg came to tell me that “Claudio and Isabella” had obtained an excellent place in the first room of the Academy, and, that on the day before the dinner it was much discussed and had won many warm admirers. Lord Grosvenor, I write entirely from memory, said if it could be bought for three hundred guineas he would purchase it as a present for a friend. Egg urged that I should take the opportunity to obtain a fair price for my work, saying that he would cheerfully wait my convenience for the picture of a single figure for the twenty-five pounds he had paid me; but I said, “I shall do no such thing. When I began the picture the market value of the work as proved to be not even fifty-guineas—in fact, only twenty-five; had you not come forward with an offer of this, the picture would never have been done at all. If it had not been put by for my convenience, there would have been just the same temper towards it on its appearance as was shown then to other works of mine.” He pressed his point until I affected indignation, and added, “You little know what I am when thoroughly provoked. The picture belongs to you, and nobody else. You may do what you like with it. Pray, assure Lord Grosvenor that I am truly gratified by his intention, but that I have nothing whatever to do with the possession of the picture.” Afterwards Egg asked me to come and have a little dinner with him alone at Greenwich, to “make it up”; he made a speech, and I returned thanks to him as my patron. Some three years later, I received, as a memento, a beautiful old-fashioned sideboard which had been turned out of Kensington Palace when re-furnished, and which he had rescued; and we remained the dearest friends till he died. How I love now to call up his handsome, kindly face, sitting at table with his dear prism at his side! 2
I ought here to add that a few nights after my interview with the Academician who had originally given me a commission and had then withdrawn it, in Egg's presence he boasted, “Young Hunt called on me the other morning, asserting that I had given him a commission for fifty guineas, but I soon told him that I had never done so; and he showed me some designs, which I declared to him candidly were odious and full of affectation.” At this Egg said, “Stop!” From each at table he asked, “Were you not at Foster's two years ago with Charles Reade?” When all had remembered, he went on, “Did or did not —— come in boasting that he had asked Hunt to paint a picture of one or two figures for fifty guineas?” Egg would have no evasions, and every one remembered the circumstances. “As for the rest,” he added, “Hunt brought
Transcribed Footnote (page 250):

1 The collection some twenty years after was broken up, some of the portraits being sold at Christie's. The pastel of Rossetti, much rubbed, and in danger of obliteration, was obtained by his brother William, who kindly lent it to me to make an oil painting of it, which I still possess.

Transcribed Footnote (page 250):

2 This he kept at hand to enjoy its mysterious colours.

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Claudio and Isabella

W. H. H.]


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the drawings from you to me. I declare they are admirable, and I have persuaded him to commence the ‘Claudio and Isabella,’ and you shall all judge of it in time.”
—— was silenced, but he never forgave me; men rarely do if they have done you an injustice.
Tom Taylor, who had made an impression of liberality by his enthusiastic article on “ The Huguenot ” in Punch, was now art critic on the Times. The adverse world was beginning to waver; but the concerted oracles guarded themselves against signs of too sudden a conversion.
With such experience as we had, it was amusing to read references to painters as generally leading a lazy, cigar-smoking life. The only artists I ever knew who achieved work of note in any sense whatever, went first through a steady training of several years, and afterwards entered their studios with as unvarying a punctuality as business men  

W. M. Thackeray


attend their offices, worked longer hours than these, and had fewer holidays, partly because of their love for Art, but also because of their deep sense of the utter uselessness of grappling with the difficulties besetting the happy issue of each contest, except at close and unflinching quarters.
About the end of 1852 I had the happiness to be chosen as one of the original members of the Cosmopolitan Club; its meetings in Charles Street were in continuation of less formal ones held there when G. F. Watts used the room as a studio. When he relinquished it, his artistic and other friends had taken steps to keep together and extend the circle of remarkable men of differing intellectual activities whose association had represented the talking clubs of Dr. Johnson's time.
One large wall of the room was covered by the masterly composition painted in the Villa Careggi, Italy, by the late occupant, and then called, “Theodore and Honoria.” It illustrated a story from Boccaccio, and was bought by the Cosmopolitan Club. It was the more interesting in my eyes because since the cartoon days at Westminster Hall none outside Watts' private circle had had the opportunity of seeing works of importance by his hand. In the painting as it stood, there were passages of form and colour which Titian or Veronese might have been satisfied to claim. Two portraits, heads of young ladies, were also temporarily there, which at any epoch of art would have commanded high esteem, but which in the existing age of vulgar portraiture courted special enthusiasm.
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There was ever a throng in the room of the true working men of the time; English literary men, artists, statesmen, and noblemen met together in a spirit of unreserve truly enjoyable. Thackeray was a member of this club, and it was here that I first set eyes upon this wondrous delineator of the hidden impulses of humanity. I had read all of his books I could lay hands on. Of all modern authors he was the one to whom I felt most reason for gratitude, in that in place of general moralising he interpreted into contemporary and personal language the passions of life. I looked at him with hardly concealed  

Austin Layard

G.F. Watts]


awe, but his manner seemed to withdraw demand for such homage for him. Surveying his six feet of somewhat burly build standing there with hands in his pockets, it was impossible not to class him in type with others of past ages who had been daring proclaimers of a new perfection. That broad and soaring cranium, that short nose, that full face, with large eyes and well-advanced chin, made him brother to Socrates, Tintoretto, Hobbes, Sobieski, and Hogarth, who each denounced the corruption of his time. It was surely no accident that this prophet should bear a kindred stamp with such heroes.
Another opportunity specially appreciated by me at this time was my
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meeting with the Eastern traveller, Sir Austen Henry Layard, who came to the club on his return from adventurous wanderings and his invaluable excavations in the Mesopotamian valley. I told him how two years earlier, I had lost the appointment of draftsman to his expedition only by being one day too late in my application, and that my passion for the East he loved so much had not waned, for I was then on the point of going to Syria. With spontaneous good nature he thereupon gave me advice, and furnished me with letters to several officials of high standing in my probable line of route.
Proceeding with my painting on “The Light of the World,” a board in the balcony of my studio at Chelsea was so adjusted that from the street scarcely anything could be seen by day through the window which lit my canvas; by night the venetians were down, with intent to hide me and the easel completely. I would sit at my work from 9 p.m. till 4 a.m., when I took a run by the river before retiring to rest, and this I continued till the moon no longer suited. Thus, with intervals, I went on for some months.
Once when I was riding on the omnibus to Chelsea, the driver—talkative about the characters of an eccentric kind peculiar to the neighbourhood—having spoken with amusement of Carlyle, of his staid aspect, his broad-brimmed hat, and his slow gait, added he had been told “as how he got his living by teaching people to write,” and he mentioned other odd characters who were unknown to me. “But I'll show you another queer cove if you're coming round the corner,” he went on. “You can see him well from the 'bus; he is in the first floor, and seemingly is a-drawing of somethink. He does not go to bed like other folks, but stays long after the last 'bus has come in; and, as the perlice tells us, when the clock strikes four, out goes the gas, down comes the gemman, opens the street door, runs down Cheyne Walk as hard as he can pelt, and when he gets to the end he turns and runs back again, opens his door, goes in, and nobody sees no more of him.” But that night the “cove” was not there, as it turned out, and the driver said, with disappointment, “Ah! it is unlucky; this ain't one o' his nights.”
I had modelled a head for the Christ, taxing my friends in turn from whose features anything could be gained. Appreciating the gravity and sweetness of expression possessed by Miss Christina Rossetti, I felt she might make a valuable sitter for the painting of the head for which my plaster model but in parts served. She kindly agreed, and Mrs. Rossetti brought her. I decided to use the opportunity afforded by the sitting to work direct on the canvas rather than make an independent drawing of her, otherwise I might now have a memento of her of great interest; but for me the practice of making separate studies of vital parts of a picture does not always bring a gain commensurate with the loss entailed by it; on the canvas itself the surrounding forms and lines often suggest improvement of the initial idea which brings the
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work into harmony of expression and meaning, while by use of a separate drawing this is often impaired.
When my picture was near completion, Augustus Egg came concerning a design of “ The Awakened Conscience ” which I had shown to him. The pathetic verse in Proverbs, “As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather, so is he that sings songs to a heavy heart,” had led me to this subject when thinking of a human interpretation of the idea in “The Light of the World.” My desire was to show how the still small voice speaks to a soul in the turmoil of life. Egg had been talking of it to Mr. Thomas Fairbairn, and the latter took so much interest in the subject that he commissioned me to undertake the picture for him. Without the support of a patron I could not, in my still precarious position, have ventured to paint it. To do this I deferred the arrangements for my journey to the East.
At this point my good friend Egg urged me carefully to reconsider my resolution to go abroad; he insisted that it was only after a continuously bitter struggle that I had succeeded in getting recognition; that now I had secured an excellent prospect; that the world must be taken as it is, and demands that a painter should identify himself with one class of subject, adhering to that so as to be readily recognised. It was conducive also to a man's fortune to be en evidence, he said. He knew of cases where men, changing their subjects, and being away for a time, had had to begin the battle all over again. “How do you know,” he said, “that your patrons will follow you on new ground, and that is assuming that the untried difficulties alone would not prevent you from making a success of your experiment?”
I insisted that the fashion he spoke of appeared to me an unwholesome one in its influence on art, and that hitherto I had ignored it, as I had already painted pictures of very varying subjects; that an artist should not be limited in his interests; that it was for him to find in the world the overflowing garners of beauty, and to reveal these unconsidered graces to his less-observant fellows. To Egg's argument that I should go only for a few months to make sketches, and come back to paint from them, I demurred that others had done this; Roberts, for example, and Wilkie had intended to do so, that I was convinced the sketches by the latter would have had no great service for pictures had he lived to make use of them. I revealed that my dream of going to Syria had originated when I was a boy at school when the lessons from the New Testament were read, and Art had given my childish project more distinctive purpose, since by means of it I might illustrate the life of Jesus Christ, and truth, wherever it leads, being above price, must increase the beauty of the story of the Divine Man. Art of the highest, illustrating it, has mostly dwelt upon the supernatural and ignored the human aspect, and I contended “every generation should contribute its quota of knowledge, so I wish to do my poor part, and in pursuing it, I ought not surely to serve art the
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less perfectly.” At which Egg yielded the point, saying, “Well, perhaps you're right.”
It was not alone the jeopardy of my professional prosperity that was urged upon my attention as connected with my project. From many quarters came remonstrances more or less similar to those Rossetti had already advanced. Patmore urged graphically that the flora I should find would be only that of overgrown weeds, and that no natural beauty could be found that might not be gained in tenfold degree at home. Ruskin refused to admit that any additional vitality could be gained by designing and painting in Syria and argued that my true function in life was to establish and train a new School of Art, and that this important service would be sacrificed by my wild venture. Friends with a simple personal feeling pressed me to remember the fate of Wilkie, and hesitate before taking a course which would probably end either in an ocean grave, or in the whirlwind of the desert, or in a fever-freighted life to the end of it. While “The Light of the World” stood upon the easel one morning the sound of carriage wheels stopped at the side entrance of my studio at Chelsea, and a loud knocking was followed by the names of the Marchioness of Waterford and Lady Canning. I received the ladies as they ascended to my studio saying that Mr. Ruskin had assured them that they might call to see my picture. My room, with windows free, overlooking the river, was as cheerful as any to be found in London; but I had not made any effort to remove the traces of the pinching I had suffered until lately, and to find chairs with perfect seats to them was not easy. But the beautiful sisters were supremely superior to any surprise. It might have seemed that they had always lived with broken furniture by preference; and when Lady Waterford, taking a chair by the back, placed her knee in the perforated seat, and so balanced her queenly person as she stood looking and talking, it might have been thought that the chair had been prepared for that especial purpose. They were both seriously interested in my picture.
I may say that any occult meaning in the details of my design was not based upon ecclesiastical or archaic symbolism, but derived from obvious reflectiveness. Naturally figures such as language had originally employed to express transcendental ideas typified my meaning, and I found by experience that they proved no distraction from the main purpose. In making a night scene, lit mainly by the lantern carried by Christ, I had followed metaphorical explanation in the Psalms, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path,” with also the accordant allusions by St. Paul to the sleeping soul, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand.” The symbolism was designed to elucidate, not to mystify, truth; and as I gave no explanation of my underlying meaning, and the purpose was in the main interpreted truly, the strictures upon my typical presentment of the subject are surely not founded on reason. My first visitors were interested in the mystic treatment, although they were not on that account prevented from
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looking for delectability in the picture—as indeed a picture should always first be regarded. A few days after this visit a letter came from Lady Canning asking the price of the work. I therefore wrote to Mr. Combe, in accordance with a compact from the beginning, that when finished I should let him know the price before selling it to any other. I asked four hundred guineas, which he immediately remitted to me, so the picture became his.
Living at Chelsea, I was near to the house of the philosopher who had from his genius pure and simple won worship of such degree that it was treason at the time I write of to limit the adoration offered at his shrine. Although Thomas Carlyle was strangely deficient in gladsomeness of soul for a prophet who was to regenerate the beaten-down children of men, the reading of any chapter of his could not leave any reflecting man reluctant to acknowledge the wealth of his sturdy genius. How the revulsion of feeling that has grown up about him since his death can be maintained while his books are within reach, it is difficult for me to understand; it has arisen perhaps from the fact that the clever wife, having no one in her household to whom she could tell her real and imaginary vexations, committed a statement of these to her diary as a confidant that would never speak the secrets to others. What a difference this has made in his reputation from the days when young authors such as James Hannay left my bachelor gatherings for a quarter of an hour, only to look up at the dark house of the great sage, and to distinguish the room he was sitting in by the light in his window! I had read all his books that I had been able to buy or borrow, and with all the reverence of my nature I had seen the living prophet rambling along the streets of the neighbourhood, bent down, as it seemed, with the weight of sad wisdom—for joy it never seemed to have brought. Curious as his aspect was in his slow perambulations, it was noticeable that never did the rudest boor or the most impudent gutter-boy fail to be chilled into dumb propriety when he passed; they were silenced in their noisy idleness by his outer grotesqueness and inner grandeur. It was noticeable to me that none of the thousand entertaining incidents of childish caprice and character, nor the endless surprises of whim in the grown-up children of men, ever made him pause or turn his head; his eyes were at all times turned inwards. Despite this habit of mental absorption, he could at unexpected disturbance awaken to reality. One day walking on a narrow pavement, passing a lady girded with crinoline hoops, he was well-nigh thrown to the ground; disentangling his foot, he recovered his balance of limb and temper, and, unruffled, turned ceremoniously to the lady, raised his hat and made his bow, revealing neither annoyance nor sarcasm. Before this period a visitor, in leaving the Carlyles' to come to me, had told Mrs. Carlyle of his intention, and the lady asked with interest about me and my work, a curiosity in which her husband somewhat participated. This induced me, when I had some pictures finished, to ask my friend to ascertain from her whether the prophet would honour