"Fine-Art Gossip." Athenaeum 1.1550 (11 Jul. 1857), 886.

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A Pre-Raphaelite Exhibition, perhaps the germ of more important self-assertions and reprisals, has lately been held privately in Russell Place, Fitzroy Square. If the Academy will not do justice, they will not be shown justice. Pre-Raphaelitism has taught us all to be exact and thorough, that everything is still unpainted, and that there is no finality in Art. Its errors, eccentricities, and wilful aberrations are fast modifying and softening. Its large hands and feet, ugly, hard, mean faces, gaudy colours, and streaky stipplings have subsided into common sense, good taste, and discretion (the Banbury horse of course excepted). The exhibitors were Mr. C. Collins,–Mr. Martineau (a not very promising beginner),–Mr. Brett, a painter of thought and feeling,–the late Mr. Seddon, of Holy Land reputation,–Mr. W Davis,–Mr. Windus, the painter of ‘Childe Waters,’ a clever and deep picture,–Mr. Wolf, the bird delineator, Mr. Inchbold, well known as a rising landscape poet,–Mr. Hughes, the ‘April Love’ artist,–Mr. Millais, the chief of the sect,–Mr. H. Hunt, the apostle of the order,–and Mr. D. Rosetti [sic], the original founder of the three lettered race, who is generally spoken of by them in a low voice, and is supposed from the fertility of his allegorical sketches to be capable of doing anything, though he does not and will not exhibit in public. His designs in this exhibition are mystic ones, full of thought and imagination, and called ‘Hesterna Rosa,’ ‘Dante's Dream,’ and the ‘Anniversary of the Death of Beatrice.’ The first represents a revel of lovers and their mistresses. The one abandoned and exulting crowns her lover with flowers,–the other is lost in remorse. A baboon, grinning as it scratches itself, typifies the lost sensuality of the first. Mr. Rosetti’s [sic] other sketches, the ‘Blue Closet’ and ‘Mary Magdalen,’ attracted much attention. That he is a poet and thinker, we are the last to doubt,–but sketching is deceptive and dangerous. It is the day-dream of painting. Mr. H. Hunt exhibited a view of the back of the Sphinx’s head–a determined effort, an originality, but quite successful. He wanted to show us what those great, blank eyes had been looking at since they grew out of the stone of Egypt. Mr. Hughes had ‘A Mother’s Grave,’ a child weeping with his head buried in the thick, sharp, full grass. Mr. Collins’s ‘Engagement’ had much merit. Mr. Brett’s ‘Swiss Sketches,’ the Engel Hörner Glacier, and the Rosenhain [sic] moss and delicious blue gentian, were most veracious studies of a minuteness astonishingly faithful. Mr. Martineau’s ‘Taming the Shrew’ and the ‘Spelling Lesson’ were of a more conventional type. Mr. Millais sent Portraits of Mr. H. Hunt and Mr. W. Collins, and a small bit of colour of a jewel richness as usual. Perhaps next to Mr. D. Rosetti’s [sic] thoughtful sketches the most interesting thing was Mr. H. Hunt’s ‘Last Look at England,’ a fine picture of departing emigrants. The mother weeping, the spendthrift shaking his fist at the rascally old place that has stripped him of everything,–a Hogarth fertility of thought pervades the picture. We must not forget Mr. Inchbold’s ‘Mid-day on the Lake of Thun,’ and a ‘March Bank,’ prodigies of loving labour and piercing eyesight. On the lake autumn has just begun to gild and crimson the vine-leaves; through a gap in the trees of the distant orchard we see the meadow yellow in the sun, while the blue lake gleams with the reflection of the rival sky.

This document was scanned/transcribed from the original source.

Copyright © 1999 Thomas J. Tobin.

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