"Exhibition of the Royal Academy. The Eighty-Fourth." Art-Journal 14 (1 Jun. 1852), 165-176.


No. 556. ‘Ophelia,’ J. E. Millais. This is an interpretation of the Queen’s description of the death of Ophelia to Laertes, certainly the least attractive and least practicable subject in the entire play. The artist has allowed himself no license, but has adhered most strictly to the letter of the text. Ophelia was drowned chanting snatches of old tunes, and she was "incapable of her own distress." Thus the picture fulfills the conditions of the prescription, but there are yet other conditions naturally inseparable from the situation, which are unfulfilled. The description of the brook is admirable; we are told of its summer stream and its winter flood. Yet what misconception soever may characterise these works, they plainly declare that when this painter shall have got rid of the wild oats of his art, with some other of his vegetable anomalies, his future promises works of an excellence, which no human hand may have yet excelled. . . .

No. 592. ‘The Hireling Shepherd,’ W. H. Hunt.

"Sleepest or wakest thou jolly shepherd,

Thy sheep be in the corn;

And for one blast of thy minikin mouth,

Thy sheep shall take no harm."

The shepherd having caught a death’s head moth, is showing it to a maiden: both figures are seated on the grass. The scene is a meadow with trees, bounded on one side by a field of ripe corn, and on the other by a field just reaped; but moral sentiment–although the profession of the picture–is altogether superseded by an overweening desire for eccentric distinction. A column might be devoted to consideration of the work, but we abstain from analysis and comparisons. . . .

No. 1091. ‘The devout childhood of St. Elizabeth of Hungary,’ C. Collins. "If she found the doors of the chapel in the palace shut, not to lose her labour she would kneel down at the threshold, &c." We find, therefore, a girl kneeling close against the chapel door; but the manner of her kneeling rather resembles listening than an act of devotion. The manner the picture is that called pre-Raffaelitism.

This document was scanned/transcribed from the original source.

Copyright © 1999 Thomas J. Tobin.

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