"The Pictures of the Season." Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine Jul. 1850, 82.


Apropos of aberrations, we have a word to say, which may as well be said here as elsewhere. Affectation, however, is a more suitable word for the mountbank [sic] proceedings of a small number of artists who, stimulated by their own conceit, and by the applause of a few foolish persons, are endeavouring to set up a school of their own. We allude, [sic] to the pre-Raphaelites. Let not Messrs Millais, Hunt, Rosetti [sic], & Co. suppose, because we give them an early place in this imperfect review of the exhibition, that we concede to them an undue importance. As to admiration, we shall presently make them aware how far we entertain that feeling towards them. Meanwhile, let them not plume themselves on a place amongst men of genius. Just as well might they experience an exaltation of their horns, because their absurd and pretentious productions get casually hung next to pictures by Landseer or Webster. It appears they have got into their wise heads certain notions that the ideal of expression is to be found in the works of the artists who flourished previously to Raphael. And they have accordingly set to work to imitate those early masters, not only in the earnestness of purpose visible in their productions, but in their errors, crudities, and imperfections–renouncing, in fact, the progress that since then has been made; rejecting the experience of centuries, to revert for models, not to art in its prime, but to art in its uncultivated infancy. And a nice business they make of it. Mr. Dante Rosetti [sic], one of the high-priests of this retrograde school, exhibits at the Portland Gallery. Messrs Millais and Hunt favor the saloons [sic] of the Academy. Ricketty children, emaciation and deformity constitute their chief stock in trade. They apparently select bad models, and then exaggerate their badness till it is out of all nature. We can hardly imagine anything more ugly, graceless, and unpleasant than Mr Millais’ picture of Christ in the carpenter’s shop. Such a collection of splay feet, puffed joints, and misshapen limbs was assuredly never before made within so small a compass. We have great difficulty in believing a report that this unpleasing and atrociously affected picture has found a purchaser at a high price. Another specimen, from the same brush, inspires rather laughter than disgust. A Ferdinand of most ignoble physiognomy is being lured by a pea-green monster intended for Ariel; whilst a row of sprites, such as it takes a Millais to devise, watch the operation with turquoise eyes. It would occupy more room than the thing is worth to expose the absurdity and impertinence of this work. Mr Hunt’s picture of a Christian Missionary sheltered from Druid pursuit is in as ridiculous taste as any of the group.

This document was scanned/transcribed from the original source.

Copyright © 1999 Thomas J. Tobin.

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