Rossetti, W[illia]m M[ichael]. "Art New from England. Letter XII." Crayon 2 (23 Apr. 1856), 120-122.


William Holman Hunt, after two years’ absence, returned before the end of last month to England; having visited Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Constantinople, and the Crimea. His return is a boon to art, and a jubilee to his personal friends. Two pictures are the result of his travels, one scriptural, one Egyptian–together with a variety of sketches. I have made acquaintance as yet with the latter only, the former being out of London. Some of the sketches represent vividly, with elaborate drawing in every detail, the ruddy soil of the country about Jerusalem, broken continually by protrusion of white under-surface of rock: one is from the desert–more desert-like in its impression on me–and yet far fuller of varied material, than any representation of this nature with which I was acquainted previously. The artist, with his Pre-Raphaelite conscience, has not given his own or any other man’s preconception of what a desert ought to be–a flat monotony of tawny sand–but presents the fact directly from Nature, and Nature is found to be not limited and monotonous, but infinite, even in her deserts. It remains to be seen under what forms and conditions this thoughtful and original artist, whose every production claims its inalienable faithfulness for itself, will apply his oriental experiences now he is back amid the hats, coats, and trowsers [sic], and the grave social phenomena of civilized nineteenth-century England. . . .

The most valuable sculptured item within my knowledge is that Mr. Thomas Woolner is down with Alfred Tennyson in the Isle of Wight, planning or actually performing a bust of the poet. He is a man capable of understanding his great sitter, personally familiar with him, and already exercised in his task, by the execution of two medallion heads. Whether the other bust of Tennyson said to be contemplated or in progress promises anything of worth I cannot say, having no knowledge of the artist, Mr. Brodie; but I can confidently count upon a happy issue of Woolner’s.

This document was scanned/transcribed from the original source.

Copyright © 1999 Thomas J. Tobin.

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