Rossetti, William M[ichael]. "Art News from England.–No. 3." Crayon 1 (27 Jun. 1855), 407-409.


Apart from general mis-management, however, a "dead set" at Pre-Raphaelitism is sufficiently apparent this year. Fervent public recognition of his merits made it the interest of the Academy to recruit their body with Mr. Millais; and they seem to have determined that, having conceded thus far on compulsion, they will concede no further, but put down the movement summarily, in the persons of its continually increasing adherents, by sheer suppression of their contributions. A hopeful attempt, for the material power is in the Academy’s hands; were it not only that truth is wont uniformly to refuse being suppressed.

Millais’s picture, of which I gave a brief account last month, is beyond compare the great picture of the exhibition. Nowhere else does one see either intense and true sentiment, or thorough artistic expression of it, of the same order.

. . . Landseer himself, by-the-bye, does not exhibit this year–nor does Mulready; the two absentees of the old school who deserve to be seriously regretted; Holman Hunt shares their eclipse.

. . . Two book upon Art have come into my hands during the month. The first one is one of which your public knows as much as ours, or more–a volume of "Art Hints," on architecture, :sculpture, and painting, by a countryman of yours, Mr. Jarvis. It appears to me to be characterized by acuteness, independence, and high purpose. On one point, however, in which I feel a deep interest, that of Pre-Raphaelitism, I am pretty confident that Mr. Jarvis speaks without any personal knowledge of the English works to which that name is applied. The tenor of his remarks is fitly applicable exclusively to German (so-called) Pre-Raphaelites, whom I should rather term would-be Raphaelites; and it is by an entire misconception that he winds up by bringing in Holman Hunt as an example of the same school. The two things are simply at the Arctic and Antarctic poles of Art. The whole system of the Germans consists in pre-conception of something that they have got to do–some system of Art to carry out, some range of subject, some range of embodiment, to conform to: the whole system of the Englishman consists in the utter rejection of all pre-conception–the determination that, beyond the primary act of inventing their subjects, and, in these, taking the entire field of what is representable (tending, indeed, far rather to our own day, than to any past religious or social epoch), they will go straight to Nature, and her alone; forget everything about classicism, and mediævalism, and revivalism, and embody their own new thoughts according to the very sight of their own extant eyes.

William M. Rossetti

This document was scanned/transcribed from the original source.

Copyright © 1999 Thomas J. Tobin.

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