Rossetti, W[illiam] M[ichael]. "Art News from England.–Letter 7." Crayon 1 (31 Oct. 1855), 277-279.

excerpt

A point connected with the Paris Exhibition, which does not seem yet to have excited much attention, but which will shortly rise into importance, is that if the prizes to be distributed. The jury which adjudges the prizes for each section of the exhibition is to be international,–the several nations being represented by members of the jury in proportion to the number of exhibitors from each country. The prizes are to be a gold medal, named grand medal of honor; a silver medal, named first-class medal; and a bronze medal, named second-class medal; to which is added honorable mention. Besides these, the Emperor reserves the right to confer, "on the recommendation of the general assembly of the juries of the three classes (painting, sculpture, architecture, and their allied departments), special marks of public gratitude upon such exhibiting artists as shall be designated on account of their extraordinary merit, or of great service rendered to Art." An Englishman may feel curious to know how his compatriots will stand in this award. It strikes me that the greatest service rendered to Art within in our generation, is the institution of Pre-Raphaelitism; but although its exhibiting professors, Hunt and Millais, will be saved, by the international composition of the jury, from such treatment as they might expect at the hands of their own countrymen singly, one can scarcely imagine that their names will appear in the special lists. . . .

Doubtless, long before you receive this, you will have known the melancholy death of the American artists Woodville, who was resident in London. He has left, I hear, a number of works and sketches which are represented to me as remarkable examples of the Pre-Raphaelite principle. The only work of his that I remember to have seen was a half-figure, exhibited three or four years ago in the British Institution, of a Parliamentarian soldier (if I recollect aright); and which though it had nothing Pre-Raphaelite about it, struck me as solid and manly. . . .

I have but a single new picture to mention; one recently completed by Ford Madox Brown, and named "The Emigrants." Of the painter, I have before had occasion to speak. He is a man thoroughly grounded in Art, of original mind, individual, serious, and expanded; and had given a foreshadow of Pre-Raphaelitism before the movement shaped itself definitively. The present work is highly characteristic, expressive, and new in treatment. The scene is the deck of a steamer, of which one only sees part; behind, billows, sky, and the white English cliffs receding. In front, seen to the knees, and right opposite the spectator, are two figures; a man in the prime of life, close-buttoned to weather the voyage out, with compressed brows, brooding eyes, and firm-set mouth–a man who, not successful at home, is carrying energy and capacity to the distant land; and by his side his wife, holding his hand in hers, losing the last sight of England with eyes tear-brimming, but undismayed, and having under her tight-drawn shawl an infant, whom his little protruding hand only reveals to the beholder. A large umbrella set open behind their heads shelters them from the salt and frequent drift of spray-flakes. Beyond this principal group are various figures–all aiding the reality and interest of the scene; among whom the most remarkable is a low-bred flashy scamp, who, cigar in mouth, shakes at the old country, which has grown too hot to hold him, a reprobate fist, which his poor homely mother, unheedingly appealing to him, strikes down in an impulse of indignation. The work has engaged its painter’s entire energy both of brain and of hand; nothing has been slighted by either; and it rewards him by proving a performance, in all respects, of the most marked excellence. I am not without some hope that it may be engraved. The subject, hitherto mostly abased by ordinary artists to purposes of mere sentimentalism, and without any originality of treatment, is a high one; and none can be more deeply and widely interesting to men and women of these our days. . . .

Manchester has opened its 35th show, with works by . . . Hunt (I suppose Holman Hunt). . . among others.


This document was scanned/transcribed from the original source.

Copyright © 1999 Thomas J. Tobin.

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