"The Exhibition of the Royal Academy." The Illustrated London News 7 May 1853, 350.


It is time now that we speak of Millais–Millais the Pre-Raffaelite; the "pretender" Millais that was; the "usurper" Millais that is; the "legitimate" Millais that perhaps (much virtue in that little word) may be; and who has certainly a larger crowd of admirers in his little corner in the Middle Room than all the Academicians put together command; ay, and a crowd intent on what they are about–a good sticking crowd, who, having once taken up their position opposite the object of their homage, are not inclined very soon to move on, but stand there gaping, and staring, and commenting upon the wondrous effects, without any regard to the pressure from behind of crowds preparing to occupy their place. Truth to say, Mr. Millais, in this "Order of Release" (265), has achieved for himself an "order of merit" worth more than any academic honour, and has earned a fame which a whole corporate academy might be proud to portion amongst its constituent members. Whilst we admit–nay assert this–we would by no means wish to be understood as enrolling ourselves incontinently of this young artist’s "party" (for there is partisanship in everything, even in art); but simply as asserting that Pre-Raffaelitism (or rather the artists who have been foolishly styled Pre-Raffaelites) is a "great fact," and perhaps may lead to the regeneration of art in this country; and we may add that those who did us the honour to read our remarks upon this very subject last year, will perceive that what we now state is perfectly consistent with, indeed confirms, what we then, with somewhat more of reserve and hesitation, put forth. But more of this anon, when we come to engrave the "Order of Release," which we hope to do next week. In the meantime, we will only add that the subject is simply that of a wife, with child in her arms, coming with an order of release for her husband, who has been taken in the Civil Wars. The husband, overcome with emotions, and weak from a recent wound (his arm is in a sling), can but fall upon her neck and weep; moan, "firm of purpose," sheds no tear; she has none to shed; but her eye is red and heavy with weeping and waking; and she looks at the stern and unconcerned gaoler with a proud look, expressing that she has won the reward for all her trouble past. The colouring, the textural execution, are marvellous (for these degenerate days); but of these we have not room to say more at present. Mr. Millais has another picture (520), "A Proscribed Royallist, 1651," concealed in the trunk of an old tree, whom a young lady stealthily visits to supply him with bread; but, though itself a capital specimen of executive skill, it by no means carries the poetic interest of the other work, nor in colouring is it so harmonious.

This document was scanned/transcribed from the original source.

Copyright © 1999 Thomas J. Tobin.

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