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and the figure with the basket, sitting at the foot of the
cross, are precisely types of the worst kind of figure which
it is possible to introduce in landscape definitely ill-drawn,
and pertinaciously repulsive.

1 [George Clarkson Stanfield, son of William Clarkson Stanfield, was born in
1828, and died in 1878. Favourable references to earlier works by the painter are
made in the following letter from Iluskin to the elder Stanfield :

" 18 April, 1853.

"DEAR MR. STANFIELD, My friend Mr. McCracken is very anxious
to know if any of the pictures in this next Exhibition were intended for
him? I presume not, but thought you would pardon my troubling you
by tbe inquiry, more especially as I wished also to congratulate you on
the great progress made by your son in his campaign in Italy. It seems
to me quite a campaign on Marengo, and I am sure you must be very
proud of him. I felt inclined to quarrel with him in defence of the
honour of Mont Blanc, but he has certainly painted it on the spot, or he
would not have made it look so low. It is a good fault most people ex-
aggerating it.

" Believe me, always faithfully yours,


For McCracken, see Vol. IV. p. 38 n. , Vol. XII. p. xlvii. The pictures referred to
in this letter do not seem to have been exhibited. For Ruskiu's description of the
Alps seen from Marengo, see his poem in Vol. II. p. 232.]


201. A Swiss MEADOW IN JUNE. (H. Moore. 1 )

I cannot judge of this study, it gives me too much
pleasure ; but it seems to me very perfect in general
harmony of light, and in the sweet motion of the clouds
along the horizon. People are beginning, I see, to feel
Switzerland truly at last ; and how more may sometimes
be done by a single blue mound of pines, like that on
the right of this field, than by piled pyramids of rock and

Co. ANTRIM. (C. Stanfield, R.A.)

I am very glad to see Mr. Stanfield's work in this ex-
hibition on a little smaller scale than of late years, and
proportionally more careful. This is a most interesting
picture, and quite notable for its new conditions of cloud.
Usually Mr. Stanfield gives us only solid rolling clouds
behind his hills; I do not recollect his ever before painting
their floating films in front of the crags, whose geology,
by the way, seems rendered with the greatest care : and
beautifully picturesque geology it is; the horizontal beds
of the red and black lavas opposing the pillared precipice
at the summit. Two points only seem to me to be re-
gretted; the first, that the turf, half-way up the hillside,
looks like a bank close to the spectator, the overhanging
edges having the aspect of one thickness of turf only,
though the little yellow and black figures below show us
that these turf edges are at least from twelve to twenty
feet high. The second, that the ship does not look as if
she struck with any force or weight. I cannot get rid of
the idea that she is a small model, and, moreover, a small

1 [Henry Moore (1831-1895) did not exhibit any important seascape till the
following year. His recognition by the Academy was long delayed ; it was not till
1885 that he was elected A.R.A. ; R.A. in 1893. Moore, like Brett, before taking
to marine subjects, painted landscapes in the Pre-Raphaelite spirit.]


model drawn with no great truth of perspective. I am
certain the curves of her stern, where it rises from the
deck, are false : if she is strained there, the strain should
have been distinctly shown; and if not, the error in the
lines of the starboard side would be demonstrable in a
moment, if it were worth while to give a diagram for the

I like the black box particularly, though it does not
look like one that would float. How well Mr. Stanfield
could colour, if he liked, and took as much pains always
as he has with this one dark square ! What a gain, too,
would it not be to us all, if he did take this trouble !
The calm in the "Gulf of Salerno," for instance (371),
would be quite a delightful picture, if only the sails had a
little sun upon them. Even without sun, I wholly dis-
believe in clay colour, either in sails or seamen, or in any-
thing whatever but clay.

Leslie, R.A.}

Not attractive or interesting at first sight, it will repay
an attentive study with continual increase of charm, and
of wonderment. It is, of course, not well coloured; but
though meagre and cold, it is not coarse; nor, in its own
pale key, inharmonious; while the subtleties of expression
are endlessly delightful in their delicate mystery. This light
touch of Leslie's seems to me to show an immense advance
in power since he gave us the somewhat laborious humour
of Sancho and the Duchess. 1

Do not miss the little girl holding up her hands in awe
and delight, at the entire impropriety of behaviour on the
part of the swallow, neither by servant nor knight to be
touched on his wings, or impressed in his mind.

1 [A favourite subject with Leslie. The picture in the Tate Gallery (No. 402),
exhibited in 1844, is a replica of one exhibited in 1824.]


219. AUTUMN MORNING. (T. Creswick, R.A.)

Well worked, but too complex : the fallen trunk with its
bare branches on the right, though its lines, in mere com-
position, are useful in repeating those of the opposite bank,
breaks up the picture by their number; we did not need
so many straggling arms there. Mr. Creswick is also always
a little too heavily green in foliage : when trees are green
at all, they are green to brighter and better purpose.

283. A DREAM OF THE PAST. 1 (J. E. Millais, A.}

The high praise which I felt it my duty to give to this
painter's work last year 2 was warranted by my observing in
it, for the first time, the entirely inventive arrangement of
colour and masses, which can be achieved only by the
highest intellect. I must repeat briefly here what I have
had occasion hundreds of times to explain elsewhere, but
never yet often enough to get it generally understood that
painters are broadly divisible into three classes : 3 first, the
large class who are more or less affected or false in all their
work, and whose productions, however dexterous, are of no
value whatever; secondly, the literally true painters, who

1 [Better known by the title in the catalogue, " Sir Isumbras at the Ford." An
interesting account of the painting of this picture, and of its hostile reception by the
critics, is given in The Life and Letters of Millais, vol. i. pp. 306-323, where also a
reproduction of the skit by Fred. Sandys is given. Millais, Rossetti, and Holmau
Hunt are represented crossing the ford on a braying ass, which is labelled " J. R.,
Oxon" entitled "A Nightmare." The satirical verses below Sandys's print are
said to be taken from the ' ' Metrical Romance of the Man in Brasse and his Asse, by
Thomas le Tailleur." Millais both resented Ruskin's criticism and took it to heart.
"Ruskin said it was not a failure but a fiasco," said Millais once; "so I kicked it
over in a passion. The hole is there now " (Millais and his Works, by M. H. Spielmann,
p. 96). He proceeded, however, when the picture was returned unsold from the
Academy, to repaint the horse entirely. The picture was bought in the following
year by the painter's friend, Charles Reade. It next belonged to Mr. John Graham,
and on his death Mr. R. H. Benson bought it. In 1892, at Mr. Benson's suggestion,
Millais again repainted some portions of the horse, and added the trappings. The
reproduction here given is of the picture in its present state.]

2 ["Titian himself could hardly head him now, ' p. 56, above.]

3 [The nearest approach to an explicit classification of painters into (1) false,
(2) true, and (3) inventive may now be read in the additional passage from the MS.
of Stones of Venice, vol. iii., which is printed in Vol. XI. pp. xvii.-xxi. But the
division of painters into these classes is, as Ruskin says, implied "hundreds of times"
in his previous works. See, for instance, Vol. III. p. 165, and Vol. X. p. 217 seq.]

Q) '


copy with various feeling, but unanimously honest purpose,
the actualities of Nature, but can only paint them as they
see them, without selection or arrangement ; whose works
are therefore of a moderate but sterling value, varying ac-
cording to the interest of the subject; lastly, the inventive
painters, who are not only true in all they do, but compose
and relieve the truths they paint, so as to give to each the
utmost possible value ; which last class is in all ages a very
small one ; and it is a matter to congratulate a nation
upon, when an artist rises in the midst of it who gives any
promise of belonging to this great Imaginative group of

And this promise was very visible in the works of Millais
last year ; a new power of conception being proved in them
to instance two things among many by the arrangement
of the myrtle branches in the " Peace," and the play of the
colours in the heap of "Autumn Leaves." There was a
slovenliness and imperfection in many portions, however,
which I did not speak of, because I thought them accidental
consequent, probably, on too exulting a trial of his new
powers, and b'kely to disappear as he became accustomed to
them. But, as it is possible to stoop to victory, it is also
possible to climb to defeat ; and I see with consternation
that it was not the Parnassian rock which Mr. Millais was
ascending, but the Tarpeian. The change in his manner,
from the years of "Ophelia" and "Mariana" to 1857, is
not merely Fall it is Catastrophe ; not merely a loss of
power, but a reversal of principle : his excellence has been
effaced, " as a man wipeth a dish wiping it, and turning it
upside down." x There may still be in him power of re-
pentance, but I cannot tell : for those who have never
known the right way, its narrow wicket-gate stands always
on the latch ; but for him who, having known it, has
wandered thus insolently, the by-ways to the prison-house
are short, and the voices of recall are few.

I have not patience much to examine into the meaning

1 [2 Kings xxi. 13.]


of the picture under consideration. If it has one, it should
not have been disguised by the legend associated with it,
which, by the way, does not exist in the Romance from
which it professes to be quoted, and is now pretty generally
understood to be only a clever mystification by one of the
artist's friends, written chiefly with the view of guarding the
awkward horse against criticism. I am not sure whether
the bitterest enemies of Pre-Raphaelitism have yet accused
it of expecting to cover its errors by describing them in
bad English. 1

Putting the legend, however, out of question, the fancy
of the picture is pretty, and might have been sublime, but
that it is too ill painted to be dwelt upon. The primal
error in pictorial grammar, of painting figures in twilight as
bright as yellow and vermilion can make them, while the
towers and hills, far above and far more exposed to light,
are yet dark and blue, could hardly have been redeemed
by any subsequent harmonies of tone, much less by random
brilliancy ; and the mistake of painting the water brighter
than the sky which it reflects, though constant among in-
ferior painters in subordinate parts of their work, is a singu-
larly disgraceful one for a painter of standing.

These, and the other errors or shortcomings in the work,
too visible to need proving, and too many to bear number-
ing, are all the less excusable because the thought of the
picture was a noble one, and might seem both justly to
claim, and tenderly to encourage, the utmost skill and
patience in its rendering. It does not matter whether we

1 [The lines written for the picture by Tom Taylor began thus :
"The goode hors that the knyghte bestrode,
I trow his backe it was full brode,
And wighte and warie still he rode,

Noght reckinge of rivere ;
He was so mickle and so stronge,
And thereto so wonderlich longe,

In lande was none his peer.
N'as hors but by him seemed smalle.
The knyghte him ycleped Launcival,
But lords at horde and grooms in stalle

Ycleped him Graund Destrere."
They were described as being " from the Metrical Romance of Sir Ysumbras."


take it as a fact or as a type : whether we look verily upon
an old knight riding home in the summer twilight, with
the dust of his weary day's journey on his golden armour,
taking the woodman's children across the river with him,
holding the girl so tenderly that she does not so much as
feel the grasp of the gauntlets, but holds the horse's mane
as well, lest she should fall ; or whether we receive it as a
type of noble human life, tried in all war, and aged in all
counsel and wisdom, finding its crowning work at last to
be bearing the children of poverty in its arms, and that the
best use of its panoply of battle is to be clasped by the
feeble fingers, wearied with gathering the sheddings of the
autumnal woods. It might bear a deeper meaning even
than this: it might be an image less of life than of the
great Christian Angel of Death, who gives the eternal
nobleness to small and great, and clasps the mean and the
mighty with his golden armour Death, bearing the two
children with him across the calm river, whither they know
not; one questioning the strange blue eyes which she sees
fixed on heaven, the other only resting from his labour,
and feeling no more his burden. All this, and much more
than this for the picture might be otherwise suggestive to
us in a thousand ways it would have brought home at once
to the heart of every spectator, had the idea but been
realized with any steadiness of purpose or veracity of detail.
As it stands, it can only be considered as a rough sketch
of a great subject, injudiciously exposed to general criticism,
and needing both modification in its arrangement and de-
voted labour in its future realization.

I am sorrowfully doubtful, however, how far Mr. Millais
may yet be capable of such labour. There are two signs
conspicuous in his this year's work, of augury strangely
sinister: the first, an irregularity in the conception of facts,
quite unprecedented in any work that I know in the Real-
istic schools of any age ; the second, a warped feeling in the
selection of facts, peculiar, as far as I know, to Millais from
his earliest youth.


I say, first, an irregularity of conception. Thus, it seems
only to have struck the painter suddenly, as he was finish-
ing the knight's armour, that it ought to be more or less
reflective ; and he gives only one reflection in it of the
crimson cloth of the saddle, that one reflection being violently
exaggerated : for though, from a golden surface, it would
have been, as he has rendered it, warmer than the crimson,
no reflection is ever brighter than the thing reflected. But
all the rest of the armour is wholly untouched by the colour
of the children's dresses, or of their glowing faces, or of
the river or sky. And if Mr. Millais meant it to be old
armour, rough with wear, it ought to have been deadened
and darkened in colour, hacked with edges of weapons,
stained with stains of death ; if he meant it merely to be
dusty, the dust should have lain white on some of the
ridges, been clearly absent from others, and should have
been dark where it was wet by the splashing of the horse.
The ripple of the water against the horse itself, however,
being unnoticed, it is little wonder if the dash of the chance
spray is missed. A more manifest sign still of this irregular
appliance of mind is in the fact that the peacock's plume,
the bundle of wood, and the stripes of the saddle-cloth are
painted with care ; while the children's faces, though right
in expression, are rudely sketched, with unrounded edges,
half in rose colour and half in dirty brown. Vestiges of
his old power of colouring, still unattainable by any other
man, exist, however, in that saddle-cloth and in the peacock's
feather. But the second sign, the warping of feeling, is a
still more threatening one.

The conception of his second picture (408) l is an example
of the darkest error in judgment the fatalest failure in the

1 ["The Escape of a Heretic, 1559." A scene, as described in an illustrative
note in the catalogue, from the Spanish Inquisition. A Spanish lover, disguised
as a monk, rescuing his mistress, who has already been robed in her fiery gaberdine
for the auto-da-fe ; in the background a monk, bound and gagged. The subject
was suggested to Millais by some engravings and documents shown to him by
Stirling-Maxwell (see Life and Letters of Millais, i. 319). The picture is now in the
possession of Sir W. Houldsworth, M.P.]


instinct of the painter's mind. At once coarse and ghastly
in fancy, exaggerated and obscure in action, the work seems
to have been wrought with the resolute purpose of con-
firming all that the bitterest adversaries of the school have
delighted to allege against it ; and whatever friendship has
murmured, or enmity proclaimed, of its wilful preference of
ugliness to beauty, is now sealed into everlasting acceptance.
It is not merely in manifest things, like the selection of such
a model as this for the type of the foot of a Spanish lady,
or the monstrous protrusion of the lover's lip in his intense
appeal for silence ; but the dwelling perpetually upon the
harshest lines of form, and most painful conditions of ex-
pression, both in human feature and in natural objects, which
long ago, when they appeared in Millais's picture of the
" Carpenter's Shop," a restrained the advance of Pre-Raphael-
itism ; and would arrest its advance now, unless there were
other painters to support its cause, who will disengage it
from unnaturalness of error, and vindicate it from confusion
of contempt.

For Mr. Millais there is no hope but in a return to
quiet perfectness of work. I cannot bring myself to believe
that powers were given to him only to be wasted, which
are so great, even in their aberration, that no pictures in
the Academy are so interesting as these, or can be for a
moment compared with them for occasional excellence and
marvellousness of execution. Yet it seems to be within the
purpose of Providence sometimes to bestow great powers
only that we may be humiliated by their failure, or appalled
by their annihilation ; and sometimes to strengthen the hills
with iron, only that they may attract the thunderbolt. A
time is probably fixed in every man's career, when his own
choice determines the relation of his endowments with his
destiny ; and the time has come when this painter must
choose, and choose finally, whether the eminence he can-
not abdicate is to make him conspicuous in honour, or in

1 [In the Academy of 1850 : see Vol. XII. p. 320.]


355. BON JOUR, MESSIEURS. (F. Stone, A. 1 }

Thank you, Frank ; very heartily thank you. There has
not been a greater benefit, in way of pictures, bestowed on
us this year. It is good for us, after walking, as walk we
must so often, up and down the grey streets of London,
watching the gay carriages with the sorrowful faces in them,
and the fading beauties, and wasting pleasures, and yet more
wasting toils, to remember that within a bird's flight of us,
along the top of Calais cliffs, the fisher's cart-horse trots to
market through the morning air; that the idle fisher-boy
tosses his limbs behind for gladness ; and that fisher-girls
are laughing, with a bird's song in every laugh ; crowned
with sacredness of happy life, and strength of careless peace,
and helpful innocence.


Very awful, after we have looked at it a little while ; at
least that bronze vessel is so to me a ship that is not, and
yet is the true spectre ship, whose sight is destruction ;
nor less so the skeleton of the boat with the wild waves
sifting through the bones of her, and the single figure wait-
ing on the desolate ship's deck, and saved by its faithful-
ness. Was Mr. Cooke indeed a little inspired by Turner's
great " Shipwreck," 2 or is the partial resemblance of arrange-
ment, in the position of the larger boat and wreck, acci-
dental? I wish he would try to beat Turner in one thing,
in which not only Turner, but all marine painters what-
ever, to this day, are conquerable enough by a little pains
sea Joam ; 3 namely, When shall we have foam as well
as waves ? It can be drawn, not quite rightly, but far

1 [Frank Stone (6. 1800), father of Mr. Marcus Stone, R.A., was elected A.R.A.
in 1851. He died suddenly from heart disease two years after this picture was

2 [No. 476 in the National Gallery : see Vol. XIII. p. 107- ]

3 [Compare Vol. XIII. pp. 110, 162.]


better than ever hitherto ; and the first painter who suc-
ceeds with it, provided he is at all a good artist in other
respects, and has not merely found out a trick of foam, will
make all bygone sea pieces look like the worn-out canvas
waves of a theatre.

501. MONTAIGNE/ (H. Wallis.)

Not, I think, quite so successful as the " Chatterton " of
last year; but it contends with greater difficulties, and is
full of marvellous painting. It is terribly hurt by its frame,
and by the surrounding colours and lights ; seen through
the hand, the effect is almost like reality. That is a beau-
tifully characteristic fragment of homely French architecture
seen through the window.

I should think this picture required long looking at, and
that it is seen to greater disadvantage by careless passers-by
than almost any of its neighbours.

542. RYDAL. (J. M. Carrick.)

This is the most important of the various studies from
Nature, all more or less successful, which surround us in
the Academy this year. I am heartily sorry to pass them
by, en masse, especially as most of them, such as 214, 215,
268, 1136, 2 and others, are incomparably more elaborate
and valuable than anything of the kind I have to notice in
the water-colour exhibitions ; only the water-colour draughts-
men have more power in educating public taste, partly from
reputation and partly from the pleasantness of water-colour
as a decoration of rooms ; so that I can give no more time
to these oil studies, various and beautiful as they are. This
large one is most reverent in its fidelity to the reflections

1 [" Montaigne : the library, from studies made at Montaigne's chateau in

2 [214. "A Quiet Nook" (A. J. Stark). 215. " Craig-dulyn, Carnarvonshire"
(J. W. Oakes; see p. 143 n.). 268. "A Stream from the Hills" (B. Leader, now
R.A.). 1136. "Russ, intheDargle, co. Wicklow" (T. F. Collier).]

xiv. H


of the quiet lake, most skilful in its rendering of the dim
light on the distant hills. 1 never have seen retiring dis-
tance, in light of this kind, so well rendered. The stream
has been studied with equal care ; but it is impossible to
paint clear running water ripple by ripple : some conven-
tionality of freedom must be allowed always.


Very tender in expression, but commonplace ; and in
general idea more or less false or improbable. Mr. Dobson
must see to it, or he will be cast away on the rock of
Purism ; he is already, both in this picture and the " Read-
ing the Psalms" (No. 63), more infected than he was last
year by the great Purist theory of the sanctity of clay
colour. 1 Now it is precisely clay and its colour which are
the least sacred things in the world: because all heavenly
effort or action whatever is a conquest of the clay from
the first conquest of it by the breath of life to the last
conquest of it by the baptism with fire ; and in the least
things, as in the greatest, it is fire and its colour which are
sacred not dust. These imperfect religious painters, headed
and misguided by Ary Scheffer, are all just like Naaman :
they think they cannot worship rightly unless there "be
given unto thy servant two mules' burden of earth." :


Very full of power ; but rather a subject for engraving
than painting. It is too painful to be invested with the
charm of colour. 3

1 [See above, 1856, 532.]

1 [2 Kings v. 17. For another reference to Ary Scheffer, see below, p. 180.
Compare also, for a summary of Ruskin's views on the sanctity of colour, Modern
Painters, vol. v. pt. ix. ch. xi."]

3 [This picture was exhibited in the following year at Liverpool, and popular

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