To apply the term "Pre-Raphaelite" to the style of Frank Stone's "Milly" Illustrations — "Milly and the Student" and "Milly and the Children" — in The Haunted Man (1848) is probably inappropriate in the strict sense of the nineteenth-century artistic movement. Since the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was being founded by seven artists (notably, Dante Gabriel Rosetti, John Everett Millais, and William Holman Hunt) at about the time that The Haunted Man was published, it would be a mistake to regard Stone's "Milly" illustrations as consciously Pre-Raphaelite in style.
Stone, already 48 at the time, was a self-taught artist, while Pre-Raphaelites were younger and were associated with the Royal Academy schools, against the teachings of which they reacted. The impetus behind the Brotherhood was, after all, to revitalize painting rather than illustration. However, in its aims to imbue art with realism, morality, and seriousness by challenging High Renaissance assumptions about appropriate colour, shading, and subject-matter, Pre-Raphaelite art and the Stone plates for The Haunted Man seem consonant. In particular, Stone focuses on the figures, their states of mind, and the foreground, and avoids any suggestion as to background, creating an almost flat picture. The sacred atmosphere of "Milly and the Student" has affinities with the paintings of the German Nazarenes in that they share close attention to detail, a rejection of aerial perspective, a self-conscious religiosity in the unnatural stillness of the scene, and an avoidance of shadow in order to show everything clearly. There is no doubt that, by the middle of the 1850s, the Pre-Raphaelite style (particularly that of Millais, who was an illustrator as well as a painter) had begun to exert considerable influence on book illustration, especially in terms of depicting"worthy" subjects and showing all characters as physical beautiful, graceful, and well- proportioned. Finally, Charles Dickens, far from being an exponent of the new style like Ruskin, was utterly opposed to the Brotherhood's "primitivistic" innovations such as nudity, which he attacked during the first six months of Household Words, begun on 27 March 1850. It is unlikely, therefore, that in his Haunted Man illustrations Stone (even had he known about the work of the PRB as early as autumn 1848) would deliberately have adopted a style that his friend Dickens detested.
Last modified 20 Febuary 2000