In the 1852 Exhibition, when both the "Ophelia" and "The Huguenot " were exhibited, there was another beautiful "Ophelia" by Millais' friend, Arthur Hughes, who is good enough to send me the following note about the two pictures: --
One of the nicest thing's that I remember is connected with an 'Ophelia' I painted, that was exhibited in the Academy at the same time as his [Millais's own most beautiful and wonderful picture of that subject. Mine met its fate high up in the little octagon room [note: "Commonly known to artists as 'The Condemned Cell']; but on the morning of the varnishing, as I was going through the first room, before I knew where I was, Millais met me, saying, 'Aren't you he they call Cherry?' (my name in the school). I said I was. Then he said he had just been up a ladder looking at my picture, and that it gave him more pleasure than any picture there, but adding also very truly that I had not painted the right kind of stream. He had just passed out of the Schools when I began in them, and I had a most enormous admiration for him, and he always looked so beautiful -- tall, slender, but strong, crowned with an ideal head, and (as Rosestti said) 'with the face of an angel.' He could not have done a kinder thing, for he knew I should be disappointed at the place my picture had. [I, 146]
Millais, John Guile. The Life and Letters of John Everett Millais, President of the Royal Academy. 2 vols. New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1899.
Last modified 14 September 2004