o most Victorian painters portraiture was little more than a side-line, and most of them practiced it. In the early years, these painters included Wilkie, Etty and Landseer. Frith, William Quiller Orchardson (1832-1910), James Sant (1820-1916), John Collier (1850-1934), James (Joseph-Jaques) Tissot (1836-1902), Hubert Herkomer (1849-1914), Frank Holl (1845-1888), and Luke Fildes (1844-1927) were all subject painters who achieved, to a greater or lesser degree, distinction as portraitists. Of these Holl and Fildes devoted themselves almost entirely to portraiture in their maturity. The Pre-Raphaelites and their associates contained some notable portrait-painters in their ranks, including Rossetti, Madox Brown, Sandys, Burne-Jones, Holman Hunt and Millais. With the exception of Madox Brown and Millais, the Pre-Raphaelites were, as would have been expected, very subjective in portraiture, which was usually integrated with their distinctive creative vision. John Linnell was the only noted landscape painter who could turn out the occasional portrait of distinction. Of the neo-classical painters, Leighton, Poynter and Alma-Tadema made successful portraits. Alfred Stevens, whose versatility makes him difficult to classify, painted a handful of outstanding portraits. G. F. Watts, on the other hand, is still regarded as the foremost Victorian portrait painter before the arrival of Sargent, though he regarded this genre as second in importance to his allegorical painting. (p. 211)

Related Material


Maas, Jeremy. Victorian Painters. New York: Harrison House, 1969.

Last modified 5 November 2004