[In this passage from Pre-Raphaelitism and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Hunt characteristically decries tase for French art in the midst of praising Millais. — George P. Landow.]

Turner never had a public commission to execute in his life, neither was Millais ever employed on any public building either by Government or by ecclesiastics. Perhaps in this connection I ought to regard it as a compliment that I also was never engaged on any public work.

Notwithstanding Millais' occasional occupation upon unworthy themes, his fastidious eye and poetic taste were still intact, and his original conscientious sense instinctively asserted itself in work triumphant at all points, so that England had no excuse for failing to see the rareness of the glory he was prepared to achieve for her. Whenever he was engaged in painting a beautiful woman or a child's head, his best powers came into action, and no painter of any nation or time surpassed him in delicacy of expression or in variety of unaffected charm. This makes the extravagant appreciation of Meissonier the more ridiculous,, for the French artist could not paint a woman at all. Millais' was the frank English beauty typified by Gainsborough, sometimes with fuller solidity of modelling, and with often the fancy of Reynolds or Romney in addition. His men's portraits at times reached in excel- lence the best of those by the Venetian painters, or those of the great Dutch School. [II, 396]


Hunt, William Holman. Pre-Raphaelitism and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. 2 vols. New York: Macmillan, 1905.

Biographical materials

Last modified 25 October 2012