"‘The Choice of Paris: An Idyll’ by Miss Florence Claxton." Illustrated London News 36 (2 Jun. 1860), 541-542.

full text

The Pre-Raphaelites were smartly satyrised by Miss Florence Claxton in an elaborate sketch, exhibited at the Portland Gallery, which, as and artistic curiosity, we engrave on another page. The picture, as it will be seen, is divided into two parts–one interior, the other exterior–by a brick wall. In the interior, the left-hand compartment, the principal group is that of Mr. Millais presenting the apple to a Pre-Raphaelite belle ideal, whom he prefers to a figure of Raphael’s (from the well-known picture of "The Marriage of the Virgin"), and to a pretty, modern, English girl, dressed in the mode of the day, with plaited hair and crinoline complete. He carries in his hand a volume of Mr. Ruskin’s, and on the ground is a treatise "On Beauty," by the same author. On the floor, also, are some of the famous apple-blossoms which Mr. Ruskin invoked the artists of England to paint, and the onions, as painted by Hunt, which that gentleman was so enthusiastic about last year. Behind these we see another Pre-Raphaelite worthy examining the feet of a female through a magnifying-glass, the textural surface of which he is copying minutely in his sketch-book. In the. background at this side is an artist of the middle ages thrusting one of Raphael’s apostles out of the door; and on the opposite side are the portraits of Raphael, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and Van Dyck, with their faces turned to the wall, whilst those of Millais, Ruskin, and–Barnum are exhibited underneath them to the homage of the public, whilst a mediæval figure, reclining on a sofa, proclaims their ascendancy through a trumpet. In the looking-glass over the mantelpiece is seen reflected the window on the opposite side of the room, and through that window is discovered the vision of a lady and gentleman walking up a gravel-path to church. The countenance of the dandy sipping his tea at the left of the fireplace is intended to express the bitterest feelings of horror and jealousy at this to him unwelcome apparition. It will be recollected that in a picture recently produced by Mr. Calderon a lovelorn lady is represented as about to faint against the garden wall, having just caught a glimpse of her lover presenting a flower to a girl on the other side of the wall. In Miss Claxton’s "Idyll," the hapless fair one sees through the brick wall, for the flower is being presented to her rival (who munches an apple) inside the room, whilst she is standing outside in a Pre-Raphaelite attitude of intense affliction. A little beyond this figure is seen an artist making a careful study of a brick by the aid of an opera-glass. Looking upwards, we discern a young lady who is being dragged in at the window by the hair of her head, having lent too favourable an ear to the serenading monk beneath. Her fiery red hair has partly given way under the severity of the tension to which it is subject. Behind this figure is the famous Sir Ysumbras [sic] of 1857, and in the foreground a pic-nic, where Mr. Hunt’s "Scapegoat" is anxiously waiting for some of the milk which a female (somewhat after one of the figures in Mr. Millais’s "Spring") is drinking. The grave-digging nun, and the sprawling figure of the girl sucking a straw, in the foreground on the right, will at once be recognised as of the same paternity. This crowded little composition will afford much amusement to the artistic world and those who are up in professional incidents and tradition. There are some follies which are better met by ridicule than argument, and Pre-Raphaelitism is of them.


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Copyright © 1999 Thomas J. Tobin.

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