Royal Academy Exhibition, 1851

On 7 May 1851 the Times criticized the Pre-Raphaelites for adopting 'an antiquated style, and an affected simplicity in painting, which is to genuine art what the medieval ballads and designs in Punch are to Chaucer and Giotto', 'a mere servile imitation of the cramped style, false perspective, and crude colour of remote antiquity'. Less than a week later, on 13 May the newspaper published, under the title 'The Pre-Raffaellites', a letter by John Ruskin challenging their imitation of antiquity: 'they know little of ancient paintings who suppose the works of these young painters to resemble them ... the pre-Raphaelites intend to surrender no advantage which the knowledge or inventions of the present time can afford to their art. they intend to return to early days in this one point only - that ... they will draw either what they see, of what they suppose might have been the actual facts of the scene they desire to represent, irrespective of any conventional rules of picture making ...'. Among the paintings on view was Millais's Mariana: 'I am glad that Mr. Millais's lady in blue is heartily tired of her painted window and idolatrous toilet-table', though he criticized how the light filtered through tinted glass. 

Holman Hunt complained that Pre-Raphaelite paintings were 'in less good places than before; they were separated, and all suffered as to their key colours and effect by want of support'. You can check the paintings' positions in the pop up exhibition diagrams of the exhibition hang here, and browse the exhibition catalogue here

To know more about the context of the exhibition, see the Royal Academy Chronicle's discussion of 1851 exhibition Royal Academy Chronicle for 1851, and check out William Hauptman, ‘Hanging the Pre-Raphaelites and Others: The Royal Academy Exhibition of 1851’, The British Art Journal 19: 1 (2018) here

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