Sunday, July 29, 2007

Holman Hunt's Valentine

[1851, Spring]
[To William Holman Hunt]

[Concerning William Holman Hunt's painting Valentine Rescuing Sylvia from Proteus]

My Dear Hunt,

I could not pass this evening in peace if I did not write to tell you how noble I think your picture. I went up to see it after some resistance on the part of your landlady. I can scarcely describe the emotions I felt on finding myself alone with your beautiful work (quite finished and you out, that was something of a triumph), but certainly your picture makes me feel shame that I have not done more in all the years I have worked. You will now have one long course of triumph, I believe--well you deserve it. Your picture seems to me without fault and beautiful in its minute detail, and I do not think that there is a man in England that could do finer work; it is fine all over. I have been to see Millais. His pictures are wonders in colour and truth; in fine, admirable for all they intend, but I like yours better for my own use, although there are qualities in Millais which have never been attained, and perhaps never again will be. If Rossetti will only work, you will form a trio who will play a great part in English art, in spite of Egg's predictions. I mean to be much more careful in future, and try next time to satisfy myself. I wish I had seen you tonight, for I am full of your picture, and should like to shake you by the hand. I have had serious thoughts of joining PRB on my pictures this year, but in the first place I am rather old to play the fool, or at least what would be thought to be doing so; in the next place I do not feel confident enough how the picture will look, and unless very much liked I would rather not do it; but the best reason against it is that we may be of more service to each other as we are than openly bound together. I wish you all the success you deserve.

Ford M[adox] Brown

-from William Holman Hunt: The True Pre-Raphaelite by Anne Clark Amor(London: Constable, 1989) p. 77.

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