Victorian Art & Design
The Pre-Raphaelites in 1851

Rossetti did not exhibit in 1851, but Millais and Hunt both sent paintings to the 1851 Royal Academy. Hunt sent Valentine Rescuing Sylvia from Proteus, seen below. This shows the last scene from Shakespeare's play, Two Gentlemen of Verona. Hunt spent weeks in Knole Woods painting the background. He showed a typically Pre-Raphaelite love of detail in his painting of the autumn leaves in the foreground. He also used the Pre-Raphaelites' favourite 'wet white' technique for parts of the painting, for the faces and hands of the two men and for some of the garments. This meant covering the canvas with white paint and covering it with thin layers of colour while the white was still wet.

Millais exhibited three paintings in 1851. The wood in The Woodman's Daughter was painted in Wytham Woods near Oxford. Mariana was based on Tennyson's poem Mariana and The Return of the Dove to the Ark showed two of Noah's daughters welcoming the dove. Millais painted the straw on the floor of the ark in meticulous detail.

A new follower of the ideas of the P. R. B. was Charles Collins. He sent his Convent Thoughts to the 1851 Academy. He used the wet white technique to obtain the glowing colours found in this painting. It shows a nun in a convent garden with beautifully painted lilies and goldfish. He painted the flowers in the Oxford garden of Thomas Combe, an early collector of Pre-Raphaelite paintings. Combe's collection is now in Oxford's Ashmolean Museum. Combe said that it took Collins a whole day just to paint one lily.
Dickens wrote to The Times in May 1851 to attack these paintings, but Ruskin sent two letters to The Times defending them.
The Pre-Raphaelites in1852