The Germ, third issue (changed to “Art and Poetry”)
John Ruskin, Modern Painters “Go to nature in all singleness of heart… rejecting nothing, selecting nothing and scorning nothing; believing all things to be right and good, and rejoicing always in the truth.”
Ford Madox Brown, from his Journals What wonderful effects I have seen this evening in the hayfields! The warmth of the uncut grass, the greeny greyness of the unmade hay in furrows or tufts with lovely violent shadows, and the long shades of the trees thrown athwart all, and melting away one tint into another imperceptibly; and one moment more a cloud passes and all the magic is gone.”
John Everett Millais, Christ in the House of his Parents
Charles Allston Collins, Convent Thoughts (1851)
William Holman Hunt, Valentine Rescuing Sylvia from Proteus (1851)
John Ruskin on Valentine John Ruskin, noting that the Times review had been "scornful as well as severe," in May 1851 wrote his own letter to the Times in answer to the critics. The thing most despised by them was what he most admired: "finish or detail, and brilliancy of colour" (Ruskin, Art Criticism 379). Ruskin admits that Silvia, as she is painted by Hunt, is not a person that Proteus or anyone else might love at first sight, but this deficit is more than compensated for, he says, by the "truth, power, and finish" of details like Julia's sleeve and Valentine's chain mail. The greatest defect of Valentine Rescuing Silvia from Proteus is the "commonness" of the faces in the four figures, but this, he remarks, is, indeed,almost the only fault. “Further examination of this picture has even raised the estimate I had previously formed of its marvellous truth in detail and splendour in colour; nor is its general conception less deserving of praise: the action of Valentine, his arm thrown round Sylvia, and his hand clasping hers at the same instant as she falls at his feet, is most faithful and beautiful, nor less so the contending of doubt and distress with awakening hope in the half-shadowed, half-sunlit countenance of Julia. Nay, even the momentary struggle of Proteus with Sylvia just past, is indicated by the trodden grass and broken fungi of the foreground. But all this thoughtful conception, and absolutely inimitable execution, fail in making immediate appeal to the feelings, owing to the unfortunate type chosen for the face of Sylvia. Certainly this cannot be she whose lover was ‘As rich in having such a jewel, As twenty seas, if all their sands were pearl.’’ Nor is it, perhaps, less to be regretted that, while in Shakespeare's play there are nominally ‘Two Gentlemen," in Mr. Hunt's picture there should only be one,--at least, the kneeling figure on the right has by no means the look of a gentleman. But this may be on purpose, for any one who remembers the conduct of Proteus throughout the previous scenes will, I think, be disposed to consider that the error lies more in Shakspeare's nomenclature than in Mr. Hunt's ideal” (Ruskin 375-76).
Wilde, "Critic as Artist” "From time to time the world cries out against some charming artistic poet, because, to use its hackneyed and silly phrase, he has 'nothing to say.' But if he had something to say, he would probably say it, and the result would be tedious. It is just because he has no new message, that he can do beautiful work. He gains his inspiration from form, and from form purely, as an artist should. A real passion would ruin him. Whatever actually occurs is spoiled for art."
From Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest –Cecily: I hope your hair curls naturally, does it? –Algernon: Yes, darling with a little help from others (1723). How is this exchange an inversion of Romantic ideas?
How does the following exchange undermine Victorian ideas of sincerity and earnestness? –Lady Bracknell: He [Algernon] has nothing, but he looks everything. What more can one desire (1735)? –Algernon: Now produce your explanation and pray make it improbable. –Jack: Algy, you never talk anything but nonsense. Algernon: Nobody ever does.
From Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest Cecily: Why did you pretend to be my guardian’s brother? Algernon: In order that I might have an opportunity of meeting you. Cecily [to Gwendolyn]: That certainly seems a satisfactory explanation, does it not? Gwen: Yes, dear, if you can believe him. Cecily: I don’t. But that does not affect the wonderful beauty of his answer. Gwen: True. In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity is the vital thing. (1731)
From Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest Gwendolyn: If you are not too long, I will wait for you all my life. Algernon: I hope tomorrow is going to be a fine day. Lane: It never is, sir. Algernon: Lane, you’re a perfect pessimist. Lane: I do my best to give satisfaction, sir. (1713)