Willmott's Poets of the Nineteenth Century

Willmott's Poets of the Nineteenth Century, published in 1857, was one of the important books in which appeared illustrations by the Pre-Raphaelites. It was published in the same year as the Moxon Tennyson, and contains two pictures by Millais, one by Arthur Hughes, and the best drawing on wood by Madox Brown. Rossetti was to have contributed, but wanted to illustrate a Browning poem which did not appear in the selection of poems. He therefore refused to make a drawing.

The Prisoner of Chillon, by Madox Brown

Madox Brown spent three days in a morgue for The Prisoner of Chillon, in order to observe the process of decay. The result is a very grim picture, but very powerful. As well as the corpse, two of the other figures are interesting - the Pre-Raphaelite girl is an excellent example of that species, and the figure on the right is familiar from many of Madox Brown's pictures.

Love, by Millais

Millais's two pictures are important examples of his early illustrative work. Love is one of his very best illustrations, and utterly in the Pre-Raphaelite spirit.

The Vision of Serena, by Arthur Hughes

Arthur Hughes's simple fairy picture does not match up to the ones by Millais or Madox Brown, and has nothing of the intensity of his later drawings, such as those for At the Back of the North Wind. However, it is pretty enough in a typical Victorian way.

Those are the only Pre-Raphaelite drawings, but there are other good things in Poets of the Nineteenth Century.

Artevelde in Ghent, by J. R. Clayton There are a half dozen pictures by J. R. Clayton, of which the one above is rather Rossettilike in its figures filling the frame, with a flatness caused by having a foreground and a background with no midground - very medieval. John Tenniel has several vigorous illustrations, drawn with strong outlines and altogether satisfactory. William Harvey has 14 pictures in all, of which several good ones show animals, and one fairy picture with a graceful composition.

Like a Lion turns the Warrior, by John Tenniel

Birket Foster has more illustrations than anyone else - more than 20 - but these are with a few exceptions unremarkable. Better are the several by John Gilbert, and the rather classical scene by F. R. Pickersgill.

The Water Nymph appearing to the Shepherd, by F. R. Pickersgill

Other artists represented in the book include two of the Dalziel brothers, Harrison Weir, E. Duncan, G. Dodgson, E. H. Corbould, and several others with just one or two pictures each.

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Pre-Raphaelite Illustrators // Illustration pages