Sunday, 6 May 2007

Worcester Park's pre-raphaelite past

From here, italics mine:
Near Kingston, and close to the home of his friends the Lemprières, is a sweet little river called the Ewell, which flows into the Thames. Here, under sonic willows by the side of a hayfield, the artist found a spot that was in every way suitable for tile background of his picture, in the month of July, when the river flowers and water-weeds were in full bloom. Having selected his site, the next thing was to obtain lodgings within easy distance, and these lie secured in a cottage near Kingston, with his friend Holman Hunt as a companion. They were not there very long', however, for presently came into the neighbourhood two other members of the Pre- Raphaelite fraternity, bent on working together ; and, uniting with them, the two moved into Worcester Park Farm, where an old garden wall happily served as a background for the " Huguenot," at which Millais could now work alternately with tile " Ophelia."

It was a jolly bachelor party that now assembled in the farmhouse -Holman Hunt, Charlie Collins, William and John Millais-_all determined to work ill earnest ; Holman Hunt on his famous " Light of the World" and " The Hireling Shepherd," Charlie Collins at a background, William Millais on water-colour landscapes, arid my father on the backgrounds for, the two pictures he had then in hand.

From ten in the morning till dark the artists saw little of each other, but when the evenings "brought all things home" they assembled to talk deeply on Art, drink strong tea, and discuss and criticise each other's pictures.

Fortunately a record of these interesting days is preserved to us in Millais' letters to Mr. and Mrs. Combe, and his diary-the only one he ever kept-which was written at this time, and retained by my uncle William, who has kindly placed it at my disposal. here are sonic of his letters-the first of which I would commend to the attention of Max Nordau, referring' as it does to Ruskin, whom Millais met for tile first time in the slimmer of this year. It was written from the~ cottage near Kingston before Millais and Hunt removed to Worcester Park Farm.

For those interested the "Huguenot" picture referred to can be found here, the wall in the picture being that of Worcester Park Farm (you can tell can't you). If you follow the original link there are more WP references. Don't say I don't spoil you!

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