- Museum number
Touching Up Morning at the Royal Academy in 1850; interior with paintings hung several deep around the walls, crowd of men gathered looking, including Rossetti and Madox Brown, while other artists are working on their paintings on varnishing day, one with top hat is on a ladder with his right arm raised to apply his paintbrush to a portrait and Turner is seen standing on a box. 1850
Pen and brown ink
- Production date
Height: 211 millimetres
Width: 180 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The title of this drawing is taken from a note on the back of the old frame (the labels from the frame are stored in P&D at 193*.2); it was also exhibited under the title 'Varnishing Morning at the Royal Academy in 1850' by The British Council, Fine Arts Department and the Royal Academy of Arts (evident from their labels on the back of the old frame, transcribed below, and the exhibition catalogue of 1967). The British Council, Fine Art Department label does not have any further information besides the title of the drawing, not detailing the relevant exhibition location and date, which remain unknown. The two labels from The Royal Academy detail the title and dates of exhibitions as 1967 and 1974-5 respectively.
A further label adhered to the back board states in Russian the artist's name and title of the work, without details of the relevant exhibition location or date.
A note is adhered to the back of the original frame, inscribed in pen and black ink as follows: "This sketch, made by Millais, in Hunt’s Studio, on the evening of the same day, depicts RAs quizzing Pre-Raphaelite pictures. The pictures were - Christian Priests Fleeing from Druids, by W. Holman Hunt. Christ in the House of his Parents, Ferdinand & Ariel, Grandfather & Child by J. E. Millais. / Turner is seen standing upon a box. / Grant is on a ladder, wielding a big brush. The 2 figures in the foreground are intended for Rossetti who is trying to convert Madox Brown to Pre Raphaelitism as, at the time, he was unconvinced."
A manuscript note in the same hand was found under the mount, with a similar but slightly different wording: "In this sketch made by Millais, in Hunt's studio, on the evening of the same day, RAs are seen quizzing Pre-Raphaelite pictures. They were - Christian Priests Fleeing from Druids, by W. Holman Hunt. Christ in the House of his Parents, Ferdinand & Ariel, Grandfather & Child by J. E. Millais. / Turner is seen standing upon a box. / Grant is on a ladder, wielding a big brush. The 2 figures in the foreground are intended for Rossetti who is reasoning with Madox Brown, who is still, at the time, unconvinced with regards to Pre Raphaelitism."
Judith Bronkhurst informs us that these notes were written by Gladys Joseph, daughter of William Holman Hunt (communication 27 October 2014)/
A note by Virginia Surtees accompanied the gift of this drawing states "Soth[eby's] Bel[gravia] Oct 6 1980 lot 16". She also added the same information to the yellow J S Maas & Co Ltd label on the old backboard.
A copy of all the labels and notes will be kept in the department dossier on the drawing (the original backboard with labels is at 193*.2 in P&D as mentioned above).
This drawing was given to William Holman Hunt by Millais. According to Hunt (1913 edition below), the date '1851' was added by him by mistake some years later; it should have been 1850. He noted that Millais made the sketch in his studio at Chelsea immediately after returning from the first day of the exhibition where Millais had been angered by the rude laughter of some fellow students over his painting 'Christ in the House of His Parents'. The figure at the right, holding a paint box behind him, represents Ford Madox Brown. When Hunt demurred that Brown wasn't there, Millais replied, "Oh! That doesn't matter, it's quite fair to put him in as one of the unconverted." Rossetti is supposed to be the bearded man arguing with him; Francis Grant (later PRA), is on the ladder, and Turner stands on a box in the background.
Lit.: William Holman Hunt, 'Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood', 1905, Vol.I p.250, and 1913, I p.143-4, 199 (repr.); Hesketh Hubbard, 'Some Victorian Draughtsmen', London, 1944, pl.52; M. G. Bennett, 'PRB, Millais, PRA', Exhibition Catalogue, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool and RA, London, 1967, No.256; 'Turner 1775-1851. Bicentenary Exhibition at Royal Academy 1974-5', essays by Wilton, Gage etc., Tate Gallery, 1974, p.182, No.B62; Arts Council of Great Britain, 'The Drawings of John Everett Millais', London, 1979.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1923, 27 April - 29 July, Tate Gallery, 'Loan Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings of the 1860 Period', no.332
1947, 7 June - 27 July, City of Birmingham Art Gallery, 'Works by Ford Madox Brown and the Pre-Raphaelites', No.174
1967, 12 January - 5 March, Royal Academy, London, and 15 March - 30 April, Walker Art Galley, Liverpool, 'Millais, PRB, PRA', No.256
1974-1975, 16 November - 2 March, Tate Gallery and Royal Academy, London, ‘J.M.W.Turner 1775-1851. Bicentenary Exhibition at Royal Academy’, No.B62
1980, Oct, J. Maas Gallery, London
2018-2019, Oct 4 – 27 Jan, London, BM G90, New Acquisitions: Gozzoli to Kara Walker
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Originally given by Millais to Holman Hunt; by descent to his daughter Mrs. Michael Joseph, thence by descent; in 1967, descendant was Mrs. Elizabeth Burt (lender to Millais exhibition RA, no.256); in Turner exhibition RA 1974, lent by Mrs. Warwick Tompkin (formerly Elizabeth Burt); her sale ? Sotheby's Belgravia, London, 6 October 1980, lot 16; purchased by J.S.Maas and sold to or purchased on behalf of the donor, who records purchasing it October 1980.
A letter from Mrs Surtees in 1981 indicated that she eventually wished this drawing to come to the British Museum 'entirely owing to all the help and advice and kindness I have had from John Gere in the Print Room over many years'.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number