matters photographical

Giles Hudson

Tag Archives: Effie Gray

Pre-Raphaelite Photography: Sarah Angelina Acland and Millais’s Portrait of Ruskin at Glenfinlas

The announcement of the acquisition by the Ashmolean Museum of John Everett Millais’s celebrated portrait of John Ruskin marks a new chapter in the history of a painting that not only has an important place in the grand narrative of the history of art, but also a more private history, through one of Ruskin’s pupils, the photographer Sarah Angelina Acland. Bequeathed by Ruskin to her father Henry Wentworth Acland, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford, for three decades the portrait hung over Miss Acland’s writing desk in her home opposite the Sheldonian Theatre. As well as treasuring the painting as a likeness of her close friend and mentor in artistic matters, in the late 1890s Miss Acland also used the work as a test subject in her experiments in orthochromatic photography, which she pursued in the spirit of the Pre-Raphaelites, around whom she had grown up.

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