The Royal Academy Exhibition 1859
Very masterly and complete in effect, and like the Val d'Arno; so also its companion, No. 173.1 But the intention of this latter is mistaken. An English boy, however luxuriously bred, has usually twenty times the firmness in his face that an Italian one has. Italian boys are beautiful full of vitality and roguery; lazy, and, on the whole, well fed, wherever I have seen them. There is more misery of an outward and physical kind in a couple of London backstreets than in a whole Italian town. Mental degradation, not physical suffering, constitutes the slavery of Italy; both constitute that of England. Italian slavery is infinitely grander than ours. The souls of Italy at least need iron bars to bind them; ours need only the threads of purses.
(1)["England and Italy. Painted in the Val d'Arno, 1859." In a note in the catalogue the artist explains her intention: "Two boys, one of English type, the other an Italian boy of the people. In one I have endeavoured to express the pure happiness of our children ; in the other, the obstination (sic) of the oppressed and suffering poor of Italy."]