The Royal Academy Exhibition 1859
Mr. Hughes's exquisite sense of colour and delicacy of design are seen to less advantage than usual. He has been allowing himself to go astray by indulging too much in his chief delight of colour; and this picture, which was quite lovely when I saw it last year incomplete, is now throughout too gay, and wanting in sweetness of shade, but most accomplished and delicious in detached passages; and the apple-blossom, among all its ruddy rivals on the walls this year, is tenderly, but triumphantly, victorious― it is the only blossom which is soft enough in texture, or round enough in bud. There is the making of a magnificent painter in Mr. Hughes; but he must for some time yet stoop to conquer―be content with cottagers' instead of kings' orchards, and bow to the perhaps distressing but assured fact, that a picture can be no more wholly splendid than it can be wholly white.
* For the sake of simplicity of conception, Velasquez must be classed with the Venetians, to whom he belongs in right of his style, and Vandyck with the English; in fact, he, with Sir Joshua and Gainsborough, constitute the whole school.
(1)[The picture was suggested by Pippa Passes:―"And peasants sing how once a certain page Pined for the grace of her so far above His power of doing good to, 'Kate the Queen―'She never could be wronged, be poor,' he sighed, 'Need him to help her!'" In the Academy Catalogue, Browning's lines were unkindly printed as prose.]