Recovering Walter Howell Deverell: Image, Identity and Portraiture

Barbara Bryant


From the founding of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848, this group of young British artists ignited new possibilities in all genres of art, not least portraiture.  The formal portrait mutated into a more direct vision of a real person, while subject paintings gained new meanings as artists cast family and friends in new roles, bringing into question the wider issue of identity.  One work that exemplifies this aspect of Pre-Raphaelite art is Walter Howell Deverell's The Pet Parrot (1853) in the collections of the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. Due to his early death and lack of a full career, Deverell (1827-54), has not been fully integrated into accounts of Pre-Raphaelitism.  This articles seeks to begin the reinstatement of this artist within the discussion of the art of the period.  I will consider his painting The Pet Parrot with emphasis on the identity of the artist, the identity of the sitter and the place of this work in the historiography of Pre-Raphaelitism.


Pre-Raphaelite art; Victorian art; Walter Howell Deverell; "The Pet Parrot"

Full Text:



Works Cited

Benson, Laurie. Medieval Moderns: The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 2015. 22-23.

Bronkhurst, Judith. William Holman Hunt: A Catalogue Raisonné. New Haven, CT and London: Yale U P, 2006.

Cruise, Colin. “‘Sincerity and Earnestness’: D. G. Rossetti's Early Exhibitions 1849-53.” Burlington Magazine 146 (Jan. 2004): 4-12.

[Deverell, Frances C. (Mrs. Wykeham Deverell)]. “The P.R.B. & Walter Howell Deverell. Letters from Dante Gabriel Rossetti & Others, with a Narrative & Illustrations.” Unpub. mss with preface and annotations by W. M. Rossetti, 1899. The Huntington Library, San Marino, California, USA (HM 12981).

Fredeman, William E., ed. The P.R.B. Journal: William Michael Rossetti’s Diary of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, 1849–1853. Oxford: Clarendon, 1975.

——, ed. The Correspondence of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Oxford: OUP, 2002-15.

Holloway, V. “In Defence of Walter Deverell.” Pre-Raphaelite Society Review 22.2 (Summer 2014): 20–28.

Hoff, Ursula. Comments on the London Art Scene. Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 1978.

Hunt, William Holman. “The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood: A Fight for Art.” Contemporary Review (May 1886): 744.

——. Pre-Raphaelitism and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. 2 vols. London: Macmillan, 1905.

Jacobi, C. et. al. Love & Desire: Pre-Raphaelite Masterpieces from the Tate. Canberra: National Gallery of Australia, 2018.

Jeffrey, Rebecca A. “W. H. Deverell: Some Observations and a Checklist.” Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies VI.2 (May 1986): 83-89.

Lutyens, Mary. “Walter Howell Deverell (1827–1854),” in Parris, ed. Pre-Raphaelite Papers. 76–96, 243–47.

——, ed. “Letters from Sir John Everett Millais (1829–1896) and William Hunt (1827–1910) in the Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, California.” Walpole Society Annual Volume 44 (1972–74): 1–93.

Maas, Jeremy. “The Pre-Raphaelites: A Personal View,” in Parris, ed. Pre-Raphaelite Papers. 226-34.

Minto, W., ed. Autobiographical Notes of the Life of William Bell Scott: and Notices of his Artistic and Poetic Circle of Friends, 1830 to 1882. 2 vols. London: Osgood, McIlvaine, 1892.

Parris, Leslie, ed. The Pre-Raphaelites. Exhibition catalogue. London: Tate Gallery/Penguin, 1984.

——, ed. Pre-Raphaelite Papers. London: Tate Gallery, 1984.

Peattie, R. W. “The Huntington Library Manuscript of ‘The P.R.B. and Walter Howell Deverell.’” Huntington Library Quarterly 51 (1988): 88–94

Poynter, J. Mr. Felton’s Bequests. Melbourne 2003. 558-67.

Roe, Dinah, ed. The Pre-Raphaelites: From Rossetti to Ruskin. Penguin: London, 2010.

Rossetti, William Michael. “The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.” Magazine of Art 1881: 434-37.

——, ed. Præraphaelite Diaries and Letters. London: Hurst and Blackett, 1900.

——. “Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Elizabeth Siddal.” Burlington Magazine I (May 1903): 274.

[——]. “Exhibition of Pictures by Living Artists at the North of England Society for the Promotion of the Fine Arts.” The Gateshead Observer 28 Aug. 1852: 6.

——. “The British Institution.” The Spectator Feb. 12 1853: 158-59.

[——]. “Exhibition of the Society of British Artists.” The Spectator 2 April 1853: 326.

——. Some Reminiscences of William Michael Rossetti. London: Brown, Langham & Co., 1906.

[Stephens, F. G.]. “Pictures at Birmingham.” Athenaeum 10 Oct. 1891: 491.

Thomas, Daniel. Pre-Raphaelite Art: Paintings, Drawings, Engravings, Sculpture, Tapestries, Chintzes, Wallpapers. Australian State Galleries (Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney), 1962.

Tzamouranis, P. “Buying for the Future, Mary Woodall and Italian Old Master Paintings.” Art Journal of the National Gallery of Victoria 44 (2004).


  • There are currently no refbacks.