On the 8th November, 1853, Dante Gabriel Rossetti wrote to his sister, Christina, saying ‘Millais, I just hear, was last night elected Associate. Now the whole Round Table is dissolved!’ Rossetti must have felt betrayed for in order to receive the accolade of ARA one had to put oneself forward, but in reality the Brotherhood had been diverging for at least a year prior to this news.
So a mere five years after the formation of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, it was over. They had lost their most prolific and experienced member, and despite the growing acceptance of their work, for Rossetti the halcyon days of changing the art world were over. For Millais, that day was the start of establishment acceptance which would lead him to the very top of the Royal Academy.
In response to Rossetti’s lamentation of the PRBs ultimate ‘victory and defeat’, Christina produced this poem, ‘Luscious Fruit Must Fall’:
The Two Rossetti’s (brothers they)
And Holman Hunt and John Millais,
With Stephens chivalrous and bland,
And Woolner in a distant land –
In these six men I awestruck see
Embodied the great PRB.
D.G. Rossetti offered two
Good pictures to the public view;
Innumbered ones the great John Millais,
And Holman more than I can say.
William Rossetti, calm and solemn,
Cuts up his brethren by the column.
The PRB is in its decadence:
For Woolner in Australia cooks his chops,
And Hunt is yearning for the land of Cheops;
D.G. Rossetti shuns the vulgar optic;
While William M. Rossetti merely lops
His Bs in English disesteemed as Coptic;
Calm Stephens in the twilight smokes his pipe,
But long the dawning of his public day;
And he at last the champion great Millais,
Attaining academic opulence,
Winds up his signature with A.R.A.
So rivers merge in the perpetual sea;
So luscious fruit must fall when over-ripe;
And so the consummated PRB.