The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.

III. Critical and Miscellaneous Prose

§ 14. Haydon

Nearly all our subsequent aesthetic criticism is derived from, or more or less deeply influenced by, Ruskin. Benjamin Robert Haydon stands quite apart from him. Though a far older man than Ruskin, Haydon, as the author of printed works, comes after him in chronological order; for, even Haydon’s Lectures on Painting and Design, the earliest of which was delivered in 1835, was not published till near the close of his life; and the fascinating Autobiography, which is his sole title to literary fame, was posthumous. Ruskin’s scathing judgment on Haydon as an artist is well known. In Modern Painters, he singles out Haydon and Barry as examples of “the desire of greatness as such, or rather of what appears great to indolence and vanity,” and states that “nothing except disgrace and misguidance will ever be gathered from such work” as theirs. Whether this be so or not, the Autobiography is entirely unaffected. It has that value which must always belong to any sincere revelation of a human soul, and takes a very high rank in that delightful class of books which Ruskin himself afterwards enriched by his charming Praeterita. Haydon’s Autobiography is not, however, except in a very slight degree, a work of aesthetic criticism, and he is connected with this group rather through his paint-brush than through his pen.