The Captive

George H. Every, after original oil painting by John Everett Millais,
Mezzotint, 1885
The Fine Art Society published this mezzotint in 1885. The original may be seen in the collection of the Gallery of New South Wales.

Every's copy is no longer in the collection, and no record of it can be found apart from this photograph.

There are several reasons why items may be missing from the collection. Ruskin was in the habit of moving works around a circuit of institutions, which included Whitelands College in London (now Roehampton University) and the Ruskin teaching collection at Oxford. This means that works are not always lodged where the early catalogues, or in this case early photographs, would lead us to expect.


Works may also have been misplaced when the collection was moved, first from Walkley to Meersbrook, then from Meersbrook to Reading, and finally from Reading back to Sheffield.

The unexpected presences in this photograph unsettle the assumption that museum collections are unchanging. The absence of objects occupying a central position in the old displays complicates the act of reconstruction, reminding us that the museum's history is not always continuous or accessible.

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