He jumped up from his seat, and went quickly towards the desire of his eyes by Joseph Syddall. Format: half-page, horizontal above Book Second, Ch. XXII: 17 cm high x 22 cm wide (6 ⅞ inches high by 8 ⅞ inches wide). This plate, which is number 9 in the serialisation of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the Durbervilles, illustrated by various artists, appeared in the 5 September 1891 issue of the London Graphic, page 273, top of column 2 (instalment begins on p. 273). [Click on the illustration to enlarge it.]

Passage Illustrated: Angel Becomes Suddenly Demonstrative

How very lovable her face was to him. Yet there was nothing ethereal about it; all was real vitality, real warmth, real incarnation. And it was in her mouth that this culminated. Eyes almost as deep and speaking he had seen before, and cheeks perhaps as fair; brows as arched, a chin and throat almost as shapely; her mouth he had seen nothing to equal on the face of the earth. To a young man with the least fire in him that little upward lift in the middle of her red top lip was distracting, infatuating, maddening. He had never before seen a woman’s lips and teeth which forced upon his mind with such persistent iteration the old Elizabethan simile of roses filled with snow. Perfect, he, as a lover, might have called them off-hand. But no—they were not perfect. And it was the touch of the imperfect upon the would-be perfect that gave the sweetness, because it was that which gave the humanity.

Clare had studied the curves of those lips so many times that he could reproduce them mentally with ease: and now, as they again confronted him, clothed with colour and life, they sent an aura over his flesh, a breeze through his nerves, which well nigh produced a qualm; and actually produced, by some mysterious physiological process, a prosaic sneeze.

She then became conscious that he was observing her; but she would not show it by any change of position, though the curious dream-like fixity disappeared, and a close eye might easily have discerned that the rosiness of her face deepened, and then faded till only a tinge of it was left.

The influence that had passed into Clare like an excitation from the sky did not die down. Resolutions, reticences, prudences, fears, fell back like a defeated battalion. He jumped up from his seat, and, leaving his pail to be kicked over if the milcher had such a mind, went quickly towards the desire of his eyes, and, kneeling down beside her, clasped her in his arms.

Tess was taken completely by surprise, and she yielded to his embrace with unreflecting inevitableness. [Book Second, "The Rally," Chapter XXII, 273; in the 1897 volume edition, Phase the Third, "The Rally," Chapter XXIV, pp. 193-194]


We cannot see Angel Clare's facial expression, but Tess's registers surprise as she looks up from her milking-pail. As in the caption, Angel has knocked over his milking-stool (lower right), and nobody else is in sight. This is Syddall's first signed production in his limited series; he has signed his surname with two d's" rather than the one used in the running caption for the plates.

Doubtless under the influence of "the oozing fatness and warm ferments of Froom Vale" in the month of July in Wessex, Tess possesses a visage which is fuller, less pinched, and more youthful-looking than that in the August 8th illustration, Syddall's Tess in Dairyman Dick's yard (Plate 5). Even though she has raised her left arm as if to ward off the oncoming figure (whose face, in profile, she but not the viewer can fully read), she is not alarmed so much as pleasantly surprise. She intuits that this young man, unlike the insidious Alec, means her no harm, despite her finding herself alone with him; and yet his arrival is as sudden and unexpected as was Alec's in the August 8th illustration. Like Hardy, the visual artist has the habit of repeating a scene, but with a difference.

Tess, wearing "a white curtain-bonnet," has just removed her cheek from Old Pretty's flank, exactly as in the text. The viewer here, like the reader, is struck by Tess's youthful beauty rather than by Angel's face, form, or appearance: he is an anonymous farm-labourer in the picture, although Hardy says nothing about his appearance and the figure is purely Syddall's invention. The hat and linen smock-frock are consistent with the setting, the task, and the balmy afternoon. Although we cannot see his abandoned milk-pail, we sense his improvident haste by the overturned stool. In total, the scene possesses an impressionistic, kinetic energy from the stool, the striding of the male figure with left arm raised, and Tess's raising her arm and turning her eyes away from the cow.

Note: For commentaries on all the illustrations of this serial version of the novel, which were by various hands, please consult the complete list.

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. Formatting by George P. Landow. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


Allingham, Philip V. "The Original Illustrations for Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles Drawn by Daniel A. Wehrschmidt, Ernest Borough-Johnson, and Joseph Sydall for the Graphic (1891)." The Thomas Hardy Year Book, No. 24 (1997): 3-50.

Allingham, Philip V. "Six Original Illustrations for Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles Drawn by Sir Hubert Von Herkomer for the Graphic (1891)." The Thomas Hardy Journal, Vol. X, No. 1 (February 1994): 52-70.

Hardy, Thomas. Tess of the D'Urbervilles in the Graphic, 1891, 4 July-26 December, pp. 11-761.

Hardy, Thomas. Tess of the D'Urbervilles: A Pure Woman. Vol. I. The Wessex Novels. London: Osgood, McIlvaine, 1897.

Jackson, Arlene M. Illustration and the Novels of Thomas Hardy. Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1981.

Vann, J. Don. "Tess of the D'Urbervilles in the Graphic, 4 July — 26 December 1891." Victorian Novels in Serial. New York: MLA, 1985, pp. 88-89.

Created 21 January 2001

Last modified 8 May 2024