The Sacred Mistletoe, by George Boughton (1834-1905). Exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1883, but it has not come to light since then. This is a framed photograph of it from Sambourne House, reproduced here by kind permission of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The image and this information about were both supplied by Shirley Nicholson.

At the time, at least one at critic gave a very negative opinion about the work:

We cannot guess why Mr. Boughton exhibits The Sacred Mistletoe ... in its present condition. Surely it would have been well to keep it back if only to model the forms to express relief, to draw the features correctly in their planes and curves, and to give to the formless fists of the "Druidess," carrying raw green mistletoe and a golden knife, something more of the articulations of the skeleton if not of the finer external contours of “the life”! The expression of the face, not being defined, cannot be praised or challenged. Mr. Boughton has a reputation to lose and ought not to paint thus. The archaeology of the altar and sacred grove in the background is curious. [609]

Could such criticism have had something to do with the work's apparent disappearance? — Jacqueline Banerjee

Link to related material


"The Grosvenor Gallery Exhibition (Second and Concluding Part)." The Athenaeum. January to June 1883. 12 May 1883: 608-10. Google Books. Free Ebook.

Created 2 July 2022