John Orchard

(?-1850)

Contributions to The Germ:

IV.
A Dialogue [on Art]
On a Whit-Sunday Morn in the Month of May

Very little is known about Orchard, and only the Pre-Rapahelite Brotherhood's materials provide any clue about him. He was apparently a young painter with theoretical leanings very sympathetic to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and who actively sought its attention. But according to William Michael Rossetti:
In our circle he was unknown; but, conceiving a deep admiration for Rossetti's first exhibited picture (1849) "Girlhood of Mary Virgin", he wrote to him, enclosing a sonnet upon the picture--a very bad sonnet in all executive respects, and far from giving promise of the spirited, if unequal poetic treatment we find in the lines of "The Germ". . .

His Platonic "Dialogue on Art" won the admiration of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Frederic George Stephens, and John Lucas Tupper, as "seeming to out-PRB the PRB" (20 March 1850).

An invalid since birth, he was "unequal to the bodily labour inseparable from his profession," and died before seeing his dialogue and poem into print. Orchard's obscurity is such that the most prominent record of his is William Michael Rossetti's: "A letter came telling Gabriel of the death of Orchard on Saturday . . . . If I could get at sufficient materials, I should like to write a notice of him in the Critic" (26 March 1850).