I was gently rebuked last night for having described Marcus Stone RA as obscure. Of course, he would not have been obscure in 1900 when he was living in pomp in Melbury Road next door to Frederic Watts surrounded by all the attributes of late Victorian artists’ prosperity, painting rather saccharine narrative paintings which were bought for large sums of money at the RA’s annual Summer Exhibition. But nowadays ? I am not so convinced that he has enjoyed the revival of interest in Victorian art and note that as a book illustrator he is described as ‘wholly undistinguished’ and that in discussing his work as an illustrator of Dickens, Nicolas Bentley wrote: ‘the defence of youth as an excuse for Stone’s inadequacy as an illustrator would be easier to sustain – he was twenty four when he illustrated Our Mutual Friend – were it not that the talents of Millais, Holman Hunt, Richard Doyle, Keene and others were considerably more precocious than his own. The fact is that whatever other talents he may have developed – later in life he achieved some degree of fame as a painter of maudlin pot-boilers with a Regency flavour – as an illustrator he was no better than a hack’.