In 1868 he returned in his Royal Academy exhibits to his earlier medium of crayons, sending in the Study of a Head, and a portrait of Mr. George Critchett. With them was sent in his great picture of Medea, which was accepted, but rejected at the last moment. This procedure drew forth from his friends an indignant protest, and started a severe correspondence in the Times, with a characteristic eulogy of the picture from Mr. Swinburne, with the result that in the following year the picture was hung on the line, and with it was accepted a crayon portrait of Mrs. Barstow. In 1871 another oil portrait was sent in, representing Mr. W. H. Clabburn, a crayon portrait of the same person, and a group in crayons of the children of Mr. J. J. Colman. Four crayon portraits appeared in 1873, representing Mrs. William Brand, Mr. Leopold de Rothschild, Mr. Frederick A. Millbank, and Mrs. Millbank. His exhibits in 1875 were a crayon portrait of Father Rossi, another of Miss Ellis, one without a name, and an oil painting of Mrs. William Brand. In 1876 he exhibited one crayon portrait only, Mrs. Charles Augustus Howell, in 1878 a similar one of Mr. Cyril Flower (now Lord Battersea), and in 1879 an oil portrait of Mrs. Temple Soanes. His exhibits in 1880, 1882, and 1883 were all in crayons, the two portraits in 1880 representing James Brand, Esq., and Ethel and Mabel; those in 1882, Mr. Robert Browning, His Excellency the Hon. J. Kussell Lowell, Mr. Matthew Arnold, and Professor Goldwin Smith. In that year he had an important illustration in Dalziel’s Family Bible, entitled Jacob hears the Voice of the Lord. In 1883 he sent into the Academy a crayon portrait of Mrs. H. Chinnery, and in 1886 his last exhibit was an oil portrait of Mr. William Gillilan.
The important work of Sandys was, however, by no means confined to his exhibits at the Royal Academy and his book illustrations. He first of all came before the public in connection with a clever satire of the pictures exhibited by Millais at the Royal Academy in 1857, called Sir Isunbras at the Ford. Sandys’ parody of the picture was a very brilliant drawing, representing Millais, Rossetti, and Holman Hunt riding upon a donkey, inscribed “J. R. Oxon”, and intended to represent Ruskin. The joke was directed against the Oxford Professor on account of his over-vehement championship of Rossetti and Holman Hunt. It was the occasion of the first meeting between Rossetti and Sandys, and as the former artist had sufficient sense of humour to take the satire in good part, it was the beginning of a warm friendship which sprang up between the two men, and lasted uninterruptedly until Rossetti’s death.
- Image source: Reproductions of Woodcuts by F. Sandys, 1860-1866. London: Carl Hentschel, n.d.