Millais’ Letter to Mrs. Combe: Flowers in Ophelia

To Mrs. Combe,


July 28th, 1851

“My Dear Mrs. Combe,–Many thanks for Dyce’s answer, which I received yesterday, and as yet have read but little, and that little imperfectly understand.

“In answer to your botanical inquiries, the flowering rush grows most luxuriantly along the banks of the river here, and I shall paint it in the picture (‘Ophelia). The other plant named I am not sufficiently learned in flowers to know. There is the dog-rose, river-daisy, forget-me-not-and a kind of soft, straw-colored blossom (with the word ‘sweet’ in its name) also growing on the bank; I think it is called meadow-sweet.

I am nightly working my brains for a subject. Some incident to illustrate patience I have a desire to paint. When I catch one I shall write you the description.

I enclose Hunt’s key to the missionary picture, with apologies from him for not having sooner prepared it. Begging you to receive his thanks for a kind invitation, believe me, with affectionate regards to Mr. Combe,

Most truly yours,

John Everett Millais

Meadow-sweet, Jacob Strum (1796)
Flowering rush, Otto Wilhelm Thomé
Forget-me-not. Biodiversity Heritage Library.
River-Daisy, Biodiversity Heritage Library
Stages of growth of the dog-rose by Otto Wilhelm Thomé.
Ophelia, Sir John Everett Millais