Although never a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Charles Allston Collins adhered to their stated mission of selecting subjects that conveyed “heartfelt” ideas rendered through the close study of nature. Here, he portrays the exemplary piety of Elizabeth of Hungary, who, when arriving at the church before the priests had opened the door, fell to her knees at the threshold to begin her devotions. While the story of the thirteenth-century saint derives from Alban Butler’s The Lives of the Saints (1756–59), the visual details—from the wooden door’s grain to the shot silk dress—reflect Collins’s accurate observations of his visual world. He also adopted the arduous Pre-Raphaelite practice of painting on a white wet ground to heighten his brilliant colors. Collins’s career was brief; his failure to attract clients prompted him to turn to writing, but he was overshadowed by the success of his novelist brother Wilkie Collins.

From Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 89 (2015)
Artist Charles Allston Collins, British, 1828-1873
Title
  • The Devout Childhood of St. Elizabeth of Hungary
Date between 1851 and 1852
Medium oil on canvas
Dimensions Overall: 35 3/4 × 23 3/4 inches (90.8 × 60.3 cm)
Credit Line Museum Purchase, Ernest and Rosemarie Kanzler Foundation Fund
Accession Number 2015.29
Department European Painting
On View British S3AA, Level 3 (see map)
Signed Signed and dated: [artist's monogram] CA Collins 1852
(The Maas Gallery, London, United Kingdom);
2015-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Bulletin of the DIA: Notable Acquisitions, 2000–2015 89, no. 1/4 (2015): p. 95 (ill.).