Raphael 's popular reputation remained high throughout the nineteenth century. The Encyclopedia Britannica 3rd edition of 1797 calls him 'the greatest, most sublime, and most excellent painter that has appeared, since the revival of the fine arts'. Mrs. Jameson in Jameson, Hand-book to the Public Galleries of Art in and near London, p. 380, gave Raphael the role of Shakespeare, and Michelangelo the lesser role of Milton - good at 'epic grandeur' but not universally good as she considered Raphael to be, who 'has never yet been equalled'.
Ruskin sought to test this reputation, particularly in relation to Raphael 's later work, and Ruskin was not alone in expressing reservations (on which see Ruskin on Raphael). Lecky wrote in 1865 (the year in which, according to Shearman, Raphael's Cartoons, p. 157, 200,000 people visited Raphael's cartoons at Hampton Court):
Even Raphael, who exhibits the tendency less than his contemporaries, never shrank from destroying the religious character of his later works by the introduction of incongruous images. ( Lecky, History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe, II. p. 251)
Shearman, Raphael's Cartoons, p.160, suggests that 1891 was the date which marked the decline of the critical reputation of Raphael 's cartoons among art historians and among students in England: 'the accessibility of the cartoons to art-students was no longer a reason for keeping them in London, because no students paid any attention to them'.
Nevertheless the continuing public reputation of Raphael towards the end of the century is shown in cash terms in Cook, Handbook to the National Gallery, including Notes Collected from the Works of Mr. Ruskin, p. 111, Cook refers to the acquisition of Raphael's Ansidei Madonna from the Duke of Marlborough in 1884 for '£70,000 - more than three times the highest price ever paid for a picture, and equal to more than £14 per square inch', and makes the point that 'the purchase was pressed upon the Government by all sorts and conditions of men.'