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Sir John Everett Millais is an English painter, born in Southampton. He
started to draw at the age of 4 years; and his parents supported his artistic
inclinations, providing him with private art lessons with a Mr. Bessel.
Encouraged by Mr. Bessel, the family came to London with an introduction
to the President of the Royal Academy and in 1840 John Millais became the
youngest student ever at the Academy. In 1846, he exhibited his Pizarro
Seizing the Inca of Peru at the RA.
Along with Dante Gabriel Rossetti
and William Holman Hunt he was
a founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and was markedly influenced
by them and by John Ruskin. His first Pre-Raphaelite
picture Lorenzo and Isabella
(1849), the banquet scene from the poem Isabella, or The Pot of Basil
about ill-fated love by English poet Keats, figures in the Academy in 1849,
where it was followed in 1850 by
in the House of His Parents (1849), Ferdinand
Lured by Ariel (1849) which met the full force of the anti-Pre-Raphaelite
In 1851, The Woodman's Daughter
(1851), Mariana (1851) and The
Return of the Dove to the Ark (1851) are exhibited at the RA,
but were poorly received. Four years later in Paris the same The Return
of the Dove to the Ark and The Order of Release made a strong
impression. Millais executed a few etchings, and his illustrations in Good
Words, Once a Week, The Cornhill, etc. (1857-64) place
him in the very first rank of woodcut designers.
In 1855, he married Euphemia (Effie) Charmers Ruskin, the divorcée
of John Ruskin, who bore him 8 children; they appeared later on many of
his pictures. Ruskin continued to praise the artist.
Preoccupied with his social standing, Millais later abandoned the Pre-Raphaelite
style, broke with John Ruskin, and began to cater to popular tastes. The
exquisite Gambler’s Wife (1869) and The
Boyhood of Raleigh (1870) mark the transition of his art into
its final phase, displaying brilliant and effective coloring and his effortless
power of brushwork. The interest and value of his later works, largely
portraits, lies mainly in their splendid technical qualities. A late painting
(1886), showing his grandson, William James, achieved huge popularity.
Eventually he was made a baronet (1885) and became president of the Royal
Academy (1896), was decorated with many foreign orders and awards. He died
in 1896. Millais was buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Ruskin, John (1819-1900) English author
and art critic. His works Modern Painters (1843), which hotly supported
art, The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1848), The Stones of Venice
(1851-53) made him critic of the day, later he became the most influential
art critic of the Victorian era. Supported artists of the Pre-Raphaelite
Brotherhood. From 1867, held the post of Rede Lecturer in Cambridge,
and from 1869-1884 a professorship of fine arts in Oxford. Founded a museum
and a drawing school in Oxford, and in Meersbrook a night school for craftsmen.
Towards the end of his life Ruskin increasingly suffered from a severe
nervous illness. His watercolors and drawings were exhibited from 1873
to 1884 at the Old Water-Color Society. See his Cascade
de la Folie, Chamonix (1849), grandly atmospheric view of an
Alpine chain, its expansiveness recalls early Turner.
See: Sir John Everett Millais. John Ruskin.
Victorian Painting. by Christopher Wood. Bulfinch Press. 1999.
Life and Letters of Sir John Everett Millais, President of the Royal Academy
by John Guille Millais. AMS Press.
Everett Millais: A Biography by Gordon H. Fleming. Constable
& Co Ltd, 1999.
John Everett Millais by Russell Ash, John Everett Millais.
by Peter Funnell, Malcolm Warner, Kate Flint. Princeton University Press,
Present And Time Past: The Art Of John Everett Millais by Paul
Barlow. Ashgate Publishing, 2005.
Everett Millais: Beyond the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood by Debra
N. Mancoff. Paul Mellon Center, 2001.
Everett Millais: Illustrator And Narrator by Paul Goldman,
Tessa Sidey. Lund Humphries Publishers, 2004.