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John Everett Millais

John Everett Millais (1829 - 1896) was born in Southampton of a prominent Jersey-based family. His prodigious artistic talent won him a place at the Royal Academy schools at the unprecedented age of eleven. While there, he met William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti with whom he would form the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848. Millais’s Christ in the House of his Parents (1850) was highly controversial because of its realistic portrayal of a working class Holy Family labouring in a messy carpentry workshop. Also later works were controversial, though less so. Millais achieved popular success with A Huguenot (1852) depicting a young couple who are about to be separated because of religious conflicts. He repeated this theme in many later works.

All these early works were painted with great attention detail, often concentrating on the beauty and complexity of the natural world. This style was promoted by the critic John Ruskin. However Ruskin’s wife Effie Gray left him for Millais. After his marriage to Effie, Millais began to paint in a broader style, which Ruskin attacked. Works such as The Eve of St. Agnes and The Somnambulist show the influence of Whistler. Others demonstrate Millais’s reverence for Velázquez and Rembrandt. Millais achieved great popularity with his paintings of children, notably Bubbles and Cherry Ripe. Larger works, such as The Boyhood of Raleigh and The North-West Passage, often portrayed episodes in Britain’s imperial history.

Millais was also very successful as a book illustrator, notably for the works of Anthony Trollope

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