John Everett Millais

John Everett Millais

Style: Pre-Raphaelites

Lived: June 8, 1829 - August 13, 1896 (19th century)

Nationality: United Kingdom

John Everett Millais was born on June 8, 1829 in Southampton, of a prominent Jersey-based family. His stupendous artistic talent won him a place at the Royal Academy schools at the unprecedented age of 11. While studying, he met Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Holman Hunt with whom he formed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848.

Millais' 'Christ in the House of his Parents' (1850) was a highly controversial work because of its realistic portrayal of a working class Holy Family labouring in a carpentry workshop. With 'A Huguenot' (1852), which depicts a young couple about to be separated because of religious conflicts, Millais achieved popular success. He repeated this theme in many later works.

His early works were painted with great attention to detail, often focusing on the complexity and beauty of the natural world. This style was promoted by John Ruskin, who defended the Pre-Raphaelites against their critics. Millais' friendship with Ruskin introduced him to Ruskin's wife Effie. She modelled in his studio. As Millais painted Effie they fell in love. In 1856, after her marriage to Ruskin was annulled, Effie and John Millais married.

After his marriage, Millais began to paint with greater boldness (which was condemned by Ruskin as "a catastrophe"). Critics such as William Morris accused him of selling out to achieve popularity and wealth. His admirers, in contrast, pointed to the influence of Impressionism and Whistler.

Paintings such as 'The Eve of St. Agnes' show the influence of Whistler, whose work Millais strongly supported. Other paintings of the this period can be interpreted as part of the Aesthetic Movement. Many deploy broad blocks of harmonious colours. Later works, from the 1870s onwards, demonstrate Millais's reverence for Rembrandt.

Millias was elected as a member of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1853, in which he was a prominent and active participant. He was granted a baronetcy in 1885, the first artist to be honoured with an hereditary title.

After the death of Frederic Leighton in 1896, Millais was elected President of the Royal Academy, but he died later in the same year on August 13, 1896 from throat cancer.

copyright 2017 -

website by

design by