John Everett Millais: Prodigious Realism 1829-1896
Millais was born in Southampton, England in 1829. He was the son of a prominent father. His talent got him a place at the prestigious Royal Academy School at the tender age of eleven. In fact there are record that show he was drawing with confidence at the age of seven.
Millais painted with specific attention to detail, concentrating on nature. His work is characterized by inaccurate realism and bright colour. Millais used a technique whereby he painted in colour on wet white bottom layer, which made it seem like the painting was lit. While at the Academy, Millais met William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. They formed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB) in September 1848.
His most famous work, Christ in the House of His Parents (1850) was controversial because of its image of the Holy Family working in a dirty workshop. Millais achieved mass popularity with A Huguenot (1852), which shows a couple separating because of religious dissention.
Millais repeated this theme of familial dissention in his later work. Ophelia (1852) he created detailed pictorial surfaces based on the integration family and nature. Millais also did the illustrations for many literary texts: Anthony Trollope's novels and the Moxon edition of 'Tennyson's Poems' (1857), are the two most well known.
Art critic John Ruskin, a friend of Millais, defended the Pre-Raphaelites against their critics. Ruskin introduced Millais to his wife Effie. She modeled for his painting The Order of Release. Millais painted Effie and ultimately they fell in love. Millais was accomplished draughtsman and illustrator. In the series of drawings of modern life subjects which he did in 1853-4 reflect the moral crisis in which Millais found himself when he fell in love with Effie. Effie and John Millais eventually married and had eight children.
Millais’ figurative pictures devoid of a subject, The Blind Girl and Autumn Leaves were among the greatest art work of the mid 1850s. Millais then reverted back to a more storytelling style of subject: in pictures he painted children in a style which was criticized as cartoonish.
At the end of his career Millais was famous and became wealthy as a result of the sale of the copyright of his paintings to publishers. He was elected President of the Royal Academy in 1896, but he died in the same year.
When Millais died in 1896, the current Prince of Wales commissioned a statue of Millais. It is situated outside behind the Tate Museum in London England.