John Everett Millais Most Famous Paintings

John Everett Millais Most Famous Paintings

Who was John Everett Millais?

Sir John Everett Millais was an English painter and artist who was one of the organizers of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. He was a prodigy at a young age; who at age eleven entered the Royal Academy School.

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was established at his family home in London. By the mid-1850s; Millais slowly moved away from the Pre-Raphaelite style to his own unique form of realism. His later works were hugely successful, making Millais one of the wealthiest artists of his day.

Here is a list of John Everett Millais's 10 most famous paintings:  

  1. Ophelia by John Everett Millais
  2. The Blind Girl by John Everett Millais
  3. Isabella by John Everett Millais
  4. Bubbles by John Everett Millais
  5. The Boyhood of Raleigh by John Everett Millais
  6. Hearts are Trumps by John Everett Millais
  7. A Dream of the Past: Sir Isumbras at the Ford by John Everett Millais
  8. The Bridesmaid by John Everett Millais
  9. Autumn Leaves by John Everett Millais
  10. My First Sermon by John Everett Millais

John Everett Millais Artworks

Ophelia by John Everett Millais

Ophelia by John Everett Millais - Famous Painting

The scene delineated is from Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act IV, Scene vii, in which Ophelia, is driven crazy when her dad (Polonius) is killed by her sweetheart Hamlet, and she falls into a stream and suffocates: 

There, on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke;
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide,
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up;
Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes,
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element; but long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.

Shakespeare was adored by various painters; and the sad sentimental figure of Ophelia from Hamlet was a particular subject that was consistently displayed in Royal Academy exhibitions.

Ophelia's body floats on the water, as she is still alive, her arms are open and in her right hand she holds some flowers; her gaze is lost in the void and directed upwards, her lips are half-open, and she appears to be whispering a song. Near her, on the water, flowers of different types float. She is surrounded by marsh of green plants and we see various vegetation growing on the shore.

Numerous symbolic messages are showcased in the painting. Such as, the robin on the left, which is a symbol of sacrifice. The daisies symbolize innocence, the violets symbolize unrequited love, and the poppies the deadly sleep.

The model for Ophelia was Elizabeth Siddal, who was a popular subject for Pre-Raphaelites artists.

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John Everett Millais Paintings  

The Blind Girl by John Everett Millais

The Blind Girl by John Everett Millais

The blind girl depicts two homeless girls sitting by the side of the road after a storm. Millais shows the two girls wearing dull garments. The background of the painting shows a beautiful landscape with open fields, cattle, and birds.

The older of the two girls is blind. And she appears to be related to the younger girl, who could be her sister. She is firmly holding her hand while the younger girl is partially sitting on her lap and inclined towards her chest. Her younger friend is somewhat cuddled inside the shawl of the blind girl. She may have been terrified of the storm which appears to have passed and is look at the astounding twofold rainbow.

They may be en route to the local town to acquire some money by entertaining the townsfolk using the accordion which is on the older girl's lap. Apart from not having her sight, the blind girl seems to have every one of her other faculties. Her head is slightly tilted up, which offers her the chance to welcome the warmth of the sun, take in the smell of the nature around her and appreciate it.

A few pundits have recommended that the rainbow is a token of God's covenant with Noah after the floods in the Bible. It is intriguing to take note of that Millais had initially painted the colors of the two rainbows in a similar style. However, he later changed the painting and had the internal rainbow inverted for logical exactness. The inspiration for this painting came from the town of Winchelsea. Millais visited this town in 1952 and completed the center ground of the painting in Perth.  

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Isabella by John Everett Millais

Isabella by John Everett Millais

The painting illustrates a scene from Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron tale Lisabetta e il testo di bassilico (1349 - 1353), repeated by John Keats' poem, Isabella, or the Pot of Basil, which depicts the relationship between Isabella, the sister of wealthy medieval merchants, and Lorenzo, a associate of Isabella's brothers. The setting showcases the minute at which Isabella's brothers realize that there is a romance between Isabella and Lorenzo. The brothers are plotting to kill Lorenzo so they can marry Isabella to a wealthy nobleman.

Isabella, wearing the gray dress on the right, is being handed a red orange on a plate by the destined Lorenzo. The red orange is representative of the danger that Lorenzo may face by choosing to be with Isabella. 

The painting is organized with a mutilated of viewpoints, elongating the correct hand side of the table and flattening the figures ranged along with it. Following the Pre-Raphaelite theory, Millais almost eliminates chiaroscuro and exaggerates the force of juxtaposed colors and tones.

Millais also carefully characterizes each figure with equal exactness. Another unmistakable Pre-Raphaelite feature is the incorporation of images and patterns inside the composition. Furthermore, the base of the seat on which Isabella sits contains a carving portraying the letters PRB standing for Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

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Bubbles by John Everett Millais

Bubbles by John Everett Millais

Bubbles, originally titled A Child's World became famous when it was utilized for marketing purposes, as it was used in various advertisements by Pears soap for  many years.

During Millais's lifetime, it prompted widespread debate about the relationship between art and advertising. The painting was one of many child works for which Millais had gotten notoriety for later in his years. The subject was modeled by his five-year-old grandson William Milbourne James, and was based on the seventeenth-century Dutch forerunners in the tradition of vanitas imagery, which remarked upon the transience of life.

The painting portrays a young child gazing towards a bubble, symbolizing the beauty and fragility of life. On one side of him, is a young plant developing in a pot, emblematic of life, and on the other is a fallen broken pot, emblematic of death. He is spot-lit in the middle of the melancholy background.

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The Boyhood of Raleigh by John Everett Millais

The Boyhood of Raleigh by John Everett Millais

The painting delineates the youthful, wide-peered Walter Raleigh and his sibling sitting on the beach at the coast of Devonshire. Raleigh is listening to stories of the sea, told by an accomplished sailor who points to the sea while telling his story.

The work was inspired by an essay written by James Anthony Froude on England's Forgotten Worthies, which depicted the lives of Elizabethan seafarers. Millais traveled to Budleigh Salterton to paint this painting. Millais' children Everett and George modeled as the youthful subjects for this painting. 

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Hearts are Trumps by John Everett Millais

Hearts are Trumps by John Everett Millais

Millais was appointed to paint this portrait by essayist and art collector Walter Armstrong. It features Armstrong's daughters Elizabeth, Diana, and Mary. Armstrong believed the painting would assist in raising the social profile of his family. The card game, and the title of the work, indicate rivalry between the sisters on who among them would fall in love first. The work also presents the expectations of society had on young woman at that time.  


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A Dream of the Past: Sir Isumbras at the Ford by John Everett Millais

A Dream of the Past: Sir Isumbras at the Ford by John Everett Millais

The painting was created in 1857. A clear indication of the Pre-Raphaelites interests in medieval chivalry. It portrays an old knight riding on horseback across a waterway and with him are two younger children.

A Dream of the Past: Sir Isumbras at the Ford is a title gotten from the fourteenth- century medieval English Romance titled Sir Isumbras. The illustration in the painting was not directly taken from the original tale; however, came from a medieval stanza that was written by Tom Taylor ,who was Sir John Everett's companion and and art pundit.

The original content, depicts a knight who was arrogant; however, was later humbled because of misfortunes he experienced during his youth. The character of Sir Isumbras, portrayed in this artwork shows a graceful knight. The painting's background is based on the medieval bridge, Bridge of Earn, which is in central Scotland in Perth shire and is in ruins. You can also see a village house which is slightly out of sight, near the bridge.

Millais utilized brilliant colors in this painting and in most of his Pre-Raphaelite's works. The artwork got unfriendly reviews from various art pundits, for example, John Ruskin, gave a negative review for painting because the horse was out of proportion. The pundit denounced Millais for making what he named as "pictorial grammar" mistakes. It was also satirized in a print called "Nightmare" by Frederic Sandys. Furthermore, pundits thought the painting's background lacked the artistry that Millais portrayed in his earlier works and that it looked free and light in composition instead of being detailed in his painting style.

Sir John Everett Millais finished the artwork for a presentation at the Academy of Arts. However, due to the controversy he attempted to do some repaints before sending it to a Liverpool to be displayed. As of now, it is at the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight, UK. 

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The Bridesmaid by John Everett Millais

The Bridesmaid by John Everett Millais

The Bridesmaid was painted during his Pre-Raphaelite period; as Millais was beginning to move away from imitating medieval art. During this time, Millais and other individual Pre-Raphaelite artists concentrated on realism and logical aspects of movement within art. Millais eventually abandoned Pre-Raphaelitism in 1860, when he adopted a looser style influenced by Sir Joshua Reynolds. 

Painted in 1851, 'The Bridesmaid' illustrates one of many Victorian marriage traditions. Victorians accepted a bridesmaid would see a dream of her genuine lover, if she passed a bit of the wedding cake through a ring multiple times, a ritual portrayed in this painting. An orange bloom on the woman's chest symbolized chastity. There is also a trace of uncertainty in the woman's face, giving the feeling that the bridesmaid is contemplating her future. 

The Bridesmaid demonstrates Millais's propensity to delineate women with long hair in his works. Other female subjects include 'Mariana', 'Ophelia', 'Esther', and 'The Martyr of the Solway'. 

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Autumn Leaves by John Everett Millais

Autumn Leaves by John Everett Millais

This painting delineates four ladies near nightfall, gathering and raking together fallen leaves in a garden. They are making a campfire, yet the fire itself is imperceptible, and we just see only the smoke rising out of the leaves.

The two ladies on the left, where modeled by Millais' sisters-in-law Alice and Sophie Gray, they are portrayed wearing a white-collar class garments and black dresses of the era; the two on the right appear to be wearing working-class apparels.

The painting is deciphered as a representation of the transience of youth and beauty, a typical subject in Millais's art. 

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My First Sermon by John Everett Millais

My First Sermon was first shown at the Royal Academy in 1863, and on 3rd of May, at the Academy banquet. The image was painted in the old church located at Kingston-on-Thames, in London, where the parents of the Millais lived.

At this time, Millais was at the highest point of his artistic talent, regarding his technical ability, physical strength, and the speed at which he executed his paintings. 

Millais adored children, particularly his own children. He often utilized his daughter Effie as his model. My First Sermon marks the start of several popular paintings in which his children are the main focal paint of the painting. Millais was so happy about this painting, he created an oil duplicate of the work, taking two days to finish; the only break the artist had was when he was eating. He executed the painting rapidly and superbly. This was a great achievement since the duplicate displayed nearly the same high-quality finish as the first painting. As soon as the duplicate was done, it was sold and the artist got £180.

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