This is one of several small compositions with a single female figure that Millais painted in 1854. There is much debate about the sitter of this painting. Some believe it to be a portrait of Effie Gray, Ruskin's wife at the time who later married Millais. Others believe it to be Annie Miller, who modelled for Millais. The painting was first known under the title of 'The Stile'.

Although Millais achieves a harmony between the depictions of young womanhood and the beauty of nature, Victorian convention frowned upon young women out alone and the sitter's uneasy pose and her situation may have appeared fraught with danger. The walls act as a boundary, a control often symbolising virginity. The woman sits on a stile, a point where she could breach the wall entering the woods with her lover. Apart from these implied ideals of the time there seems to be no narrative attached to the work.

  • Presented by Mrs Nettlefold, 1909.
  • © Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery


Association Artist Organisation
Artist John Everett Millais -


Type Position(s) Method Date(s) Notes
JEM 1854
Monogram bottom right Painted -


Catalogue No. Venue Date(s)
International Exhibition
204 Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow 1901-05-02 - 1901-11-09
Loan Exhibition of Works by Ford Madox Brown and the Pre-Raphaelites
235 Manchester City Art Gallery 1911-09-14 - 1911-11
Works by the English Pre-Raphaelite Painters Lent by the Art Gallery Committee of the Birmingham Corporation
15 Tate Gallery, London 1911-12 - 1912-03
The Pre-Raphalite Brotherhood
60 Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery 1947-06-07 - 1947-07-27
Primitives to Picasso: An Exhibition from Municipal and University Collections in Great Britain
193 Royal Academy of Arts, London 1962-01-06 - 1962-03-07
The Pre-Raphaelites
59 Tate Gallery, London 1984-03-07 - 1984-05-28
59 Tate Britain, London 2007-10-03 - 2008-01-13
59 Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam 2008-02-15 - 2008-05-18
Ten Decades - a Review of British Taste 1851-1951
17 Institute of Contemporary Arts, London 1951-08-10 - 1951-09-27
Millais, PRB, PRA
43 Royal Academy of Arts, London 1967-01-14 - 1967-03-05
43 Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool 1967-03-15 - 1967-04-30
Some Pre-Raphaelite Paintings and Drawings
- National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth 1955-07 - 1955-10
- Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea 1955 - 1955
An Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings by Victorian Artists in England
- National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa 1965-03 - 1965-04
Visions of Love and Life: Pre-Raphaelite Art from the Birmingham Collection, England.
31 Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery and American tour 1995 - 1996
Theodore Fontane and the Visual Arts
56 Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin 1998-09-01 - 1998-11-29
The Pre-Raphaelites
68 Nationalmuseum, Stockholm 2009-02-26 - 2009-05-24


Author(s) Date(s) Publisher Pages
The Life and Letters of Sir John Everett Millais
John Guille Millais 1899; 1900 Methuen, London vol. 1, p. 223; vol. 2, p. 468.
City Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham: Catalogue of Paintings
1960 City Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham. p. 100.
Victorian Painting and Patronage in Birmingham
R Ormond 1968-04 Apollo Magazine vol. 87, p. 246.
Footnotes to the Millais Exhibition
Mary Bennett 1967 Liverpool Bulletin vol. 12, p. 45.
- Masters vol. 67.
Millais and his Works
M H Spielmann 1898 W Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh and London pp. 151, 163-64.
Visions of Love and Life: Pre-Raphaelite Art from the Birmingham Collection, England.
Stephen Wildman 1995 Arts Services International, Alexandria, Virginia p. 138.
The Pre-Raphaelites
- Nationalmuseum, Stockholm cat.68, p.183; fig.130


Jospeh Arden; his sale, Christie's, 24 April 1879 (29), bought Tooth; Edward Nettlefold, whose wife presented it to Birmingham, 1909.

Associated people

Name Type
Effie Gray Depicted
Annie Miller Artist's model

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