John Everett Millais

Date of birth: 1829 — Date of death: 1896

Artist. From a middle-class Jersey family, Millais was the son of John William Millais (1800-1870) and Mary Evamy (1789-1864). He entered the Royal Academy Schools at the age of eleven in 1840, where he met William Holman Hunt (1827-1910). Millais was one of the founding members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Reacting against the traditional painting practices of such artists as Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), Millais favoured a more realist approach evidenced in works such as 'Christ in the Carpenter's Shop' (1850). This attention to detail met with a great deal of criticism, however, and it was only with the critical support of John Ruskin (1819-1900) that public opinion began to change. Adhering to the Pre-Raphaelite creed, Millais painted the landscape backgrounds of such celebrated paintings as 'Ophelia' (Tate) and 'The Blind Girl' (Birmingham Musuems and Art Gallery) out of doors rather than in the studio. Later, he supplemented his income by selling the copyright of his works to the publishers of engravings. Millais also produced illustrations for a number of literary texts, including Anthony Trollope's novels and the Moxon edition of 'Tennyson's Poems' (1857). Millais was elected to the Royal Academy in 1863. By the late 1860s, Millais had become an extremely popular artist, with works such as 'The Boyhood of Raleigh' (1870) illustrating his capacity to paint historical subjects. Millais married Effie Gray in 1855 following the annulment of her marriage to John Ruskin. He was created a baronet in 1885 and elected President of the Royal Academy in 1896 a few months before his death.

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