John Everett Millais

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One of the founding members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, John Everett Millais was part of a movement which dared to change the ways of the then prudish Victorian times. The English painter and illustrator was a bit of a child prodigy – he was only 11 when he enrolled at the prestigious Royal Academy School. It was at this art school where Millais met fellow artists William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti with whom he would go on to form the PRB group. Out of all three he was by far the most influential and famous one. Apart from painting Millais was a successful illustrator of book covers and a member of the Royal Academy of Arts. He became the first artist to be bestowed by an honorary title by Queen Victoria; she made him a Baronet of the Palace Gate in 1853.

John Everett Millais was born on June 8, 1829 in Southampton, England in an influential Jersey based family of French ancestry. It was his mother who became a strong component of nurturing the love of art into Millais when he was young. It was his massive talent as an artist which led to him being enrolled at the Royal Academy School when he was just 11. Within a few years he was winning medals and awards for his paintings. Millais was so enormously talented that he was showcasing his first exhibition at the tender age of 17 at the Royal Academy in London. Millais showed an amazing tenacity when it came to painting despite being so young, his paintings show that he was gifted with an observant eye and paid a lot of attention to detail. For Millais painting was a slow and gradual process, being the perfectionist which he was, he would often paint one part of a painting during the summer and the rest during winter. As an artist Millais also went to considerable pains and troubles to find the right balance in his paintings. His foray into the PRB group received a mixed response from the art world; many thought he was wasting his talents away by being part of the group. Most of the paintings during his time as a member of PRB consisted of showcasing religious figures in what can be called were notorious objectifications. It was only after his scandalous marriage to Effie, who happened to be the wife of one of his close friends and best critics’ John Ruskin that Millais’s style evolved. Soon his paintings started gaining more depth, beauty and boldness. He produced some of his greatest paintings after his marriage which included Twins, Ophelia and The Order of Release.

John Everett Millais is regarded as one of the greatest artists of the 19thcentury, despite the harsh criticism he received for his PRB era. If one looks at the work he produced while part of the group it doesn’t seem so objectionable. During his last years Millais moved to painting landscapes and portraits as well, and he was still able to maintain that bold and magnificent style on his paintings.

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