John Everett Millais

(8 June 1829 - 13 August 1896)

John Everett Millais was born in Southampton on 8 June 1829. His family was of French descent. In 1838, he attended Henry Sass' Drawing School and the Royal Academy in 1840. While still a youth, he won various medals for his drawings. His first painting was "Pizzarro Seizing the Inca of Peru", 1846.

With Rossetti and Hunt, he founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848. The influence of this movement was first discernible in his "Isabella" of 1849.

"Ophelia", begun in the summer of 1851, and exhibited the following year at the Royal Academy, markes the culmination of Millais' youthful period. Endowed with a virtuoso technical skill and encouraged by Ruskin, he rapidly outstripped his Brotherhood colleagues and won lasting fame. He was elected a member of the Royal Academy in 1863, and served as President in 1896.

Millais' works never failed to elicit praise. His remarkable technique lent his canvases a unique distinction, particuarly in his last paintings, long after the exhilaration of the radiant Pre-Raphaelite period had died away. Towards the end of his life, he turned to portraiture. He was also a fine illustrator.



Millais studied at the Royal Academy after his family moved from the Channel Islands to London. He is perhaps best known as a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, formed with contemporaries including Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Holman Hunt. The critic John Ruskin was an early supporter, but their relationship foundered with Millais’s move away from Pre-Raphaelitism and his marriage to Ruskin’s former wife, Effie. Millais became unchallenged as the leading British painter of the latter part of the nineteenth century, a fact recognised by his appointment as President of the Royal Academy shortly before his death.

Millais’s subject matter embraced history and narrative painting, the ’grand manner‘ of admired predecessors such as Rembrandt or Velázquez, fancy pictures of young children (often from his own growing family), and portraits of leading figures in politics and the arts. In his later years Millais moved easily between London society and Scottish sporting estates, always committed to the accurate representation of the natural world.

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Born: 8-Jun-1829
Birthplace: Southhampton, England
Died: 13-Aug-1896
Location of death: London, England
Buried, St. Paul's Cathedral, London, England

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