Sir John Everett Millais

Sir John Everett Millais (British, 1829-1896)

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

Along with Rossetti and Hunt, he founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848. The influence of this movement was first noticable 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 engraver and book illustrator.