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The Artistic Style of Sir John Everett Millais

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

Sir John Everett Millais was an English painter who was born in Southampton, England. When he was nine his family moved to London and it was also the year that he won the Silver Medal for drawing from the Royal Society of Arts. He enrolled in the Royal Academy Schools at the age of eleven and among the prizes he won was the Gold Medal in 1847.

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Lorenzo and Isabella (part of a larger painting)

In 1848 Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and William Holden Hunt founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Millais took inspiration from this new approach and painted Lorenzo and Isabella, from Keats’s Isabella,

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and Christ in the House of His Parents. Millais became good friends with artist John Ruskin. Their friendship came to an end when the Ruskin marriage was annulled and the former Mrs. Ruskin married Millais.

Established as a Fashionable Artist

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In 1852 Millais painting Huguenot and Ophelia was exhibited and was successful. The following year he was elected as an associate of the Royal Academy. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was unraveling and his last

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artwork in this style was the Blind Girl and Autumn Leaves in 1856. He attempted to create another success

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like Huguenot with the painting The Black Brunswicker. Finally, in 1863 Millais was elected a royal academician and was at last established as a fashionable artist.

Choosing a Different Technique

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During the 1860s Millais abandoned his earlier technique and style and started painting directly onto the canvas. One of the outstanding portraits at this time was that of Mrs. Bischoffsheim which illustrated his technical virtuosity winning him many honors and acclaim at European exhibitions.

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His most widely known portrait is that of his grandson titled “Bubbles” and when it gained popularity as an advertisement it angered the artist.

Becoming a Baronet

 

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 Millais painted a series of impressive landscapes, beginning with Chill October in 1870. His painting St. Stephen is a wonderful example of the religious themes he painted to which he returned at the end of his life. Millais became a Baronet in 1885,  was elected President of the Royal Academy in February of 1896 and died that August. His final resting place is St. Paul’s Cathedral  in London, England.

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