English painter, a founder member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848. Among his best known works are Ophelia (1852; National Gallery, London) and Autumn Leaves (1856; City Art Galleries, Manchester). By the late 1860s he had left the Brotherhood, developing a more fluid and conventional style which appealed strongly to Victorian tastes.
Precocious in talent, he was a student at the Royal Academy Schools at the age of 11. Early acquaintanceship with Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti led to the founding of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and, inspired by its doctrine of ‘truth to nature’, he produced some of his best works during the 1950s, among them the painting of Miss Siddell as Ophelia and Christ in the House of His Parents (1850; Tate Gallery, London); the latter caused an outcry on its first showing, since its realistic detail was considered unfitting to a sacred subject.
His marriage to Euphemia Gray in 1855 after the annulment of her marriage to John Ruskin estranged him from that early mentor and the milieu of Pre-Raphaelite idealism. His illustrations for the Moxon Tennyson (1857) and Trollope's Orley Farm (1863) show the change from Pre-Raphaelite principle to mid-Victorian Academicism. Though appealing to popular sentiment, his original style and quality disappeared from his later subject pictures and portraits, which include The Boyhood of Raleigh (1870; Tate Gallery, London) and the hugely successful Bubbles (1885), used as an advertisement by the Pears soap company. He became a baronet in 1885, and president of the Royal Academy in 1896.
Other worksLorenzo and Isabella (1849; Walker Gallery, Liverpool), depicting the banquet scene from Keat's ‘Isabella’, was Millais' first painting on Pre-Raphaelite principles. With more or less strict adherence to the Pre-Raphaelite style, Millais then produced The Return of the Dove to the Ark (1851); Mariana of the Moated Grange (1851); Ophelia; and the popular The Order of Release (1853).
In his latter days he turned to portraits (his sitters including Gladstone, Tennyson, and Cardinal Newman); landscapes, such as Chill October (1871); and single figures, such as the hugely popular child portraits and Cherry Ripe, Little Miss Muffet, and Bubbles, for which the model was Admiral Sir William James as a boy.
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1829-96 English painter and illustrator, founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood . His Pre-Raphaelite works, such as Christ in the House of...
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