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Sir John Everett Millais (British, 1829-1896)


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.




John Everett Millais. Summer Indolence

Summer Indolence
Etching on cream wove paper
1861
Signed with the monogram and dated in the plate.
First issue published by Day for the standard paper edition of Passages from Modern English Poets by the Junior Etching Club, 1862, with the publication line and plate number (third of four states.)

The etching was first published by Day in a standard- and large-paper format in 1862 and was re-published in lithographic reproduction some fourteen years later by Tegg in 1876.

165 x 238cm. (sheet)

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References: Hartnol: Pre-Raphaelite Graphics, 1974: 28; Engen. Pre-Raphaelite Prints, 1995: p.33 and p. 123.

Millais joined the junior etching club in 1858 (a more youthful version of The Etching club with John Tenniel, Simeon Solomon and Arthur Severin as members.) The group produced Passages from Modern Engish Poets in 1862.

'Passages was successful enough to be issued later in a large paper edition in 1876, published by Willaim Tegg, when the plates were transferred to stone and printed as lithographs. Here appeared one of Millais's most striking prints, Summer Indolence, an exercise in idleness in which a young girl lies in the long meadow grass with a child, a blade of grass pulled between her teeth. The mountainous landscape with low trees is again merely suggested, but the grass is deeply bitten in the plate to indicate lushness.' (Engen, pp. 33-34.)

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