- Sir John Everett Millais
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Sir John Everett Millais

Sir John Everett Millais was born in 1829 in Southampton. A child prodigy in art, he won his first award at the age of nine. He entered the Royal Academy at the unprecedented age of eleven.

Millais thrived at the Royal Academy, and it was there he became friends with Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Together, these three young men founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848. A founding member of the PRB, his academic art training and technical mastery always set Millais apart from Hunt, Rossetti and the other artists in the PRB, although he continued to produce carefully observed and tightly executed works in a Pre-Raphaelite manner until 1857.

The critics did not warmly receive the PRB originally. The major turning point in the fortunes of the members of the PRB was a letter by John Ruskin, one of England's greatest art critics, to the London Times praising the PRB's naturalism and attempt to return to archaic honesty. It was this praise that prompted a letter from Millais to Ruskin thanking him for his timely intervention. Upon receiving the letter, Ruskin visited Millais, bringing with him his wife Effie. The relationship that ensued between Millais and Ruskin was one of mentor and protege. Ruskin was to have a major influence on the work of Millais.

Millais's relationship with Ruskin was broken by the love affair between Millais and Effie, and after a scandalous annulment, they married in 1855. Also, Millais association with the Royal Academy was thriving, and he became ARA in 1853. It was at this time that the PRB was officially dissolved.

Without the stimulus of Ruskin's company, and the camaraderie of the Brotherhood, Millais was content to settle into the path that gave him a baronetcy in 1885 and the Presidency of the Royal Academy in 1896. After his marriage to Effie his work became freer in handling and more sentimental in subject matter. Among his later works are many society portraits and popular fancy pictures of children. During the 1860s, Millais became a noted illustrator. Millais was the only member of the PRB to abandon the principles of the Brotherhood completely.

contributed by Gifford, Katya


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