John Everett Millais began to illustrate Trollope’s first serialised novel in 1860. The artist at the time was only thirty, but those years had been crowded with great promise, controversy and achievement. Although he would work productively until 1896 when he was to die famous, wealthy, and President of the Royal Academy, most modern critics consider the years after 1860 to have been anticlimactic. The first three decades of his life, however, are a biographer’s delight. A child prodigy, Millais at nine had won a silver medal from the Society of Arts; at eleven he entered the Royal Academy Schools, the youngest student ever admitted; at fourteen he won the medal for drawing from the antique; at eighteen he took the Gold Medal for oil painting. Then in 1848, the year of revolutions, Millais, together with Holman Hunt and D. G. Rossetti, founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and although the Brotherhood as such was shortlived, Pre-Raphaelite influence dominated British art for the next fifty years and has inspired more comment than any similar phenomenon in British art history. Millais’ Pre-Raphaelite period, which produced such celebrated and controversial paintings as Christ in the House of His Parents, Mariana, Ophelia, and Autumn Leaves, lasted until about 1860. Rossetti in 1853 thought that Millais’ election as an Associate of the Royal Academy signalled the end: ‘So now’, he wrote, ‘the whole round table is dissolved.’1
KeywordsRoyal Academy Deep Thought Book Edition Good Artist Silver Medal
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