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John Everett Millais : A Biography

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Among the notorious Victorian artists who called themselves Pre-Raphaelites, the most renowned was John Everett Millais. A fascinating, wonderfully diverse individual, he knew nearly "everybody who was anybody." Well-honored by his peers, he was, for forty years, Britain's most popular artist. The 350 paintings he produced displayed their creator's remarkable versatility: Millais was a master of historical, mythological, Biblical, and literary subjects as well as landscapes and portraits. Astonishingly, there has...
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Overview

Among the notorious Victorian artists who called themselves Pre-Raphaelites, the most renowned was John Everett Millais. A fascinating, wonderfully diverse individual, he knew nearly "everybody who was anybody." Well-honored by his peers, he was, for forty years, Britain's most popular artist. The 350 paintings he produced displayed their creator's remarkable versatility: Millais was a master of historical, mythological, Biblical, and literary subjects as well as landscapes and portraits. Astonishingly, there has been no full-length biography of Millais for a hundred years, so much of G.H. Fleming's material has never before appeared in a book. This vivid, authoritative portrait is a long-overdue contribution to art history. G.H. Fleming, an authority on the Victorian period, is the author of nine books, including Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Young Whistler, and Whistler: A Life.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A child prodigy who grew up to be one of the most popular, most controversial and least understood painters in Victorian England, Millais (1829-1896), was the leading light of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood. Though less than exhaustive, Fleming's biography fills a significant void in our understanding of the man and his work. At the age of 19, Millais joined forces with fellow artists Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti to create the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The term "Pre-Raphaelite" was somewhat unfortunate: rather than referring to a specifically medieval style, the word was intended to signify the artists' determination to paint what they actually saw. Indeed, Millais's most outstanding work was painted outdoors. Fleming documents the abuse the Pre-Raphaelites took from the British press, who, like the general public, could not comprehend art that was not tied to historical or literary sources. In part because of such attitudes, Millais turned to portrait painting for the last 30 years of his life. A second reason he accepted commissioned work was the considerable expense of supporting his eight children. Scandalously, he had married his wife, Effie, after the annulment of her marriage to the art critic John Ruskin. That m nage trois has been well documented (Mary Lutyens's Millais and the Ruskins is one excellent source), but otherwise, Millais's life has not. Fleming (Whistler: The Man and His Work) leaves the reader wanting more about Millais's seemingly suffocating parents, about his personal contradictions (a parsimonious man, he was also a gambler) and about his views on the true rebels of 19th-century English art, Turner and Whistler. Millais's turbulent artistic era and personal dramas warrant a full-scale biography, complete with color plates and a fuller representation of the correspondence. Until such a book appears, Fleming's abbreviated yet lively account will remain a valuable resource. B&w illus. (July) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Fleming, the author of six other works on Victorian art, has penned the first in-depth biography of John Everett Millais since 1899, three years after his death. Millais achieved wealth and fame during his lifetime. Along with artist friends William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, he was a founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, espousing a doctrine of decorative naturalism with an emphasis on striking color, minute detail, and historical, literary, and biblical themes. Millais captured the texture of velvet in his famous "Mariana," for instance, and, most famously, the watery death of "Ophelia." His brookside portrait of John Ruskin preceded a scandal--Ruskin's unconsummated marriage was later annulled, and his wife married Millais. Fleming gives us a portrait of a talented artist and his time. One quibble: we are offered 15 black-and-white reproductions of paintings but no pictures of Millais himself. A good companion to Russell Ash's illustrated survey Sir John Everett Millais (Pavilion, 1996); recommended for academic and large public libraries.--Joseph C. Hewgley, Nashville P.L. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780094785601
  • Publisher: Constable & Robinson Limited
  • Publication date: 2/28/1999
  • Pages: 318
  • Product dimensions: 6.52 (w) x 9.51 (h) x 1.19 (d)

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