[ LADY LEVER ART GALLERY ] [ 1. PAINTING ] [ A. MILLAIS - SPRING (APPLE BLOSSOMS) ]
 


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Millais Spring Apple Blossoms

Sir John Everett Millais (1829 - 1896): A child prodigy in art, John Everett Millais entered the Royal Academy Schools at age 11, and exhibited at the RA from age 17. There he became friends first with Holman Hunt, and afterwards Rossetti, and these three founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848. Millais produced the most well-known portrait of the famous critic in 1854, and incidentally married the wife of Ruskin after the latter's marriage was annulled. He thrived at the Royal Academy, becoming ARA as early as 1853, then RA and finally, in the year of his death, President of the Academy. However, his art became more popular, and he turned to pictures of society ladies, little girls, and fashionable lovers. His St Isumbras at the Ford, showing the knight and two oversweet children on an oversize horse, induced the young Frederick Sandys to draw a famous caricature featuring Millais as the knight, Rossetti and Holman Hunt as the children, and the donkey as John Ruskin. Work by Millais can be seen at the Tate Gallery (Ophelia and The Vale of Rest), Birmingham (The Blind Girl), Manchester (Autumn Leaves), Liverpool (Lorenzo and Isabella at the Walker Art Gallery), Port Sunlight (St Isumbras at the Ford and The Black Brunswicker at the Lady Lever Gallery), and at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (Return of the Dove to the Ark). The Bride of Lammermoor is in Bristol. The Convalescent and Brighteyes are in the Aberdeen art gallery.

 

Spring (Apple Blossoms), 1859 was painted over a four-year period in which Millais worked in a number of orchard settings. The young girls,relaxing in an orchard of spring blossom, tasting curds and cream. However, the figure in the bottom right-hand corner - symbolic of death under an arched scythe - confronts the viewer with the notion of life's transience. At exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1859, the response was unfavourable and he had difficulty selling the work. The painting attracted very strong critical condemnation from The Times and The Atheneum, the latter maintaining that Millais 'dreaded distance.' The inclusion of a low grey stone preventing spatial disharmony wall somewhat confirms this but it seemed as though the critics ganged up on Millais. To the modern eye the painting looks exquisite.

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REPRODUCED BY PERMISSION OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE NATIONAL MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES ON MERSEYSIDE, LADY LEVER ART GALLERY, PORT SUNLIGHT.
NO UNAUTHORISED COPYING OF THESE IMAGES IS PERMITTED.