Page:Cartoon portraits and biographical sketches of men of the day.djvu/29

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John Everett Millais.

pean fame, how many shine with a lustre above mediocrity! One of the most promising and original young painters of the English school five-and-twenty years ago was the subject of this notice.

John Everett Millais was born at Southampton in 1829. In his ninth year he entered a drawing academy, and at eleven became a student at the Royal Academy. His first exhibited picture was at the Academy in 1846—'Pizarro seizing the Inca of Peru,' an ambitious subject for a young man of eighteen. During his Academy course, Millais had conceived a distaste for their system of instruction; and with his friends—W. Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti— he set off to look in nature for the effects the old masters had embodied in their pictures. The result of this appeal from art to nature was the foundation of the pre-Raphaelite school. Mr. Millais's principal pictures, executed while pre-Raphaelite influences were fresh upon him, were, in 1850, 'Our Saviour,' and 'Ferdinand lured by Ariel;' 1851, 'Mariana in the Moated Grange,' and 'The Woodman's Daughter;' and in 1852, 'The Huguenot,' and 'Ophelia.' At this time Mr. Ruskin came forward, and defended the pre-Raphaelites with all the power of his eloquence and learning; and Millais was the founder of a little school, written up in 'The Times,' and in his works on art by the greatest art-critic of the age. In 1853 Mr. Millais was elected an Associate of the Academy, and became R.A. in December 1863.

There is not now very much left in his works of the pre-Raphaelite fever of twenty years ago; but his pictures are always artistic and original in composition, and highly skilful in execution. Mr. Millais stands at the head of original thinkers among the R.A.s. He went from art to nature, and he has got a rich reward for his pains.