Sir John Everett Millais, Bt 1829–1896
Mariana, c. 1851
Oil paint on mahogany
597 x 495 x 15 mm
Rejected by her fiancé, Angelo, after her dowry was lost in a shipwreck, Mariana leads a lonely existence in a moated grange. She is still in love with Angelo - now Deputy to the Duke of Vienna - and longs to be reunited with him.
In the picture the autumn leaves scattered on the ground mark the passage of time. Mariana has been working at some embroidery and pauses to stretch her back. Her longing for Angelo is suggested by her pose and the needle thrust fiercely into her embroidery. The stained-glass windows in front of her show the Annunciation, contrasting the Virgin's fulfilment with Mariana's frustration and longing. Millais copied the scene from the window of the Chapel of Merton College, Oxford. However, the heraldic design appears to have been his own invention. The motto 'In coelo quies' means 'In Heaven there is rest' and clearly refers to Mariana's desire to be dead. The snowdrop symbolises 'consolation' and is also the birthday flower for 20 January, St Agnes' Eve, when young girls put herbs in their shoes and pray to St Agnes to send them a vision of their future husband. It may also refer indirectly to John Keats's narrative. More on this painting
Sir John Everett Millais, 1st Baronet, (8 June 1829 – 13 August 1896) was an English painter and illustrator. he was one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
A child prodigy, at the age of eleven Millais became the youngest student to enter the Royal Academy Schools. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was founded at his family home in London. Millais became the most famous exponent of the style, his painting Christ in the House of His Parents (1850) generating considerable controversy. By the mid-1850s Millais was moving away from the Pre-Raphaelite style and developing a new and powerful form of realism in his art. His later works were enormously successful, making Millais one of the wealthiest artists of his day. While early 20th-century critics, reading art through the lens of Modernism, viewed much of his later production as wanting, this perspective has changed in recent decades, as his later works have come to be seen in the context of wider changes and advanced tendencies in the broader late-nineteenth-century art world.
Millais's personal life has also played a significant role in his reputation. His wife Effie was formerly married to the critic John Ruskin, who had supported Millais's early work. The annulment of the marriage and her wedding to Millais have sometimes been linked to his change of style, but she became a powerful promoter of his work and they worked in concert to secure commissions and expand their social and intellectual circles. More on Sir John Everett Millais
Acknowledgement: Tate, and others
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