Sir John Everett Millais, Bt

Serjeant Ralph Thomas

1848

Medium
Oil paint on wood
Dimensions
Support: 407 x 303 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Ralph Thomas 1917
Reference
N03159

Display caption

Ralph Thomas was a well-known lawyer who was also a picture collector and dealer. He appears to have known Millais' parents. In about 1845 he made an agreement with the sixteen-year old artist that he paint small pictures for him on a retainer of ¿100 per year. The first cheque Millais ever received for his work came from Thomas. It was a for a sum of ¿5 'for a sketch'. The arrangement lasted for two years. In the end Millais withdrew from it chiefly because Thomas appeared to be taking advantage of him. This portrait shows Thomas standing by a picture on an easel, perhaps one by Millais himself. The date on the portrait suggests that Millais kept in touch with his early patron despite the apparent animosity between them.

Gallery label, August 2004