Millais viewed "Speak! Speak!" as one of his most serious and profound works. His son, J.G.Millais, explained it as follows: ''A young Roman has been reading through the night the letters of his lost love; ... at dawn, behold, the curtains of his bed are parted, and there before him stands, in spirit or in truth, the lady herself, decked as on her bridal night... An open door displays the winding stair down which she has come''. It was bought for the nation for £2,000, an enormous sum in 1895 which marked the extent of Millais''s professional reputation at this date.