Sir Walter Raleigh was one of the most celebrated explorers of the Elizabethan age. In Millais’s famous painting he is shown as a boy listening with rapt attention to ‘tales of wonder on sea and land’ told by a Genoese sailor. The toy ship in the foreground suggests Raleigh’s future adventures, while the sharp edge of an anchor on the right may allude to the final words he uttered at his execution: ‘Strike, man, strike’.
Gallery label, November 2016
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