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When this picture was shown at the Academy in 1870 it was accompanied by the description 'the order of Knights was instituted to protect widows and orphans, and to succour maidens in distress'. The work was reported as having been painted in six weeks. It is the only life-size female nude the artist ever painted. Millais had some difficulties in resolving the problems associated with such subject matter. Initially he painted the woman looking towards the spectator. The unpleasant effect this created led him to repaint her head looking away. An 1893 magazine article noted that 'for delicacy's sake' he placed the knight behind her.

August 2004