Sir John Everett Millais, BtThe Order of Release 1746 1852-3

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Artwork details

The Order of Release 1746
Date 1852-3
MediumOil paint on canvas
Dimensionssupport: 1029 x 737 mm frame: 1505 x 1210 x 125 mm
Acquisition Presented by Sir Henry Tate 1898
On loan to Palazzo Chiablese (Turin, Italy)


Bonnie Prince Charlie (1720-1788) was defeated by the English at Culloden on 16 April 1746 and many of his supporters were imprisoned. The subject of this picture is the release of one of these Jacobite rebels from prison. Millais appears to have invented the incident, but may also have been inspired by the novels of Sir Walter Scott, which provided a wealth material for artists and illustrators in the second half of the 19th Century. The rebel's wife, supporting their small child and comforting her exhausted, wounded husband, hands an order of release to the gaoler. The expression on her face is inscrutable. She appears strangely detached from the action, and the suggestion is that she may have been forced to sacrifice her virtue in order to save her husband… (read more)

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