Display caption

In 1840 the eleven-year-old John Everett Millais, later famous as a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, was enrolled as the Royal Academy’s youngest ever student.

By showing figures in action Millais was conforming to centuries-old traditions of art instruction. These insisted that drawing the human form was the most important skill for the artist, and that watercolour should only be used for ‘colouring in’. Turner’s generation not only established the validity of landscape painting, but also explored the intrinsic qualities of the watercolour medium. Official art training continued to focus on traditional values, however.

September 2004