- Did you know that Millais was expelled from nursery school for biting his teacher’s hands after just 3 days?
- Did you know that Millais met the President of the Royal Academy in 1838 at the age of 9? At first the President did not believe a boy so young could draw so well and he advised his parents to make him a chimney sweep. After Millais drew in front of the President he immediately told Millais’s parents to, ‘do all in their power to help the cultivation of his faculties, and to speed him in the career for which nature had evidently intended.’
- Did you know that Millais was the youngest pupil at the RA school at just 11 years and was known to his contemporaries at the college as ‘the child’?
- Did you know that most of the successful painters of the day had sumptuous and grand houses that were highly suitable for ‘at home’ days when distinguished visitors such as The Prince of Wales might attend? Such days were a thriving part of the London social scene. When Thomas Carlyle (Scottish historian and political philosopher, whom Millais painted in 1877) visited Millais’s house in Kensington, he was very impressed and asked, ‘has paint done all this, Mr Millais? It only shows how many fools there are in the world.’ Millais had an additional property in Scotland from 1881.
- Did you know that there is a bigger than life-size sculpture of Millais by Sir Thomas Brock outside of Tate Britain on John Islip Street?
- Did you know that Millais and Effie had eight children?
- Did you know that the model for Ophelia, Elizabeth Siddall was an artist? Arthur Hughes, who exhibited his version of Ophelia at the RA in the same year as Millais, 1852) wrote, ‘Rossetti taught her to draw; she used to be drawing while sitting to him. Her drawings were beautiful, but without force. They were feminine likenesses of his own.’
(Arthur Hughes, ‘The Letters of D. G. Rossetti to William Allingham’, quoted in The Life and Letters of Sir John Everett Millais, John Guille Millais, vol. 1, 1899, p.144).
View two works by Elizabeth Siddall in the Tate Collection:
Lady Affixing Pennant to a Knight’s Spear (circa 1856)
Sir Patrick Spens (1856)