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  • Sir John Everett Millais, Bt, 'The Boyhood of Raleigh' 1870
    Sir John Everett Millais, Bt
    The Boyhood of Raleigh 1870
    Oil on canvas
    support: 1206 x 1422 mm

    Presented by Amy, Lady Tate in memory of Sir Henry Tate 1900
  • Sir John Everett Millais, Bt, 'The North-West Passage' 1874
    Sir John Everett Millais, Bt
    The North-West Passage 1874
    Oil on canvas
    support: 1765 x 2222 mm
    frame: 2155 x 2620 x 145 mm
    Presented by Sir Henry Tate 1894
  • Sir John Everett Millais, Bt, 'Saint Stephen' 1895
    Sir John Everett Millais, Bt
    Saint Stephen 1895
    Oil on canvas
    support: 1524 x 1143 mm

    Presented by Sir Henry Tate 1894
  • Sir John Everett Millais, Bt, 'Speak! Speak!' 1895
    Sir John Everett Millais, Bt
    Speak! Speak! 1895
    Oil on canvas
    support: 1676 x 2108 mm

    Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1895

Around 1870 Millais developed a manner of working that was particular to him and which endured until the end of his career. Although his subject pictures continued to focus on the predicaments of ordinary individuals in historical circumstances, they can also be seen as a reaction against his earlier work in terms of their size and robustness of execution. As well as expressing the persona of the artist, gestural brushwork also communicated his identification with an Old Master tradition in painting epitomised by Titian, Velázquez and Rembrandt.

The synthesis between past and present Millais aimed for was undertaken with the aim of embracing a wide audience, not only connoisseurs sensitive to issues of style and influence, but also non-specialists eager for drama, characterisation and narrative. Millais’s great achievement with his late subject pictures was in involving the viewer in the interpretation of his subjects. This approach not only allowed him to offer complex readings of historical and religious subjects, but also encouraged the production of ‘problem’ pictures like ‘Speak! Speak!’ which have no basis in a specific history or text.