Sir John Everett Millais, Bt

The North-West Passage

1874

In Tate Britain
Artist
Sir John Everett Millais, Bt 1829–1896
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 1765 x 2222 mm
frame: 2157x 2623 x 145 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Sir Henry Tate 1894
Reference
N01509

Display caption

The north-west passage is a dangerous sea route round North America via the Canadian Arctic. For centuries, European explorers attempted to use it as a trade route to Asia. It became associated with failure, adversity and death, with ships and their crews battling against hopeless odds in a frozen wilderness. Millais painted this when an English expedition was setting off. Millais suggests the risks of the voyage through the grim expression of the old seaman. His daughter is pictured beside him, reading from a log book.

Gallery label, August 2018

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