The exhibition reveals how Millais made the dramatic shift from his early academic paintings to develop his audacious Pre-Raphaelite works, such as the controversial Isabella, and how he instigated the Pre-Raphaelite movement with Rossetti and Holman Hunt.
Millais was the greatest painter and founding member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which burst upon the British artistic scene in the mid-19th century. His magnificent jewel-like paintings have shaped our vision of Victorian womanhood, and cemented impressions of Shakespearian heroines Ophelia and Mariana in our minds. He was an artist engaged with modern developments in art as much as with the old masters, and this is the first major solo survey of his art since the Royal Academy retrospective of 1967, and the first exhibition since 1898 that examines the entirety of his career.
Tate favourites such as Ophelia and Mariana are shown alongside works lent from collections around the world to give a complete picture of the artist. His images of stoic women and sensuous beauties have become some of the most iconic images in art, recreating a magical world of spirituality and veiled eroticism. You will also see how his style developed in later life from mature Pre-Raphaelitism to his nostalgic fancy pictures – an extremely popular style of painting in his day, and discover a less well-known side of Millais, spearheaded by his magnificent late landscapes, which have never been shown as a group before, and his superb society portraits.
The exhibition is curated by Alison Smith, Curator, Tate Britain, and Jason Rosenfeld, Associate Professor at Marymount Manhattan College, New York.