Cover image for John Everett Millais : a biography
John Everett Millais : a biography
Fleming, Gordon H., 1920-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London : Constable, 1998.
Physical Description:
ix, 318 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes bibliographical references (p. 307-310) and index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library ND497.M6 F58 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



A full-length biography of the Pre-Raphaelite artist, John Everett Millais, the youngest ever associate of the Royal Academy, and later, it's President.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

A child prodigy who grew up to be one of the most popular, most controversial and least understood painters in Victorian England, Millais (1829-1896), was the leading light of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood. Though less than exhaustive, Fleming's biography fills a significant void in our understanding of the man and his work. At the age of 19, Millais joined forces with fellow artists Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti to create the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The term "Pre-Raphaelite" was somewhat unfortunate: rather than referring to a specifically medieval style, the word was intended to signify the artists' determination to paint what they actually saw. Indeed, Millais's most outstanding work was painted outdoors. Fleming documents the abuse the Pre-Raphaelites took from the British press, who, like the general public, could not comprehend art that was not tied to historical or literary sources. In part because of such attitudes, Millais turned to portrait painting for the last 30 years of his life. A second reason he accepted commissioned work was the considerable expense of supporting his eight children. Scandalously, he had married his wife, Effie, after the annulment of her marriage to the art critic John Ruskin. That m‚nage … trois has been well documented (Mary Lutyens's Millais and the Ruskins is one excellent source), but otherwise, Millais's life has not. Fleming (Whistler: The Man and His Work) leaves the reader wanting more about Millais's seemingly suffocating parents, about his personal contradictions (a parsimonious man, he was also a gambler) and about his views on the true rebels of 19th-century English art, Turner and Whistler. Millais's turbulent artistic era and personal dramas warrant a full-scale biography, complete with color plates and a fuller representation of the correspondence. Until such a book appears, Fleming's abbreviated yet lively account will remain a valuable resource. B&w illus. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Fleming, the author of six other works on Victorian art, has penned the first in-depth biography of John Everett Millais since 1899, three years after his death. Millais achieved wealth and fame during his lifetime. Along with artist friends William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, he was a founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, espousing a doctrine of decorative naturalism with an emphasis on striking color, minute detail, and historical, literary, and biblical themes. Millais captured the texture of velvet in his famous "Mariana," for instance, and, most famously, the watery death of "Ophelia." His brookside portrait of John Ruskin preceded a scandalÄRuskin's unconsummated marriage was later annulled, and his wife married Millais. Fleming gives us a portrait of a talented artist and his time. One quibble: we are offered 15 black-and-white reproductions of paintings but no pictures of Millais himself. A good companion to Russell Ash's illustrated survey Sir John Everett Millais (Pavilion, 1996); recommended for academic and large public libraries.ÄJoseph C. Hewgley, Nashville P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

An original member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Sir John Everett Millais was one of the most popular and successful painters in Victorian England, yet he has not been the subject of a full-scale biography for almost a hundred years. Though he has necessarily figured in most books on Victorian art, it is only lately that he has received individual attention, most recently in Peter Funnell and Malcolm Warner's Millais: Portraits (CH, Oct'99). Fleming therefore has performed a useful service by giving us this informative and readable biography. Having written lives of Rossetti and Whistler, Fleming is at home recounting the famous details of a famous career--the early success, the Ruskin "scandal," the price of notoriety, the accumulation of honors. He makes good use of manuscript collections and contemporary reviews, but in places specialists might look for more probing and thorough analysis. The select bibliography includes much pertinent material while neglecting some key recent scholarship on the artist and his era. The 17 black-and-white plates are adequate; the system of endnote citation (limited to "quotations in the text") is not. Nevertheless, this is a spirited and worthwhile biography of a significant and perhaps underrated painter. Recommended to general readers and undergraduates through faculty. W. S. Rodner; Tidewater Community College

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