John Everett Millais (1829-1896) was one of the most significant English painters of the nineteenth century, successful and respected during his career, honoured as the first painter to be created a baronet, he remains, as recent exhibitions of his work have demonstrated, equally well known today.
Whilst his substantial contributions are rarely, if ever, denied, in past art historical accounts of Millais's long career there has been an unfortunate tendency to superficially distinguish between the early promise of his Pre-Raphaelite masterpieces and the perceived commercial and traditionalist orientation of his later works.
In this new study of the artist's life and work Rosenfeld argues that such readings are far from accurate, demonstrating that the development of Millais's art was at the forefront of contemporary painting throughout his life. At the same time as Manet and Monet were liberating their nation's art from traditional forms and subjects, Millais was leading British art with the bravura manner and looser symbolic associations of Aestheticism (the most important movement after Pre-Raphaelitism), which in turn influenced the portraits of John Singer Sargent and the landscapes of Vincent Van Gogh. In Rosenfeld's words, it is a 'consistently relevant and inventive Millais' that emerges in this book.
Jason Rosenfeld is Distinguished Chair and Associate Professor of Art History at Marymount Manhattan College, New York. Academic interests include British art, specifically Victorian, modern architecture, and contemporary art. He was a co-curator of the exhibition, 'The Post-Pre-Raphaelite Print' at the Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, New York (1995), and contributed to the 'Pre-Raphaelite and Other Masters: The Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection' exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, London (2003). He co-curated an exhibition on Millais at Tate Britain, London, which travelled to Amsterdam, Fukuoka and Tokyo (2007-9), and was co-curator of the exhibition 'Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-garde' at Tate, London (2012), which travels to Washington, DC, Moscow and Tokyo through 2013.
'admirably thorough, carefully researched ... Reproductions are of good quality and comfortably placed in the text. Generous margins make it easy to read. Its six chapters track this immensely gifted, entirely Victorian, artist from his precocious youth to his death at sixty-seven in 1896. ... Rosenfeld is well briefed [...] he has had the opportunity to look hard at the pictures, investigate the extensive published and manuscript material and to visit the places where Millais painted. His leading aim is to disprove the commonly held view that Millais 'sold out' in the mid-1850s. ...Rosenfeld's analysis of paintings is thorough... he has a keen eye and describes the pictures carefully. ... [the] impressive late works give weight to Rosenfeld's thesis.' The Burlington Magazine 'sumptuous ... a feast of glowing images and a wealth of information about the man himself'. Daily Mail 'the first monograph to appraise [Millais'] complete career ... magnificent. ...lavishly illustrated ... Rosenfeld argues, rightly, that Millais didn't sell out when he moved away from Pre-Raphaelitism but went on doing marvellous work. There are great portraits (Gladstone, in Christ Church, and Ruskin, in the Ashmolean), luminous Scottish landscapes which Van Gogh admired, and much more.' Oxford Times