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Biography of John Everett Millais

Portrait of John Everett Millais

John Everett Millais was a nineteenth century pre-raphaelite painter.

When and Where was he Born?

8th June 1829, Southampton, Hampshire, England. Christened John Everett Millais.

Family Background:

John Everett Millais was the son of John William Millais, gentleman of leisure and Emily Mary Evamy, daughter of a prosperous commercial fisherman.


Sent home from the local school on Jersey and educated by his mother. Royal Academy Schools, London from the age of 11.

Timeline of John Everett Millais:

1838: Millais moves to London and studies at a drawing academy led by Henry Sass.

1840: He enters the Royal Academy Schools.

1846: He exhibits his first picture at the Academy, “Pizarro Seizing the Inca of Peru”.

1848: He founds the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood with Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Holman Hunt in September in the Millais family home.

Pre Raphaelite house
7 Gower Street, Bloomsbury, London where the Pre-Raphaelite Group was formed. (copyright Anthony Blagg)

1849: Millais starts painting “Christ in the House of his Parents” in the winter.

1850: The picture of Christ was signed PRB for Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood and receives a hostile reception at the Royal Academy.

1851: John Ruskin defends the brotherhood in the Times newspaper.

1852: Millais became an Associate of the Royal Academy.

Ophelia. 1852. Tate Gallery
Ophelia. 1852. Tate Gallery

1855: In July he marries Euphemia Chalmers Gray (known as Effie). Formerly the wife of John Ruskin. He lives near his new wife’s old home Annat Lodge in Perthshire, Scotland.

1857: Millais’s painting “Sir Isumbras” is heavily criticised by Ruskin at an exhibition at the Royal Academy.

1860: A revival of his popularity with the public begins with the exhibition of the detailed “The Black Brunswicker”.

1862: Millais settles in London.

1863: Millais becomes a full Member of the Royal Academy.

1870: He paints “The Boyhood of Raleigh”.

1871: Millais paints large mythical landscapes such as “The Martyr of the Solway”.

statue of Millais near Tate
Statue of Millais near Tate Britain Gallery, London (copyright Anthony Blagg)

1873: He begins to do more portraits including the successful “Mrs Bischoffsheim”.

1878: Millais has a successful show at the Paris Universal Exhibition and is awarded the Medaille d’Honneur and created an Officer of the Legion d’Honneur.

1881: He paints a portrait of Alfred Lord Tennyson.

1885: Millais is created a Baronet.

1886: He paints “Bubbles” for A and F Pears Ltd the soap manufacturers. This went on to be a highly successful advertising picture. He holds an exhibition of 159 works at the Grosvenor Gallery in London.

1896: Millais is elected President of the Royal Academy of Arts but is already suffering heavily from cancer.

When and Where did he Die?

13th August 1896, London, England of cancer.

Age at Death:



July 1855: To Euphemia Chalmers Gray (known as Effie). Formerly the wife of John Ruskin.

Site of Grave:

St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, England.

Grave of Millais in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral (copyright Anthony Blagg)

Places of Interest:


Museums and Art Gallery.


Bolton Art Gallery.


Walker Art Gallery.


Statue outside Tate Britain. Paintings inside.


Museum and Art Gallery.


Ashmoleum Museum, Oxford.


Museum and Art Gallery, Hove.


Leeds City Art Gallery.
Brighouse Smith Art Gallery, Brighouse.
Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield.


Wightwick Manor, Wolverhampton.


Fyvie Castle, Aberdeenshire.
Museum and Art Gallery, Perth.
McManus Galleries, Dundee.
Aberdeen Art Gallery.