In an effort to further my cultural education, Fleur and I paid a visit to the Millais exhibition at Tate Britain this weekend. At £11, the entry price is fairly steep, but it's worth every penny. Millais was staggeringly prolific - there are easily sixty paintings on display (I stopped counting after the first three rooms, and there are seven in the exhibition), and they are all universally superb.
One sketch study he did in preparation for Isabella is just frighteningly good. The quality of the soft shadows are simply astounding, and when you look up close you can see every single pencil stroke and how not a single one is wasted (unlike, say, one of my sketches)... kind of awe-inspiring, really.
Millais himself was quite an interesting chap, not least for nicking the wife of his best mate, and having eight kids with her; which probably explains his prolificacy as an artist as well - all those mouths to feed - and with a peak income of around £30,000 a year (one heck of a lot of money in Victorian times) at least he didn't suffer too much for his art.
My favourite pieces at the exhibition were The Eve of St Agnes, Twins, A Jersey Lily and Bright Eyes (can't find a picture, sadly), plus one of his late landscapes I can't remember the name of now. All of the pieces are pretty stunning, though, and the exhibition is very well laid out and constructed. Well worth a visit.