Sudley House

'Vanessa' 1868

John Everett Millais (1829 - 1896)

Oil on canvas, 112.7 x 91.5cm
Accession Number WAG272

John Everett Millais 'Vanessa'
John Everett Millais 'Vanessa'

'Vanessa' marks the culmination of Millais's gradual abandonment in the 1860s of the principles of Pre-Raphaelitism. The luscious handling of the paint and accessible subjects would also have appealed to a wider audience.

The sitter was a Mrs Madley, a professional model. Millais titled the work 'Vanessa' after one of the female associates of the writer Jonathan Swift (1687 - 1723).

Stylistically the work is close to a number of other works by Millais that were influenced by Velzquez. The richly painted material of the dress is especially remarkable. Its handling seems crude and coarse close to, but from the proper distance appears finished and in perfect harmony.

The challenge of rendering the thick fabric is here combined with his enthusiasm for the handling of Velzquez to produce this bravura piece of painting.


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