Sir John Everett Millais was an English illustrator and painter. The artist was one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of painters, poets, and art critics dedicated to rejecting the Mannerism that followed the ways of artists such as Michelangelo and especially Raphael, hence the name of the group.
John Everett Millais was born in July 1829 in Southampton, England. His mother had a significant influence on young Millais, she had a keen interest in music and art, and that passed on to her son. She encouraged him on his artistic inclinations, Millais even said: “I owe everything to my mother.” Millais was a prodigy child, with only eleven years old he was accepted at the Royal Academy of Art in London, he was the youngest person ever to enroll in the Academy. There, he formed the PRB, or the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, along with Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Holman Hunt.
One of his Pre-Raphaelite works, Christ in the House of His Parents, was very controversial and was the target of many harsh critics, including one by Charles Dickens. The reason was the portrayal of the Holy Family in a messy workshop. He achieved popularity with A Huguenot, depicting a separating couple because of religious conflicts, this theme would recurring in his career.
John Ruskin was a critic and was very fond of Millais`s style and a defender of Pre-Raphaelite artists against their critics. Through his friendship with Ruskin, Millais came to meet Effie Gray, Ruskin`s wife, soon after she would model for him to paint The Order of Release. They would fall in love as Millais painted the picture. Effie was still a virgin, despite been married to Ruskin for years, she filed for a marriage annulment and then married Millais in 1855. They had eight children, the youngest John Guille Millais became a painter as well, focusing on wildlife and naturalist scenery.
After their marriage, Millais began changing to a broader style, supposedly to reach a wider audience and thus increasing his sales and helping to support his family. Ruskin condemned these changes and called them a catastrophe. Critic William Morris accused Millais of selling himself out to achieve wealth and popularity. His admirers, on the other hand, praised him for his connections with Albert Moore and John Whistler as well as influencing John Singer Sargent.