Autumn Leaves – (John Everett Millais) Previous Next


Style: Romanticism

Topic: Portraits Forests Autumn Nature

Date: 1856

Size: 73 x 104 cm

Museum: City Art Gallery (Manchester, United Kingdom)

Technique: Oil On Canvas

Malcom Warner's excellent entry for this painting in the 1984 Tate catalogue points out that "with 'Autumn Leaves' Millais set out to paint 'a picture full of beauty and without subject', a work in which the very specific story-telling that plays such a part in his paintings of the early-1850s is replaced by a concern for creating a mood and suggesting more universal ideas. The season, the deadleaves, the smokeand the sunset are allimages of transcience, reminders that all things must pass. It is a setting redolent of decay and death that makes us conscious that the girls in the foreground, for all their youth and beauty, must inevitably go through the same processes. The apple held by the little on the right is an emblem of autumn but may also intended to recall the Original Sin that made mankind subject to mortality. . . .'Autumn Levaes' . . . . has a solemn, almost sacremental feeling that one might call religious. . . . The ideas of autumn as inducing what Millais calls "the deepest idea of religious reflection" comes not [as his PRB brother F. G. Stephens suggested] from the Psalms or any other part of the Bible but from contemporary English poetry" (139). According to Warner, the painter was reading Tennyson's The Princess while working on the painting, "and his thoughts echo the poet's as expressed in the well-known song in Part I

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John Everett Millais


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