Time present and time past : the art of John Everett Millais

Paul Barlow

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


This book – part of the Ashgate series ‘British Art and Visual Culture since 1750: New Readings’ – is a stand-alone critical history of the work of Millais, an artist whose career has typically been interpreted in terms of a model of decline from early success to later banality. The book critically examines this model, while revealing that Millais’s career demonstrates remarkable consistency in its development of a set of distinctive themes throughout his life. The book identifies several such themes: – including the attempt to portray the working of eco-systems; a concern with the physicality of paint in relation to insubstantial material presences; a preoccupation with bodily vulnerability and with entrapment. In addition to recovering these aspects of Millais’s work, the intention is to set this within the wider framework of ‘Francocentric’ models of art in the nineteenth century, as part of a critique of normative accounts of “progress”. The book seeks to identify the distinctive pictorial strategies adopted by Millais, which place his work in a unique position in relation to standard models of distinctions between high and low culture. It also interrogates the ideologically inflected opposition between innovators and conservatives. The book emerges from the project identified in “Fear and Loathing of the Academic”, since Millais is the most extreme example of an artist who has been identified as both academic and avant-garde. Professor Elizabeth Prettejohn (Bristol University) noted ‘this book makes a vast intellectual advance on anything written about Millais in the 20th century (and on most writing on any aspect of Victorian art).’
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationFarnham
Number of pages229
ISBN (Print)9780754632979
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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