Wednesday, 5 March 2008

John Everett Millais


John Everett Millais, A Huguenot, on St. Bartholomew's Day, Refusing to Shield Himself from Danger by Wearing the Roman Catholic Badge (1852)

From Wikipedia:
It depicts a pair of young lovers in an embrace. The familiar subject is given a dramatic twist because the "embrace" is in fact an attempt by the girl to get her beloved to wear a white armband, declaring his allegiance to Roman Catholicism. The young man gently pulls the armband off with the same hand with which he embraces the girl. The incident refers to the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in 1572 when French Protestants (Huguenots) were massacred in Paris, leading to other massacres elsewhere in France. A small number of Protestants escaped from the city by wearing white armbands.

I saw this painting at the Van Gogh Museum this afternoon - while at first look it appears to be just another painting of two young lovers, those three fingers hooked in that armband are so subtle that it turns the painting into one of the most heart-wrenching I've ever seen.

The detail in John Everett Millais' paintings is extraordinary - at times the leaves in his paintings look so realistic, it's like someone got a bit overzealous with the 'sharpen details'-tool in Adobe Photoshop. Most of the reproductions you find on the internet or in books are absolutely horrendous, though, they don't do Millais justice - that purple jacket is so vibrant; the colours he used caught your eye from across the room, they're impossible to reproduce.

2 comments:

Sasha said...

Wow, love that picture.

vanina said...

it was hard to pick a favourite from the exhibition, but that one's probably it - that pose! those colours! absolutely amazing.