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Millais - Tate Britain (preview)

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

AN EXHIBITION charting the career of John Everett Millais, entitled simply Millais, is on display at Tate Britain until January 13, 2008.

Millais was the greatest painter and founding member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which burst upon the British artistic scene in the mid-19th century. His magnificent jewel-like paintings have shaped our vision of Victorian womanhood, and cemented impressions of Shakespearian heroines Ophelia and Mariana in our minds.

He was an artist engaged with modern developments in art as much as with the old masters, and this is the first major solo survey of his art since the Royal Academy retrospective of 1967, and the first exhibition since 1898 that examines the entirety of his career.

The exhibition reveals how Millais made the dramatic shift from his early academic paintings to develop his audacious Pre-Raphaelite works, such as the controversial Isabella, and how he instigated the Pre-Raphaelite movement with Rossetti and Holman Hunt.

Tate favourites such as Ophelia and Mariana are shown alongside works lent from collections around the world to give a complete picture of the artist. His images of stoic women and sensuous beauties have become some of the most iconic images in art, recreating a magical world of spirituality and veiled eroticism.

The exhibition also reveals how his style developed in later life from mature Pre-Raphaelitism to his nostalgic fancy pictures – an extremely popular style of painting in his day – and discovers a less well-known side of Millais, spear-headed by his magnificent late landscapes, which have never been shown as a group before, and his superb society portraits.

Tickets: £11; £10 – over 60; £9 – student, unwaged, child 12 to 18 and disabled.

For more information call 020 7887 8888 or visit the website.