Wednesday, June 17, 2009

More celebrity spotting ...

[Lorenzo and Isabella]
oil on canvas
signed and dated JE Millais 1849 PRB
The initials PRB also appear on the side of Isabella's stool
This is Millais's first Pre-Raphaelite painting, was painted during 1848 when he was just 19 years old. The subject is taken from Keats's poem 'Isabella' or 'The Pot of Basil'.
I was doing a study of this painting and read that due to his lack of 'tin' (money) Millais had to use his friends as models.
Lorenzo (offering Isabella the fruit) was modelled by his brother William Michael, Rossetti is in profile at the back drinking from the glass, Millais' father is wiping his mouth with the napkin (half way down on the right) and Fred Stephens can also be seen with Walter Deverell on the left.
Much has been made of the leg of the brother which points straight at his sister, both reflecting the death of Lorenzo and perhaps at a hint of his erotic feelings towards his sister. The nutcracker he is holding is no dount also meaningful.
A very mature and arresting painting for anyone, let alone a 19 year old.
A large reproduction is here:

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