Cymon and Iphigenia

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John Everett Millais


painter and illustrator

Cymon and Iphigenia

114.3 x 147.3 cms | 45 x 57 3/4 ins
Oil on canvas

Lady Lever Art Gallery

Bebington | United Kingdom

From M. H. Spielmann's Millais and His Works, 1898, pp.70-1:

This bucolic rendering of the theme that has been treated with such dignity by Reynolds and Leighton, is conceived in the spirit of Etty and Frost. Cymon, a rollicking rustic, newly-awakened to the charms of womanhood, is leading the fair maid - little "asham'd of such a guide" - in a riotous dance. Ford Madox Brown declared that Etty "taught Millais and all our school to colour," but added that Millais and, in a minor degree, Mr. Holman Hunt, were the only ones who sought, and found out, his secret. The composition, arrangement of figures, colour, and general design, make this picture an unusually creditable performance for a youth who had just left the schools. Clearly based on Etty - especially in the painting of flesh - it was begun in 1848 and then put on one side when the young artist, converted to Pre-Raphaelitism, threw his energies into the Lorenzo and Isabella. In 1851 he took Cymon up again, and completed the foreground flowers and growth with as much Pre-Raphaelite precision as the picture would bear; but not caring, no doubt, to exhibit it, he sent it to Christie's, where, in 1853, it was sold by auction. The humour in the vacant eyes and grinning face of Cymon is quite in the tradition of the Leslie School.

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