'The Nest' 1887

Sir John Everett Millais (1829 – 1898)

Oil on canvas, 129.5 x 99cm

Accession Number LL3141

Painting of a mother and daughter looking at a nest

Exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1887, this is typical of Millais's late sentimental subjects.'The Magazine of Art' described it as:

"suggestive of the Christmas number style of art, dry, disagreeable in colour and steeped in the tritest kind of popular sentiment."

'The Academy Journal' critic wrote:

"there are excellencies of a very high order especially in the head... but here too a cheapness of sentiment, an obvious disinclination to deal with the higher elements which even such subjects contain can detract from the enjoyment afforded by the easy mastery of technical difficulties."

Despite increasingly severe criticism by informed observers, Millais's paintings continued to sell well, as they were well calculated to appeal to prospective buyers. Lever bought this picture in 1896, paying £2,200 to the dealers Agnew's for it.

Painting not on display

This painting is not currently on display but you can see it in the Victorian Treasures exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery, 27 January to 7 May 2017.