'Cymon and Iphigenia', 1847-8

Sir John Everett Millais

Accession Number LL10336

'Cymon and Iphigenia', Sir John Everett Millais

The story of Cimon (or Cymon) and Iphigenia was originally told in The Decameron of Boccaccio. Millais’s source, though, was the version by the 17th century English poet John Dryden. The poem described the love of the aristocratic but boorish Cymon, who had been banished by his family to live in the country as a rustic, for the distant and refined Iphigenia.

Millais was only 18 when he began the painting, and it was the last major canvas he worked on before he embraced Pre-Raphaelitism with his friends Holman Hunt and Rossetti. Hunt assisted him with Iphigenia’s dress but Millais was already dissatisfied with the picture and vowing he could do something much better. The outcome was 'Isabella', now in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.

An extended study of 'Cymon and Iphigenia' is available as part of our picture of the month series.