OIL PAINTING: The Bridesmaid, 1851
The contrast between his Pre-Raphaelite paintings and Millais later paintings shows with startling clarity how greatly Pre-Raphaelitism must have offended popular taste. The comparison can be made directly in at least one instance, between the dream-like The Bridesmaid of 1851, and the same subject dating from 1879, which is a conventional portrait treatment of his second daughter Mary as bridesmaid to her older sister. Millais himself had foreseen this situation early on, and is recorded as advising intending purchasers to buy his paintings while he was still working for fame rather than for a wife and children. It can surely be no coincidence that Millais' change in style occurs almost precisely at the time of his marriage. Ruskin was appalled by Millais' 1857 Academy painting A Dream of the Past: Sir isumbras at the Ford, and the end of Millais' Pre-Raphaelite phase is usually dated in 1855 or '56. Modern taste has sided with Ruskin in admiring the earlier oil paintings, and it seems unlikely that The Boyhood of Raleigh or Bubbles will again eclipse Christ in the House of his Parents or The Blind Girl in popular esteem.