Autumn Leaves

Sir John Everett Millais, 8 Jun 1829 - 13 Aug 1896

Autumn Leaves

Sir John Everett Millais 8 Jun 1829 - 13 Aug 1896


Autumnal garden scene, depicting four melancholy young girls mounding gathered leaves. The two older girls gaze directly at the viewer; they are dressed in identical, dark green dresses with their long hair loose; of this pair, the girl on the left holds a wicker basket from which the second girl removes leaves and adds them to the smouldering pile. To their right are the other two figures: standing in profile to the right with her head turned in three-quarter view is a girl with brilliant red hair, tied into a ponytail, wearing a rust-coloured garment and leaning on a rake, she gazes down at the mound of leaves; the fourth girl, the smallest of the group, stands at the right edge of the composition in three-quarter view to the left, wearing a purple dress with a red neck tie, holding in her hand an apple and small posy of blue flowers. The mounded leaves are painted in great detail with a trail of blue smoke rising in the left corner. In the background are a line of poplar trees receding into the distance, rising above the line of purple hills or moorland and silhouetted against the yellow sky. Frame: Lely revival, probably original to the painting; made of gilded softwood; the top edge has a wide moulding with floral and acanthus in low relief at the corners and the middle of the rails and stiles, oval bead moulding just below the inside of the wide moulding; from the oval beading is a burnished hollow, separating the outer and inner edges of the frame, next to which is a carved ribbon moulding, finished with a compo acanthus moulding.

Display Label

Gallery text panel The Pre-Raphaelites in their Time Britain's first and best-known radical art movement emerged from within the Royal Academy in 1848. Its original members were rebellious art students who were disillusioned with contemporary practice. They looked back to Italian art before Raphael, seeing the pre-1500 period as one of great sincerity. They called themselves the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. In an age of rapid industrial and urban expansion, Pre-Raphaelite artists like Rossetti, Hunt and Millais, and pioneering design reformers such as William Morris, sought a return to pre-industrial values of art and design in truth to nature and materials, and good workmanship. In addition, the arts of the Middle Ages and Middle East were important sources of stylistic inspiration. The Bible, literature and contemporary life were preferred over subjects derived from classical mythology. The Brotherhood also rejected contrived studio lighting and took canvases outside to paint directly from nature. Although attempting to convey exactly what they saw, they created a heightened reality of dream-like intensity with minute details and bright, dazzling colours. Their art was a new kind of history painting for a new age.

Object Name

Autumn Leaves

Creators Name

Sir John Everett Millais

Date Created



framed (sight edge): 102.7cm x 72.1cm
unframed: 104.3cm x 74cm
framed (outer edge): 130.3cm x 99.7cm

accession number


Place of creation





oil paint




© Manchester Art Gallery

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