Wandering Thoughts

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

Wandering Thoughts

Sir John Everett Millais 8 Jun 1829 - 13 Aug 1896


Forward-facing, full-figure portrait of a young woman seated in an armchair. She has a distant and contemplative expression, with her eyes gazing downward to the left and her head also tilted slightly in that direction. She has dark hair neatly parted down the centre and tied away from the face and wears a floor-length black dress, which reveals the shoulders, has short sleeves trimmed with black lace, and a small posy of red flowers fixed to the bodice. Seated well back and resting both hands on her red upholstered chair, she has allowed a letter to fall from her hand into her lap. The background is dark and without detail contrasting with her pale skin.

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

Wandering Thoughts

Creators Name

Sir John Everett Millais

Date Created

1855 circa


unframed: 35.2cm x 24.9cm
framed: 64.5cm x 53.7cm

accession number


Place of creation





oil paint

On Display

[G7] Manchester Art Gallery - Gallery 7
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© Manchester Art Gallery

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