Only a Lock of Hair

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

Only a Lock of Hair

Sir John Everett Millais 8 Jun 1829 - 13 Aug 1896


Bust-length depiction of a young woman, with her head turned three-quarter to the right. She holds a strand of hair with one hand which she cuts with a tiny pair of silver scissors, a distant and melancholy expression on her face. She wears a dress of striped blue and russet coloured fabric with lace around the collar and at the cuffs, and a buttoned bodice. The background is dark and without detail. The frame is in a Pre-Raphaelite style, made of oak and softwood; probably original to the painting with oak reed moulding along the top edge and gilding.

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

Only a Lock of Hair

Creators Name

Sir John Everett Millais

Date Created



unframed: 35.3cm x 25cm
framed: 46.3cm x 36.6cm

accession number


Place of creation





oil paint


Gift of Mr James Gresham


© Manchester Art Gallery

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