Although strongly influenced by John Everett Millais’s portrait of Disraeli, exhibited at the Royal Academy in the year of sitters’ death and now in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, this is not a straight copy of Millais’ work. This version, by an unknown artist, is faithful to Millais’ original portrait in the use of a dull brown background and in the clothes and pose of the sitter. However, here the face is not seen in full profile, as in Millais’ version, and the Prime Minister is given a gentle, more approachable expression.
John Everett Millais studied at the Royal Academy Schools, where he exhibited his first work at the age of 16. While at the Academy he formed lasting friendships with William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Together they founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848 and Millais is now widely considered to have been the most accomplished painter of the group. After distancing himself from the Brotherhood to adopt a more popular style, he was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1853. From 1860 onwards he produced a succession of works which brought him considerable success and became a fashionable society portraitist. Millais died at the age of 76, just a few months after being appointed President of the Royal Academy.
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