John Everett Millais (1829-1896) is undoubtedly among the most important of Victorian artists. In his day, and our own, he remains also the most controversial. While, during his lifetime, controversy centred around his early Pre-Raphaelite paintings, in particular Christ in the house of his Parents (1850), during the twentieth century the most intense criticism has been directed towards Millais's later works, such as Bubbles (1886), which has been widely condemned as sentimental 'kitsch'. These later paintings have been held up as the epitome of the degradation of art, against which avant-garde and Modernist pioneers struggled. None of the existing literature on Millais addresses the fundamental problem that this double-identity reveals. While there is extensive material on the Pre-Raphaelite movement in general, Millais's own work after the 1850s is rarely discussed in detail, despite the fact that he lived and worked for another 30 years after his abandonment of the Pre-Raphaelite style. Time Present and Time Past: The Art of John Everett Millais presents the first comprehensive account of Millais's artistic career from beginning to end. The book considers the question of 'high' and 'low' cultural status in debates during Millais's own day, and in subsequent critical thinking, situating Millais's art as a whole within this cultural framework.
’In this perceptive and well argued study Mr Barlow offers a re-evaluation of Millais and challenges the accepted view that Millais was only 'a purveyor of kitsch'.’ Contemporary Review
’For Barlow, instead of consigning Millais to an outmoded preciousness, those are the exact tensions and contradictions that make him a compelling model for contemporary artists today.’ Modern Painters, Feb 06
' … this is a great contribution to the serious study of Millais as a painter. Paul Barlow's new readings of so many important paintings deserve to displace the conventional myths and anecdotes. This book rewards multiple readings and provokes new understandings of familiar paintings'. The Art Book 2006
’The most sustained and considered contribution to scholarship on John Everett Millais in a century, Time Present and Time Past is essential reading for anyone interested in reconsidering perhaps the most important British artist of the second half of the nineteenth century and for scholars who wish to approach Victorian art unapologetically and in full confidence of its brilliance… rarely fails to stimulate and will provide rich ground for further academic enquiry… a significant book…’ Victorian Studies
Contents: Introduction: Millais and his critics; Millais's medievalism; Millais's Ruskin; Transitional acts; Anecdotal aestheticism; Interlude; Masculine impressions; Struggles for power; Ghosts and memorials; Time present and time past: Millais's legacy; Notes; Select bibliography; Index.