Millais, Sir John Everett P.R.A., H.R.I., HRCA
Europe, United Kingdom, Scotland, Perthshire
First floor: Pre-Raphaelites
104.3 x 74 cm
Autumn Leaves 1856
Sir John Everett Millais 1829-1896
Oil on canvas
Critics have disagreed about Autumn Leaves
ever since it was first exhibited in 1856.
Some have thought of it first and foremost
as a masterly piece of harmonious landscape painting.
Others have praised Millais' radical move away
from painting a 'subject' in favour of an emphasis
on formal and decorative elements.
Others again have noted
the different social classes of the girls,
and have suggested a political undertone.
Millais himself wrote that he wanted the painting
'to awaken by its solemnity
the deepest religious reflection'
and intended the picture as an allegory of mortality.
Its sombre mood and ambiguous symbolism
certainly encourage the viewer
to contemplate the cycles of youth, harvest and decay.