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John Everett Millais (8 June 1829  13 August 1896)  The North-West Passage  Oil on canvas, 1874  Private collection
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Title: North-West Passage
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John Everett Millais (8 June 1829 – 13 August 1896)
The North-West Passage
Oil on canvas, 1874
Private collection


 

The north-west passage was the unnavigable sea route round North America which was thought to provide a passage to the East. In time, it became synonymous with failure, adversity and death, with men and ships battling against hopeless odds in a frozen wilderness. Millais painted this picture in 1874 when another English expedition was setting off. Previous representations had shown had explored the desolate beauty of the terrain with details such as wrecked ships to underline the futility of man’s ambition. Millais encapsulates the risks of such a voyage primarily through the old seaman, with his grim, distant look and clenched fist.

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John Everett Millais (8 June 1829  13 August 1896)  My First Sermon  Watercolour, 1862-1863  Guildhall Art Gallery, London, United KingdomJohn Everett Millais (8 June 1829  13 August 1896)  The North-West Passage  Oil on canvas, 1874  Private collectionJohn Everett Millais (8 June 1829  13 August 1896)  The Woodman's Daughter  Oil on canvas, 1851  Guildhall Art Gallery, London, United Kingdom
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