Portrait of the Hon. John Nevile Manners

PRE-RAPHAELITE (founded 1848) Biography

Portrait of the Hon. John Nevile Manners (England, 1895 - 1896)

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Oil on canvas
Signed with monogram and dated 1896


127.00cm high
81.00cm wide
(50.00 inches high)
(31.89 inches wide)
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Lord Manners, by descent in the family to 1971
Private collection


Royal Academy Notes, 1896, illustrated page 40
M H Spielmann, Millais and his Work, William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh and London 1898, pages 65, 154, 178, catalogue number 338
J G Millais, The Life and Letters of Sir John Everett Millais, 1899, Volume 2, page 486. (A photograph of the painting in an unfinished state showing the boy's head and shoulders reproduced page 453)
Magazine of Art, London, 1899, page 40, illustrated

Exhibition History

London, Royal Academy, 1896, number 151

Description / Expertise

John Everett Millais, a child prodigy, was a founder member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. He was a natural painter, able to make microscopic detail look easy and in technical terms was the most accomplished of the Pre-Raphaelites. He was at his best in subjects that appealed to the feelings rather than to the intellect. This soon made him popular with collectors, and very influential among his fellow painters: it is reasonable to say that Ruskin’s writings and Millais’s paintings together shaped the course of British painting in the 1850s.

After 1856, Millais began to paint in a broader style and in the 1860s developed a virtuoso handling of paint very different from that of his Pre-Raphaelite days. At the same time he embarked on a series of child studies which became very popular and were reproduced in the form of engravings.

My First Sermon (Royal Academy 1863, Guildhall Art Gallery, London) was the first of this series. Other successful pictures of winsome children were Cherry Ripe (1879) and Bubbles (1886), which became famous world-wide. Millais was also frequently commissioned to paint portraits of prominent members of society. In 1885 he was the first artist to be created a Baronet.

The Hon. John Nevile Manners (1892-1914) was the eldest son of John Thomas Manners, 3rd Baron Manners and Lady Constance Manners (neé Constance Edwina Adeline Hamlyn Fane) of Avon Tyrell, nr. Christchurch. In this portrait he is seen holding his shuttlecock and battledore. Badminton was a very modern and fashionable game at the time. In 1913 he joined the Grenadier Guards as a 2nd lieutenant & was killed in action in France, 1 September 1914; he was the first member of Balliol & the first of Violet Bonham Carter's close friends to be killed in the Great War.

This portrait deliberately recalls Thomas Lawrence’s famous painting Master Lambton (Lambton Collection). Millais owned a small copy of this Lawrence and would have seen the original in 1895 at the Grafton Gallery’s Fair Children exhibition, which also included several of his own works.

This painting is amongst Millais’ very last works and was exhibited at his last Royal Academy show in 1896. In the same year he was elected to the Presidency of the Royal Academy.