Portia c1886 by Sir John Everett Millais
Portia c1886 by Sir John Everett Millais

Portia from The Merchant of Venice

Portia c1886 by British Painter Sir John Everett Millais (1829 – 1896), illustrator and one of the co-founders of the Pre-Raphailite Brotherhood.

From The Metropolitan Museum of Art

In Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice, the heroine Portia disguises herself in lawyer’s robes and outwits the moneylender Shylock in court, preventing him from extracting his infamous loan penalty of a “pound of flesh.

From The Useum.org

This picture was long incorrectly identified as a portrait of the actress Ellen Terry (1847–1928) in one of her most famous roles, Portia in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. In fact, it shows actress Kate Dolan (? – ?) dressed in the costume that Miss Terry wore in Act IV of the play. When the picture was exhibited at McLean’s Gallery, London, in 1886, Shylock’s line describing Portia was quoted in the catalogue: “A Daniel come to judgement! Yea, a Daniel!”

X-rays and pentimenti(a visible trace of earlier painting beneath a layer or layers of paint on a canvas.) indicate that Portia is painted over a study of the same figure in Greek costume. An early photograph documenting the original image was published in 1899.

This is a retouched digital art old masters reproduction of a public domain image.

Information Below Derived From Wikipedia.org

John was a child prodigy who at the age of eleven became the youngest student to enter the Ruyal Academy Schools in 1840.

The The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood of which John was a member was founded at his family home in London, at 83 Gower Street (now number 7); and he became the most prominent member of the style.

In the mid 1850s Millais created to important paintings Christ in the House of His Parents c1849/50; which resulted in a considerable amount of controversy; and Ophelia, c1851/52; which is considered the embodiment of the historical and naturalist focus of the Brotherhood.

But by the mid 1850s it was evident that Millais was moving away from the Pre-Raphaelite style and developing a new form of realism art.

These later works were highly successful, and made John one of the wealthiest artists of his day.

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