Description of the picture:
Mariana – John Everett Millet. 1851. Mahogany, oil. 59.7 x 49.5 cm
To understand John Everett Millet’s painting “Mariana”, you need to know not only its plot, but also to understand what kind of movement its author belonged to. Millet was a pre-Raphaelite who fought against the blind imitation of classical patterns and following academic traditions.
The viewer sees a rather dark room. Through the lancet windows glazed by the mosaic panel, light breaks in, in the rays of which the heroine stretches, holding on to a numb back. This is Mariana – the main character in Shakespeare’s play Measure for Measure. The unfortunate girl was rejected by her fiance Angelo because she was left without a dowry, which was lost in a shipwreck. Since then, Mariana leads a reclusive lifestyle, yearning for the groom. And here we see her tired and very unhappy. At its debut exhibition, the canvas was accompanied by a signature-line from the poem: “He will not come.”
The presented painting by Millet is not just an illustration for the plot, the Pre-Raphaelites always carried the idea. Initially, they advocated a return to the sincerity and simplicity inherent in the early Renaissance, but after the idea of the Pre-Raphaelites they underwent a significant transformation. The sincerity that the representatives of the movement so supported here is embodied in a disarmingly frank form – a sacrifice that not only suffers from the collapse of love, but also from unrealized sensory desire. The famous critic Ruskin (the one from whom Millet took his spouse) noted that it was Maria, “tired of the lack of news”, that was the most eloquent image of the Pre-Raphaelite period.
By the way, according to the play of Shakespeare, Angelo, corrected all the traditions and laws, still returns to Mariana and marries her, turning from a negative character of the work of the immortal English playwright into a completely positive one."