Standing on the right, a kidnapper firmly grasps the arm of a young girl while an armored knight tries to hand over precious jewels. In this theatrical painting, John Everett Millais depicted a sixteenth-century scene of a father paying ransom for his two daughters. The subject matter and technique are typical of the Pre-Raphaelite movement founded by Millais. Although he wanted to express a moral seriousness in his work, the drama is unconvincing: the figures are stiff and too large for the room they inhabit. The Ransom received criticism of this kind when it was exhibited, but no one could find fault with Millais's painting technique. The sharp, near-photographic rendering of objects, materials, and individuals display Millais's technical brilliance. To produce this painting, Millais enlisted the help of those around him. His mother made and designed the costumes. His friend Mr. Miller posed for the head of the knight, while a railway guard named "Strong" was the model for the knight's body. The girls were painted from one model, Miss Helen Petrie, and Major McBean posed as one of the kidnappers. Apparently not pleased with the end result, Millais later referred to this painting as "the picture with the dreadful blue-and-white page in the corner."
Oil on canvas (1860-1862)
by John Everett Millais (English, 1829-1896)
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