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Sir John Everett Millais Bt. PRA, A Woman Presenting a Petition to a Cavalier

A Woman Presenting a Petition to a Cavalier, 1841

Sir John Everett Millais Bt. PRA (1829 - 1896)

RA Collection: Art

Between 1839 - 1841, Millais succeeded in winning a prize in each category of the annual Society of Arts competition for young artists. The categories were: a chalk drawing from the antique, a subject composition in pencil and the same in sepia. News of the Defeat of the Royalists(02/266), 'an historical composition in sepia', won Millais the RSA 'silver palette' in 1841.

Encouraged by this success, Millais went on to enter competitions run by the Art Union of London. In 1842-3 the competition was for ten outline drawings illustrating a theme from English history or literature. Millais did not win in this case but he did produce a series of sixteen Anglo-Saxon scenes some of which he developed into paintings. The RA collection holds two preparatory drawings related to this series - studies for Elgiva and for Non Sed Angli Sed Angeli. Millais later entered the Association for the Promotion of Fine Arts in Scotland drawing competition in 1847 and won second place.

A number of other drawings in the Royal Academy collection are possibly connected with Millais's competition entries, including the painstakingly drawn 'Woman Presenting a Petition to a Cavalier', 'Battle Scene' and 'Othello'.

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Many of Millais's early imaginative sketches reveal a schoolboy fascination with the English Civil War and the heavily romanticised clash between Roundheads and Cavaliers. In the late 1830s and early 1840s the young artist used this turbulent era as the setting for some of his earliest compositions including 'News of the Defeat of the Royalists', 'Woman Presenting a Petition to a Cavalier' and a scene from Sir Walter Scott's Peveril of the Peak painted in 1841.

A decade later, he returned to this favourite childhood theme with 'The Proscribed Royalist' (1852-3; Private collection), depicting a Puritan girl helping a fugitive Royalist. However, this constitutes a rare example of a Civil War subject in Millais's later work.

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Object details

A Woman Presenting a Petition to a Cavalier
Object type
Pencil on thick cream wove paper

532 mm x 745 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
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