Study for 'The Last Trek', 1895-6
Sir John Everett Millais Bt. PRA (1829 - 1896)
RA Collection: Art
These drawings relate to 'The Last Trek', a composition that Millais produced for the frontispiece of a book by his son, John Guille Millais, entitled A Breath from the Veld (published London,1895). The artist intended to make a painted version of the 'The Last Trek' shortly before his death and these drawings could relate to either the illustration or the planned oil painting of this subject.
John Guille Millais recalled a conversation with his father shortly before his death. He wrote: 'I had long wanted him to paint 'The Last Trek'....and now pointing to a large white canvas which stood on one of the easels - he whispered,"Well, Johnnie, you see I have got the canvas at last, and I am really going to begin 'The Last Trek' today." ...The subject appealed strongly to his feelings. It was of a scene I had myself witnessed in South Africa - a white hunter dying in the wilderness attended by his faithful Zulus. The title, too, seemed to please him...and after talking for some time on various points - such as the atmosphere of the southern plains, and the appearance of the parched and sun-cracked soil - he suddenly...putting his hand to his forehead, said solemnly and slowly. "This is going to kill me!"...An hour later he felt so extremely unwell that he retired to his own room downstairs, closing the studio door behind him for the last time. He had commenced, though he knew it not, 'The Last Trek'!".
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