Sir John Everett Millais Bt. PRA, The Lost Piece of Silver

The Lost Piece of Silver

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

RA Collection: Art

This Illustration by John Everett Millais RA titled ‘The Lost Piece of Silver’ was made into a wood-engraving, produced by the Dalziel Brothers, and published in The Parables of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in 1864. A dozen prints had been published between 1862 and 1863 in various periodicals. The 1864 publication consists of 33 parables from the New Testament, and it took the artist six years to complete the 20 illustrations. Millais approached his work in a similar manner to painting, resulting in high quality images, compositionally on par with the Pre-Raphaelite works of Millais and his contemporaries. The Parables has been bound in red cloth with gold detailing and edges of the pages gilded.

Or what woman, if she had ten drachma coins, if she lost one drachma coin, wouldn't light a lamp, sweep the house, and seek diligently until she found it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the drachma which I had lost.' Even so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner repenting."

— Luke 15:8–10

'The Lost Piece of Silver' is a parable from Luke 15:8–10, in which a poor woman loses a coin and sweeps the whole house to find it. Her search is representative of Jesus' or God's own, and celebrating the finding with her neighbours stands for rejoicing along with God. Millais chose to present the woman slouched over with a broom in one hand and an oil lamp in the other, as she searches for the coin, with the nightsky shown through the window behind her.

Object details

The Lost Piece of Silver
Engraved by
Object type

235 mm x 50 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Given by Sir Gerald Kelly PRA 1955 and Mrs. Louis Ginnett 1955
return to start

Start exploring the RA Collection

read more
  • Explore art works, paint-smeared palettes, scribbled letters and more...
  • Artists and architects have run the RA for 250 years.
    Our Collection is a record of them.
Start exploring