Sir John Everett Millais Bt. PRA, The Pearl of Great Price

The Pearl of Great Price, 1864

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

RA Collection: Art

Millais designed twenty images for the Dalziel brothers' Parables of Our Lord published in 1864. This scene illustrates the parable of the Pearl of Great Price from the New Testament (Matthew 13: 45-46) which states: "The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it."

The artist worked on this project between 1857 - 1863, writing to his publishers, "I can do ordinary drawings as quickly as most men, but these designs can scarcely be regarded in the same light—each Parable I illustrate perhaps a dozen times before I fix [the image]". Once completed, the designs were transferred to a woodblock for engravers to carve.

The young model on the left-hand side of the image is possibly the daughter of the Pre-Raphaelite model Fanny Eaton and very likely the same model who appears in other compositions including Simeon Solomon's The Mother of Moses (1860; Delaware Art Museum. Records in the Royal Academy's archive indicate that one of Fanny Eaton's daughters worked as a (draped) model in the RA Schools in the 1870s.

Object details

The Pearl of Great Price
Engraved by
Object type

235 mm x 158 mm

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