Christ in the House of his Parents John Everett Millais Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The Christ in the House of his Parents is a painting by John Everett Millais. It is a family image with some gloomy religious foreshadowing.

It was John Everett's first important religious painting showing a beautiful scene from the boyhood of Jesus Christ. It was first exhibited at the famous Royal Academy in the year 1850. Initially, the painting had no title, but it was accompanied by a specific biblical quotation. Jesus in the House of His Parents depicts the Holy family in St Joseph’s carpentry workshop. It was controversial when it was first exhibited prompting various negative reviews. The painting catapulted the previous incomprehensible Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood period to notoriety, and it was a primary contributor to debates about Realism.

The painting is currently found in Tate Britain, London. Christ in the House of His Parents depicts a normal family handling a little work. It includes the Holy Trinity carpenter’s triangle, the white dove, and the blood on Jesus's hand and foot representing the traditional religious symbolism. The techniques used in this painting include the PRB brethren which were all about the truth to nature. To most art lovers, the picture comes with less or no surprise since Millais wanted to represent the holy family with that technique. While painting, he was so intent upon utilising nature that he chose to use the two real sheep heads that he obtained from the neighbouring butcher's shop to design and create Christ’s flock.

In this painting, John Everett avoided the professional models and techniques by utilising his family and friends and painted a beautiful carpenter’s shop on the famous Oxford Street. In his effort and determination to feel the quality and reality, he designed, sketched and painted the Christ in the House of His Parents painting. For John Everett Millais, using the technique to represent the holy family in everyday life made his painting beautiful. Despite the PRB and Millais having a few enemies with the painting, he made a difference in the British art industry.

Most individuals suggest that John Everett Millais was significantly influenced by John Rogers Herbert who was a famous artist. Herbert's painting, Our Saviour Subject to Christ’s Parents at Nazareth greatly influenced Millais’s artistic work. Also, it is believed that he may have painted on the image depicting Christ helping Joseph in the workshop which was attributed to Annibale Carracci.