Isabella 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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Isabella also referred to as Lorenzo and Isabella is a painting set in Italy between the 1840s and 1850s. Isabella was John Everett Millais's first work in the famous pre-Raphaelite style and period.

The art was created just after the formation and development of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848. The first exhibition was done at the Royal Academy in the year1849. Currently, it is in the collection of the well-known Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. The painting depicts a group of ten individuals, three men and seven women who escape from plague-ridden town, Florence. Afterwards they head to the neighbouring Fiesole hills and the deserted villa where they both stay for the fortnight. The painting also describes the relationship that exists between Isabella and the sister of the wealthy medieval merchants as well as Lorenzo. It represents a moment at which her brothers realize the romance that exists between two young people and plans to murder Lorenzo so that they may marry Isabella to the wealthy nobleman.

Isabella is designed and structured with a deliberately distorted perspective which elongates the right-hand side of a table and flattening the primary figures that are arranged along it. By following the Pre-Raphaelite theory, John Everett Millais eliminates chiaroscuro and uses the opportunity to exaggerate the intensity of the juxtaposed tones and colours. That is shown in the flat brown tunic set against a sharply designed white cloth of a servant at the right-hand side. The Servant’s lower body disappears as yellow stockings merge with the painting’s background.

He uses the same technique to carefully characterize every figure in the painting with equal precision. Also, another distinctive feature in his method of painting is the inclusion of patterns and images within the entire representation. Each of the plates in the painting features a distorted image glazed into the surface. The background of the bench on which Isabella is sitting on features a carving which depicts the kneeling figure under that appears to be the letters PRB. The artists related to his work include William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who was the founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Isabella was commissioned, and it was intended to help revive the formalism, austerity and accurate draughtsmanship of the early Renaissance.