Millais, along with William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848. These painters grew in fame in the 1850s, and Millais was elected an associate member of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1853. By 1863 he had become a full member of the academy, and he was granted a baronetcy in 1885. Such biographical details are reflected in his creation of paintings that gained ready acceptance as he developed all the firmer and more assured technical prowess. In the 1880s Millais was heralded for his portraiture, and his skillful depiction of the human form particularly shone in the depiction of gentle children, in line with the tastes of the Victorian age. The majority of these images of children differ from the depictions of children of his earlier years, which used primary colors and were vividly detailed. Rather they reveal the broadly brushed style learned from Velázquez and others. Frequently the light that shines on these children sets them off from their dark surroundings, creating an all the more impressive impact. This painting is inscribed with the date 1889, and thus it is thought that this painting was the work exhibited as Ducklings at the Thomas McLean's Gallery that same year. The painting is not meant to depict a specific child, but rather, as indicated by its title, the combination of the ducklings in the foreground and the little girl in midground is thought to make it an allegorical genre scene. Hans Christian Andersen's The Ugly Duckling had been translated into English and published in England in 1869, and the little girl in the picture, unkempt though she may be, may have been thought to share the same kind of future changes as those told in Andersen's story. Here the little girl's hair is uncombed and her shoes are damaged. She holds something in her hands, possibly a letter, or maybe a handkerchief, that might give some clue to the painting's meaning, but unfortunately it is too indistinctly rendered to be of such help. (Source: Masterpieces of the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 2009, cat. no. 92)


  • Title: Ducklings
  • Creator Lifespan: 1829 - 1896
  • Creator Nationality: French
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: London
  • Creator Birth Place: Southampton
  • Date Created: 1889
  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings: Signed (in monogram) and dated upper right: JM / 1889
  • Provenance: N. Mitchell Fine Art Gallery, London; Kojiro Matsukata; Donated by Mr. Tokuzo Mizushima, Tokyo
  • Physical Dimensions: w760 x h1217 mm
  • Painter: John Everett Millais
  • Object title (Japanese): あひるの子
  • Object notes (Japanese): 1848年に、ウィリアム・ホルマン・ハントやダンテ・ガブリエル・ロセッティとともに、ラファエル前派兄弟団を結成したミレイは、1850年代には人気画家となり、1853年にアカデミー準会員、63年には正会員となり、85年には準男爵に叙せられたことからもわかるように、次第にその的確な技術を受け入れられやすい作品の制作へと向けていった。1880年代には、肖像画家としても名声を博し、その巧みな人物表現は、いかにもヴィクトリア朝好みの、感傷的な子供の絵などにも発揮された。それらの多くは、初期の原色も鮮やかな緻密な描写とは異なり、ベラスケスなどに学んだ大胆な筆遣いを見せるようになり、しばしば子供達に当てられる光が、暗い背景からその姿を浮かび上がらせ、印象的な効果を高めている。本作品は、画面上の年記から1889年に描かれたものであることがわかり、同年リーンズ・ギャラリーにDucklings(あひるの子)として出品された作品にあたると考えられる。特定の少女の肖像画として描かれたものではなく、その題名が示すように、画面の手前に見えるあひるの子と少女が重ね合わされた、寓意的風俗画と解釈される。イギリスでは、1869年にアンデルセンの『醜いあひるの子』がUgly Ducklingとして翻訳されており、おそらくこの幾分貧しげな少女の中に、童話のあひるの子と同じような将来の変貌を見させようとしているものと考えられよう。少女の髪は櫛を通されず、靴も傷んでいるように見える。手に握られているものは、この作品の主題解釈に役立つものと思われるが、手紙のようにもハンカチのようにも見え、残念ながら判然としない。(出典: 国立西洋美術館名作選. 東京, 国立西洋美術館, 2006. cat. no. 92)
  • Artist Name (Japanese): ミレイ、ジョン・エヴァリット
  • Type: Paintings
  • Rights: Donated by Mr. Tokuzo Mizushima, http://www.nmwa.go.jp/en/information/privacy.html
  • External Link: The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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