This portrait of Sir John Everett Millais was painted circa 1850 and is a very good example of Lover's looser style. Lover had just returned from a very successful tour of North America from 1846-48 where he toured with his 'Irish Evenings'. Encouraged to paint by John Comerford (c. 1770-1832), Lover combined his artistic career with that of a theatrical impresario and wrote poetry, songs, operas, novels and plays throughout his life. He also taught Sir Frederick William Burton (1816-1900), the artist and director of the National Gallery, London to paint and helped to found Bentley's Magazine with Charles Dickens (1756-1851) as editor.
Sir John Everett Millais became the youngest ever student at the Royal Academy in 1840 and along with Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1783-1854) and Holman Hunt (1790-1864), was a founder member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood who sought to emulate the works of painters earlier than Raphael. He was granted a baronetcy in 1885, the first artist to be honoured with a hereditary title since Sir Godfrey Kneller (1646-1723) in 1715 and was appointed President of the Royal Academy in 1896 but died later that year.
We are grateful to Dr Paul Caffrey for his help with this catalogue entry.