Mrs Millais, the movie

Two big-screen adaptations of Effie Gray's life are in the works
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The Order of Release (1853) by John Millais
The Order of Release (1853) by John Millais

Fine artists are no stranger to the big screen. Everyone from Guy Pearce to David Bowie has portrayed Warhol, while Brian Cox and Anthony Hopkins have both handled Picasso. However, the Pre-Raphaelites remain a less fruitful source of cinematic material; that is, until now.

 Two forthcoming films dramatise the love triangle between Victorian art critic John Ruskin, his first wife, Effie Gray and the painter John Everett Millais. Gray wed Ruskin in 1848, though their marriage was unsuccessful and remained unconsummated. She went on to model for Millais, fell in love with the artist, and had her first marriage annulled. Some suggest Ruskin's later criticism of Millais' work is influenced by his wife's perceived betrayal.

Certainly, Gray's dramatic appeal hasn't diminished over the past 150 years. Effie, slated for a UK release in March of next year, is scripted by Emma Thompson; Dakota Fanning plays Effie, Millais is portrayed by Tom Sturridge (The Boat that Rocked), while Greg Wise plays Ruskin. However, another screen version of events, Untouched, is also currently in pre-production, with Keira Knightly rumoured to be playing Effie Gray. So, which will be better? We'll have to wait. If you can't hold on until next year for the Millais revival, then console yourself by pre-ordering our forthcoming book, a new study of the artist's life and work by Professor Jason Rosenfeld, which reassess the artist's later work, when John was happily ensconced with his Effie.

 


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