“Blow Blow Thou Wind” by John Everett Millais
“Blow Blow Thou Wind” by John Everett Millais depicts a winter landscape with a hapless dog at the centre, with divided loyalty between the stranded mother with her child, and the man who is walking away. Which will the loyal dog pick?
The mother is seated on a rock in the snow has her shawl pulled over her head to keep the wind and cold from her child as it feeds. In the distance, the child’s father is walking away. The poem below provides a clue to whether he is abandoning the family of going ahead to search for food and shelter.
The title comes from one of Shakespeare’s poems in “As You Like It”:
Blow Blow thou winter wind
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude…
…Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remembered not.
The artist, Sir John Everett Millais, was a Victorian-era English painter who was one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was founded at his home in London. Millais became a famous exponent of the style, his painting Christ in the House of His Parents.
By the mid-1850s Millais was moving away from the Pre-Raphaelite style and developing a new and powerful form of realism in his art. His fascination of landscapes with wild and bleak locations is also clear in the many landscape paintings of his later period, which usually depict difficult terrain during the winter like this painting.
- Has the male partner gone ahead for provisions and help or has he deserted his family?
- Scenes like the one in this painted here were fairly common at a time when families were torn apart due to homelessness, desperation, and hunger. Did paintings like this help the wealthier class support more compassionate government programs?
Exploring Pre-Raphaelite Art
- By John Everett Millais
- By John William Waterhouse
- Dante Gabriel Rossetti
- Marie Spartali Stillman
Blow Blow Thou Wind
- Title: Blow Blow Thou Wind
- Artist: John Everett Millais
- Medium: Oil on canvas
- Date: 1892
- Style: Realism
- Genre: Landscape
- Dimensions: 108 × 155 cm (42.5 × 61 in)
- Museum: Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki
John Everett Millais
- Name: Sir John Everett Millais, 1st Baronet
- Born: 1829 – Southampton, England
- Died: 1896 (aged 67) – Kensington, London
- Nationality English
- Notable works:
“As man disappears from sight, the land remains.”
– Maori Proverb
Photo Credit: John Everett Millais [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons