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Millais' Surprise | by Bonnetmaker
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Millais' Surprise

This is a non-Snark finding, a side effect of my own hunting of the Snark.


[top]: John Everett Millais: Christ in the House of His Parents aka The Carpenter's Shop (1850), presently on display at Tate Britain (N03584).


• Deborah Mary Kerr (1986): John Everett Millais's Christ in the house of his parents (

• p.34 in (01) Éva Péteri (2003): Victorian Approaches to Religion as Reflected in the Art of the Pre-Raphaelites, Budapest 2003, ISBN 978-9630580380 (shortlink:

• Albert Boime (2008): Art in an Age of Civil Struggle, 1848-1871

p. 225-364: The Pre-Raphaelites and the 1848 Revolution (


[bottom]: Anonymous: Edward VI and the Pope, An Allegory of Reformation, mirrored view (16th century, NPG 4165). Iconoclasm depicted in the window. Under the "window" 3rd from left is Thomas Cranmer who wrote the 42 Articles in 1552.


• Margaret Aston (1994): The King's Bedpost: Reformation and Iconography in a Tudor Group Portrait




You'll finde many copies of "Carpenter's Shop" in the internet. Usually Charles Dickens comments on that painting are quoted. But people don't get it yet. They only perceive what the crowd perceives. Tate doesn't get it either. In 1921 the British saved the "Carpenter's Shop" from being displayed upside down, yet, since more than 150 years they don't look at it carefully enough ;-)


I came up with this comparison in 2010 as a kind of "collateral finding" during my Snark hunt. The comparison is meant to be a contribution to the understanding of the making of a controversial painting (1850) by John Everett Millais which made the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood known to the Victorian public.










"We have neglected the gift of comprehending things through our senses. Concept is divorced from percept, and thought moves among abstractions. Our eyes have been reduced to instruments with which to identify and to measure; hence we suffer a paucity of ideas that can be expressed in images and in an incapacity to discover meaning in what we see. Naturally we feel lost in the presence of objects that make sense only to undeluted vision, and we seek refuge in the more familiar medium of words. ... The inborn capacity to understand through the eyes has been put to sleep and must be reawakened."

(Rudolf Arnheim: Art and Visual Perception, 1974, p. 1)

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Taken on September 17, 2011