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Watercolour - Love


  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain, United Kingdom (painted)

  • Date:

    ca. 1862 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    John Everett Millais, born 1829 - died 1896 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pen and ink and watercolour wash

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case WD, shelf 41, box B

This image of two lovers clasped in each other’s arms is based on a poem of the same name – ‘Love’. The poem is by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) and describes a lovers' midnight meeting. It appeared in an illustrated edition of Poets of the Nineteenth Century published by the Dalziel brothers in 1857. They were key figures in the printed book trade at this time and commissioned the work of artists for their editions.

This watercolour was painted some five years later by the British artist John Everett Millais (1829-1896). He was a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of 19th-century painters, poets and writers who looked to early Renaissance painters for inspiration. Here, for example, Millais has shown the lovers in ‘medieval’ dress.

Physical description

Watercolour depicting two lovers embracing against a moonlit garden landscape. There is a rabbit in the background. Pen and ink and blue watercolour wash, probably touched with watercolour.

Place of Origin

Great Britain, United Kingdom (painted)


ca. 1862 (painted)


John Everett Millais, born 1829 - died 1896 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Pen and ink and watercolour wash

Marks and inscriptions



Height: 13.3 cm, Width: 10.7 cm

Object history note

Engraved on wood by Dalziel Bros. on p.137 of The Poets of the Nineteenth Century , edited by R.A. Wilmott, 1867. Reproduced in

Descriptive line

Watercolour, Love, by Millais

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Willmott, Robert Aris (ed), The Poets of the Nineteenth Century ,( London: George Routledge, 1857), p.137
Goldman, Paul, John Everett Millais: Illustrator and Narrator , (Aldershot: Hants, 2004)
'The present sheet is a highly finished version of the wood-engraving and is tentatively identified as 'Genevieve' (the name of the lady in the poem) from an account book kept by Effie Millais (private collection) where it is dated 1862.

Forest Reid, in his pioneering study of the subject of Victorian illustration, remarked of this design that in his opinion it was:

... the most moving and impassioned he [Millais] ever made. He made many drawings which in beauty of line and form equal it, but none, it seems to me, which shows the same quality of ecstasy. This picture of two figures clinging together in a darkened landscape, with the great white moon rising between the branches of the trees, strikes us indeed as being in no way inferior to the work of Coleridge himself. (Illustrators of the Sixties, Faber and Gwyer, 1928, p.67).

The lines illustrated are these:

Her bosom heaved - she stepped aside,
As conscious of my look she stept -
Then suddenly, with timorous eye
She fled to me and wept '
Jason Rosenfeld and Alison Smith Millais London: Tate Publishing, 2007. ISBN 978-185437-667-1.
Exhibition catalogue

Exhibition History

Millais (Van Gogh Museum 15/02/2008-18/05/2008)
Millais (Tate 26/09/2007-13/01/2008)


Pen and ink; Wash



Subjects depicted

Trees; Love; Moon; Lovers; Rabbit


Drawings; Paintings; Illustration

Collection code


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