This was Millais’ favourite work. The title and the subtitle ('Where the Weary Find Rest') is from Mendelssohn’s song ‘Ruhetal’. The peaceful scene juxtaposes with explicit connotations of death - the nun digging the grave and the skull and crossbones on a rosary - giving a fuller meaning to the name ‘The Vale of Rest’.
Sir John Everett Millais
The Vale of Rest
102.9 x 172.7 cm
Date of work
John Everett Millais was born in Southampton, the son of John William Millais, a wealthy gentleman from an old Jersey family. His mother's family were prosperous saddlers. Considered a child prodigy, Millais came to London in 1838 and was sent to Sass's Art School. At the Royal Academy he became friendly with fellow student William Holman Hunt, and together with Dante Gabriel Rossetti helped form the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.