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'A true daughter of ancient Britain': gender and nation in John Everett Millais's The Romans Leaving Britain (1865)

Gilles Weyns (UGent)
(2016) HISTORICA. p.8-14
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  • From imperial to suffrage icon: Warrior Queen Boadicea's representation and perception in British fine art of the long nineteenth century
Abstract
When John Everett Millais (1829 – 1896) first exhibited his large-format historical painting The Romans Leaving Britain at the Royal Academy in 1865, he sparked a lively debate in the periodical press. The painting, which was based on an earlier drawing he had made in 1853, presented a parting scene between a Roman soldier and a Celtic woman, the soldier kneeling before the woman in a last passionate embrace on a cliff-path overlooking the sea. The dramatic, historical moment was the departure of the Roman legions in the late fourth or early fifth centuries AD. Millais confronted his Victorian public with a man kneeling at the feet of a woman in a close physical contact. Moreover, he depicted a Roman subjecting himself to a native British woman. Such a theme was highly unique in Victorian history painting. This analysis of The Romans Leaving Britain and its critical reception offers a new perspective on Britain’s Celtic ancestors and a reassessment of normative Victorian gender roles.
Keywords
Celtic, Millais, Roman, historical painting, Pre-Raphaelite, gender, nation, Ancient Britons, Victorian, reception studies, RSVP

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Citation

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MLA
Weyns, Gilles. “‘A True Daughter of Ancient Britain’: Gender and Nation in John Everett Millais’s The Romans Leaving Britain (1865).” Ed. Kirsten Zimmerman. HISTORICA 1 (2016): 8–14. Print.
APA
Weyns, G. (2016). “A true daughter of ancient Britain”: gender and nation in John Everett Millais’s The Romans Leaving Britain (1865). (K. Zimmerman, Ed.)HISTORICA, (1), 8–14.
Chicago author-date
Weyns, Gilles. 2016. “‘A True Daughter of Ancient Britain’: Gender and Nation in John Everett Millais’s The Romans Leaving Britain (1865).” Ed. Kirsten Zimmerman. Historica (1): 8–14.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Weyns, Gilles. 2016. “‘A True Daughter of Ancient Britain’: Gender and Nation in John Everett Millais’s The Romans Leaving Britain (1865).” Ed. Kirsten Zimmerman. Historica (1): 8–14.
Vancouver
1.
Weyns G. “A true daughter of ancient Britain”: gender and nation in John Everett Millais’s The Romans Leaving Britain (1865). Zimmerman K, editor. HISTORICA. Amsterdam: Vereniging voor Gendergeschiedenis; 2016;(1):8–14.
IEEE
[1]
G. Weyns, “‘A true daughter of ancient Britain’: gender and nation in John Everett Millais’s The Romans Leaving Britain (1865),” HISTORICA, no. 1, pp. 8–14, 2016.
@article{7259462,
  abstract     = {{When John Everett Millais (1829 – 1896) first exhibited his large-format historical painting The Romans Leaving Britain at the Royal Academy in 1865, he sparked a lively debate in the periodical press. The painting, which was based on an earlier drawing he had made in 1853, presented a parting scene between a Roman soldier and a Celtic woman, the soldier kneeling before the woman in a last passionate embrace on a cliff-path overlooking the sea. The dramatic, historical moment was the departure of the Roman legions in the late fourth or early fifth centuries AD.  Millais  confronted his Victorian public with a man kneeling at the feet of a woman in a close physical contact. Moreover, he depicted a Roman subjecting himself to a native British woman. Such a theme was highly unique in Victorian history painting. This analysis of The Romans Leaving Britain and its critical reception offers a new perspective on Britain’s Celtic ancestors and a reassessment of normative Victorian gender roles.}},
  articleno    = {{1}},
  author       = {{Weyns, Gilles}},
  editor       = {{Zimmerman, Kirsten}},
  issn         = {{1382-3914}},
  journal      = {{HISTORICA}},
  keywords     = {{Celtic,Millais,Roman,historical painting,Pre-Raphaelite,gender,nation,Ancient Britons,Victorian,reception studies,RSVP}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  number       = {{1}},
  pages        = {{1:8--1:14}},
  publisher    = {{Vereniging voor Gendergeschiedenis}},
  title        = {{'A true daughter of ancient Britain': gender and nation in John Everett Millais's The Romans Leaving Britain (1865)}},
  year         = {{2016}},
}