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Observations placeholder

Millais, John Everett - Christ in the house of his parents



Type of Spiritual Experience


The following description is derived from that in the Tate gallery website

When this painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1850 it was given no title, but accompanied by a biblical quotation: 'And one shall say unto him, What are those wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.' (Zech. 13:6)………. The public reaction to the picture was one of horror and Millais was viciously attacked by the press. The Times described the painting as 'revolting' and objected to the way in which the artist had dared to depict the Holy Family as ordinary, lowly people in a humble carpenter's shop 'with no conceivable omission of misery, of dirt, of even disease, all finished with the same loathsome minuteness'. Charles Dickens was one of the most vehement critics, describing the young Christ as 'a hideous, wry-necked, blubbering, red-headed boy, in a bed gown'.

It is possible his red hair was symbolically an indicator that he would indeed undergo horrendous trial by Fire as a result of his friends and enemies.

According to the Tate “Christian symbolism figures prominently in the picture”  Except that it doesn’t, this is universal symbolism and as a consequence the more generic symbolism found in this site.  The carpenter's triangle on the wall, above Christ's head, symbolises the cone.  The wood and nails have their own symbolism and Millais knew this.

The blood on the young Christ's left hand drips onto his left foot. [see Big foot]

The young John the Baptist is shown fetching a bowl of water.  [Cup or chalice].  There is a white dove perched on a ladder.  The window relates to the phases of the moon

There may well be symbolism in the curls of wood.  Millais and all the Pre-Raphaelites had a very good grasp of the symbols, at the time there was a concerted effort by all painters to keep the symbolism going at a very difficult time for anyone spiritually minded.



A description of the experience

The source of the experience

Millais, John Everett

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Unrequited love


Being left handed