Sunday, 4 July 2010


“Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.” - Albert Camus

Happy Fourth of July to my American friends and readers of this blog in the USA. Seeing it is the Independence Day of the USA, I have chosen an American artist for this Art Sunday: Francis Davis Millet (1846-1912) who was born at Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, on the 3rd of November 1846. He was a drummer boy with the Union forces in the Civil War and he graduated from Harvard College in 1869. In 1871 Millet entered the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp, where he studied under Van Lerius and De Keyser. In 1873 he was made secretary of the Massachusetts commission to the Vienna Exposition. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 he was correspondent of the London “Daily News” and “Graphic”, and of the New York Herald.

On his return he was made a member from the United States of the International Art Jury at the Paris Exposition of 1878. He was director of decorations at the Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893, and in 1898 he went to Manila as war correspondent for “The Times” and for “Harper’s Weekly”. In 1880 he became a member of the Society of American Artists, and in 1885 was elected to full membership in the National Academy of Design, New York, and was for one term its vice-president. He also became a member of the American Water Color Society and of the Institute of Painters in Oil Colours, London.

As a decorative artist his work may be seen at Trinity Church, Boston; the Bank of Pittsburgh; and the Capitol at St Paul, Minnesota. His pictures are in many public collections: among them are: “A Cosy Corner” in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; “At the Inn” in the Union League Club, New York; and “Between Two Fires” in the Tate Gallery, London. He also wrote essays and short stories, and an English version of Tolstoy's “Sebastopol” (1887); and among his publications are “The Danube” (1891), Capillary Crime and Other Stories (1892), and “Expedition to the Philippines” (1899).

Francis Davis Millet was lost on the Titanic in 1912, where he valiantly tried to save the lives of as many of his fellow passengers as he could. He gave his own life preserver to another passenger.

Millet’s paintings are typical of the Academic style and he handles paint with studiousness while his draughtsmanship is meticulous. His themes are historical, genre paintings, and sometimes portraits. He often makes a humorous or wry comment with his subjects and overall he has been accused of being the maker of “too pretty a picture”. Nevertheless, he handles light well and there is a delicacy in his work that delights many. The painting above is his “At the Inn”, which is typical of his style.


  1. ... from sea to shining sea.

  2. Well, I really like his work, although it seems old-fashioned and totally literal.
    Happy 4th of July!

  3. nyah dont like it
    it looks fake