The Bridesmaid is a well-known painting by John Millais created during his Pre-Raphaelite period in 1851. One of the main Victorian marriage traditions depicted in the painting is a bridesmaid passing a piece of wedding cake through a ring nine times to see a vision of her true love. The painting showcases realistically and scientifically focused aspects of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, notable for its detailed and vibrant paintings with clear outlines.
Millais also included symbolism within “The Bridesmaid.” The young red-haired bridesmaid dressed in white represents purity, while the riverine setting evokes calmness and serenity. This peaceful atmosphere accentuates her vulnerability as she focuses entirely on passing the cake through the ring. The painting highlights Millais’ talent for naturalistic landscapes that can be seen across other works such as “Ophelia.”
“The Bridesmaid” stands out among Millais’ best portraits due to its intricate detail and life-like depiction of nature. It is located at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, UK, where it attracts many visitors each year. As one of the founding members of PRB, his contributions were celebrated during his retrospective at London’s Grosvenor Gallery in 1886.