The Return of the Dove to the Ark (1851) by John Millais

The Return of the Dove to the Ark - John Millais - 1851

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Artwork Information

TitleThe Return of the Dove to the Ark
ArtistJohn Millais
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions54.6 x 87.6 cm
Art MovementRomanticism
Current LocationAshmolean Museum, Oxford, UK

About The Return of the Dove to the Ark

The artwork “The Return of the Dove to the Ark,” crafted by John Millais in 1851, is an oil on canvas that exemplifies the Romanticism movement. This religious painting, measuring 54.6 x 87.6 cm, is presently housed in the Ashmolean Museum located in Oxford, UK.

The painting depicts a poignant biblical scene centering on two young girls thought to be daughters of Noah, who are receiving a dove upon its return to Noah’s Ark. They stand beneath an arched structure that frames the composition, with the arch serving to draw the viewer’s attention to the central figures. The girl on the left, dressed in a deep green gown, gently holds the dove, her gaze tranquil and introspective. The one on the right, cloaked with a white drape over her shoulder, holds an olive branch, another symbol of peace from the biblical narrative. Her expression is tender, as she leans in affectionately to kiss the dove.

Millais’ meticulous attention to detail is evident in the delicate rendering of the textures of the dresses and the soft feathers of the bird. The artwork embodies the Romanticism movement’s focus on emotion and the awe of natural phenomena, conveying a sense of peace, hope, and the divine human connection to nature. The use of lighting, which highlights the figures against a dark background, and the realism of the girls’ features, are characteristic of Millais’ masterful approach to painting. The interplay of religious symbolism and the innocence of the subjects make this a captivating and beautifully composed work of art.

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