the martyr of the solway

John Everett Millais, The Martyr of the Solway, 1871, oil on canvas, 70.5 × 56.5 cm, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. Source

This is a depiction of Margaret Wilson, a Scottish martyr who was sentenced to death by drowning. As one of the Scottish Presbyterian  Covenanters, she had refused to acknowledge James VII as head of the church, and so along with Margaret McLachlan, eighteen-year-old Wilson was tied to a stake in the Solway Firth. X-rays have revealed that Millais originally painted the female martyr as a nude.


John Everett Millais (1829–1896, England)


Millais was an English painter and illustrator, and founding member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. His most famous and appreciated Pre-Raphaelite paintings come from the 1850s and became influential on later generations of painters both for their technique and aesthetic. Most of the paintings included here are later works in which he moved away from the earlier medievalist style he had cultivated, and instead moved towards a hybrid realistacademic technique focusing on portraiture and popular contemporary and sentimental scenes.