Monday, January 4, 2010

A Huguenot

(click to enlarge) 
John Everett Millais
(English, 1829-1896)
A Huguenot, 1852
Oil on canvas

Isn't this painting adorable? The expressions are perfect, the colors are lovely, the whole thing is just beautiful. :) Of course, you may be wondering what's going on. The full title of the painting explains it very well: A Huguenot, on St. Bartholomew's Day Refusing to Shield Himself from Danger by Wearing the Roman Catholic Badge. The Wikipedia article on the painting sums it up perfectly:
It depicts a pair of young lovers in an embrace. The familiar subject is given a dramatic twist because the "embrace" is in fact an attempt by the girl to get her beloved to wear a white armband, declaring his allegiance to Roman Catholicism. The young man gently pulls the armband off with the same hand with which he embraces the girl. The incident refers to the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in 1572 when French Protestants (Huguenots) were massacred in Paris, leading to other massacres elsewhere in France. A small number of Protestants escaped from the city by wearing white armbands.
The painting is so bittersweet. Doesn't it make your heart ache just to look at them? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I can't decide if I like to be left wondering or not . . .


  1. That is so sad!
    The expressions on their faces make me think that he was resolved to stay true to his beliefs. She looks so sorrowful, and he looks sad, but sure of this decision, and is trying to reassure her. How heart wrenching!

  2. I wonder if he died . . .
    Oh goodness, I'd be sent to an insane asylum if any of my family could see how wistfully I am staring at that painting right now.

  3. This is really one of my favorite paintings of all time. It's so tragic, yet so sweet . . .