Sir John Everett Millais. A Dream of the Past -- Sir Isumbras at the Ford. Oil on Canvas. 1857. 49 x 67 i8nches. Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight.

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"Mr. Stephens, who has written so well on Millais's works, says of this picture: -- "'Sir Isumbras at the Ford' was the subject of the picture Millais made his leading work in the year 1857. It represented an ancient knight, all clad in golden armour, who had gone through the glories of this life -- war honour, victory and reward, wealth and pride. Though he is aged and worn with war, his eye is still bright with the glory of human life, and yet he has stooped his magnificent pride so far as to help, true knight as he was, two little children, and carries them over a river ford upon the saddle of his grand war-horse, woodcutter's children as they were. The face of this warrior was one of those pictorial victories which can derive their success from nothing less than inspiration. The sun was setting beyond the forest that gathered about the river's margin, and, in its glorious decadence, symbolised the nearly spent life of the warrior" [The Life and Letters of Millais, I, 312].


Millais, John Guile. The Life and Letters of John Everett Millais, President of the Royal Academy. 2 vols. New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1899.

Last modified 28 September 2004