The Vale of Rest

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The Vale of Rest
Millais - Das Tal der Stille.jpg
Artist John Everett Millais
Year 1858–1859
Location Tate Britain

The Vale of Rest (1858–1859) is a painting by John Everett Millais.

The painting is of a graveyard, as night is coming on. Beyond the graveyard wall there is a low chapel with a bell. In the foreground of the scene, there are two nuns – the heads of the two nuns are level and symmetrical. They are Roman Catholic nuns, one of the nuns holds a rosary, and one of the nuns is digging a grave. Her forearm and body strain under the weight of a shovelful of earth. The other, overseeing the work, turns with a look of apprehension and anguish.

Art critic Tom Lubbock said of the painting:[1]

"Graves. Dusk. A walled enclosure. The spooky, looming trees. Nuns. Catholics (in England then, still an object of suspicion). Sexual segregation. Religiosity. Mistress and servant, a power relationship, maybe some deeper emotional bondage. Female labour. Something being buried or exhumed. Twin wreaths. The deep dark earth. Corpses, secrets, conspiracy, fear. It's a picture that pulls out all the stops."

The painting is one of those satirised in Florence Claxton's watercolour The Choice of Paris – an idyll (1860). Claxton criticized "the perceived ugliness of early pre-Raphaelite paintings by exaggerating details from many of their works, including The Vale of Rest, Claudio and Isabella, and, lying in the grass, Alice Gray from Spring"[2]


External video
Millais' The Vale of Rest, Smarthistory[3]
  1. ^ Lubbock, Tom (29 August 2008). "Millais Everett, Sir John: The Vale Of Rest (1858-9)". The Independent on Sunday. 
  2. ^ Suzanne Fagence Cooper, Pre Raphaelite Art in the V&A, 2003, p.113
  3. ^ "Millais' The Vale of Rest". Smarthistory at Khan Academy. Retrieved March 28, 2013. 
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