Since originally posting this article I have discovered some more information about the Millais painting -
(Source; The life and letters of Sir John Everett Millais, by John Guille Millais - 1899) The picture called "Peace Concluded, 1856," but better known as "The Return from the Crimea," was painted this year, the subject being a wounded officer lying on a couch, at the head of which is seated his wife. An Irish wolf-hound is also lying curled up on the sofa. Of this picture Ruskin in his " Notes " wrote in terms which have seemed somewhat extravagant to other critics: — "Titian himself could hardly head him now. This picture is as brilliant in invention as consummate in executive power. Both this and 'Autumn Leaves ' will rank in future among the world's best masterpieces."
Colonel "Bob" Malcolm sat for the man, and my mother for the lady; the portrait of her at this period being, I am told, singularly life-like. The Irish wolf-hound, " Roswell," bred in the Queen's kennels, was given to my mother by a Mr. Debas, and was the only pet animal she and my father ever possessed. They were both much attached to him, but he became such a terrible poacher that, to save him from being shot, they sent him out to Australia, to my uncle, George Gray, who found him most useful in hunting big kangaroos, until he came to an untimely end by eating some poisoned meat that had been put out for the dingoes.
In his book "The History Of The Irish Wolfdog", Edmund Hogan, in paragraph 141, mentions a painting by Millais, but he doesn't
give the name of the painting. Hogan states that somebody named W.M. Rosetti was informed by the artist Millais that the dog in the painting
was an "Irish Wolfdog", a rare dog, presented to the painter. Such comments are a feature of Hogans's writing style
and we should remember what Edward C Ash wrote - "But in the story of the Irish Wolfhound, the name of Hogan must
always be connected. First of all, the Reverend gentleman made a prodigious research, and, secondly, apparently
claimed, whenever he found the word dog, that it was the Irish Wolfhound."
I was not familiar with Millais' work prior to researching for this article. Having viewed other paintings by him which include
dogs, I am very impressed at the talent of Millais for painting dogs and I therefore trust Millais to accurately depict his
subject dog. Readers can study the dog in this painting and make up their own minds as to what breed it is.
My observations of the dog in the painting, for what they are worth are - The dog has a kind of "foxy" head, rather than the
stronger lines of an Irish Wolfhound. Secondly, the dog is not large in relation to the young girl in front of him, so I am not
convinced on the basis of look and size that this is an Irish Wolf Dog or Irish Wolfhound, but readers can judge for themselves.
Millais "Peace Concluded" (Full Painting View)
John Everett Millais (British, 1829-1896)
John Everett Millais was raised in Jersey, Southampton, and Dinan until his family relocated to London in 1838 so that
he may be trained in art. At the age of eleven, in 1840 he entered the Royal Academy Schools as a child prodigy making
him the youngest student to ever enroll. While Millais attended the Royal Academy, he met artist William Holman Hunt
along with painter and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti. With these two friends he would organize the famous Pre-Raphaelite
Brotherhood, or the "PRB", during September of 1848 at his family's house on Gower Street.
Peace Concluded, 1856 (1856) is a painting by John Everett Millais which depicts a wounded British officer reading The
Times newspaper's report of the end of the Crimean war. It was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1856 to mixed reviews,
but was strongly endorsed by the critic John Ruskin who proclaimed that in the future it would be recognised as "among
the world's best masterpieces". The central figure in the painting is a portrait of Millais's wife Effie Gray, who
had previously been married to Ruskin, but had left her husband for the artist.
There is some evidence that Millais originally intended the "Peace Concluded" painting to be satirical - an attack on pampered officers
who were allowed to go home for so-called "urgent private affairs", while ordinary soldiers were forced to live in poor
conditions in the Crimea. When the war ended, the satire seemed obsolete, so he changed it to a portrayal of a wounded
officer recuperating at home.
The officer is depicted lying with an Irish wolfhound at his feet, while his wife rests on the sofa, and partly on his
lap; behind her head a large myrtle bush sprouts, a traditional symbol of eternal love. He has put aside a chapter of
William Makepeace Thackeray's novel The Newcomes (the yellow booklet behind his head) to read the newspaper.
The two children have been playing with a wooden box in the form of Noah's ark, a popular toy in this period. It
contains models of various animals, some of which have been placed on the mother's lap. Each animal symbolises one of
the combatants in the Crimean war. The Gallic rooster is the symbol of France; the lion of Britain; the bear of Russia;
the turkey of the Ottoman empire (based in Turkey). The child at the left has just picked a dove from the box,
symbolising peace. The rich fabric of the mother's dress creates a large red patch under the toys, suggestive of
blood. The girl on the right holds up her father's campaign medal, looking at him questioningly. (Wikipedia)
Steve Tillotson, December 2012
Irish Wolfhound Times