Francis D. Millet, Soldier, Painter, And Connoisseur

Francis D. Millet, Soldier, Painter, And Connoisseur

Washington Times

Francis D. Millet, while comparatively unknown even to Washingtonians, despite the fact that he has made this city his home for years, and has given the best of his artistic life toward the beautification of Washington, was one of the city’s most picturesque characters. No chapter of fictional adventure can rival a chapter in the real life of Mr. Millet. Soldier of fortune, adventurer, war correspondent, art student, and artist, he seems to have been constituted of the stuff which makes dramatic events possible.

Mr. Millet, since the civil war, served as a war correspondent in every struggle of any consequence. There isn't a language spoken in either the civilized or uncivilized world, it is said, where any kind of war has occurred since the 70's that he could not speak. Born in Mattapoissett, Mass., November 3, 1846, the greater part of his school education was received before he had attained the age of sixteen. In 1864 he induced his parents to permit him to enter the service of the Union army, and he became a drummer boy with the Sixtieth Massachusetts Volunteers. It was but a short time until he became acting assistant contract surgeon of the Army of the Potomac.

At the close of the civil war he went to Harvard and from that institution in 1869 was given a bachelor of arts degree. Three years later he was given a master of arts degree. In 1879 he was married to Elizabeth Greeley Merrill, of Boston.

In 1871-1872 he was at the Royal academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp, and the following year was made secretary of the Massachusetts commission of fine arts at the Vienna Exposition.

His first experience as a war correspondent was in 1877, when he “covered” the Russo-Turkish war for the New York Herald, London Daily News, and London Graphic. In 1892-1893 he was director of decorations at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. In July, 1898, he was sent to Manilla by the London Times and Harper’s Weekly.

As an artist and as an architect, he was one of the most noted in his particular kind of work in the world. He was a member of the National Commission of Fine Arts, and was returning from London, whither he had been studying several proposed plans for the beautification of Washington, when the Titanic went down.

As an author Mr. Millet gained some distinction. “The Capillary Crime and Other Stories,” “The Danube,” and “Expeditions to the Philippines” were among his best known works. He was a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, of the Grand Army of the Republic, of the Society of Painters in Oil Colors, London, and honorary member of the American Institute of Architects.

For several years Mr. Millet has spent part of each season in Washington. He kept bachelor quarters at 1256 Wisconsin avenue, Georgetown, where he maintained a studio.

One of the most practical men of his profession, his practicability was carried out at all times. A fair example of this is shown in the pronunciation of his name. He always insisted that the combination of letters which composed his name spelled “millet,” with the accent on the first syllable and the final letter sounded, and strenuously objected to the French pronunciation being given it.

Related Biographies:
Francis Davis Millet

Contributor
Mark Baber
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    Added to Encyclopedia Titanica Thursday 21st October 2004, last updated .