Frank D. Millet: His life and work

May 12, 2005
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Here are URLs for images of paintings and other works by Francis David Millet:

painting, "The Window Seat" (1893)-

painting, "Between Two Fires" (date ?)-

photo, Frank Millet in 1893

photo, Panama Canal Completion Medal by Millet (1914)-

photo, General Warren stained glass window at Memorial Hall, Harvard University, by Millet for Tiffany (date?)-

photo, World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 prize boat named the "F.D. Millet" -

painting, "F.D. Millet House and Garden" by Sargeant (date?)-

Mark Twain painted by Frank Millet. Mark Twain quotations - G
 

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This is a wonderful portrait. I'd read Twain was painted by Millet but had never seen it. I should have known it would be in Hannibal!
 
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The Lipkin link is absolutely BRILLIANT in layout and content- drop everything this instant and GO there! I love his quote about ostentatious women with little dogs leading husbands around like pet lambs aboard Titanic. Also was charmed with his painting "Wandering Thoughts"- I can identify -being one of the pew-warmer set! Thanks for all those luscious links.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Frank Millet excelled in two fields, first as a journalist and war correspondent, later as an artist. His preferred subject was people, usually in groups, and his preferred style was one of almost photographic precision rather than impressionism, as seen in this example. He was well known as an artist in his own time and remains so. I daresay that most people who admire his work have no idea how he died, and would admire it no less if he'd passed away peacefully in his own bed. Ask an average member of the public to name an artist who was lost on the Titanic and the only name they will come up with is Jack Dawson.

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Guest (R17)

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wow he was good ! Can you get glossy books of his work - is he in that class of being known ?
 

Bob Godfrey

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Well, he's not up there with the likes of Van Gogh and Rembrandt, and painting of this kind is much less fashionable these days when abstract and impressionist works are most in demand. Millet's paintings are on display in National collections like the Tate Gallery and the Metropolitan in New York, and you might find a pic or two in a glossy art history, but I doubt there are any books devoted solely to his work. If you want the real thing, you'd certainly need to pay at least a five-figure price. Well within the budget of a man of means like yourself, Miles, and don't forget that with every painting you get a free autograph on one corner.
 

Jon Hollis

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> [I did quite a story about Frank Millet for T.I Some years ago. He amongs't other thing basica;;y invented Air Brushing back during the Chicago Worlds Fair. He also worked with LeFarge for the Trinity Church in Boston. His murals are still around in some Post Offices and State Government Buildings. If anyone is ever in East Bridgewater Mass, the Library there has a huge painting of his and all kinds of research materials. I had the pleasure of interviewing some of his realtives who had some of his paintings in the house but were not signed. I also was lucky enough to get to Broadway in the Cotswolds in England to view his home there and his part buddy artist John Singer Sargents studio which is still there. Cheers all Jon]
 

Dave Gittins

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Millet was very skilful. He was especially good at depicting fabrics and loved to paint women wearing long, full skirts with many folds. However, I'm sorry to say that he was one of the chocolate box school of painters. He painted things that were popularly considered 'arty' and they are almost always drawn from times other than his own. His A Difficult Duet depicts musicians of Mozart's time and his well-known Between Two Fires is a 17th century scene. He's really a pretty minor figure.

Quite a number of his paintings are online, so judge for yourselves.
 

Kyrila Scully

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Try contacting ArtPrintCollection.com. While they do not currently offer Frank Millet's paintings, if you ask them to find some, they will go out of their way to do it.

I wouldn't mention his connection to Titanic, unless you want them to raise the price of the print.

Kyrila
 
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Brian R Peterson

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To Miles,

No, I was not smoking dope at the time and I do not like the inference you make - that was both crass and uncalled for.

Brian
 

Jon Hollis

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Brian, at least Miles didn't call you an Accordian Player (ref. AC). I have found quite a bit of sidebar wise cracks on this forum some even from the "administrators" so your not alone.
 
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Brian R Peterson

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wise cracks aside, the comment made was downright rude.
 

Inger Sheil

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It's a good idea to avoid jokes like that when you're not familiar with your interlocutor - even when meant without any malice, the humour is not always appreciated. A good deal of banter goes on with the board, but sometimes offence - even unintentional - can be caused.

I tend to agree with Dave G and Bob's assesment - there's certainly skill in his work and it is pleasant and decorative, but he's not in the forefront of innovative painters. His work reminds me quite a bit of Millais' later, post Pre-Raphaelite works...accomplished and commercially successful. If not exactly challenging or daringly original, there is some rather good portraiture and solid workmanship.

Brian, your photos and the accompanying story are very interesting indeed. Paul Lee might have some comments to make on them - this is an area in which he has some experience.
 
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David wrote: "He's really a pretty minor figure."

Actually David that is not so. He was absolutely a very major figure in the arts. He was not as famous as a painter as he was as an administrator and organizer but he was exceptionally well-known and highly respected, both as a personality and as an artist. His influence can be seen in many aspects of the art world of his day, even beyond his own personal output. Millet is a figure whose life and work are waiting to be rediscovered by a sensitive biographer.

As in the case of Archie Butt and others whose lives ended on Titanic, Millet has become inextricably bound to the story of the disaster while his noteworthy career has languished - the result being that people today assume he was of only moderate importance. The dearth of readily available material on Millet shows only that there is much excavation required to reclaim this extraordinary man.

I would like to recommend to anyone who is interested in Millet that they read Jon Hollis' thorough and illuminating account of the artist's life. It appeared in the June 1991 issue of Voyage. It is excellent.

There is talk of a full-fledge biography of Millet which, if published, will be something of an eye-opener.

Randy

PS) When I started researching Lucile, I couldn't find a thing. I have been able to show since, however, that she was not only famous and influential but probably one of the most famous and influential women of her day. The proof is in the digging!
 
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Brian R Peterson

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Hi Inger,

I would really like to hear someone knowledgeable in these areas, I also have longer more more detailed stories of the events of the tunnels but they are irrelevant here, though I would love to share via email.

Best Regards,

Brian
 
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Actually Millet, sad to say is vastly underrated, unknown today, and under- appreciated by nearly everyone. He was coming back early on Titanic with Butt because he had to attend a meeting in Washington involving the placement of French's Lincoln Memorial. He was consulted on many important decisions of national stature and served on numerous commissions and boards. There were few artists of the time better-connected than Millet, or more talented in the genre of easel paintings, -murals were his forte, and the Custom House harbor mural in Baltimore is considered a masterpiece of muralists painters by experts. TIS' Voyage is running a six-part series on Millet. His Broadway studio in the Cotswolds was a gathering place for the best of his contemporaries. I will have his website up soon, and I do hope the ultimate biography of Millet, which has been written, and is a brilliant piece of research by Mr. Engstrom, receives and deserves a publisher. The small thumbnail prints online do him no credit. Here is one very large painting in the East Bridgewater Library of Sailing on the Bay of Naples, exhibited in 1874. His compositions are masterful, detailed, and charming in that little dramas unfold in all corners of his works, in the interactions of his subjects. I hope to present here, very soon, a persuasive and comprehensive critique of his art, research of his amazing career and life, and hope to put to rest the misconception that the only thing he did of interest was to drown on Titanic. I am ashamed to admit my own dense stupidity in not knowing his talent and creative genius in many areas of visual arts for so long, and am grateful to have been recently so enlightened and enriched.
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Looks to me like the man had a taste for the everyday sort of subjects. Not the "Beautiful People" but everyday Joes and Janes going about their business if the above two are any indication. I'm wondering if there's a website out there or a book with some of his work featured there.
 
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As I said, apart from the impact his own work had on American art, Millet's influence (as a friend and an artist) is seen in the works of others.

As a leader of England's Broadway art colony, which prospered in the late 19th century, Millet's eye for beauty in nature can be seen best in a masterpiece of his contemporary and companion, John Singer Sargent. This painting, "Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose" was executed in the lush gardens of Millet's beautiful homes, Farnham and Russell, in the years 1885-86.

Here is a detail of this great work, showing two little girls lighting paper lanterns at dusk among Millet's flowers.

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Here are some links that may interest people:

This is a good bio page on Millet, including information supplied by a descendent:

http://64.233.161.104/search?q=cache:z45-EXOnoGMJ...

This is a portrait by Sargent of Millet's lovely wife:

http://64.233.161.104/search?q=cache:cwzQMyQtvdYJ...

This page concerns a controversy over Millet's disputed portraits of his friend Mark Twain:

http://64.233.161.104/search?q=cache:AZKXzziXrw8J...

And this page tells and shows much about the old Broadway art colony that Millet helped create:

http://216.239.51.104/search?q=cache:h-zWNWgifM8J...