Frank D. Millet: His life and work

John Lamoreau

Member
May 21, 2004
140
0
86
Shelley,
I just obtained two letters penned by Millet to Zephaniah Walter Pease who was the editor of the New Bedford, Massachusetts, Morning Mercury newspaper. The first letter was written in 1910 and the second in February 1912 shortly before Millet left for a trip to Rome. Both letters discuss his up coming work for painting murals for the public library in New Bedford that was being remodeled. In the last letter he mentions he will be working on the themes of the murals while in Rome. It is believed sketches for the murals were lost when the Titanic sank. I also have a letter from Millet's sister to Pease after his body was found, giving him details to be published in his newspaper. If you would like copies of these letters please let me know.

Sincerely,

John
 
Apr 14, 2001
160
0
146
Hi I would like to talk about frank millet. I dont know if you all know this, but frank millet was a big part of the 1893 world's fair in chicago. He was decorations director for the fair. Until last year,i never heard of mr millet or the fair A realative of mine told me about a book called the devil in the white city by erik larson. Its the story of the world's fair in chicago, while a serial killer was on the loose. Mr millet was the reason why the buildings at the fair were painted white, and the fair was sucessful. Very little remains of what used to be the white city ,but one of the main buldings used for the fair still exsists. This bulding was the palace of fine arts. Today, its the museum of science and industry, and its a great place. The rest of the buildings are gone. I think its a tradgedy that a great man was lost in such a tragic way. I have another book I want to reccomend. Its called the chicago world's fair of 1893. It has photos of the fair with text by stanley appelbaum . I hope this info will help other people who want to learn about the fair, and about frank millet.
 
Apr 11, 2001
4,565
4
168
The Palace of Arts was the only building which, due to the great value of the paintings within, had to be made of real building materials, not the temporary substance used on the rest of the constructions called "staff" which was simply fiber- impregnanted plaster of Paris, designed to last only a short time. Yes, Frank was the brains behind a great deal which went on at the Fair. When some of the "high art" areas such as The Court of Honor,intended by the Board of Lady Managers to uplift and inspire began to feel stuffy compared with the raucous Midway Plaisance filled with bellydancing and beer gardens, Frank jazzed things up with daily lagoon races between inhabitants (exotic) of the Midway, and lagoon boat races. Frank even had one of the little gondolas named after him. Erik Larson's recent bestseller has brought much interest in HH Holmes, America's first serial killer and Burnham and Millet to be sure.
This is the best site anywhere on the Columbian Expo http://columbus.gl.iit.edu/ I have become an avid collector of Expo memorabilia which still can be had cheaply. The DVD narrated by Gene Wilder is excellent, and is often found on Ebay. Glad to see Frank has another admirer- he was a remarkable man.
 
Mar 15, 2001
710
0
146
I was so amazed to learn when I first got interested in the 1904 Worlds Fair that the buildings were made with temporary materials. The postcards made the buildings look like they were built to last. Its a shame they weren't.
 
Mar 23, 2006
5
0
71
I am searching for information on Millet's "The Love Letter." I have seen a hand colored photogravure published by the Berlin Photographic Company. Does anyone know where the original is? Have an interpretation of the scene? A suggestion of a good resource to follow? thanks.
 
Apr 11, 2001
4,565
4
168
Millet always painted from life and with models. The furniture in that painting actually exists and I am told the sideboard is still around. I believe that painting may have been set in England. The young girl is reading a passionate billet doux from her paramour and has an enraptured look on her face, whilst her father, totally oblivious to the tender scene of young love going on beneath his nose, is reading the newspaper. I have tried to find the painting in the collections in the US and at the Tate, it may very well be in the Millet family collection or in private hands, as are many of Frank's paintings. I am still making inquiries as to its whereabouts.
 
Mar 23, 2006
5
0
71
Thank you so much for the response...so the man is her father? What about the messenger/mail bag on the rug in the foreground and the crumpled letters on the ground around it? Interesting...thanks again for the research!
 
Apr 11, 2001
4,565
4
168
I have only seen The Love Letter once, about 2 years ago and I hope we are talking about the same painting. It should be set in the dining room, breakfast time, the post has just recently arrived, and an older man (her father) is seated on the right side of the canvas, at the table, intently reading his newspaper, paying no attention to a beautiful young girl holding the missive in her hand and gazing wistfully, lost in a world of her own. One look at her face and you know this is a love letter without being told the title of the painting. The other mail has no importance and has hastily been tossed aside- it is THIS letter she has been waiting for! In the background there should be on the right, a long buffet sideboard. Is this the painting?
 
Mar 23, 2006
5
0
71
Hello, yes we are talking about the same image. I will try to post it here (not a great photo, sorry). There are a multitude of similar white sheet letters with broken red wax seals in various discarded stages of crumple on the table at the man's elbow and on top of and around a worn and dirty looking messenger bag on the ground near the man. The man appears to have read the ones on the table and is disinterested (perhaps he has found her stash?). Neither the woman nor the man has a wedding ring visible.
102348.jpg
 
Mar 23, 2006
5
0
71
If you have trouble seeing the image, there is a print currently available for sale on ebay where the details are clearer. Rebecca
 
Apr 11, 2001
4,565
4
168
Der Liebesbrief, The Love Letter had been explained to me that the old man is her father, the morning post being brought to the table as was the custom in well-to-do homes. He has opened his mail, flicked the discarded letters on the floor in disinterest and has progressed on to his morning paper without a thought to his daughter who is pressing a special missive to her cheek, and is probably thinking about her response to it. Millet excelled at telling a story within a frame. These genre paintings are full of human nature and subplots. There's a lot going on in evey corner, and being a very whimsical man, he was a master at bringing two-dimensional forms to life on canvas. Portraying opposites such as youth/age, passion/indifference, etc. was a device Frank employed to great effect.If you ever get to East Bridgewater , Mass.- go to the public library where Sailing on the Bay of Naples is hung in the Millet Room. There are many little vignettes in one painting, and the expressions on the faces reveal delicious possibilities about what is going on in the interactions of the figures in the frame! Between Two Fires, in the Tate is another example just bursting with meaning among its three portrayed characters. Many of his best-loved works were made into large engravings such as this one.
 
Apr 11, 2001
4,565
4
168
Another steel engraving done from the painting "How the Gossip Grew" is very similar to The Love Letter, in fact the room looks nearly the same only now it's two ladies over their teacups exchanging genteel gossip. The painting on the wall on the right is the John Singer Sargent portrait of Millet's wife, Lilly. Another bit of Frank's humor.
View Image
 
May 12, 2005
3,109
1
108
To Rebecca — I have tried replying to your message sent via the ET system but that doesn’t seem to be working. I would suggest you contact Shelley Dziedzic, who knows Millet’s biographer, Peter Engstrom. As you have found, she knows a lot about this subject.

To Darren — in a belated response to your post of last November, I wanted to say that your print is also valuable from a Titanic perspective —— in a "six degrees of separation" sort of way. The publishing company, Appleton, was owned by the father-in-law of Titanic survivor Charlotte Appleton; her husband also had shares in it. Further Appleton-Titanic connections include the fact that a book by J.J. Astor was published by that firm and that the U.S. editions of several novels by Elinor Glyn, Lucy Duff Gordon’s sister, were distributed by the house.
 
Apr 11, 2001
4,565
4
168
It is not rare indeed. Between Two Fires, The Love Letter, How The Gossip Grew, to name a few, were very popular canvases, thus many household- quality prints were made for parlor framing. His line drawings, pen and inks, etc. were also to be found in Harper's and other monthly home market magazines. Frank had the inside track on what people wanted to see, which was a tribute to his uncanny insight into human nature. Any graphic image which reflects humanity, tells a story, evokes a universal sentiment or a timeless truth about the human condition is going to be reproduced for the masses, because there will be a demand for it. Now we have posters filling the same need. Frank also managed to insert the humor in the situations and faces in some of his best-loved works, which endears him to many, no doubt. I expect some of his historical pieces such as Transvers des Sioux or the Baltimore Customs House navigation murals have been mass-produced as prints and post cards.