National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of the David Blanche family and Michael Blanche family in memory of Arthur and Yvonne Blanche through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program, 2009
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
The sitter here is Cecil Webb, son of a distinguished Australian lawyer and King’s Counsel, Thomas Prout Webb. Cecil died aged nine in March 1886 and as the portrait is signed and dated 1887, it is presumed to be posthumous. In the 1880s Millais focused increasingly on child portraiture after he found he could no longer reliably sell a history or genre painting, by far his prefered subject matter. Millais usually painted from photographs of his subjects and it seems likely that the Webb family supplied Millais with a studio portrait of their deceased son upon which Millais based his likeness.