Collection Online
Diana Vernon
oil on canvas
127.3 × 98.5 cm
inscribed in brown paint l.r.: 1880 JEM (monogram)
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 1914
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
Gallery location
19th Century European Paintings Gallery
Level 2, NGV International

Collection of George Gurney Esq. (d. 1903), Shincliffe, Eastbourne, East Sussex, by 1898–1903[1]; included in the George Gurney estate sale, Christie's, London, 11 July 1903, no. 84[2]; from where purchased by Leggatt's (dealer), London, 1903; from where purchased by Major Cecil Sebag-Montefiore (1873–1923), Stisted Hall, Braintree, Essex, 1903; probably from whom purchased, on the advice of the Sir Sidney Colvin and Frank Gibson, for the Felton Bequest, 1914.

[1] The painting depicts the character from the Sir Walter Scott novel Rob Roy. Diana Vernon is the love interest of the novel’s narrator Frank Osbaldistone. The sitter of this particular painting is Hon. Caroline Roche, later the Countess von Hochberg. See Millais, J. G., The Life and letters of Sir John Everett Millais, president of the Royal Academy, vol. 2, London: Methuen, 1899, p. 127, repr. p.166. The reproduction credits a Mr R. Gurney, however, this is believed to be a mistake.

[2] See M.R., ‘English Sales: Pictures’, in The Burlington Gazette, Vol. 1, No. 5, August 1903, pp. 142–44.

Exhibited Royal Academy, 1898, no. 86, lent by George Gurney; British Gallery, Universal Exposition, St Louis, Missouri, 1904, no. 181, lent by C. Sebag-Montefiore; British Gallery, Christchurch International Exhibition, Christchurch, 1906, lent by C. Sebag-Montefiore.[1]

[1] One of two paintings by Millais exhibited at the Christchurch International Exhibition; the other was Clarissa, lent by the Executors of the Estate of James Staats Forbes, a prominent Victorian-era collector. See Official Record of the New Zealand International Exhibition of Arts and Industries held at Christchurch 1906–07, Section X: Art in the Exhibition, published 1910, p. 273–74. Clearly seen in photograph of hang, p. 274.

One of the founders of the Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood, Millais’ early reputation was made through grand history paintings and narrative works. However, his greatest commercial success was with portraiture and genre painting. In this work he has combined these various themes for a portriat of the beautiful Diana Vernon, the spirited and fiercly independent Scottish heroine of Walter Scotts’ historical novel Rob Roy (1817), based on the life of the life of the Jacobite rebel and famed Highlander Rob Roy MacGregor. In the book, Diana too was a Jacobite and was very active in the rebellion. She was arrested by the English, but freed by Rob Roy following an ambush of her captors.


Unknown - 19th century


Location of stamp
Centre top of reverse of lining canvas
Ink stencil
More Information
National Portrait Gallery