"The Lost Sheep" ; oil painting by M.Beek after Millais (collection of St Luke's Church Oxford)
This small oil was painted after Millais, well known wood block drawing of The Parable of The Lost Sheep of 1864 for "The Parables of Our Lord" ( engraved by Brothers Dalziel published by Routledge, London). Following my exhibition last year, I went to Scotland and drew and photographed many of the landscapes Millais worked from in Perthhire, identifying the exact locations he painted from. The background of this work is Kinnoull Hill Perth, near his wife's family home and the site of many of his well known paintings. As with my "Journeying" series, this work although clearly based on a historic source, is not a direct copy or mere facsimile of a photograph. Millais did not paint an oil version of this drawing, so I used his illustration as a direct source but also informed by my own research and photography. Millais' drawing is black and white and measures a mere just four inches high, in my version I depicted the shepherd with a red cape emblematic of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross bearing the "lost sheep" back to safety. The scene is set against an autumnal sunset similar to that which he used in his painting "The Vale of Rest" (Tate Britain) and "Victory O' Lord" (Manchester Art Gallery), another crucial source for my painting was Holman Hunt's "Our English Coasts or Strayed Sheep" 1852 (Tate Britain). Millais' work, and particularly his later work has once again come into prominence resulting from the recent show (2007-08) at Tate Britain and now at Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam. I visited these shows on a number of occasions to study his work closely, also attending the symposium at the Tate in November. Millais' art has always had a strong influence upon me, my first visit to Perthshire was back in 1978.