Anne and Marion Pender were the daughters of Sir John Pender, a wealthy textile merchant from Glasgow. The girls’ identical red velvet gowns and plush surroundings convey their affluence, yet one cannot help but feel that they are on display, not unlike the two fish in the bowl before them.
While a student at the Royal Academy in London, Millais co-founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood as an act of rebellion against the classicizing style of painting taught there. Ironically, Leisure Hours was painted just a year after he was elected to be a full member of the Royal Academy.
Artist John Everett Millais, English, 1829-1896
  • Leisure Hours
Date 1864
Medium oil on canvas
Dimensions Unframed: 35 × 46 1/2 inches (88.9 × 118.1 cm)
Framed: 44 × 55 5/8 × 2 3/8 inches (111.8 × 141.3 × 6 cm)
Credit Line Founders Society Purchase, Robert H. Tannahill Foundation Fund
Accession Number 78.59
Department European Painting
On View Modern N200, Level 2 (see map)
Signed Signed and dated, in red, lower left: [artist's monogram] J E M 1864
Sir John Pender (Middleton Hall, Linlithgow, England);
by descent to Marion, Lady des Voeux [née Pender];
by descent to the family of Marion, Lady des Voeux;
estate of Lady des Voeux;
1978-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Exh. cat., Royal Academy. London, 1864, no. 289.

Autumn Exhibition. Exh. cat., Academy of Fine Arts. Manchester, 1864, no. 702.

Atheneum, May 7, 1864, p. 650.

Fraser's Magazine 70 (July 1864): p. 68.

Rosetti, William Michael. Fine Art, Chiefly Contemporary: Notices reprinted, with Revisions. 1867, p. 231.

Exhibition of a Collection of Pictures by Mr. John E. Millais RA. Exh. cat., Fine Arts Society. London, 1881, no. 15.

Exhibition of Works by Sir J.E. Millais Bt RA. Exh. cat., Grosvenor Gallery. London, 1886, no. 8.

Memorial Exhibition. Exh. cat., Royal Academy. London, Winter 1898, no. 7.

Millais, G. Life and Letters of Sir John Everett Millais. New York, 1898, vol. 1, pp. 379-81 (ill.), and vol. 2, p. 472.

Spielmann, M.H. Millais and His Works. Edinburgh, 1898, pp. 64, 71-72, 90, 165, 170, no. 88.

Millais, J.G. The Life and Letters of Sir John Everett Millais, President of the Royal Academy. 1899, vol. 1, pp. 379, 381, vol. 2, p. 472.

PRB-Millais-PRA. Exh. cat., Royal Academy. London, 1967, no. 66.

Victorian Painting. Exh. cat., The Fine Art Society, Ltd. London, 1977, no. 35 (ill.).

"Resurgence in Victorian Art." Artists of the Rockies and the Golden West 6, no. 1 (Winter 1979): pp. 32-37 (ill.).

Young, P. "Millais, Leisure Hours." Bulletin of the DIA 58, no. 3 (1980): pp. 118-126, (cover ill.).

The Pre-Raphaelites. Exh. cat., Tate Gallery. London, 1984, no. 126 (ill.).

Ladies of Shalot: A Victorian Masterpiece and its Contexts. Exh. cat., Brown University, Bell Gallery, List Art Center. Providence, 1985, no. 31, pp. 130131.

Millais: Portraits. Exh. cat., National Portrait Gallery. London, 1999, pp. 128-129, cat. 33 (ill.).

Smith, Alison and Jason Rosenfeld. Millais. Exh cat.,Tate. London, 2007, cat 89, p. 144 (ill.).