Bubbles - "A Childs World" by Sir John Everett Millais, 1885-6
0 comment Sunday, May 4, 2014 |

During my research on soap bubbles in art, I found this painting by Sir John Everett Millais on loan at the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Liverpool.
The painting can sometimes be misread as a celebration for childish naivety, but in fact, the depiction of soap bubbles is steeped in art history.
For example, in the 17th century Dutch artists painted children blowing bubbles to convey the brevity of human life, the transience of beauty and the inevitability of death. Gerard Dou - Still Life with a Boy Blowing Soap-bubbles
This painting by Gerard Dou for example, is painted in the symbolic "Vanitas" style. Vanitas are still life paintings that are famous for using objects associated with "Momento Mori", the latin phrase which means "Remember you must die".
"Although 'Bubbles' may appear sentimental to modern taste, it has a serious meaning. Millais was using a symbol with a long tradition behind it. 'Bubbles' are fragile and have a brief moment of beauty before they burst." source

Interestingly, Pears soap printed images of the paintings as an advertisement, against the will of the painter. Critics claimed that this had a degrading effect on the painting but I think the original message of the painting is still clear. Bubbles are still used in art today to evoke transience and beauty.

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