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The Escape of a Heretic, 1559

Sir John Everett Millais British

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 808

The woman’s yellow smock and the hat at her feet indicate that she has been condemned for violating Catholic doctrine during the brutal Spanish Inquisition. Her rescuer, dressed as a friar, disguises her in hooded religious robes. The true friar behind them has been bound and gagged with a rosary. Although the scene is set in the sixteenth century, the Inquisition was not definitively abolished until 1834—within the lifetimes of some of Millais’s viewers. He earned popular success with scenes of romance and danger, but this work was too melodramatic for some critics.

The Escape of a Heretic, 1559, Sir John Everett Millais (British, Southampton 1829–1896 London), Oil on canvas

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