Sophia Gray Biography & Facts
Sophia Margaret "Sophie" Gray (28 October 1843 – 15 March 1882), later Sophia Margaret Caird, was a Scottish model for her brother-in-law, the Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais. She was a younger sister of Euphemia "Effie" Gray, who married Millais in 1855 after the annulment of her marriage to John Ruskin. The spelling of her name was, after around 1861, sometimes "Sophy," but only within the family. In public she was known as Sophie and later in life, after her marriage, as Sophia.
From the late 1860s she suffered from a mental illness which seems to have involved a form of anorexia nervosa. In 1873 she married the Scottish entrepreneur James Caird and together they had a daughter. She died in 1882, probably as a result of her anorexia.
Sophie Gray was born in October 1843 to Sophia Margaret Gray, née Jameson (1808–1894), and George Gray (1798–1877), a Scottish lawyer and businessman. Her maternal grandfather, Andrew Jameson, became Sheriff-substitute of Fife. Effie Gray (1828–1897), known initially to the family as "Phemy," was the first of fifteen children, and Sophie was the tenth—three sisters, one also named Sophia Margaret, predeceased her. Two of her five elder brothers died before her birth and two passed away before she was seven.The family lived at Bowerswell, a house re-built in 1842 near the foot of Kinnoull Hill, south-east of Perth. As a child, Gray frequently visited and stayed with her sister Effie in London with her husband, the critic and artist John Ruskin. To an extent Effie, who was fifteen years older than Sophie, acted as a kind of second mother to her and Effie's other siblings. From a young age Gray was exposed to the increasingly strained circumstances of the Ruskins' unconsummated marriage. In fact, through her increasing presence in the Ruskin household, Gray may, in some respects, have been a convenient chaperone for her elder sister, whose largely independent social life tended to attract comment. According to Effie, Ruskin's manservant, Frederick Crawley, expressed to Gray his concern that other servants might spread gossip "all over Camberwell." Gray's governess of three years, a French woman named Delphine, appears to have been discharged by the Grays in March 1854 because of Gray's habit of confiding in her.
Effie Gray's flight from Ruskin and marriage to Millais
On 25 April 1854 Effie left her husband on the pretence of visiting her parents in Scotland. Gray had been staying with the Ruskins, at their home in Herne Hill since just after Christmas 1853 and appears to have been complicit in her sister's flight. She and Effie were seen off in silence by Ruskin at the recently opened King's Cross station, where, accompanied by Crawley, they boarded a train for Edinburgh. However, Gray alighted at Hitchin, Hertfordshire where her parents were waiting. Her mother took her place on the train, while she and her father returned to London to deliver a package from Effie to her solicitors. That evening a citation of nullity was delivered to Ruskin, together with certain effects such as Effie's wedding ring and her keys. The following day Gray and her father returned to Scotland by steamer.
Effie was granted a decree of nullity on 20 July 1854. The previous summer, she, Ruskin, and his protégé John Millais had spent four months together in the Scottish Highlands, during which time she and Millais formed a close and increasingly intimate bond. In early 1854, Millais painted a portrait of Gray for her parents. Through her regular visits to his studio in Gower Street, London, where she impressed Millais by her patience, Gray was able to act a go-between with Effie. During this period, Ruskin's mother (to whom her son was close) appears to have indulged Gray, while, at the same time, casting aspersions on Effie, who was under considerable stress. For his part, Ruskin sometimes accompanied Gray on walks, in the course of which he too spoke slightingly of his wife, possibly seeking to turn Gray against her. Effie's surviving letters to her parents suggest that Gray kept her well informed of such adverse criticism.
After the annulment of her marriage, Effie avoided Millais for some time, although he remained in contact with the girls' mother. Effie and Gray, whose governess was not replaced, spent much of the summer at St Andrews, on the coast of Fife, with their younger sister, Alice Elizabeth Gray (1845–1929). They went for walks together and Effie, who had been well educated herself, acted as her sisters’ teacher. The following year, Millais came up to Bowerswell, where they were married in June 1855.
Gray as model
For the next few years Gray continued to sit for Millais. After he and Effie moved to Annat Lodge, close to Bowerswell, she was readily available for this purpose, but while it seems she was beginning to displace Effie herself as a favored subject, it is unsurprising that Effie wanted to keep herself out of the public eye to a degree, following the very public dissolution of her marriage. In the words of art historian Suzanne Fagence Cooper, whose biographical chapter about Gray (2010) provides the fullest account of her life, Gray "changes before our eyes from a child to a stunning teenager." This change can be traced in three works by Millais: Autumn Leaves (1855–56), Spring (or Apple Blossoms) (1856–1859) and, most strikingly, in a small, but "unnerving" portrait of her at the age of 13, entitled Portrait of a Young Lady, or simply Sophie Gray (1857). Charles Edward Perugini also painted a portrait of Gray as a young woman; the date is not known with certainty and for some years it was attributed mistakenly to Millais.
Autumn Leaves and Spring
In Autumn Leaves, Gray is one of four girls beside a smoking bonfire of leaves. Her sister Alice is also in this picture, together with two local girls at the right procured by Effie. Of the four, only Gray appears to be verging on womanhood.In the later Spring, eight girls (whose ages ranged from 12 to 15) recline in an orchard. Gray is depicted in profile, wearing a colourful, striped robe, with long flowing hair, while Alice lies a somewhat provocatively with a blade of grass in her mouth.
Sophie Gray and Gray’s relationship with Millais
Sophie Gray is a sensual, knowing, and direct image, which, almost inevitably, has provoked questions about the nature of Millais's relationship with his sister-in-law. There was undoubtedly a strong affection between them, which may well have grown into mutual infatuation. According to Mary Lutyens, who researched the lives of Effie, Ruskin and Millais, it was rumoured that Effie had to send Gray away because of concerns that she and Millais were growing too close; however, there is no clear evidence of a more intimate relationship between them. Gray's parents were content for Millais to chaperone her – for example, on an overnight train to London – and, whatever the truth of any rumour, Effie remai.... Discover the Sophia Gray popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Sophia Gray books.