Artist Feature: John Miller

Lucy Innes Williams, Bridgeman Artists' Manager speaks to the Artist's Estate about the key influences of John Miller (1931-2002), an iconic painter of the Cornish landscape 

Summer Estuary, 1999 (oil on canvas) by John Miller


Farm at Trencom, 1999 (gouache) by John Miller


What was John Miller’s working process and/or working day? I always imagine his work to be dictated by the moods formed out of exposure to the raw, Cornish elements.

John started his day at dawn, working alone and in silence in his studio. He would often go out into the landscape and make endless drawings and watercolour sketches. John rarely referred to the sketches saying that once he had looked intensely at the images, they were forever implanted in his memory.

Where did John most enjoy painting? His work is so synonymous with Cornwall but you have been kind enough to give us at least one image of paintings set in Goa. I’d love to hear more about how travel elsewhere influenced his work.

In the early days John most enjoyed painting misty bare trees in and around his home at Sancreed. He loved painting Venice in the misty sunlight. Jerusalem, Morocco, Italy and the Greek Islands all enriched his experience. It was in Crete that he saw the sky as a rich blue velvet, almost touchable and again on Tresco which led him to painting the iconic blue beaches. In the last years of his life,  John was happiest at the Beach House, Lelant painting beaches, sunrises, horizons…

April Horizon, 1999 (oil on canvas) by John Miller


Morning Star, 2000 (oil on canvas) by John Miller


So many of John’s paintings look tropical at first glance and then I’m surprised to see they’re another image from Godrevy or Lelant. Maybe that’s me underestimating the tropical-nature of Cornwall though!

The beaches of west Cornwall do appear tropical – the deep blue skies, white sandy beaches, turquoise, emerald and deep blue sea. John described the special kind of light like ‘peering through folds of muslin’.

Where are John’s works accessible to be viewed by the public? I know one of John’s great supporters continue to be the New Craftsman Gallery in St. Ives. His work also sits within the collection of Penlee House Gallery & Museum, one of the many galleries we represent for image licensing.

Besides The New Craftsman Gallery and Penlee House Gallery and Museum, there is a collection of fifteen paintings entitled Hayle Estuary Suite in the oncology department of the Royal Cornwall Hospital. His painting ‘Cornubia – Land of the Saints’ can be seen in Truro Cathedral.

Landscape III, 1999 (gouache) by John Miller


Awaiting the Tide, 1999 (gouache) by John Miller


What were the key enduring influences, both visual or relationship-wise in John Miller’s work during his life? 

John said that probably his most important influence was Turner for all kinds of reasons but mainly his sense of space. He also found that in Mark Rothko’s paintings. Monet was another influence. For John, art was a response to life. He always wanted to share with others his joy for life. John was a Companion of St Francis of Assisi. Franciscan spirituality was instrumental in his daily life and work.

Yacht passing the Terrace, 1999 (gouache) by John Miller

How would the estate most like to see the work of John Miller explored in the context of licensing?

We are confident that Bridgeman Copyright, with their team of experts, will promote John’s work effectively and appreciably worldwide. We chose Bridgeman Images as we feel they are best placed as leading specialists in the distribution of fine art worldwide, to represent and manage John’s images.
Michael Truscott and Heather Kaute on behalf of the Estate of John Miller
John Miller joins a distinguished list of artists and artists’ estates to have appointed the Bridgeman Artists’ Copyright Service including Lucian Freud and Stanley Spencer.  Even if the image is not held by Bridgeman, copyright can still be cleared. 




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