The Parable of the [Ten] Virgins (The Parables of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ)

After Sir John Everett Millais British
Engraved and printed by Dalziel Brothers British

Not on view

It took Millais seven years to design twenty images inspired by New Testament Parables for the Dalziel Brothers, and the resulting prints are considered pinnacles of wood engraved illustration. The artist wrote to his publishers, "I can do ordinary drawings as quickly as most men, but these designs can scarcely be regarded in the same light—each Parable I illustrate perhaps a dozen times before I fix [the image]." After completing a design, Millais transferred it to a woodblock coated with "Chinese" white for skilled engravers to carve. Finally, he reviewed proofs, and final adjustments were made before the final printing.
The Parable of the Ten (or Wise and Foolish Virgins) appears in Matthew 25: 1-13 and inspired Millais to make two designs. In this first image he contrasts two groups of girls. The wise ones have remained awake and kept their lamps ready so that when a wedding feast is suddently announced, they are prepared for a nighttime journey. Their foolish companions have, however, fallen asleep and let their lamps burn out which means they will miss the celebration. Pre-Raphaelite ideals shaped the combination of detailed naturalism and down-to-earth imagery to produce a work distinctly different than most religious art of the period.

The Parable of the [Ten] Virgins (The Parables of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ), After Sir John Everett Millais (British, Southampton 1829–1896 London), Wood engraving; proof

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.