Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)


Art and Art History


Catherine Levesque

Committee Members

Christina Stancioiu

Simon Joyce


This thesis explores the cultural context from which John Everett Millais’s painting, The North-West Passage, emerged, situating the painting in the larger visual culture of Arctic narratives. The painting is distinct due to Millais’s indirect approach to the Arctic subject matter and relies heavily upon the cultural literacy of the viewer. The North-West Passage is a continuation of Millais’s early predilection for constructed heroic narratives dependent upon interpersonal relationships. The painting indicates that Millais’s oeuvre is more united than scholars usually give it credit. Furthermore, The North-West Passage perpetuates normative Victorian attitudes towards gender, empire, and exploration. This study establishes the cultural and visual background of The North-West Passage, in order to reconstruct the knowledge that the Victorian viewer would have brought to the work.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
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On-Campus Access Only