This work was acquired as a result of a direct appeal to the Art Fund members, and was considered the British equivalent of the achievements of the early Italian and Flemish schools.

Millais has incorporated symbolism throughout this scene which on its surface depicts a domestic scene of Christ in the workshop of his father. The Art Fund was especially eager to acquire this piece as its appeal to obtain another Millais work, Portrait of Tennyson was unsuccessful. The Portrait of Tennyson was happily later acquired by the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight.

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