Biography of Francis Davis Millet

Francis Davis Millet was a well-regarded American painter, sculptor and writer who died in the sinking of the RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912. Born in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts on November 3, 1846, he was a drummer boy with the Union forces in the Civil War.

He graduated from Harvard College with a degree in literature in 1869 and two years later in 1871, he entered the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp, Belgium. Millet returned to the States in 1875 to become a correspondent for the Advertiser at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. In 1876, he painted murals at Trinity Church with John LaFarge.
During the Russian Turkish War of 1877-78, Millet became a war correspondent for several newspapers both in America and England, and for which he was twice decorated for “bravery under fire” by Russian forces. Afterwards he was appointed one of the United States members to the international art jury for the Paris Exposition of 1878. A well-regarded American Academic Classicist, Millet was close friends with Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Mark Twain, both of whom were present at his 1879 marriage to Elizabeth Merrill in Paris, France; Twain was his best man. He was also acquainted with the impressionist artist John Singer Sargent, who often used Millet's daughter Kate as a model, as well as the esteemed Huxley family. Millet became a member of the Society of American Artists in 1880, and in 1885 was elected as a member of the National Academy of Design, New York and as Vice-Chairman of the Fine Arts Committee. A trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he sat on the advisory committee of the National Gallery of Art. He was the decorations director for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, where he is credited with having invented the first form of spray paint. Millet's career included work with a number of worlds' fairs, including Vienna, Chicago, Paris and Tokyo, where he made contributions as a juror, administrator, mural painter/decorator or adviser. A firm believer in the decorative arts - Millet's works can be seen at Trinity Church, Boston; the Bank of Pittsburgh; the capitol at St. Paul, Minn.; the old Hudson Court House, New York; Essex County Court House, Newark; the Customs House, Baltimore; and the Federal Building, Cleveland. His pictures are in many public collections, among them being "A Cosy Corner" in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and "Between Two Fires" in the Tate Gallery, London.

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