Ophelia was bought from Millais on 10 December 1851 by the art dealer Mr Henry Farrer for 300 guineas (a guinea was
21 shillings, one shilling was worth 12 old pence - equivalent to 3.17 today).
Mr Farrer already owned several works by Millais (Christ in the House of His Parents
(`The Carpenter's Shop'), 1849-50 (shown right)
and Mariana 1851 - the latter is part of the Lord Sherfield Collection).
Farrer sold it to a keen Pre-Raphaelite collector called Mr BG Windus who then sold it in 1862 to a Mr Graves for 748.
Mr Gambart owned it from 1864, followed by a Mr W Fuller Maitland from 1872 and again in 1892.
Sir Henry Tate bought it in September 1892, and then presented it to the nation as part of the Sir Henry Tate Gift in 1894.
Letters from Millais to Tate
These are transcripts of two letters in the Tate Archive concerning
Sir Henry Tate's purchase of Ophelia:
Letter from Millais to Henry Tate:
16th Nov 92
I must write you a line to say what pleasure it has given me to see by the newspapers, there is some chance of your
generous gift being accepted by the present Government & under condition which meet with grand approval.
I must also tell you how delighted I am to know that you have secured "Ophelia",
a picture which.time when I saw it last summer at the Guildhall, as bright as the day it was painted.
Hoping you are in better health than when I saw you, & with very kind regards to Mrs Tate.
Yours most sincerely
P.S My wife begs to join with me in congratulations at the good news & also send her greetings
to you both.