I've been looking at a lot of art for my new book. Here's something for seminarians!
The little girl was Millais’ five year old daughter Effie and this was the first time that he used any of his children as models. She is sitting in one of the old high-backed pews in All Saints Church, Kingston-on-Thames, which Millais hurried to paint in December 1862 shortly before they were removed. He knew Kingston well, as his parents had moved there in 1854.
After the success of "My First Sermon" at the Royal Academy exhibition in 1863, Millais painted a companion showing the same little girl - his daughter Effie - after the novelty has worn off. In his speech at the next Royal Academy Banquet, the Archbishop of Canterbury claimed it as a warning against ‘the evil of lengthy sermons and drowsy discourses’.