The Blind Girl (1856) is a painting by John Everett Millais which
depicts two itinerant beggars, presumed to be sisters, one of whom
is a blind musician, her concertina on her lap. They are resting by
the roadside after a rainstorm, before travelling to the
The painting has been interpreted as an allegory of the senses,
contrasting the experiences of the blind and sighted sisters. The
former feels the warmth of the sun on her face, and fondles a leaf
of grass, while the latter shields her eyes from the sun or rain and
looks at the unusual spectacle of a double rainbow that has just
appeared. Some critics have interpreted the rainbow in Biblical
terms, as the sign of
When the painting was first exhibited in 1856 it was pointed out to Millais that in double rainbows the inner rainbow inverts the order of the colours. Millais had originally painted the colours in the same order in both rainbows. He altered it for scientific accuracy.
A tortoiseshell butterfly rests on the blind girl's shawl, implying
that she is holding herself extremely still. The sheet around her
neck is captioned "Pity the Blind".