William Holman Hunt Biography | Oil Painting Reproductions

4-2-1827 London, ENG - 9-7-1910 London, ENG

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Hunt, William Holman

William Holman Hunt one of the founding fathers of the Pre-Raphaelite movement. Born in London, the son of a warehouse manager, Hunt worked as a clerk before entering the Royal Academy School in 1844. There he met John Everett Millais and, together with Dante Gabriel Rossetti, they formed the core of The Pre-Rapaelite Brotherhood.

Hunt's attention to detail and his fondness for symbolism accorded well with the aims of the group, but his deeply felt religious convictions led him away from the British art scene.

Religiousness mixed with Sensuality.

In 1853, William Holman Hunt executed the painting The Awakening Conscience, it has come to symbolize the literary and “philanthropic” moralism of Victorian society. The title The Awakening Conscience refers to the revelation of a young prostitute who suddenly recognizes that she is on the path to eternal damnation. The girl is sitting on the lap of a young hedonist who is singing and playing the piano with his left hand. Hunt painstakingly describes every detail of the furnishings, as if to underscore the overabundance of decorations, ornaments, screens, and carpet so typical of Victorian taste. The painter also includes symbols of aggression, seduction, and lost honor. Some of these are difficult to see, for example, to emphasize the fact that the couple is not married, he painted a ring on every finger of the girl's hand except her ring finger. The girl is also clasping her hands as if she has had a sudden awakening, while the man seems to be attempting to seduce her.

In January 1854, he embarked on a two-year expedition to Egypt and the Holy Land, believing that this was the only way to produce realistic images of biblical themes.

The critical response to this enterprise was mixed. The Scapegoat was greeted with puzzlement, but The Finding of the Savior in the Temple was received more enthusiastically, securing William Holman Hunt's reputation as a religious painter. Further trips to the Middle East followed although these were not always happy affairs.

In 1866, his wife Fanny died in Florence, shortly after giving birth to their son. Hunt later married her sister Edith. At this time it was illegal in Britain to marry one's deceased wife's sister, so Hunt was forced to travel abroad to marry her. This led to a serious breach with other family members, notably his former Pre-Raphaelite colleague Thomas Woolner, who had once been in love with Fanny and had married Alice, the third sister of Fanny and Edith.

In 1905, he wrote his memoirs, which have become a primary source document for the Pre-Raphaelite movement.

His paintings were notable for their great attention to detail, that characterizes all the artist's work, vivid color, and elaborate symbolism, he carefully gathered precise information on the costumes and arms of the period.

Art Movement History: Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
Artists Influencing William Hunt: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Augustus Egg, John Everett Millais
He Traveled To Italy, Israel, Egypt
Painters William Hunt Influenced: Robert Braithwaite Martineau

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