William Holman Hunt (1827-1910) is an English painter, born in London. In 1844, he was admitted as a student to the Royal Academy, where he met John Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. For some time he shared a studio with Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and the pair, along with Millais and a few others, who had a common contempt of contemporary English art and its academic rules, started the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which aimed at restoring English painting to its former heights. John Ruskin supported the group and supplied a theoretical foundation for its aims.
Hunt believed that renewal of art must involve a return to honored religious and moral ideals, and these became the center of his work. He used biblical subjects; to paint scenery for these themes he visited Palestine several times, see The Scapegoat (1856) and The Finding of Savior in the Temple (1860). He also frequently took themes from old English myths and sagas, from Shakespeare, and Keats, filling them with an intense symbolism in which every small detail contributed to the picture's message and which is not easy to understand to a modern viewer. The years 1866-1868, he worked in Florence.
At first Victorian England did not accept his works. Thus The Awakening Conscience (1853) infuriated the public; it was normal for a Victorian man to keep a mistress, but nobody spoke about it aloud and who was this Hunt to accuse others? When the public gradually grew to accept to Hunt his work was highly regarded. In 1905, he received the Order of Merit. Hunt's Pre-Raphaelitism and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (1905) is a valuable record of the movement.
My grandfather, his wives and loves by Diana Holman-Hunt. Norton.
William Holman Hunt: the true Pre-Raphaelite by Anne Clark Amor. Constable.
A Pre-Raphaelite Friendship: The Correspondence of William Holman Hunt and John Lucas Tupper (Nineteenth-Century Studies) by James H. Coombs. Umi Research Pr, July 1986.
1854. Oil on canvas. Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight, Liverpool, UK.