Archive for the ‘Pre-Raphaelites’ Category

The Hireling Shepherd 1852

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

The Hireling Shepherd 1851

On the surface this is a Pre-Raphaelite painting by the artist William Holman Hunt (1827-1910) of a shepherd and shepherdess in the vivid colours of an English landscape.  However, it has many different layers of meaning and a fascinating history.  Here are just some of them and we’ll return to this painting in a future blog.

Landscapes in art had regularly used images of shepherds and shepherdesses but always in an artificial and beautiful manner.  Holman Hunt however favoured what he called ‘social realism’ and wanted to paint real people which led to his critics commenting that his models looked “…ill-fed, ill-favoured, ill-washed…”.  This was a shocking portrayal to many in the art world.

One of the meanings of the painting comes from the debates of the time between the Catholic Church and the Church of England and Hunt asserted that he intended the couple to symbolise the pointless theological debates which occupied Christian churchmen while their “flock” went astray due to a lack of proper moral guidance.

 The are many details within the painting.  The sheep wander off into a neighbouring cornfield or are asleep, having over-eaten.  The lamb on the lap of the shepherdess eats on unripe apple and the shepherd shows a Death’s Head moth to his companion.

 This painting was much admired by Salvador Dali and and it was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1852.

 You can view this painting in Manchester City Gallery in Room 3 on the first floor.  Visit the Manchester City Art Galleries’ website for more information at www.manchestergalleries.org

Intermezzo offer assistance with income generation and sponsorship to Museums, Art Galleries and Heritage Properties. For more information contact us at info@intermezzo-arts.co.uk or on 0141 636 6929

The Light of the World 1851-60

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

The Light of the World by William Holman Hunt 1851-60

William Holman Hunt was a founder member of the Pre-Raphaelites, a group of artists formed in 1848, along with Dante Gabriel Rossetti and John Everett Millais.  Their intention was to take art back to the time before Raphael, hence their name, as they believed that subsequent artists who had copied Raphael’s work had created a mannered and over-stylised method of painting which had been adopted by the Royal Academy and which did not allow for freedom and creativity.

 The painting symbolises Christ travelling through the night to knock at the door of the human soul and was painted at night in a hut especially built by the artist.  The door in the painting has no handle and therefore can only be opened from the inside and was based on a door in an old railway station building.   

 There are three versions of this painting – one in Keble College, Oxford, a life-size version in St Paul’s Cathedral in London and this smaller version which is in the Manchester City Art Galleries.   All three paintings toured extensively and this is Holman Hunt’s most famous and well-known image.  Van Gogh considered it to be a supreme example of the power of Christ.

This is a wonderful painting and is currently on show in the Manchester City Art Galleries and you will find it in Gallery 5.  The lantern was made to Holman Hunt’s specifications to incorporate the ideas of Christian symbolism and this original lantern is also on show next to the painting. Visit the Manchester City Art Galleries’ website for more information at www.manchestergalleries.org

 Intermezzo offer assistance with income generation and sponsorship to Museums, Art Galleries and Heritage Properties. For more information contact us at info@intermezzo-arts.co.uk or on 0141 636 6929