William Holman Hunt
'The Scapegoat' by William Holman Hunt
Hunt was born in London and demonstrated an early talent for painting. However, he was forced to work as a clerk in the City by his father. He managed to take up painting at the age of sixteen and registered as a student at the Royal Academy in 1844.
While still a student Hunt read John Ruskin's 'Modern Painters' in 1847 and became influenced by the idea of a moral purpose for art. Ruskin also encouraged artists to carefully study nature and Hunt embraced this practice. Hunt's style is easily distinguished from other Pre-Raphaelite painters by the emotional intensity of his characters and his choice of mainly religious and moral subjects. The Lady Lever Art Gallery has some of the best examples.
In 1854 Hunt travelled in the Near East, keen to expand his religious experiences and encounter new artistic challenges. From Cairo he moved to Jaffa, before settling in Jerusalem until 1855. From Jerusalem he travelled to Nazareth, Damascus and Beirut. He returned to England in 1856. Throughout his travels Hunt made numerous sketches and studies of local people and the landscape. Hunt revisited Jerusalem between 1869 and 1872.
His last visit to Jerusalem was in 1892. Hunt's fascination with the Middle East distinguished him from the rest of the Pre-Raphaelite artists. Especially after his travels there, Hunt's work won critical acclaim amongst private dealers rather than at the Royal Academy exhibitions. As early as 1860 Hunt sold 'The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple' (now at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery) to the dealer Ernest Gambart for the amazing sum of £5,500.
The following William Holman Hunt artworks are available to view online: