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William Holman Hunt - 1827 to 1910


1827 - 2 April
Born Wood Street, Cheapside, eldest son of William Hunt, warehouse manager, and his wife Sarah, nee Holman.

Clerk with estate agent, Mr James, amateur artist who encouraged him. Drawing classes at Mechanics Institute. Lessons from portrait painter Henry Reynolds.

Allowed by father in 1843 to take up painting as a profession. Copied in British Museum, National Gallery and British Institution. Portrait painting. 1844 met Millais. Attended Royal Academy schools' lectures. Accepted at third attempt as a Probationer at Royal Academy, July 1844 and student 1845.

Studied techniques of David Wilkie (1785-1841) who used no 'dead colouring'. 1846 exhibited 'Little Nell' (Sheffield City Art Gallery) at British Institution. Read Ruskin's 'Modern Painters' c1847. Discussed ideas with Millais. 'The Eve of St Agnes' (Guildhall Art Gallery; finished study Walker Art Gallery).

Working in Millais's studio. Met Ford Madox Brown through Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Shared studio with Rossetti until Spring 1894. Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood formed in September.

First Pre-Raphaelite picture, 'Rienzi' (private collection) exhibited at RA and well received . September-October, visited Paris, Belgium, Holland with Rossetti. Impressed by Van Eyck and 15th-century painting. Designed for Pre-Raphaelite journal 'The Germ'.

'Druids' (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford) at Royal Academy - badly received. Poor Sales. Sold 'Druids' to Thomas Combe. Commenced 'Valentine Rescuing Sylvia from Proteus' (Birmingham City Art Gallery).

Valentine attacked when exhibited at Royal Academy. Borrowed money from Millais. Summer started 'The Hireling Shepherd' (Manchester City Art Gallery) and 'The Light of the World' (Keble College, Oxford). 'Valentine' won Liverpool Academy prize of £50, sold to McCracken of Belfast. 'Our English Coasts' (Tate Gallery).

Met Edward Lear (1812-88) and advised his oil technique. Robert Martineau (1826-69) became a pupil. 'Claudio and Isabella' (Tate Gallery) exhibited at Royal Academy and Liverpool. Won Liverpool prize. 'Our English Coasts' won prize in Birmingham. Started 'Awakening Conscience' (private collection).

Trip to Holy Land via Paris and Alexandria. Painted at Cairo and Giza with Thomas Seddon (1821-56). 'The Haunt of the Gazelle' (Walker Art Gallery) painted at Giza. Arrived June at Jerusalem. Began 'The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple' (Birmingham; small version Sudley House). Trips to Wad, Kerith, Hebron and Dead Sea in summer. November began 'Scapegoat' (Lady Lever Art Gallery). Journeyed extensively through Palestine in 1855. Arrived back in England, February 1856.

Studio shared with M Halliday (1822-69) and Martineau. Tennyson illustrations 1857. 'Edward Lear' (Walker Art Gallery). 1858 'Light of the World' engraved. Rejected for Associate Membership of Royal Academy. Influence of Rossetti declined.

Major success of 'The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple'(Birmingham); £5,500 paid by dealer Gambart, including copyright. 'Robert Braithwaite Martineau' (Walker Art Gallery). December 1865 married Fanny Waugh. August 1866 Florence. December 1866 wife died (after birth of son, Cyril).'Isabella and the pot of Basil' (Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne) exhibited 1867 at Gambart's Gallery. Elected to Athenaeum Club, 1868.

Returned to Florence. Visited Venice, Rome, Naples and Alexandria. Arrived Jerusalem in August 1869. Began 'The Shadow of Death' (Manchester), studies for 'The Triumph of the Innocents' (Walker Art Gallery), home to England via Greece, Corfu, Trieste and Vienna.

Finished 'The Shadow of Death' in Millais's studio. 14 November married Edith Waugh, his first wife's sister, at Neuf Chatel.

Third visit to Palestine. Painted 'The Triumph of the Innocents' on faulty canvas. Daughter Gladys born.

London: portraits and fancy subjects. Began replica of 'The Triumph of the Innocents' (Tate Gallery).

Exhibition of 32 works at Fine Art Society. Initial publication of memoirs in 'The Contemporary Review'.' Lady of Shalott' (Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, Connecticut).

'May Morning on Magdalen Tower' (Lady Lever Art Gallery). Began autobiography.

Visited Italy, Greece and Palestine. 1893 'Harold Rathbone' (Walker Art Gallery). Eyesight began to fail. Edward Hughes finished 'The Lady of Shalott', life-size replica of 'The Light of the World' completed 1904 (St. Paul's Cathedral).

'Pre-Raphaelitism & The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood' published. Awarded the Order of Merit and granted honorary DCL, Oxford.

Exhibited 62 works at Leicester Galleries, London. 80 works at Manchester City Art Gallery.

125 works shown at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. Hunt visited Walker Art Gallery and donated two works to the collection. 69 works shown at Glasgow.

Died 7th September, buried St Paul's Cathedral.