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Technique used for 'The Scapegoat'

Landscape detail from 'The Scapegoat'

When this picture was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1856 it met with a cool critical response. Even Ruskin, who devoted a lengthy entry in his 'Academy Notes' to the picture, thought the choice of a goat as subject was rather misplaced.

He also thought it poorly painted. The critic of 'The Athenaeum' dismissed the work and on a curiously prophetic note added;

'We shudder, however, in anticipation of the dreamy fantasies and the deep allegories that will be deduced from this figure of a goat in difficulty.'

Hunt's lurid colouring is far from natural. Allen Staley writing on Hunt's landscape painting perceptively comments that;

'Hunt may have painted what he saw, but by choice he saw strange things, and he saw them at their most vivid pitch.'

The strident high-keyed purple which here bathes the mountains of Edom subsequently became the hallmark of much of his landscape painting.