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The Scapegoat

William Holman Hunt, 1854 - 1855

LL 3623

About this object

This was the first major painting Hunt made during his first stay in the Holy Land. He had the idea for it while researching Jewish rituals for another painting, 'The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple' (now in Sudley House).

During his research, Hunt learnt that on the Festival of the Day of Atonement, a goat was sent out from the temple with a piece of scarlet cloth on its head, symbolising the sins of the congregation. It was believed that if these sins were forgiven the cloth would turn white.

Lever bought the picture in 1923 for £4950 from the 1923 Autumn Exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery.

Object specifics

  • Artist(s)
    William Holman Hunt (British: English, born:02 April 1827, died:07 September 1910)
  • Date
    1854 - 1855
  • Materials
    Oil paint; Canvas
  • Measurements
    canvas/support: 86.5 cm x 139.8 cm x 3.0 cm; frame: 116.8 cm x 169.8 cm x 7 cm
  • Physical description
    In the foreground is a white goat with a red cloth between its horns. The goat is stood in the salted shore of the Dead Sea. To the left is a skull and to the right the skeletal remains of a dead animal. In the background is an evening landscape with the setting sun reflected on a mountain range. There is a full moon.
  • Related people
    Agnew's Gallery (Previous owner); Christie's London (Previous owner); Sir Thomas Fairbairn (Previous owner); Gooden and Fox (Previous owner); John Heugh (Previous owner); William Holman Hunt (Artist/maker); William Hesketh Lever (Previous owner); Sir William Cuthbert Quilter (Previous owner)
  • Credit line
    Purchased by William Hesketh Lever in 1923
  • Location
    Lady Lever Art Gallery, Room 10
  • Collection
    From the Walker Art Gallery collections

Explore related

Events

  • Christie's Auction House sale of the collection of B G Windus 19 July 1862

    Start date:
    End date:
    Description: Christie's Auction House sale of the collection of B G Windus 19 July 1862

Ownership

Previous owners

  • William Hesketh Lever

    Owned from: 1923-06-22
    How acquired: Purchased
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Gooden and Fox

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Purchased
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Christie's London

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Sir William Cuthbert Quilter

    Owned from: 1887-05-10
    How acquired: Purchased
    Owned until: 1909-07-09
    Disposal method: Sold at Christie's sale 1909-07-09
  • Agnew's Gallery

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Purchased
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Christie's London

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Sir Thomas Fairbairn

    Owned from: 1878-05-08
    How acquired: Purchased
    Owned until: 1887-05-07
    Disposal method: Sold at Christie's sale 1887-05-07
  • Agnew's Gallery

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Purchased
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Sold
  • Christie's London

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • John Heugh

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Purchased
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Sold at Christie's sale
  • Agnew's Gallery

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Purchased
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Christie's London

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded

Inscriptions

Item inscriptions

  • Inscription text: OOSDOOM DEAD SEA/ 18 WHH 54
    Inscription method:
    Inscription note:
    Inscription location:
  • Inscription text: Surely he hath borne our Griefs, and carried our Sorrows/ye we did esteem him stricken smitten of GOD afflicted
    Inscription method: Inscribed
    Inscription note:
    Inscription location: Frame (top)
  • Inscription text: And the Goat shall bear upon him all their//THE SCAPEGOAT//Iniquities unto a Land not inhabited
    Inscription method: Inscribed
    Inscription note:
    Inscription location: Frame (bottom)
Object view = Fine Art
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