The Scapegoat card

The Scapegoat

LL 3623

On display


The Scapegoat is the work of William Holman Hunt, a founder member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, an important group of mid-Victorian artists. It's one of the most famous pictures in this gallery, and one of the most famous Pre-Raphaelite works anywhere - a marvellous example of their microscopic attention to detail. It has a religious subject, making it an unusual item among Lever's contemporary pictures. Notice the scriptural quotations on the frame, which was designed by the artist. The scapegoat was an animal cast out into the desert once a year, according to an ancient Jewish ritual; it was meant to take with it all the sins of the tribe. Hunt intended the dying goat to stand for Christ, who died for the sins of the world. The goat has been marked by a red band around its head, which suggests Christ's crown of thorns. The artist had become an Evangelical Christian a few years before painting this picture, and had travelled to the "Holy Land" so that he could produce truly realistic religious work. The Scapegoat was actually painted by the shores of the Dead Sea. It's still a difficult and unsettling image, as Hunt intended it to be: he meant his work to have a strong impact on the viewer.