WILLIAM HOLMAN HUNT

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William Holman Hunt was a British painter and a founder of the Pre-Raphaelite movement. Born in London, he was the son of a warehouse manager. Against the wishes of his family, Hunt studied painting under portrait painter Henry Rogers, and copied at the National Gallery and British Museum. Hunt was initially rejected by the Royal Academy art schools, and while he eventually studied there, he rebelled against its founder, Sir Joshua Reynolds. He entered Royal Academy Schools in 1844, and met John Everett Millais who became his greatest friend. He later met Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and through him Ford Madox Brown. In 1848-9, Hunt, Millais and Rossetti, together with W. M. Rossetti, James Collinson, F. G. Stephens, and Thomas Woolner, formed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. In revolt against the Academy and its teachings, they aimed to paint nature with complete fidelity, combined with noble ideas. During the following years, Hunt painted some of his best known works, such as The Hireling Shepherd, Valentine Rescuing Sylvia, The Light of the World, and The Awakening Conscience. In 1854, he painted The Scapegoat after a visit to what is now Israel. Hunt visited the Middle East again in 1869 and 1873 to find the precise historical and archaeological backgrounds for his religious pictures. Of all the Pre-Raphaelites, Hunt was the only one to remain faithful to its original principles throughout his career. He exhibited at the Royal Academy 1846-74, Old Watercolour Society 1869-1903, Grosvenor Gallery and New Gallery. He was elected Member of the Royal Watercolour Society in 1869, awarded Order of Merit in 1905, and was an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy. Hunt’s large pictures tend to be over-elaborate and crowded with detail, but he was also a masterly watercolourist. He is buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral.

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