Object of the Month – June 2011

By William Holman Hunt (1827 to 1910)

This view of the river at Stratford-on-Avon is by the famous Pre-Raphaelite artist William Holman Hunt. Hunt wrote a letter to his wife in which he described the subject as ‘a lovely one’ and explained that he was having problems with the changeable weather. However he seems to have completed the watercolour from memory and imagination, adding such details as the punt and the swimming dog later. The painting demonstrates Hunt’s distinctive use of bright colours to obtain a vivid effect.

This watercolour may well have been made as a study for the landscape background of Hunt’s late masterpiece, The Lady of Shalott, which he finally completed in 1905. The landscape reflected in the mirror in the centre of that picture includes a winding river and a green meadow similar to those in the watercolour. The Lady of Shalott is on display at Manchester Art Gallery.

This watercolour painting is currently on loan to the exhibition The Pre-Raphaelites and William Morris; Artists, Designers and Craftsmen, which is touring museums and galleries in Japan. It is due to come back to the Herbert later this year and will be featured in an exhibition of watercolour views of Coventry and Warwickshire opening at the Herbert in February 2012.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the Pre-Raphaelites, Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery has an online Pre-Raphaelite resource: http://www.preraphaelites.org/.


Posted on 01/06/2011, in Object of the Month and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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