William Holman Hunt Boxed Notecards
Twenty assorted 5 x 7 in. blank notecards (5 each of 4 designs) with envelopes in a decorative box.
Published with the Manchester Art Gallery.
Under the lashings of the great social critic John Ruskin, a fraternity of English artists swore to turn back the clock. Pre-Raphaelites, because of the conviction that the greatest art of all was that of the Gothic age, illustrated literary and religious themes in brilliant colors, fiercely committed to upsetting conventions they viewed as insincere and hypocritical. William Holman Hunt (English, 1827–1910) borrowed subjects from the Bible and the works of Walter Scott, Alfred Tennyson, John Keats, and William Shakespeare—he was known to borrow books from friends in preparation for a project. His intellectual bent also shaped how he worked: he drew on Renaissance fresco technique in his oil paintings.
Nineteenth-century viewers would have recognized in the title of The Hireling Shepherd the allusion to John 10:12: “But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.” The sheep in the painting have gone astray and are dying of bloat. The Lady of Shalott draws its title from a poem by Tennyson, which includes the following passage: “She weaves by night and day / A magic web with colours gay. / She has heard a whisper say, / A curse is on her if she stay / To look down to Camelot.” The artist-weaver will be punished if she leaves off her weaving and succumbs to the lure of society. The Light of the World shows a figure—his thorned crown reveals his identity—asking for admission to . . . what? The human heart, say many. That very figure is represented again, but disguised, in The Scapegoat, an image drawn from the Old Testament idea that an animal might be charged with the sins of the community, then driven away from the human settlement to suffer and die in the wilderness.
Contains five each of the following notecards:
The Hireling Shepherd, 1851
The Lady of Shalott, c. 1886–1905
The Scapegoat, 1854–1855
The Light of the World, 1851–1856