William Hunt was an English painter, one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and an important artist in the Victorian Era. Learn more in this free artist study.
“The door of the human heart can only be opened from the inside.” ~William Holman-Hunt
William Holman Hunt was an English painter and one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. His work was characterized by its intense symbolism and use of light, and he is best known for his painting “The Light of the World.“
Early Life of William Holman Hunt
William was born in London on April 2, 1827, where he lived a simple life. His father was a warehouse manager and often struggled to scrape by. As a child, he was raised to have a devout Christian faith. This led him to be fascinated by the Bible, and he would read it for hours. He later said that this experience had a profound effect on his art, and he wanted to portray biblical scenes and themes in his work.
He joined the Royal Academy of Arts in 1844, where he was taught the modern way of the arts. However, after a time, he came to reject their philosophy and view of art. In 1846, he met Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Gabriel introduced him to the style of art before Raphael. Then, alongside Rossetti, John Everett Millais, and Edward Burne-Jones, they joined together to form the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
The group wanted to reform art by returning to the simplicity and realism of the early Renaissance period, focusing on the expressive use of color and light in painting. They believed that the Victorian era was too materialistic, and that true art should express spiritual truths.
Life and Artwork of William Holman Hunt
William’s paintings are noted for their rich symbolism and use of light. This can be seen in his famous painting “The Light of the World,” where he depicts Christ as a figure of light knocking on a door. The image has been interpreted as a symbol of hope and salvation. William often explored religious themes, and he is considered one of the foremost Victorian artists to deal with such subjects.
He was also a noted explorer, and his travels to the Holy Land and other countries inspired many of his paintings. His passion for social reform led him to assist in founding several charities. These included the Home for Fallen Women (now known as the Salvation Army) and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.
Hunt was knighted in 1907, but died a short three years later in 1910, at 83 years old. Now, the man is remembered by a legacy as one of England’s most important artists within the Victorian Era.
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