Analogous to the Christian parable of the Sower and the Seeds, Egg's Past and Present (III) illustrates the inevitably poor harvest of circumstances reaped by an unfaithful wife. Egg's despondent subject sits in a dank stone tunnel. The dilapidated boat next to the wife suggests her worthlessness as a blasphemer living in a moralistic society. As a heretic is excommunicated from the church, the adulteress has been rejected from her secular congregation of friends and family.

By way of pictorial devices, Egg conveys a message of moral redemption. The moon is the singular source of light. Denying his subject comfort within the beams of moonlight, Egg confines her to the unfriendly darkness. Recoiling from the society that banished her, the wife understands her rightful place in the shadows. Her eyes however cannot detach from the moon-drenched seascape alive with human presence: the piers, lighthouse and distant city. Her unbreakable gaze implies a moment of realization. Perhaps Egg's subject understands the error of her ways. From this perspective, Egg's composition reflects the PRB's belief in the moment of conversion and its life changing renewal of self.

Questions

1. How does Egg's moral didacticism compare to that of Hogarth?

2. Does Egg's overall composition suggest the possibility of redemption? Is this redemption religious?

3. Does Egg depart from the PRB's idea of realism?

4. How does Egg reinterpret the PRB's theories on light and shadow? Or did they reinterpret his?


Victorian Web Homepage Visual Arts Augustus Leopold Egg Discussion Questions

Last modified 17 September 2006