Hireling Shepherd William Holman Hunt's oil painting The Scapegoat embodies many of the aspects that the Pre-Raphelite artists embraced, namely an emphasis on photorealism, bright colors, and even lighting. Hunt's attention to the detail of reflects Ruskin's theories in Modern Painters, noting the subtle nuances of color and reflection in the mountains and water. The focal point, the goat, is depicted in great detail, every single hair carefully noted an shown. Hunt uses a broad range of bright colors, including green, purple, red, and some light touches of pink. However, he makes an interesting choice in changing the tone of the scene by overlaying it all with an ominous yellow tone.Though focusing on the main subject--the goat--the faintly eerie landscape draws the viewer into the wide expanse in the background.


1. The title of "The Scapegoat" is an interesting choice for this piece. Why did Hunt call this The Scapegoat? What sort of symbolism is there?

2. Other than the possible symbolism of the goat itself, is there any other symbolism? If not, is there any significance in the lack of symbolism?

3. Other than Ruskin, who might have been an influence on the creation of this painting?

4. What may have inspired Hunt to paint such an unusual subject matter?

Last modified 20 September 2004