Although the paintings that William Holman Hunt produced in the last dozen years of his career might at first appear particularly heterogeneous, they in fact are unified by some the artist's main themes and thus serve as an appopriate conclusion to his work. Certainly, the works in oil that he executed between 1892 and 1893, when he took his fourth and last trip to the Middle East, and 1905, when failing eyesight forced him to cease painting, include an odd mixture of new subjects, new versions of old ones, and completions of pictures begun decades earlier. We have, for example, The Miracle (or Distribution) of the Holy (or Sacred) Fire in the Church of the Sepulchre at Jerusalem (1893-99, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University), which represents a somewhat bizarre Easter Eve rite; The Importunate Neighbour (1895, National Gallery of Victoria), an illustration of a parable; Christ the Pilot, an unfinished triptych begun in 1893 or 1894; a life-size copy of The Light of the World (St. Paul's Cathedral, London), begun sometime between 1893 and 1900 and completed in 1904; The Beloved (1898, Royal Collection); a head of Jesus from The Shadow of Death (1873, Manchester City Art Galleries); and Christ and the Two Marys (New South Wales;), a painting that he began in 1847 but did not complete until almost half a century afterward. Nonetheless, when placed in the context of Hunt's career, this last group of paintings reveals an essential coherence. Indeed, when properly understood, these pictures reveal themselves to be the suitable coda and summation of the painter's long career.

Other Sections of "Shadows Cast by The Light of the World"

  1. Christ the Pilot
  2. The Importunate Neighbour
  3. The Miracle (or Distribution) of the Holy (or Sacred) Fire in the Church of the Sepulchre at Jerusalem
  4. The Beloved
  5. Hunt's Themes of Conversion and Illumination Throughout His Career

Visual Arts William Holman Hunt

Last modified 22 June 2007