The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple is a painting in which Hunt pays careful attention to his placement as well as his usage of symbols and iconographic characters and images. Various art historians have mentioned that this painting not only delves into the historical aspect of this event but also the psychological, a novel concept for that period. Hunt used novel methods of illustration, while still paying careful attention to old themes and ideas, especially in the depiction of the Holy Family. Overall, Hunt creates an image that has various insinuations; if the painting were taken only literarily, one would find plenty from which to draw. However, once the psychological aspects of the painting are transposed over the symbolic images, Hunt's true purpose shines through.

Discussion Questions

1. What is the symbolic purpose, if any, of the blind man who is sitting by the door of the temple?

2. What purpose does the open window in the background serve? Does this help or detract from the Pre-Raphaelite practice of creating a flattened composition?

3. Can any significance be assigned to the bird that appears to be flying inside the temple by way of the open door?

4. What is the main theme of this painting? What was Hunt trying to display by using these various iconographical messages?

Related Material

Last modified 27 September 2006