William Holman Hunt. The Pilgrim's Return. 1847. Pencil on paper. Private collection. The artist has pasted the original 1847 drawing, which thus dates from before the formation of Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, on a slightly larger sheet on which he has written the drawing's title and an inscription to his second wife: “For dear Edith 1883.”

This drawing has several points of interest. First of all, it dates before the PRB. Second, it is a rare finished Hunt drawing with nude figures. Third, it differs markedly from the rather scratchy ink drawings he later used for figure and other studies. Fourth, We see hunt creating a kind of companion piece or at least partial parallel to Dante Gabriel Rossetti's poem “Staff and Scrip” (text of poem). Finally, we see Hunt using the Northern Renaissance plateau or open-window composition used in his early Druids picture and later Finding of the Saviour in the Temple and The Shadow of Death.

Scanned image and text by George P. Landow [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


Greenleaf, Rebecca R. “The Pilgrim's Return.” Ladies of Shalott: A Victorian Masterpiece and Its Contexts. Ed. George P. Landow. Exhibition catalogue. Providence, Rhode Island: Department of Art, Brown University, 1985. No. 25.

Last modified 18 March 2013