Thursday, March 1, 2018

01 Paintings, of The amorous game, Part 9 - With Footnotes

William Holman Hunt, 1827–1910
The Awakening Conscience, c. 1853
Oil paint on canvas
762 x 559 mm
Tate

A gentleman has installed his mistress (known to be such because of her absence of a wedding ring) in a house for their meetings. As they play and singt, she has a sudden spiritual revelation. Rising from her lover's lap, she gazes into the sunlit garden beyond, which is reflected in the mirror behind her. The mirror image represents the woman's lost innocence, but redemption, indicated by the ray of light in the foreground, is still possible. Intended to be 'read', the painting is full of such symbolic elements. The cat toying with the broken-winged bird under the table symbolises the woman's plight. A man's discarded glove warns that the likely fate of a cast-off mistress was prostitution.


The underlying spiritual message was generally ignored by most critics, who concentrated instead on the more sensational aspects of the composition. The model is Hunt's girlfriend Annie Miller, an uneducated barmaid whom he met in 1850 when she was fifteen. More on this painting

William Holman Hunt OM (2 April 1827 – 7 September 1910) was an English painter and one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. His paintings were notable for their great attention to detail, vivid color, and elaborate symbolism. These features were influenced by the writings of John Ruskin and Thomas Carlyle, according to whom the world itself should be read as a system of visual signs. For Hunt it was the duty of the artist to reveal the correspondence between sign and fact. Of all the members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Hunt remained most true to their ideals throughout his career. He was always keen to maximize the popular appeal and public visibility of his works. More on William Holman Hunt













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