Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Light of the World: Art, Religion and Empire.

Holman Hunt 
The Scapegoat  (1854–1855) Oil on canvas, 33.7 x 45.9 cm, Manchester City Galleries

Light of the World 1851-5 Retouched 1858 and again in 1886

On the frame: “behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
Revelations 3.20
In 1865 Hunt wrote a key to the symbols used.
“The closed door was the obstinately shut mind, the weeds the cumber of daily neglect, the accumulated hindrances of sloth; the orchard the garden of delectable fruit for the dainty feast of the soul. The music of the still small voice was the summons to the sluggard to awaken and become a zealous labourer under the Divine Master; the bat flitting about only in darkness was a natural symbol of ignorance; the kingly and priestly dress of Christ, the sign of His reign over the body and the soul, to them who could give their allegiance to Him and acknowledge God's overrule. In making it a night scene, lit mainly by the lantern carried by Christ, I had followed metaphorical explanation in the Psalms, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path,' with also the accordant allusions by St. Paul to the sleeping soul, "The night is far spent, the day is at hand." (I.350-51)”

Victorian religion
High Church / Oxford Movement / Tractarian / emphasis on the Communion/ the mystical/ individual prayer and fasting.
Low Church / Evangelical Movement / primacy of biblical texts / austere taste in church design with little or no decoration / work seen as atonement for sin / belief in separate spheres of male and female.
Broad Church / middle way encouraging active ministry particularly to the working class / includes FD Maurice (see Work) / 

The Scapegoat, 1854-5 and 58
George P Landow has written about Hunt’s use of “typological symbolism”.
Leviticus: One goat is sacrificed the other is sent into the wilderness: “the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited”

The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple, 1854-5
 “the national idea of a thorough examination and study before an undeviating and unflinching execution of principles thence arrived at…”
 “Blind imbecile, he cares not to examine the bearer of glad tidings, but clings to the superseded dispensation.”
“fine Englishness of his idea of the splendid body of our Lord.” [Stephens]
 “Thoroughly English and Protestant is the thought of showing the virgin as the mother and not as the spiritualised ideality of the early Italian painters, or in the sensuously beautiful type of those who succeeded them.”  [The Athenaeum ]

The Shadow of Death 1869-73
“strictly… historic with not a single fact of any kind in it of a supernatural nature.”
Gambart the art dealer paid £5500 for the picture.
He resold it for £10500. In addition he charged entry to its exhibition and sold engravings of the painting.

Edward Said the 20th Century scholar points out the habit of dividing the world into two, polar opposites of East and West.In this discourse, positive characteristics are ascribed to the West and almost wholly negative ones to the East. The East in the phraseology of the 20th century is seen as “other” to the West.
See Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback) by Edward W. Said

The Afterglow in Eygpt, 1860-3
A Street Scene in Cairo : The Lantern Maker’s Courtship, 1854-61

See also
Barringer Tim, (1999) Reading the Pre-Raphaelites, Yale University Press.

Jan Marsh (1985) Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood, Quartet Books. (On Annie Miller)


Barringer, T., 2012. Reading the Pre-raphaelites, 2nd Revised edition edition. ed. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT.
Barringer, T., Rosenfeld, J., Smith, A., 2012. Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-garde. Tate Publishing, London.
Newall, C., Staley, A., 2004. Pre-Raphaelite Vision: Truth to Nature. Tate Publishing, New York, NY.
Rosenfeld, J., 2012. Pre-Raphaelites. Tate Publishing, New York, NY.

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