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William Holman Hunt

1827 – 1910

The Abundance of Egypt by William Holman Hunt

The Abundance of Egypt   1854/57

  Original etching.
With the artist’s name in the plate.
Ref: Hartnoll 14
S 367 x 268 mm; P 155 x 121 mm; I 139 x 105 mm
Original William Holman Hunt etching.

Excellent impression on India paper, from the only published edition, as issued in Etchings for the Art-Union by the Etching Club, 1857.

William Holman Hunt has become one of the most famous artists of the Victorian era. The Abundance of Egypt is the best known of Holman Hunt’s five original etchings. This work accords precisely with the tenets around which William Holman Hunt had established the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848. Formed as a reaction to the prevailing styles of art, the Brotherhood’s main intention had been to portray nature and form with absolute fidelity – an ideal which was often linked to a noble or highly moral theme.

This subject was used subsequently by William Holman Hunt in his large oil painting entitled The Afterglow in Egypt (1854-63), now in the Southampton Art Gallery. When writing of the painting, many years later, Holman Hunt stated that this alternative title was intended “to express nothing but that the light is not that of the sun, and that although the meridian glory of ancient Egypt has passed away, there is still a poetic reflection of this in the aspect of life there. It was the one illumination which I found to suit the subject in Nature – the strong second glow which comes in the East when the sun has sunk a few minutes. I find it necessary thus to insist that, while I make mystic subjects bear reserved meanings, I have no unusual intention when treating natural facts.” William Holman Hunt was, without question, the one member of the Brotherhood who adhered throughout his life to Ruskin’s creed “Go to nature in all singleness of heart, selecting nothing, rejecting nothing”.

On cream chine appliqué, applied to original warm white wove backing sheet with full margins, as issued. Minor foxing in outer margins only, otherwise very fine original condition. Image surface excellent.