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William Holman Hunt is famous for co-starting an entire art movement based on the idea that Raphael sucks.

This movement was appropriately called the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, because they believed everything before Raphael rocked and everything after stunk. They also hated Sir Joshua Reynolds and referred to him as “Sir Sloshua,” as "sloshy" is an old-timey term for "basic".

The goals of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood were simple:

  1. To have genuine ideas to express.
  2. To study Nature attentively, so as to know how to express them
  3. To sympathize with what is direct and serious and heartfelt in previous art, to the exclusion of what is conventional and self-parading and learned by rote.
  4. Most indispensable of all, to produce thoroughly good pictures and statues.

Number 4 seems a little unoriginal in the art world even in the 1800s but we’ll give them a pass because Hunt and his fellow founders, John Everett Millais, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, were only about 20 years old at the time. And like true 20-somethings, the group got one bad review from the writer, Charles Dickens, lost focus, and disbanded all within two years. The style lived on, though the Brotherhood became more of an Acquaintencehood.

Hunt kept himself busy painting and marrying inappropriately. Hunt was engaged to his model/muse Annie Miller, but the relationship didn’t pan out, so he married Fanny Waugh. Unfortunately, she died during childbirth. This was a huge upset, but not so huge that Hunt wouldn’t marry Fanny’s sister, Edith. It was actually illegal to marry your dead wife’s sister in Great Britain as this was before the Deceased Wife's Sister's Marriage Act of 1907 (Yes, that's a real thing). So the couple popped over to continental Europe to tie the knot.

Hunt painted until the dark day when his eyesight got so bad that he could not longer achieve the quality of painting necessary for the Pre-Raphaelite style. He died soon thereafter but his legacy lives on in two BBC period dramas, "The Love School" and "Desperate Romantics."



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Here is what Wikipedia says about William Holman Hunt

Our English Coasts, 1852 ('Strayed Sheep')

Hunt in his eastern dress, photo by Julia Margaret Cameron

The Awakening Conscience (1853)

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 colour, 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 maximise the popular appeal and public visibility of his works.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about William Holman Hunt