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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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We can always learn more about an artist from quotes by and about them. There are not a huge number available on William Holman Hunt, but we include everything that we could find below.

William Holman Hunt corresponded by letter with a number of friends and family, as well as several artistic connections. Many letters have been unearthed which outline his discussions with John Ruskin, for example. Most of these addressed everyday logistical discussions rather than revealing anything particularly significant about Hunt's personality. The Pre-Raphaelites has become stronger as a collective than in its component parts and this has led to increased research into the key members of this group which retains a particular importance within British art.

The Brotherhood was somewhat secretive which has proved a problem for us all when trying to learn more about these artists. They had a fairly rigid programme of ambitions with Holman Hunt perhaps being the best at following these guidelines consistently. Due to the lack of success of this group when compared to the world-famous Renaissance artists, or the impressionists, for example, there was not as much focus on their lives and so we have less information readily available today.

Famous Quotes by William Holman Hunt

For two or three days Val [Prinsep] and I remained working on the cliffs. My drawing was on a block, of which the sun had gradually drawn up one corner; this warped surface did not seriously interfere with my progress until one day a sudden gust of wind compelled me to put my hand on brushes in danger of going to perdition, when, turning round on my saddle seat, I saw my nearly completed picture circling about among the gulls in the abyss below. Luckily, a fresh gust of wind bore it aloft, until the paper was caught by a tuft of grass at the brink of the precipice. It proved to be within reach of my umbrella, which fixed it to the spot until with the help of my friend, I was able to rescue the flighty thing for completion.

William Holman Hunt describing an experience whilst producing watercolour paintings of the Cornish countryside

The door of the human heart, can only be opened from the inside.

The earliest truth that we're taught is that there's a world alongside this world, with spirits, not mortals, an enchanted universe of fairies, wizards, leprechauns and trolls. They are all around us. One has only to open his eyes.

Quotes about William Holman Hunt by Art Critics and Fellow Artists

In a fate that befell other Pre-Raphaelite painters, Hunt's work fell from grace in the later decades of the nineteenth century. Though Hunt continued to work through this period, he had been long-since overtaken in the popular imagination by more youthful, frivolous, and less earnest forms of art. However, the dandyish aestheticism of Whistler - an artist who did so much to dent Hunt's reputation - was largely a response to the Pre-Raphaelites. Hunt, and the Ruskinian milieu in which he worked, were in fact central to later developments in art, not least because artists like Whistler, if they were to make a name for themselves at all, had to reject what had gone before. As is so often the case with art, however, the division between Hunt and Whistler's paintings was not so clear cut and in fact they merely define one another. Indeed, the two artists exhibited alongside each other on a number of occasions.


William Holman Hunt OM 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.