Study of a Bloodhound William Holman Hunt Buy Art Prints Now
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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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Study of a Bloodhound is an oil over pencil painting that William Holman Hunt did in 1848. As part of the Pre-Raphaelite style, Hunt was interested in the study of nature. The technique was all about focusing on the spiritual essence of the subject.

In most cases, Hunt had to conduct his own research to create different pieces, which was usually costly. However, for Study of a Bloodhound, the painter got the dog as a gift from John Blount, Prince of Islington. He was, therefore, able to provide the painting with that unique aspect that blends the physical and psychological. Bloodhounds were popular hunting breeds in Britain during the period. This painting is of a large male bloodhound with a tan and black coat. It has a few patches of white under the neck and front paws. The dog has its tongue out, panting, as if it is just back from a hunt.

It has its tail up, but only slightly. However, it is calm, looking straight ahead as if complying to an order. The artist used a brown, black and white background that matches the natural appearance of the dog. It seems as if the dog is standing on bare earth. Small pebbles are visible in the painting. Although his earlier works faced criticism for being unrefined, Hunt became famous for his attention to detail and use of vibrant colours. This painting is a glimpse of that stylistic maturity. Study of a Bloodhound was Hunt's contribution to the 1848 Royal Academy exhibition. A poem by Keats was the inspiration for the piece. The catalogue during the presentation included a quote from the poem, The Eve of St Agnes. It was the verse that read, 'The wakeful bloodhound rose.' It talks about the dog shaking his hide and his sagacious eyes.

Hunt was way behind the deadline, which is why the Prince lent him the bloodhounds. Another friend, John Everett Millais, provided Hunt with a working space in his studio. During the exhibition, the painting was set up in the Architectural Room, hung high on a wall. It is how the painting captured the attention of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Hunt, Millais and Rossetti became great friends after that. That same year, the three formed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. William Holman Hunt gave Study of a Bloodhound to William Michael Rossetti in 1853 who later passed it onto Oliver Rossetti.