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    Sale 7635

    British Art on Paper

    10 December 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 77

    William Holman Hunt, O.M., R.W.S. (1827-1910)

    Two studies for 'One Step to the Deathbed' and for 'The Flight of Madeline and Porphyro'

    Price Realised  


    William Holman Hunt, O.M., R.W.S. (1827-1910)
    Two studies for 'One Step to the Deathbed' and for 'The Flight of Madeline and Porphyro'
    one with inscription '1846' (lower right)
    pencil, one with pen and black ink over a photograph by Frederick Hollyer
    10¾ x 15 in. (27.3 x 38.1 cm.); and 6 7/8 x 11¼ in. (17.5 x 28.6 cm.) (2)

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    The studies in the present lot are related to Holman Hunt's illustrations to Percy Bysshe Shelley's (1792-1822) poem Ginevra, which tells the tragic story of a young girl forced to marry the wealthy Gherardi rather than her lover Antonio. Ginevra dies of a broken heart on her marriage bed. In the present studies, the doctor holds Ginevra's wrist to see whether she has a pulse while a figure leans over her with a mirror to her lips in the hope of finding her breathing. Judith Bronkhurst (op. cit.) argues that in spite of the later inscription, '1846', added in the lower right corner of one sheet, these studies are stylistically more likely to date from circa 1847. The smaller figures at the right and bottom of the sheet are related to Hunt's painting The Flight of Madeline and Porphyro (1848; Guildhall Art Gallery, Corporation of London), a tale in which secret love has a happier conclusion.

    Special Notice

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    By descent in the artist's family to Mrs Elisabeth Burt; Sotheby's, London, 10 October 1985, part of lot 5.

    Saleroom Notice

    Please note that the Frederick Hollyer photograph is not heightened with pen and ink, as stated in the cataloguing.


    L. Parris, (ed.), The Pre-Raphaelites, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London, 1984, p. 243.
    J. Bronkhurst, William Holman Hunt: A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London, 2006, p. 7, no. D11.


    Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, 1965-85, on loan.
    Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery, and London, Victoria & Albert Museum, William Holman Hunt: An Exhibition arranged by the Walker Art Gallery, 1969, no. 99.
    London, Peter Nahum, Fifth Exhibition: Master Drawings of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Autumn 1987, no. 6.
    London, Peter Nahum, Burne-Jones, the Pre-Raphaelites and their Century, November - December 1989, part of no. 9.
    London, Peter Nahum at Liberty, Arts and Crafts Exhibition. Paintings from the Peter Nahum Gallery, May - June 1992, part of no. 29.
    London, Peter Nahum, Pre-Raphaelite Symbolist Visionary, June - July 2001, part of no. 1.