William Holman Hunt, O.M. (Cheapside 1827-1910 Kensington, London)
William Holman Hunt, O.M. (Cheapside 1827-1910 Kensington, London)

Studies of the figure and hands of Isabella for the picture Claudio and Isabella

Details
William Holman Hunt, O.M. (Cheapside 1827-1910 Kensington, London)
Studies of the figure and hands of Isabella for the picture Claudio and Isabella
inscribed 'Claudio & Isabella' (verso)
pencil
9¾ x 5¾ in. (24.7 x14.6 cm.); lower left, lower right and upper left corners missing
Provenance
Mrs. E. Burt, by direct descent from the artist.
with Agnew's, London, 1970, no. 32461, as Sketch for Isobella, where purchased by the present owner.
Literature
J. Bronkhurst,William Holman Hunt: A Catalogue Raisonné, London, 2006, II, p. 26.
Exhibited
Oxford, Ashmolean Museum, 1965-1970.
Liverpool and London, Walker Art Gallery and Victoria and Albert Museum, 1969, no. 114.
King's Lynn, 1971, no. 39.

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Lot Essay

This study is for Hunt's painting 'Claudio and Isabella' painted in 1850, the subject for which is taken from Shakespeare's play Measure for Measure. In the play, Claudio can only be saved from death if his sister Isabella relinquishes her chastity to the Dukes deputy, Angelo. Judith Bronckhurst believes that the figure study of Isabella, predates the earliest compositional sketch for the picture, showing that Hunt originally intended for her to be drawn back in horror. Hunt also experiments with her headress. Below, there is a study of Isabella's hands. They are depicted in a similar pose to the final composition; placed on Claudio's chest. A gesture to remind us of her restraint and urging Claudio to think with his head not his heart. Bronckhurst believes the hand study to be later, postdating two ink preparatory studies. She also notes the left thumb over the right is reversed in the final oil. Further, Bronckhurst also suggests the small study of the cowering man maybe a first thought for the figure of Claudio.
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