16 June 2010
William Holman Hunt, R.W.S., O.M. (1827-1910)
Study for the cresent moon in 'The Ship'
pencil, watercolour and bodycolour on paper
6¾ x 2½ in. (16 x 6.4 cm.)
By descent in the artist's family to
Mrs Elizabeth Burt.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 10 October 1985, lot 54.
with J.S. Maas, London, where purchased by the present owner.
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Judith Bronkhurst, William Holman Hunt: A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. II, Drawings and Watercolours, New Haven and London, 2006, p. 153, no. D 299.
On loan to the Ashmolean Museum, 1965-85.
The Ship (Tate Britain) was inspired by the journey Hunt took in December 1875 to Jerusalem aboard the steamer Delhi, passing from Venice to Alexandria. On arrival in Jerusalem in March 1876 Hunt wrote that he had 'managed...to paint out a picture of our ship from on board for which I made sketches in coming out'. The present watercolour is the only sketch known to have survived.
In the finished painting Hunt focuses on the effects of light, both artificial and natural, contrasting the warm glow from the kerosene lamps to the bright white light from the moon in the star-speckled sky. The present watercolour differs from the final version in that Hunt has used a more varied and acidic palette in the study, as opposed to the stark white pigment he has used in the oil.
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