b London, 2 April 1827;
d London, 7 Sept 1910.
English painter. He worked as an office clerk in London from 1839 to 1843, attending drawing classes at a mechanicsí institute in the evenings and taking weekly lessons from the portrait painter Henry Rogers. Holman Hunt overcame parental opposition to his choice of career in 1843, and this determined attitude and dedication to art could be seen throughout his working life. In July 1844, at the third attempt, he entered the Royal Academy Schools. His earliest exhibited works, such as Little Nell and her Grandfather (exh. British Institution, 1846; Sheffield, Graves A.G.), reveal few traces of originality, but the reading of John Ruskinís Modern Painters in 1847 was of crucial importance to Holman Huntís artistic development. It led him to abandon the ambitious Christ and the Two Marys (Adelaide, A.G. S. Australia) in early 1848, when he realized its traditional iconography would leave his contemporaries unmoved. His next major work, the Flight of Madeline and Porphyro during the Drunkenness Attending the Revelry (1848; London, Guildhall A.G.), from John Keatsís ĎEve of St Agnesí, though displaced into a medieval setting, dramatized an issue dear to contemporary poets and central to Holman Huntís art: love and youthful idealism versus loyalty to oneís family. His first mature painting, it focuses on a moment of psychological crisis in a cramped and shallow picture space. The Keatsian source, rich colours and compositional format attracted the attention of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, leading to his friendship with Holman Hunt and thus contributing to the formation of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB; see PRE-RAPHAELITISM) in the autumn of 1848.