Welcome to the brand new Arthive! Discover a full list of new features here.

A hired shepherd

William Holman Hunt • Painting, 1851, 76.4×109.5 cm
About the artwork
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Genre scene, Allegorical scene
Style of art: The Pre-Raphaelites
Technique: Oil
Materials: Canvas
Date of creation: 1851
Size: 76.4×109.5 cm
Artwork in selections: 19 selections

Description of the artwork «A hired shepherd»

"Hired shepherd" is artistic appreciation of William hunt of the parable of the good shepherd and a hired worker. Familiar, at first glance, the pastoral scene takes on a deeper meaning a careful reading of every detail depicted on the canvas.

"Hired Shepherd": the rural idyll or Christian allegory

In the center of the composition — the young shepherd and shepherdess resting on the grass near a wheat field. They both don't pay attention to invading into the wheat and ruin a farmer's harvest sheep, which obviously do not belong there. Behind, to the left of the heroes in the mess scatter the sheep. Several obese are weak-willed sheep, obviously pureav beans. Hunt loved nature and knew the features of farm business. Using mundane household details, the author draws attention to a deeper and more meaningful things. The first sensation of a pastoral love scene disappears, and the viewer is forced to look for less attractive but more important the meaning of the painting.

"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. The hireling, not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees, because an hireling, and neradit about the sheep." (Jn. 10:11-13) But the mercenary hunt is not running, throws the sheep to the wolf, he — wolf that kills sheep, yielding to lust and laziness. Peasant clothing, a flask on the belt, strong muscular arms and curly hair talking about primitive instincts and rudeness of the character.

Like sheep sneak into the forbidden territory for them, and the shepherd commits lawlessness, arrogant and cocky when close to the figure to the young woman. Throwing an arm across her neck, he shows her the dead moth — a symbol of ease and carelessness. The pose of the woman demonstrates her complicity, she leaned back slightly and brought the hand closer to the young man. However, the herd's face, bright and ruddy, shows a Frank smile in the address of the boyfriend. Cowgirl dressed in red with long wide dress that covers her completely, except for bare feet, almost descended into an overgrown Creek. On top of wearing a large white shirt, and bright red hair tied with a yellow kerchief. Girl on lap sitting lamb, covered with a red shawl — a symbol of sacrifice and innocence. — Bitten off green Apple and a few apples scattered on the grass is an obvious reference to the fall.

Bright summer colors are too bold for painting of the mid XIX century, give the impression of juiciness, pristine, almost physically convey the feeling of a sultry August day. Every detail of the countryside, flowers, grass, fruits and even sheep wool are spelled out with unprecedented thoroughness and naturalistic, following the basic rule of the pre-Raphaelites to be as close as possible to nature and natural beauty.

Hunt wrote a picture of "Hired shepherd" in the summer of 1851, when Millcreated "Ophelia". Young artists went down the river Hogsmill to find a suitable place for plein air. Hunt was looking for meadows mill and the coastal landscape. Hunt wrote the landscape completely in nature, working eleven hours a day from June to October. In his correspondence he describes in detail all the difficulties that accompanied their picturesque way: endless flies, heat, thirst, and two geese, regularly spoiling the composition. Walking, like-minded people often talked with the locals. So one of the girls — Emma Watkins has agreed to be the model for the painting hunt. Getting your mother's permission, she went with the artist to London, where he wrote it in his workshop. Who posed for the male figures is unknown, but researchers believe that it was a professional sitter.

"Hired Shepherd" by William hunt: the reaction of Victorian society

When the painting was first exhibited at the Royal Academy of arts, she was accompanied by a quote from "King Lear":

Don't sleep, the shepherd, chase the dream
Your herd in the rye.
Put your horn to your mouth
And the way they show.

Despite the direct promise preachy and almost gospel illustration on canvas, society has made the picture extremely unfavorable. People were irritated, red, inflamed passion of the faces of the heroes of the story, their figures have seen sexually explicit message at the bottom. Critics have compared this picture with "Ophelia," Millais, marveling at her porcelain of aristocracy as sharp and unpleasant contrast.

It is at this point beyond saving paper by John Ruskin, praising the new trends in art, reflected in the worldview of the pre-Raphaelites. It gives the public understanding of the importance of the work hunt.

It's funny that some reviewers have perceived the scene as "anti-alcohol" call, explaining flushed hot face men and women an excess of beer and cider. By the way, alcohol was one of the major social issues of the time.

Other critics have noted in the "Hired shepherd" a negative assessment of the Catholic Church, alleged fraud attracted the Anglican flock.
Nevertheless, even among modern scholars, free in his judgment, there are those who ignore the Christian meaning of the painting, explaining it by the desire of the artist to teach its viewers to industry.

The hunt in his correspondence mentioned that he had had as its aim is not only to explain the parable of Christ, but to show modern preachers need to engage his flock, not to go into empty theological disputes.

The painting was acquired by art gallery in Manchester in 1852 for £ 300.