The Poetry of Truth: Alfred William Hunt and the Art of Landscape

Cover, The Poetry of Truth: Alfred William Hunt and the Art of Landscape

Written by Christopher Newall

With contributions by Scott Wilcox and Colin Harrison

Published by The Ashmolean Museum and the Yale Center for British Art

160 pages, 9 3/8 x 7 3/4 inches, 84 illustrations, paperback, ISBN 1854441965

Publication date: September 18, 2004


Alfred William Hunt (1830–1896) was one of a group of progressive English painters who introduced a new intensity and meticulousness to landscape painting in the 1850s and early 1860s, adapting the Ruskinian principle of “truth of nature” to a highly individual form of Pre-Raphaelite observation of nature. From the mid-1860s onward, he tended to abandon bright color in favor of more muted and generalized treatments, and in doing so showed himself receptive to a new aesthetic, which permitted the depiction of nature in terms of atmospheric and tonal effects. An artist of great originality, he was nonetheless one of few among his generation to gain inspiration from the work of J. M. W. Turner. This catalogue accompanies the first retrospective exhibition of Hunt’s work for more than a century. It includes essays on his life and work, and on his role in the history of Victorian landscape watercolor. Each work is fully discussed and illustrated in color; an appendix includes an inventory of the contents of Hunt’s studio, including 225 sketchbooks, given to Ashmolean Museum by his daughters.