Painter/Artist: William Holman Hunt

British School. One of the original “Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.” An enthusiastic painter of scriptural subjects in the Holy Land.


THE TRIUMPH OF THE INNOCENTS Under a starry sky, across the fore-round of an Eastern landscape, passes from left to right a procession composed of the Holy Family on their flight into Egypt, accompanied by the spirits of the newly massacred Innocents in bodily form. To the right is Joseph with his carpenter’s basket on his back, bending as he walks, and turning his head from us, as he leads the ass by a cord held in his right hand. The Virgin is seated astride the ass holding the Child, who lies back in her arms holding out some ears of wheat in His right hand to the principal group of Innocents on the left of the picture. On the extreme right is a group of three Innocents heading the procession, and on the extreme left three more hover in the sky in attitudes of awakening from sleep. The fore-round underfoot is painted to represent the mystical waters of life, from which there break a number of iridescent bubbles of various sizes, in the largest of which, between Joseph and the ass, are mirrored the dream of Jacob and other legends.

While this extraordinary picture is replete with symbolism, everything in it is studied from the life. The original version of it, on rather a smaller scale, was begun at Jerusalem in 1875, but owing to the difficulties occasioned by the Russo-Turkish War, it was temporarily abandoned, and this picture begun in 1883; the original version was then completed, and is now in the Walker Art Gallery at Liverpool.

Presented by Mr. J. T. Middlemore in 1918.