The Light of the World (1851-53) by William Holman Hunt

The Light of the World - William Holman Hunt - 1851

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Artwork Information

TitleThe Light of the World
ArtistWilliam Holman Hunt
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions59.8 x 125.5 cm
Art MovementSymbolism
Current LocationKeble College, Oxford, UK

About The Light of the World

“The Light of the World” is an oil on canvas created by artist William Holman Hunt in 1851. This artwork, which measures 59.8 x 125.5 cm, is a religious painting deeply rooted in the Symbolism art movement. Currently, it is housed at Keble College in Oxford, UK, where it continues to be an object of study and admiration.

The artwork depicts a richly symbolic scene where Hunt portrays a haloed figure, which can be interpreted as Jesus Christ, standing outside an overgrown, unwelcoming door, symbolizing the unopened mind or soul of a person. In his left hand, he holds a lantern, radiating light which serves as the only significant source of illumination in the nocturnal setting, representing the light of salvation. This figure is gently knocking on a door that appears to have no visible handle, suggesting that it must be opened from the inside. The intricate details, such as the crown of thorns he wears and the precise rendering of nature overtaking the door, enrich the painting’s allegorical message about religious enlightenment and the possibility of redemption through faith. The artwork is signed and dated by the artist, evidencing Hunt as the creator and chronicler of this spiritually resonant composition.

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