The Scapegoat (1854) by William Holman Hunt

The Scapegoat - William Holman Hunt - 1854

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Artwork Information

TitleThe Scapegoat
ArtistWilliam Holman Hunt
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions45.9 x 33.7 cm
Art MovementSymbolism
Current LocationLady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight, UK

About The Scapegoat

The artwork titled “The Scapegoat” was created by William Holman Hunt in the year 1854. It is an oil on canvas piece aligning with the Symbolism art movement and encapsulates the genres of religious and allegorical painting. The dimensions of the piece are 45.9 x 33.7 cm, and it currently resides in the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight, UK.

The artwork features a forlorn goat set against an evocative, arid landscape; the goat appears to be burdened and worn, likely reflecting the concept of a scapegoat bearing the sins of others. A brooding sky, swathes of dark and ominously lit clouds, a stark horizon with a rainbow rising subtly into the heavens, and a distant and illuminating sunset or sunrise contribute to the otherworldly and poignant mood. The palette utilized is one of intense contrasts, with the vibrant sky juxtaposed against the harshness of the surrounding environment. Subtle elements, such as a skeleton laying near the goat and the red ribbon around its horns, likely symbolize the grim fate and the designated role of the scapegoat in religious rituals. Overall, the artwork delivers a powerful visual meditation on themes of sacrifice, exile, and redemption.

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