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Title: Painter, painting, paint : a reappraisal of the work of William Holman.
Author: Jacobi, Carol.
ISNI:       0000 0001 1591 9800
Awarding Body: Birkbeck (University of London)
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 1998
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Art historians tend to focus on the literary aspects of Hunt's paintings and little is said about their disconcerting appearance. This thesis explores Hunt's attitude to art-making and his artistic practice in order to investigate the relationship between the form of his work and its content. To this end, Hunt's written output is reevaluated. A distinction is made between public texts and private journals and letters. The latter display accelerating concerns about the artistic persona. A sense of religious doubt, weakness and mortality is answered by an alternative self-image which aspires to prophetic authority. During later years, this fantasy centres on hopes of resurrection. These anxieties pivot around the perfection and authenticity of the artist's production. The realism of Hunt's painting style authenticates his religious subject matter and the beliefs and self-image behind it. Public texts emphasise an objective, mimetic technique and attempt to elide the processes by which subjective meanings are inscribed into the image. However, in practice, Hunt completes his paintings in two distinct stages. The combination, on the same canvas, of an elaborate, linear design and precise, mimetic colour effects represents the artist's attempt to synthesise the imagined and the real. This process results in a paradoxical subversion of both imaginative and optical authority which retraces the doubts manifested in Hunt's writings. The dislocation between real and imagined appearance is confronted at the point of laying the colour on the canvas. Hunt conducts extensive research into technique in order to gain control over this act, but this also heightens an awareness of the contradictory identity of the image as paint. He addresses this by aligning the materials themselves with the moral order which is being depicted. Their inevitable imperfections therefore connote disorder and the art object, as well as the image, becomes an expression of the artist's unstable identity and beliefs.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Arts Art