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The Light of the World
The Light of the World (1853–54) is an allegorical painting by William Holman Hunt representing the figure of Jesus preparing to knock on an overgrown and long-unopened door, illustrating Revelation 3:20: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me". According to Hunt: "I painted the picture with what I thought, unworthy though I was, to be by Divine command, and not simply as a good subject." The door in the painting has no handle, and can therefore only be opened from the inside, representing "the obstinately shut mind". Hunt, 50 years after painting it, felt he had to explain the symbolism.

The original, painted at night in a makeshift hut at Worcester Park Farm in Surrey, is now in a side room off the large chapel at Keble Collegemarker, Oxfordmarker. Toward the end of his life, Hunt painted a life-size version, which was hung in St Paul's Cathedralmarker, Londonmarker after a world tour where the picture drew large crowds.

This painting inspired much popular devotion in the late Victorian period and inspired several musical works, including Arthur Sullivan's 1873 oratorio The Light of the World.

References

  1. Forbes, C (2001), "Images of Christ In Nineteenth-Century British Paintings In The Forbes Magazine Collection", Magazine Antiques, December 2001.
  2. Hunt, W.H., Pre-Raphaelitism and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, London: Macmillan, 1905, vol.1 p.350
  3. The Victorian Web
  4. Hunt, W.H., Pre-Raphaelitism and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, London: Macmillan, 1905, vol.1 p.299-300.
  5. The Victorian Web


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