The Afterglow in Egypt

William Holman Hunt

c. 1854

Gallery 56, Pre Raphaelites

 


Focus on the Object

Oil on canvas, Signed with monogram: WHH

Combe Bequest, 1893

A267; WA1894.3

The title suggests the time of day just after sunset when the sky is still bright and the colours have a sultry intensity. The title also reminds us that the sun has set on the glories of Ancient Egypt. The pool of water in the background is a result of the annual flooding which has ensured the fertilty of the region for thousands of years. She holds a water bottle “of the sort which has been used since time immemorial”, as Hunt described it, and wears an indigo-coloured robe, known as a “tob” over a lighter dress called the “ramise” as well as a colourful scarf covering her head, known as a “milayeh”. The model who posed for Hunt was unreliable. She did not always turn up when expected and when she did, the heat, sand and wind made it difficult for Hunt to continue. Eventally, he abandoned the painting and finished it later in London. The frame on the Ashmolean verion was designed by the artist and is decorated with round ornaments, aptly based on Near-Eastern motifs.

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