Home from Sea
Painted by Arthur Hughes (1832-1915)
Oil on panel
50 x 65 cm
The genesis of this painting began in 1857, when it was exhibited as The Mother's Grave. The original composition, known from a drawing in the Ashmolean, showed the boy desolate over the grave of his mother. The landscape was begun in the summer of 1856 in the old churchyard at Chingford, Essex. Around 1862, Hughes altered the background and added the figure of the sister, for which the artist's daughter, Tryphena, posed. The detail is used to reinforce the pathos of the subject, so that the ephemeral nature of spider's webs, dew drops, dog roses and dandelion seeds all emphasise the theme of transience. The boy's loss is retold in the lamb separated from its mother by the barrier of the tomb.