Artwork of the Week: April 26, 2021
William Holman Hunt, The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple, 1867, line engraving, 33 1/8 x 43 3/16 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Ray and Darcy Kahler, Frederick and Emily Robinson, and Joseph and Catherine Wright, 2011.
British-artist William Holman Hunt depicted the Middle East as an unchanging “orient” in hedonistic decay. In the 19th century mindset, Europe was innovative, while nearly everywhere else was superstitious and retrograde. Hunt delights in “exotic” costumes, architecture, furniture, and musical instruments. His temple interior anticipates Cecil B. DeMille’s Hollywood biblical pageants.
Having just celebrated Passover, the panoply of temple functionaries are now lined up to hear the astounding knowledge of the young Jesus. Mary and Joseph arrive with three days of worry on their faces. Jesus queries their concern: The temple was the obvious meeting place, and the task at hand was His Father’s business.
William Holman Hunt, The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple, 1860, oil on canvas, 55 1/2 x 33 3/4 inches. Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.