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The Light of the World
painting

Hunt, William Holman
Europe, United Kingdom, England
1851-1856

1912.53
First floor: Pre-Raphaelites

oil
49.8 x 26.1 cm

More Details

The Light of the World 1851-6
William Holman Hunt 1827-1910
Oil on canvas

The starting point for this picture
is a passage from the Bible,
"Behold I stand at the door, and knock;
if any man hear my voice, and open the door,
I will come in to him..."

The door Christ is knocking at is that of the human soul,
whose entrance is choked with weeds.

Hunt painted much of it during the night,
outdoors in the moonlight,
to make it a convincing nocturnal scene
but he wanted the figure of Christ to look supernatural.

He plays with the different sources of light,
the halo, the lantern and the symbolic light of dawn
to suggest Christ brings light into a darkened world.

There are three versions of this painting
and innumerable engravings after the painting;
it is among the most famous of all Christian images.