Painted by Hughes in the 1860s the scene shows a small girl asleep in the foreground, watched by a squirrel and a bird, as her parents work in the distance. It’s likely Hughes’s daughter posed for the little girl in the picture. The forest setting has been painted with painstaking attention to detail, in adherence to Pre-Raphaelite ideals.
Hughes: The Woodman's Child
610 x 641 mm
Oil paint on canvas
Date of work
Born in London, Hughes was educated at Archbishop Tenison’s Grammar School, and entered the School of Design, Somerset House, London in 1846, studying under Alfred Stevens. In 1847 he won an art studentship at the Royal Academy Schools.
Hughes had always been a Pre-Raphaelite sympathiser and intimate of their circle but was never a member of the group. He converted to Pre-Raphaelitism in 1850 after reading the Pre-Raphaelite magazine ’The Germ’. He produced some of his best known Pre-Raphaelite works during the 1850s. In 1855 he married his wife Tryphena Foors with whom he had 5 children. The same year he also began a successful career as an illustrator which he continued for the next two decades. His last exhibition was at the Royal Academy in 1908. He died in 1915 at Kew, near London.