Hunt's painting is a story of lost innocence, illustrating a mistress perched on her lover's lap in front of a piano. She is drawn to the sun-lit garden outside, which symbolises redemption. The cat playing with a dead bird and a fallen glove is also symbolic.
William Holman Hunt
The Awakening Conscience
76.2 x 55.9 cm
Oil on canvas
Date of work
Original: Oil on canvas 76.2 x 55.9 cm ® Tate, London
British painter William Holman Hunt studied at the RA Schools where he met Millais and Rossetti with whom he founded the anti-academic Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848. He remained true to his want to depict moral subjects his entire career. Hunt wished to base his reputation on his oils but his also produced a series of watercolours on his travels as well as portraiture. In 1865 he married Fanny Waugh, who died soon after in Florence.