William Henry Hunt RWS (1790-1864)

William Hunt's portrait on the front of the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolour building.

William Henry Hunt (not to be confused with William Holman Hunt), was mainly a watercolour artist, best known for his incredibly detailed pictures of birds' nests, and close-up views of hedgerow plants and flowers.

He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1807, and was a student there from the following year. He became RWS in 1826. Much of his work was carried out in Hastings, where he found a patron in S. Maw, an art collector whose wealth came from a surgical instrument manufactury.

Hunt always worked with a Pre-Raphaelite truth to nature, directly from the model, even if this meant digging out part of a hedgerow to take home to paint. He experimented much to achieve the exact effects of light he wanted in his paintings. His work was favoured by Ruskin. Hunt's work includes landscape and architectural work (early in his career), and then the bulk of his oeuvre, birds' nests, plants and other natural still life.

Examples of Hunt's work can be found in Hastings (including a portrait of his daughter), and above all in the Lady Lever Gallery at Port Sunlight. Bird's nest pictures by Hunt can also be seen at the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester.

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