Eye Candy for Today: Holman-Hunt’s Isabella

Isabella and the Pot of Basil, William Holman Hunt (large version)
Isabella and the Pot of Basil, William Holman Hunt (large version)

Image from Get Into New Castle. Original is in the Liang Art Gallery, which doesn’t have its collection online. This article on The Journal shows the size of the original.

This is the larger of two versions painted by Holman-Hunt. The smaller one, which is only 24×16″ (60x39cm) is in the Delaware Art Museum (image above, second from bottom), where I have been marveling at its jewel-like qualities since I was a child. Unfortunately I can’t find a larger or better quality reproduction of that one.

It’s also interesting to compare Holman-Hunt’s paintings with John White Alexander’s very different interpretation of the same scene from the story (image above, bottom).

For more on the painting, and the story, see my posts on William Holman-Hunt and John White Alexander.

9 Replies to “Eye Candy for Today: Holman-Hunt’s Isabella

  1. Dimensions of the painting are 187 cm × 116 cm (74 in × 46 in). Inspired by:
    John Keats (1795–1821).
    ~ Isabella; or, The Pot of Basil ~
    A Story from Boccaccio (1884)

    FAIR Isabel, poor simple Isabel!
    Lorenzo, a young palmer in Love’s eye!
    They could not in the self-same mansion dwell
    Without some stir of heart, some malady;
    They could not sit at meals but feel how well 5
    It soothed each to be the other by;
    They could not, sure, beneath the same roof sleep
    But to each other dream, and nightly weep.



  2. Lorenzo was a palmer = a pilgrim, especially of the Middle Ages, who had returned from the Holy Land bearing a palm branch as a token.

  3. I can certainly admire Holman-Hunt’s amazing craftsmanship and lovely details, but man, that Alexander just knocks me for six! And that tiny specular on the rim of the vase… whew… love it!

  4. The list of Isabella/Lisabetta -paintings is endless.
    George Henry Grenville Manton, Wycombe Museum
    Joseph Severn, Guildhall Art Gallery
    John W. Waterhouse,
    Mary Lizzy Macomber
    W.J. Neatby
    Edward Reginald Frampton
    C. Perellón

  5. Beautiful!

    P.S. You should do a feature Simon Verity’s drawings about the NYPL. I’d be interested in your thoughts about the influences on style–Blake vs. Punch?

  6. Charley, Repose is one of my favourite paintings in the world. I feel… well… weightless when I look at it… it’s just an endlessly rewarding picture for me! 🙂

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