Lines and Colors art blog

Eye Candy for Today: William Henry Hunt ink and watercolor interior

Interior of Bushey Church, William Henry Hunt
Interior of Bushey Church, William Henry Hunt

Pen and brown ink and watercolor, roughly 17×13 in. (42x33cm)

The link is to a zoomable version on Google Art Project; the original is in the National Gallery of Art, DC. The NGA has downloadable files, though you need a free account to access the largest one.

This piece by the 19th century English painter William Henry Hunt — known primarily for his watercolors of still life — is tremendously satisfying just as a drawing. The touches of watercolor carry it to somewhere between drawing and painting.

The Rembrandtesque pen lines, slightly wavering but solidly controlled, unerringly define the space, and the washes give it soliditiy and light. This is essentially done in two colors.

Look at how sure Hunt is of his values as he defines the vaulted ceiling, wooden structures, and multiple areas of relative darkness and illumination.

Interior of Bushey Church, Google Art Project

My recent post on William Henry Hunt


8 responses to “Eye Candy for Today: William Henry Hunt ink and watercolor interior”

  1. Yummy eye candy! Whenever I look at a drawing like this I wonder what sort of pen he used. Also whether he did the pen drawing before or after the watercolor.

    1. I always wonder about those kind of things, too. I always assume pen drawing first over pencil, but now that you mention it, I suppose it could be applied on top of the watercolor. The wavering pen lines look to me like those of reed pen drawings common in the 17 century, but I don’t know about Hunt’s actual materials.

  2. In that last panel you can definitely see the pencil lines, which stated the arch differently. Seeing that, I’m guessing he did the pen drawing first to correct that drawing, and then did the watercolor over it.

    1. Your comments have prompted me to go back over it with process in mind. I can see some areas where it’s clear the watercolor is either over the pen, or the pen mark was applied into wet (top of the balcony railing to the right, under the arch). In other places, the ink line seems very strong over fairly solid areas of color; so I’m wondering if he did both — pen, then wash, then pen reinforcement of some lines.

      It still looks like a reed pen to me, with that wonderful blobby, wobbly character that makes reed pen so charming.

  3. It is in fact a very sad painting. It portrays an era where children had to live of charity. The boy sitting on the cold floor is holding a plate in which he collects alms from the churchgoers. His little sister is probably keeping him company. She is doing her best to keep quiet.