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The Light of the world by William Holman Hunt

William Holman Hunt did put his paintbrush upon the canvas and his majestic strokes did reflect an array of creative thoughts and emotions through the painting, Light of the world.

The painting clearly shows Jesus as the character gaining all salience and centrality in the painting. But, Jesus rather Christ has been shown in a very different way which comes out of the clutches of the ecclesiastical system.

Light of the world is a completely different kind of painting fleshed out by William Holman who was an English artist.

Period When Painted

It was supposed to be the Pre-Raphaelite period that is between 1853 – 1854

Clear Imagery

The clear imagery that we can see here is the figure of Jesus on a full moonlit night is carrying a lantern in his hand and is up to knocking a door that has not been opened rather not in use since a long time that is evident from the overgrowth of creepers around and along with that structure.

Old Picture of Jesus Knocking at the Door

This is the basic sketch that is being portrayed by the painter on the canvas but this does definitely have a story rather an esoteric meaning that underlies.

Symbolic Nature of the Painting

Here representing Jesus upon the canvas does never reflect overwhelming religious thoughts rather it shows the obstinacy of mind as the door painted on the canvas has no handle on the outside that clearly is indicative of the fact that it has to be opened from the inside. It rather has a deeper intrinsic spiritual meaning.

The Painting’s Impact

The painting gained huge popularity in the later Victorian period when it was hung almost everywhere and an array of musicians got well influenced by this painting.


The hues on the canvas influenced Arthur Sullivan to create and compose music.

Interpretation of the Esotericism of the Hues is Contrasted

We find different interpretations of the painting over time. The controversy begins with the place and the time that is if it was dawn or dark at night when the strokes of the brush did hit the canvas.

Ambiguity regarding the place also arises and hence, there is a tug of war among the garden of Oxford University Press, Worcester Park Farm in Surrey, Bethlehem; exhibition at the Royal Academy. This continued so on and so forth…

Holman Hunt Paintings

This painting was different from the contemporary trends of religious paintings as this showed realism having a touch of the religious figurehead. This was different and exceptional in symbolic aspects.

This painting got criticized during that time among the other painters of that period as this out of the box representation of Jesus was mirrored for the very first time. The hues had a gothic touch, with the shades and strokes of religiosity and realistic thoughts as well.

The Light of the world by William Holman Hunt

The painting, lights of the world was a turning point in the painter’s career as this was for the very first time he tried his hand upon something so exceptional like this.


This was not his domain nor his genre but he came out of the cocoon and did not harp on the same strings to try something different. This also shows perspectives of his philosophy and his psychological intercurrents.

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