Open main menu
Self-portrait (date unknown)

William Henry Hunt (London 28 March 1790 – 10 February 1864), was an English watercolourist.[1]


Early lifeEdit

Hunt was born at 8 Old Belton Street, now 7 Endell Street,[2] and was a resident of Marchmont Street, London and was apprenticed in about 1805 to John Varley,the English watercolour painter and astrologer, and a close friend of William Blake. Hunt remained with Varley for five or six years. He exhibited three oil paintings at the Royal Academy in 1807.

Society of Painters in Water ColoursEdit

He was closely connected with the Society of Painters in Water Colours at its beginning, and was elected an associate in 1824 and a full member in 1827. Until the year of his death, he was one of the most prolific contributors to the Society's exhibitions. Many years of Hunt's uneventful but industrious life were spent at Hastings.

Painting styleEdit

Lobster, Crab, and a Cucumber by Hunt (1826 or 1827)
Chaffinch Nest and May Blossom, c.1845

Hunt was one of the creators of the English school of watercolour painting. His subjects, especially those of his later life, are extremely simple; but, by the delicacy, humour and fine power of their treatment, they rank second to works of the highest art only. Considered technically, his works exhibit all the resources of the watercolour painter's craft, from the purest transparent tinting to the boldest use of gouache, rough paper and scraping for texture. His sense of colour is perhaps as true as that of any English artist. He was, says John Ruskin, all in all, the finest ever painter of still life. Several characteristic examples of Hunt's work, as the Boy and Goat, Brown Study and Plums, Primroses and Birds' Nests are in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

In his lifetime, Hunt earned special notice for the accuracy and fine detail of his still lifes with birds' nests, as with the aforementioned Primroses and Birds' Nests—so much so that he acquired the nickname "Bird's Nest" Hunt.[3][4]

A patron of his was Thomas Monro, the Principal Physician of Bethlem Hospital.


Hunt died of apoplexy.

References and sourcesEdit

  1. ^ Monkhouse, William Cosmo (1891). "Hunt, William Henry" . In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 28. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 281–283.
  2. ^ Wheatley, Henry B. (1891). London past and present: Its history, associations, and traditions. Vol. I. London: John Murray. Cambridge University Press reprint, 2011. p. 157. ISBN 9781108028066.
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ "William Henry Hunt Chaffinch Nest and May Blossom Oil Painting". Master Works Art Gallery. Archived from the original on 2012-07-16. Retrieved 2012-12-23.

External linksEdit