The Woodcutter's Breakfast (The Faggot Gatherer's Meal)
William Henry Hunt (British, London 1790–1864 London)
ca. 1832–34 (?)
Watercolor and gouache over graphite on paper
13 x 17 in. (33.0 x 43.2 cm)
Purchase, Emmanuel Moatti Gift, Van Day Truex Fund, 2000
Not on view
Hunt's meticulous genre and still life subjects prefigure the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood's emphasis on meticulous detail. This work displays the artist's mature mastery of watercolor, admiringly described by his pupil John Ruskin in "The Elements of Drawing" (1857). To create this image, Hunt stippled a white gouache ground using broken touches of watercolor and extensive passages of scraping to create bold effects of light and texture. His intense, realistic vision of British rural life focuses on an unadorned cottage interior where a humble figure rests on a bench. The distinct textures of the brick fireplace, rough flagstones, simple furniture, earthenware pot, iron kettle, and piled branches are all lovingly recorded.
possibly Ralph Bernal; Possibly Christie's, London, April 21, 1852 (lot 148); P. & D. Colnaghi & Co.; Phillips, London; Christie's, London, November 9, 1999 (lot 129); Vendor: Katrin Bellinger Kunsthandel, Munich
Andrew Clayton-Payne Victorian Cottages. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1993, p. 29, ill.
Joanna Selborne, Christiana Payne William Henry Hunt: Country People. Ex. cat., Courthauld Institute, London. 2017, fig. 8, p. 28 (reproduced as a comparison to cat. no. 4: Kitchen Interior with Young Man Sitting by the Fire; a watercolor representing the same interior as the MMA drawing).