Study of a Young Model

William Henry Hunt British

Not on view

This full-length figure study is one of several for which Hunt sought a Black person as his model. The sitter was once called a boxer, but his unmarred appearance suggests a less punishing profession, perhaps that of street performer, since we know that the artist befriended Black acrobats and musicians. The drawing may have been intended for study purposes, as Hunt taught well-to-do amateurs, including women who were barred from life-drawing classes at that period. Born with a form of dwarfism, the artist was self-conscious about his appearance and especially appreciative of physical beauty in others. That sensitivity is reflected in his delicate application of watercolors to portray his model’s body with compelling naturalism, heightened by a further contrast with broadly applied strokes used for his wrinkled, pushed-up trousers.

Study of a Young Model, William Henry Hunt (British, London 1790–1864 London), Watercolor over graphite with reductive techniques

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