George Sidney Hunt After Edwin Long RA, In the Wilderness

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George Sidney Hunt After Edwin Long RA, In the Wilderness

Regular price £395.00
Unit price
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This late 19th-century mixed-method engraving by George Sidney Hunt (1856-1917) after Edwin Long RA (1829-1891) is one in a series of three depicting the Old Testament story of Jephthah. Here, we see Jephthah’s daughter contemplating her fate during a two-month sojourn in the wilderness.

The heart-rending story of Jephthah captured Victorian minds and inspired artist Edwin Long to produce three exhibition pieces, which are now held at the Russell Cotes Art Gallery & Museum. Prior to a fearsome battle with the Ammonites, Jephthah, a leader in Isreal, committed a vow to God that he’d make a sacrifice if his armies were triumphant.

“whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering” (Judges 11:30-31).

Alas, upon returning, his only daughter danced into his arms - unaware of the tragic consequences of her innocent actions. Hence, her sacrifice was set in stone - her father’s oath had condemned her to death. “Oh no, my daughter! You have brought me down and I am devastated. I have made a vow to the Lord that I cannot break …” (Judges 11:35).

Commissioned by fine arts publisher, Fairless and Beeforth, Edwin Long’s trilogy describes three dramatic moments - ‘Jephthah’s Vow’, ‘Into the Wilderness’, and ‘The Martyr’. Here, we see part two, Jephthah’s daughter (who remains nameless), contemplating her fate among companions during a two-month stay in a barren landscape. She looks towards the heavens, forlorn, only too aware of her destiny. To her left, a close friend prays for her salvation, while another grieves tearfully at her feet.

Edwin Long’s historical works gained great popularity within the educated world of the Royal Academy whereby such scenes were deemed worthy of painterly inspiration. Together with contemporaries such as Frederic Leighton (1830-1896), Albert Joseph Moore (1841-1893), and Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912), Long sought to elevate his art with aesthetically-pleasing classical references. During the ‘Victorian Classical Revival’, numerous works portrayed scenes from antiquity - many featuring young women draped in dramatic circumstances.

Long’s model here is particularly poignant. Indian Princess, Helen Ahluwalia Randhir Singh of Kapurthala, posed for many of the artist’s popular works but, was herself, the subject of a tragic story. Following the divorce of her parents, mother Rani Henrietta brought her to London, presumably to meet a worthy suitor. However, she quickly became immersed in London’s high society, often attending various parties unchaperoned - thus causing significant controversy. At 23, she died of Tuberculosis - just two years after Long produced the trilogy. With this in mind, it’s rather interesting to consider her mindset when playing the lead role in a tale of parental-led sacrifice.

Signed in pencil by engraver George Sidney Hunt lower right and held within a contemporary glazed frame.

Learn more about Edwin Long RA in our directory.

Medium: Mixed-method engraving on chine-collé
Overall size: 23½” x 32½” / 60cm x 83cm
Year of creation: 1892
Labels & Inscriptions: Fairless & Beeforth inscription top centre.
Condition: Artwork presents well. A few marks bottom right.

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