The Awakening Conscience: The Story of a Pre-Raphaelite Muse

Listen to the Story: 12 minutes

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A scene of domestic bliss? An intimate moment between two lovers? Not all is as it seems in William Holman Hunt’s ‘The Awakening Conscience’.

Often described as revolutionary and radical, Hunt and his Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood artist friends endeavoured to illustrate and consequently challenge the social conventions of the day through their paintings. Far from being a straightforward depiction of another disgraced, ‘fallen’ woman, in this painting Hunt casts his muse Annie Miller as the entrapped lover at the moment of ‘awakening’, in the throes of an epiphany about her place in the world. But was his art imitating life?

Join curator Carol Jacobi as she takes a closer look at this complex ‘psychological drama’ and uncovers the symbolism and motivations behind this 19th century masterpiece.