Holman Hunt depicted by studio assistant

A miniature of William Holman Hunt by Edward Robert Hughes – £7500 at Chiswick Auctions.

The sale of portrait miniatures held online by Chiswick Auctions (25% buyer’s premium) included a watercolour on ivory of the artist William Holman Hunt (1827-1910).

Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Alex Capon

A miniature of William Holman Hunt by Edward Robert Hughes – £7500 at Chiswick Auctions.

He is shown full-face, bearded and with piercing blue eyes wearing a striped Eastern robe.

Although engraved on reverse W. Holman Hunt OM Aetat 53, it is thought to be a posthumous likeness, painted from an earlier photograph.

Passed down

The artist was Edward Robert Hughes (1851-1914), a nephew of the Pre-Raphaelite painter Arthur Hughes and a studio assistant to Holman Hunt.

Edward Hughes helped Hunt with some of his later work, including the St Paul’s version of The Light of the World.

The miniature was commissioned probably by Edith Holman Hunt after her husband’s death in 1910 and was probably among the possessions of their son Hilary Lushington Holman Hunt.

In his will he invited his executors and trustees Emmie Stone and Hannah Meyer (both whom had been nurses to his father) to select such articles of jewellery ‘as they may choose to keep’. It would appear that Stone chose this miniature.

It has been suggested that the gemset silver frame is the work of the Birmingham Arts & Crafts jeweller Arthur and Georgie Gaskin.

This is one of two versions of the miniature known (the other is in a private collection) and it was making a return to the auction room after its sale as part of the Albion collection of miniatures sold by Bonhams in 2004.

Sixteen years ago, in an era before antique ivory bans and coronavirus, it had sold for £15,535 (including premium). It struggled to match that at Chiswick last month, where the estimate was £8000-10,000 at the auction on March 25, but did get away at £7500 to an online bidder.