Arthur Hughes
The Woodman’s Child 1860

Artwork details

Arthur Hughes 1832–1915
The Woodman’s Child
Date 1860
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 610 x 641 mm
frame: 851 x 908 x 72 mm
Acquisition Presented by Mrs Phyllis L.Holland 1958
Not on display


This is one of several genre scenes painted by Hughes in the 1860s. It shows a small girl asleep in the foreground, watched by a squirrel and a bird, as her parents work in the distance. Hughes's daughter probably posed for the little girl in the picture. The forest setting has been painted with painstaking attention to detail, in adherence to Pre-Raphaelite ideals. The artist worked on it at the same time as a larger companion picture, Home from Work (1861, Forbes Magazine Collection, New York), which depicts a woodman arriving home to be greeted by his two young daughters. Both paintings were commissioned by the collector James Leathart.

Although Hughes greatly admired Millais's work and often borrowed from his compositions, The Woodman's Child bears no evident relationship to Millais's Woodman's Daughter of 1850-1 (Guildhall Art Gallery, Corporation of London) or to Coventry Patmore's poem on which Millais based his painting.

Further reading:
Robin Ironside and John Gere, Pre-Raphaelite Painters, London 1948, p.43
Allen Staley, The Pre-Raphaelite Landscape, Oxford 1973, pp.86-7
Leonard Roberts, introduction by Stephen Wildman, Arthur Hughes: His Life and Works, a Catalogue Raisonné, Woodbridge, Suffolk [to be published 1997]

Terry Riggs
December 1997

About this artwork