Child death was a common occurrence in Victorian society. These two pictures were once described as ‘a pathetic little story in two chapters’. In Hush a mother devotedly watches over her sick baby, her anxiety mirrored in the face of an older child. Hushed, its companion piece, shows the baby’s death.The mother covers her face with her hand in the universal gesture of grief, while her other child appears bewildered. Holl confronts his subject directly, without sentimentality. The sombre colouring and the strong contrasts between light and shade serve to heighten the grim mood.
Gallery label, July 2007
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