Arthur Hughes

Study for ‘The Eve of St Agnes’


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Arthur Hughes 1832–1915
Graphite on paper
Image: 165 × 115 mm
Presented by Leonard Roberts to celebrate the Tate Gallery Centenary 1997


This drawing is an early sketch for one of the panels (most probably the right-hand panel) in Hughes's 1856 triptych The Eve of St Agnes (Tate Gallery N04604). The painting is based on Keats's poem of the same name. The finished design for the right- hand panel shows the lovers Madeline and Porphyro escaping from the castle. The scene shown by Hughes in this drawing does not appear in Keats's poem, and was presumably discarded by the artist because it departed from the text.

Several other sketches for the finished work are also in the Tate (Tate Gallery T06884, T06979).

Further reading:
Timothy Hilton, The Pre-Raphaelites, London 1970, pp.113-15
Leonard Roberts, introduction by Stephen Wildman, Arthur Hughes: His Life and Works, a Catalogue Raisonné, Woodbridge, Suffolk [to be published 1997]

Terry Riggs
November 1997

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Technique and condition

The drawing is a prelimary sketch for the painting The Eve of St Agnes (Tate Gallery N04604). It is executed in pencil on off-white wove paper.

The drawing is in good condition but with a fine coating of surface dirt and two small stains over the image. On acquisition the drawing was mounted in museum board and placed in a Solander box.

Calvin Winner
November 1997

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