[ilds] The Light of the World

Denise Tart & David Green dtart at bigpond.net.au
Mon Dec 31 16:20:42 PST 2007

The information that Hunt's The Light of the World was very popular in Australia comes as no surprise the me and for three significant reasons. firstly, as Australia was about as far from the so called civilized world as you could get, Australians at that time - and to some extent still- would rush to see shows and artworks and almost anything 'cultural' from England, Europe or America. Aussies wanted to show that they were up to speed with the latest stuff. The popularity of Hunt's painting in England would only have increased Australian enthusiasm to see it as they were mortified of being regarded as crass colonial bores whose only interests were cricket, beer and gambling.
Secondly, it may surprise many readers to know that the Pre Raphaelite movement was very strong strong in Australia around the turn of the century especially amongst the middle and upper classes. Victorian 'medievalism' was all the rage and even spawned a type of 'gothic' architecture whose best examples, in terms of private homes, can be found on Sydney's affluent North Shore. Sydney Univerity, the country's oldest, is built in the gothic style.
A third reason is that the odd seasons and most un European weather created a nostalia for English and European images, gardens, clothes etc. On a blazing hot summer's day, the midle class Sydney man could retreat into is dark gothic house, past the fake suit of armour in the hall and then repose before a framed copy of the Light of the World and be reminded that he was in fact an Englishman and all was right with the world.

Denise Tart & David Green
16 William Street, Marrickville NSW 2204

+61 2 9564 6165
0412 707 625
dtart at bigpond.net.au
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