Hunt was one of the founder members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848 and one of the most important painters of the nineteenth century; he visited Egypt and the Holy Land in 1854–55 and again from 1869 to 1872. Today some of Hunt’s paintings, including The Light of the World, The Hireling Shepherd , The Awakening Conscience, and The Triumph of the Innocents, are considered icons of the Victorian era. Hunt was awarded the Order of Merit in 1905.
Hunt left Jerusalem on October 17, 1855, and reached Nazareth six days later, recording enthusiastically in his diary : “Sweet Nazareth of Galilee—never did I imagine thee so lovely in all the many times that I have tried to picture the abode of our Lord.” This watercolor was largely painted on the spot between October 24 and 27.
It is one of five watercolors of Middle Eastern subjects that Hunt exhibited at the German Gallery in New Bond Street, London, in April 1861. The five watercolors, of which the Whitworth possesses four (two are on view in Pastoral to Postindustrial), were reworked for the exhibition—the figures in this watercolor were added at this time—and placed in frames constructed especially by the artist using designs taken from Owen Jones’s The Grammar of Ornament, which had been published in 1856.
Presented by the family of John Goodier Haworth in 1961, D.1961.5