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Edwardian Pre-Raphaelites, The Art of John and Mary Young Hunter

8th June - 28th July 2000

Seekers Where Shall Wisdom be Found?, by Mary Young Hunter

1.
Seekers Where Shall Wisdom be Found?
Mary Young Hunter
Oil on canvas
71 x 91.5 cms
28 x 36 ins
Signed lower right, 'Mary Young Hunter'
Exhibited: London, Royal Academy, 1902 (94)
Literature: The Academy, 17 May 1902, p. 42
Royal Academy Pictures, 1902, p. 42
The Studio vol 26, (illus.) p. 38
A.L. Baldry, 'The Work of Mr and Mrs J Young Hunter',
The Studio, vol. 28, 1903, p. 276
Chester, 1908, p. 504

During the early years of the century, so-called 'problem' pictures became popular at the Royal Academy. Although these had the appearance of literal narratives, they often contained enigmatic elements which drew the viewer towards an obvious moral message which might typically refer to human mortality, birth and creation, filial or marital love. Contemporary idolisation of childhood innocence also forms an important theme, and it is this which Mary Young Hunter addresses in Seekers Where Shall Wisdom be Found?. In this work an aged scholar, surrounded by books and papers has evidently spent his life searching for wisdom - a search which has failed. In front of him sits a barefoot child, gazing beyond the firelight, the true recipient of wisdom. The Academy found that 'there is an idea, rare enough in these times, behind Mrs Hunter's interesting and intelligent Seekers Where Shall Wisdom be Found?. Although the source of the question in the title remains unknown, the picture was extremely popular, being reproduced in colour in the Christmas number of The Graphic.

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