The Light of the World (painting)
The Light of the World (1851–3) is an allegorical painting by William Holman Hunt representing the figure of Jesus preparing to knock on an overgrown and long-unopened door, illustrating Revelation 3:20: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me". According to Hunt: "I painted the picture with what I thought, unworthy though I was, to be by Divine command, and not simply as a good Subject." The door in the painting has no handle, and can therefore be opened only from the inside, representing "the obstinately shut mind". Hunt, 50 years after painting it, felt he had to explain the symbolism.
The original, painted at night in a makeshift hut at Worcester Park Farm in Surrey, is now in a side room off the large chapel at Keble College, Oxford. Toward the end of his life, Hunt painted a life-size version, which was hung in St Paul's Cathedral, London, after a world tour where the picture drew large crowds. Due to Hunt's increasing infirmity, he was assisted in the completion of this version by English painter Edward Robert Hughes. A third smaller version of the painting is on display at Manchester City Art Gallery, painted by Hunt between 1851 and 1856.
In popular culture
- Plays a significant role in the plot of the 2010 two-part time travel novel Blackout/All Clear, by Connie Willis
- Appears in Terrence Malick's 1978 film Days of Heaven
- Frequently mentioned throughout the Merrily Watkins novels by Phil Rickman.
- Mentioned in Thomas Savage (novelist)'s "The Corner of Rife and Pacific," several pages from the end of the novel, as hanging "in the Boone living room" to illustrate their devoutness.
- A sepia print of the painting was given as a Christmas gift to George Edalji in Julian Barnes's novel Arthur & George.
- Forbes, Christopher (December 2001), "Images of Christ In Nineteenth-Century British Paintings In The Forbes Magazine Collection", Magazine Antiques 160 (6): 794.
- Hunt, WH (1905), Pre-Raphaelitism and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood 1, London: Macmillan, p. 350
- Light, The Victorian Web.
- Hunt 1905, pp. 299–300.
- Dalton, Nick (21 August 2012). Frommer's England and the Best of Wales. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 349–. ISBN 978-1-118-33137-8. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
- Barnes, Julian (2006), Arthur & George (Advance Reader's ed.), New York: Alfred A. Knoph, p. 55.