Looking at Art

Monday: Let’s Look at Art…. “Asleep in the Woods” by Arthur Hughes

Monday: Let’s Look at Art

Asleep in the Woods by Arthur Hughes, undated

Artist: Arthur Hughes (British painter) Romanticism or Pre-Raphaelite

Background: Arthur Hughes lived from 1832 until 1915 and was an artist and illustrator in Britain. He won a scholarship and attended the Royal Academy. He was a Pre-Raphaelite sympathiser and was intimate with their circle, Hughes was never made an official member of their group. His legacy includes more than 750 book illustrations and 700 known paintings. Many of his other paintings seem to contain people in ordinary situations. He seems to enjoy painting real life images or images of rural life. He also painted a scene from Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet in particular the character of Ophelia. He was very modest and quiet in character. Well known for two of his other paintings, April Love (1856)  and The Long Engagement (1859).

He is well-known for his use of rich blues, greens and purple as captured in April Love.

Medium: Oil on canvas

Discussion of subject matter: Everything surrounding this amazingly lovely painting is a mystery. No one knows when it was created by Arthur Hughes. No one knows who the model is for the young maiden who is fast asleep in this painting. The figure of the young woman seems realistic and her clothing (the hat, dress, apron, and shoes) are all detailed. The basket is resting on the rocks. She is just to the left of center of the painting and is clearly the focal point of the piece of art.

Hughes use of color to create shadows and pockets of light through the trees in the woods creates visual interest. I love his ferns and moss on both the trees and rocks. These elements are extremely life-like and extremely detailed. This painting uses his signature mix of shades of blue, green, and purple to create a richness to his painting. Than Hughes adds in a comical element through the character he creates in the reddish squirrel.

His other well-known works of art are  April Love (1856)  and The Long Engagement (1859).


The Famous Artists

Arthur Hughes

Artist information

UK artist Arthur Hughes


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