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My favourite painting is 'A Converted British Family Sheltering a Christian Missionary / Priest [1] from the Persecution of the Druids', by William Holman Hunt (1850).

I can't put it in this post because I don't have suitable web-space to host it, but you can see dodgy internet-quality images of it:
  • here (yellow and blurry),
  • here (very gloomy) or
  • here (better, but you'll need to scroll down the page to find the right painting and then click on the small image to see a larger one).
I love it, because it is a fine example of romanticism and contemporary issues being far more important than historical accuracy in a work of art (as, indeed, they should be). Anyone with half a clue will know that Druidism was completely wiped out in Britain long before any Christians got there, and indeed that the British had pretty much grown out of wearing furs by the time they did. Really, it is about 18th / 19th century imperialism and the contact / conflict it caused between monotheistic Brits and the polytheistic 'savages' they were trying to rule. In order to create the right scenario for exploring this in the past, Holman Hunt had to turn the imperialistic Romans into Christians some 3 centuries before their time... There's also lots of symbolism relating to the story of Christ in there for anyone who wants to read it.

It is a very special painting.

[Edit - by the way, everyone please feel free to pick this up and post your favourite painting in your journal, explaining why you like it and inviting others to follow suit.]

[1] He changed the title after a few years (by which time the painting was already in its present home, the Ashmolean Museum), because he had had some unimpressive experiences with missionaries in Jerusalem.


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