Boy and Butterfly

Artist

William Morris Hunt (American 1824–1879)

Date

1870

Medium

Oil on canvas

Dimensions

50 1/4 x 30 1/4 in. (127.6 x 76.8 cm)

Description
In its thematic and stylistic duality, William Morris Hunt’s Boy with a Butterfly is typical of the type of figure paintings that enjoyed immense popularity in Europe and America beginning in the early 1870s. Here, Hunt combined several types of artistic subject matter: portraiture (the artist’s nephew is believed to have posed for the figure); genre (that is, a scene of everyday life, in this case a little boy at play); and allegory (the elusive butterfly representing fleeting youth, the fragility of life, etc.). Stylistically, the pose and nudity of the human form is derived from classical prototypes, but it is rendered in the looser, less tangible technique of contemporary, avant-garde European art.
Credit Line

Bequest of the Estate of William Morris Hunt II, 2004

Object Number

UR307

The Horses of Anahita

Artist

William Morris Hunt (American 1824–1879)

Date

1872

Medium

Plaster

Dimensions

19 1/2 x 28 1/2 in. (49.5 x 72.4 cm)

Description
William Morris Hunt first modeled this conception in 1848 when he was studying in Paris with Thomas Couture. He took his theme from ancient Persia. Anahita was the goddess of the moon and the night and represents the forces of darkness giving way to the coming of light. Hunt continued to investigate this subject in drawings and paintings for several decades, finally bringing it to fruition in 1878 when he was commissioned to create murals for the Assembly Chamber of the New York State Capitol in Albany. This sculpture became the study for the central detail of one of the two monumental murals that Hunt made for that space.
Credit Line

Gift of William Morris Hunt, III, 1991

Object Number

UH204