Arthur Hughes (1832 – 1915) was an English painter who was associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Hughes is best known for his painting Ophelia which was painted in the same year that Everett Millais painted his Ophelia. Although Hughes had known Hunt and Rossetti of the Brotherhood for some time, it’s interesting that Hughes did not meet Millais until they both had paintings entitled Ophelia in the Royal Academy exhibition. Hughes met him in front of the picture and later recalled that Millais ‘had just been up a ladder looking at my picture, and that it gave him more pleasure than any picture there, but adding very truly that I had not painted the right kind of stream.’
Ophelia is an unusually powerful and haunting picture. This detail shows how refined Hughes technique was, he painted the individual strands of the maiden’s hair. The mood of the landscape, its misty greens and dusty reds, reflect the of the sadness of Ophelia.
Hughes’ The Nativity is a good example of a work which reflects the influence of the early Renaissance. The geometric forms of the composition recall the work of the early Italian masters.
In 1855 Hughes married Tryphena Foord who was the model this painting and many others.The title of this painting was inspired by the fact that Hughes had to wait five years before he could marry Miss Foord.