William Holman Hunt 'The Lady of Shalott', from Alfred Tennyson Poems
(Moxon, 1857)
11647.e.59   10.5x9.5 cm

Wood-engraved by John Thompson

'But observe, respecting these woodcuts, that if you have been in the habit of looking at much spurious work, in which sentiment, action, and style are borrowed or artificial, you will assuredly be offended by all genuine work, which is intense in feeling.'
(John Ruskin The Elements of Drawing, 1857)

The Lady of Shalott
  Black and white wood-engraved illustration, 1855-1870

Although Holman Hunt made only a few designs for books and periodicals, all are worthy of note. Here in the celebrated edition of Tennyson's poems usually known as the Moxon Tennyson after its publisher, Edward Moxon, Hunt produced several powerful images. He was widely praised for his draughtsmanship and his fidelity to the text, but the book was not a commercial success at its original price of £1 11s. 6d. Interestingly, the Dalziels recorded that the book was laboriously printed on an 'old hand press' because 'cylinder machine work was not considered good enough' at the time.