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Arthur Hughes 1832-1915 | British Pre-Raphaelite painter and illustrator

Hughes was born in London. His best-known paintings are April Love and The Long Engagement, both of which depict troubled couples contemplating the transience of love and beauty. He entered the School of Design, Somerset House, in 1846 and studied there under Alfred Stevens. In 1847 he enrolled in the Antique Schools at the Royal Academy. In 1849 he won a silver medal for a drawing, and exhibited his first finished painting, Musidora. In 1850, after reading The Germ he was "converted to Pre-Raphaelitism". He subsequently met Rossetti, Hunt, and Millais, adopting their ideals for his own. He was most strongly influenced by the work of John Everett Millais, and yet he didn't meet Millais until 1952, when they were both displaying paintings titled Ophelia in the Academy exhibition. Millais' influence is especially seen in the brilliant colouring and careful attention to detail. In 1857 he was one of the artists that joined Rossetti, Burne-Jones, and William Morris in painting murals on the walls of the Oxford Union Debating Hall. This experience greatly influenced Hughes' work, softening his colour and adding a mystical overtone in the manner of Rossetti. It also affected his choice of subject manner, leading Hughes into Arthurian legend and religious themes. Hughes used several young women as models, but his favourite was Tryphena Ford -model for April Love. He met her in 1850, but had to wait five years before marrying her. His paintings reflecting love as wistful, tender and even sad may spring from that long wait. They had a happy and quite fruitful marriage, producing 6 children -two are shown in Home from the Sea. As well as being a painter, Hughes became one of the more successful Pre-Raphaelite illustrators. His illustrations for George Macdonald (Dealing with Fairies and At the Back of the North Wind), and Christina Rossetti (Sing Song, Speaking Likenesses, and Babies' Classics) are especially noteworthy. Hughes was a truly gentle and modest man. Very little is known about his private life or his views on art, but he was well loved by all the Pre-Raphaelites and maintained contact with many of them his whole life. Hughes' later years were spent in obscurity. He died a recluse on 1915 at Kew Green, London, leaving behind nearly 600 paintings and 850 book illustrations.