top of page
William Henry Hunt: Country People

William Henry Hunt: Country People


William Henry Hunt’s finely crafted figure studies open a window on to a vanished world of poachers and gamekeepers, millers and maltsters, estate gardeners and labourers. This delightful book accompanies the first exhibition to investigate the depiction of rural figures by this most admired 19th-century British watercolourist.


Taking its lead from William Henry Hunt’s watercolour The Head Gardener, c. 1825, that is part of The Courtauld Gallery’s permanent collection, this focused display is the first to investigate Hunt’s depiction of rural figures in his work of the 1820s and 1830s.


Consisting of twenty drawings borrowed from collections across the United Kingdom, William Henry Hunt: Country People brings together watercolours depicting country people in their working or living environments, from farmer and gamekeeper to stonebreaker and gleaner. The representation of these country men, women and children, closely observed, raises questions about their status and way of life at a time of rapid agricultural and social change. 


Hunt was one of the most admired watercolourists of the 19th century. Better known as ‘Bird’s Nest Hunt’ for his intricate still lives of flowers, fruit and birds’ eggs, he exhibited prolifically at the Old Water Colour Society. His works were sought after by collectors, notably John Ruskin, a serious champion of his work.


Beautifully illustrated, William Henry Hunt: Country People includes numerous details that showcase Hunt’s mastery of colour, textural effects and play of light.

  • Joanna Selborne and Christiana Payne

    Paperback, 210 x 210 mm

    72 pages, 25 colour illus.

    ISBN 978 1 911300 23 6

  • Exhibition

    The Courtauld Gallery, London,

    24 June – 17 September 2017

  • In the press

    "A delicate delight" —The Times


    ★★★★ "An absorbing story … Hunt isn’t painting portraits of people, he’s exposing their lives." —Time Out 


    ★★★★  "Beautifully idyllic" —Londonist


    "The first exhibition to investigate William Henry Hunt’s depiction of rural figures … Hunt was a Londoner, born near Covent Garden, who brought a metropolitan eye to the land and the people who make their living from it." —BLOUIN ARTINFO 


    "In [Hunt's] vivid sketches, we meet gamekeepers, farmers, maltsters, millers, gardeners, kitchen maids, labourers - even a poacher. Hunt gives us a glimpse into their world." —World of Interiors 

bottom of page