I’ve been on a bit of a Pre-Raphaelite kick in my own personal art studies these days. What does that mean? Well! Mostly it means I track down a bunch of Youtube videos and listen to them while I work.

Recently, I found a BBC documentary series that ran back in 2013. Only a decade late!

And another, A Stroll Round Tate Britain.  A wonderful little tour of some of the best works the PRB have to offer.

To say nothing of the fantastic, bite-sized video lectures of Smarthistory.

Following this 19th century rabbit trail reminded me of this artist spotlight that I originally wrote a number of years back. It seemed due for a timely revisit and an update!

Edward Robert Hughes is one of those Pre-Raphaelite connected painters that I should have known about sooner. 
While I’d certainly seen a piece or two in the past, it’s only very recently that I’d had the chance to do any study about the man himself and his work. The quiet grace and (I’m not sure exactly how better to put this) the intimate otherworldliness strikes a certain tuning fork within me. I was compelled to dive further into his work and I’m here now to bring you a look at what I discovered.
Hughes was born in 1851, London. Young Edward studied under his uncle, the celebrated painter Arthur Hughes, until he entered the Heatherley School of Fine Art.
Afterwards, Hughes was accepted into the Royal Academy School at the age of 17. He went on to have a distinguished career in portraiture as well as academia.

Beginning in 1888, he served as a studio assistant to William Holman Hunt, a position he held until 1905.

Hunt, of course, being one of the founding members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. A study of his work is outside the scope of this article but here again is that fantastic Smarthistory playlist comprised of eighteen videos on a wide collection of works and PRB associated artists.

Throughout his lifetime Hughes earned many prestigious titles. He gained membership in the Art Workers Guild (also in 1888) and in 1891 he was elected to Associate Membership of The Royal Water Colour Society. Ultimately, he became the Vice-President of the Society.

He died in 1914, just before the outbreak of the Great War. According to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery curator, Victoria Osborne, Hughes was something of a “lost” artist. 

After his death, Hughes “began to plummet into critical obscurity. He did not have a one-man show in his lifetime and his work was not seriously re-examined for more than 60 years.” 


In light of that, I find it incredibly touching that shortly after his death some of Hughes’ friends formed what they called the E. R. Hughes Memorial Committee. 
They gathered up the equivalent of £13,000 and purchased two paintings from Hughes’ widow, Emily Eliza, and donated them. The above painting, Night with Her Train of Stars, was donated to the city of Birmingham. The second painting, Blondel’s Quest was given to the Ashmolean in Oxford.