‘When you have found a painting silly and ugly for the whole of your adult life, then come around a corner in an exhibition, see it again and are KO’d by it, find yourself gibbering with exaltation at the sight of it, feel like crying, even, at its missed remarkableness — when this happens to you, then tough questions obviously need to be asked of yourself. Am I too old? Have my standards plummeted? Was the alcohol still in my system? Am I turning into Paul Johnson? This was the weird fate that befell me as I toured Tate Britain’s transfixing sample of pre-Raphaelite nature paintings. The whole show is affecting. A revelation. But it was encountering The Scapegoat, by William Holman Hunt, that unhinged me and left me temporarily gaga, with a clear attack of Stendhal syndrome’. [1]

Hunt, The Scapegoat (1863, Lady Lever)

 Inscribed on the frame are two scriptural quotes:

Isaiah LIII 4: Surely he hath borne our Griefs, and carried our Sorrows / Yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of GOD, and afflicted.

and also Leviticus XVI 22: And the Goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a Land not inhabited.

 

[1] Waldemar Januszczak, ‘Forgive them their trespasses’, The Sunday Times, London, 14 Mar. 2004, Culture section, pp. 31–2.

Advertisements