Arthur Hughes was born into a middle-class background in London on 27 January 1832, and lived until the second year of the Great War. He attended Tennison's Grammar School, but showed such precocious talent in drawing that he quickly progressed to a professional training in fine art. He entered the Royal Academy at the age of fifteen and shortly afterwards came into contact with Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelites. This encounter was a crucial event in the formation of Hughes's style. His paintings of the fifties clearly reflect the influence of Pre-Raphaelite aesthetics, and his art is an interesting example of synthesis in which he accommodates a Rossettian inwardness with an intense registration of the natural world. Hughes's career in the fifties and sixties was nevertheless a precarious one, and he struggled to make a living through the sale of his paintings.
Like others of his generation, he supplemented his work as a painter with a second income drawing on wood for books and magazines. Foremost among these publications were Good Words and Good Words for the Young (1869-73), and he also produced distinguished designs, among others, for Thomas Hughes's Tom Brown's School Days (1869); Tennyson's Enoch Arden (1866); Christina Rossetti's Sing Song (1872); and Thomas Hake's Parables and Tales (1872, with a binding designed by Rossetti).
- The Beautiful Lady (At the Back of the North Wind)
- "Annie, my girl, cheer up, be comforted" (Enoch Arden)
- Enoch Arden's Despair
Houfe, Simon. The Dictionary of Nineteenth Century British Book Illustrators. Woodbridge: Atnique Collectors' Club, 1978; revised ed., 1996.
Goldman, Paul. Victorian Illustration: The Pre-Raphaelites, the Idyllic School and the High Victorians. Aldershot: Scolar, 1996.
Reid, Forrest. Illustrators of the Eighteen Sixties. 1928; reprint, New York: Dover, 1975.
Roberts, Leonard & Wildman, Stephen. Arthur Hughes: His Life and Work. Woodbridge: Antique Collectors' Club, 1997.
Suriano, Gregory. The Pre-Raphaelite Illustrators. London: The British Library, 2000.
Last modified 15 November 2009