The last of the Pre-Raphelites at St Albans Cathedral

Night and her Train of Stars by E.R.Hughes

Night and her Train of Stars by E.R.Hughes - Credit: Archant

Artist Edward Robert Hughes, dubbed the last Pre-Raphaelite, is the subject of a special exhibition in St Albans Cathedral to mark the centenary of his death.

It opens next Thursday, April 24, and visitors can learn about the painter who lived in St Albans in a special exhibition of his works.

Hughes worked at the heart of the Pre-Raphaelite circle and was a close associate of many of its leading members.

He lived in No 3 Romeland next door to the cathedral, had his well-attended funeral there and is buried in the Hatfield Road Cemetery – yet he remains largely unknown in the city where he lived.

The centenary of his death on Wednesday, April 23, will be marked by a public talk from a leading authority on Hughes, Victoria Osborne, curator of fine art at Birmingham Museums, at St Albans Town Hall. It will run from 4pm to 5.30pm.


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The special commemorative display of his life and work will then be open to the public in the north transept of the cathedral until May 6.

The exhibition has been organised by a group of St Albans residents and organisations, including local businesses, cultural organisations, and educational establishments.

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Event organiser, Geraint John said: “I have always loved the Pre-Raphaelites for their romance, honesty and skill in painting realistically. Discovering that Edward Robert Hughes, who we have called the ‘Last Pre-Raphaelite’, lived here next door to the cathedral was like opening a Pandora’s Box.

“He is virtually unknown in St Albans: this exhibition, opening on the anniversary of his death, will remedy this. It will honour him and bring his delightful work to public knowledge”.

The exhibition will reflect on Hughes’ other work and his relationships within the Pre-Raphaelite circle. In his early career he time spent in the studio of Holman Hunt, one of the pre-eminent Pre–Raphaelites, who painted The Light of the World, now in Keble College, Oxford, and in its time arguably one of the most famous paintings in the world.

Hunt went on to make a larger version of The Light of the World, now in St Paul’s Cathedral, but due to the artist’s failing eyesight it was probably painted mostly by Hughes, who was working in his studio at that time.

Hughes went on to produce many works in oil and watercolour as well as book illustrations and drawings, copies of which will be illustrated in the printed panel-based exhibition.

The exhibition is open from 10am to 3.30pm Monday to Saturday and from 12.30pom to 3.30pm on Sunday and admission is free.

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