Ideal Head

William Morris Hunt (American, 1824-1879)

Currently on View in K212
Image Licensing

  • Hunt created this painting to recall another era. The subject appears to be wearing a Renaissance costume. The technique of sfumato used on the head, where tones transition gradually to create a smoky effect, was derived from the Renaissance paintings that Hunt admired while studying in Europe. This delicate veiling of the face heightens the feeling that the subject is lost in introspection.
  • The use of “ideal” in the title informs us that this is a picture of an imaginary, not real, person. The subject’s veiled and generic features may have been meant to suggest the ideal qualities of Renaissance heroes that Hunt so greatly admired—refined and talented, yet dedicated to a greater good.

John Levy, New York, New York; (Anderson Galleries, New York); (R.C. Vose Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts); purchased by the Indianapolis Museum of Art with the D. P. Erwin Fund in 1923.

Object Information

William Morris Hunt (American, 1824-1879)
creation date
about 1865
oil on paper mounted on canvas
21-1/2 x 17-1/2 in.
31 x 26-1/2 in. (framed)
accession number
credit line
Daniel P. Erwin Fund
Public Domain
American Painting and Sculpture to 1945

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