The City Gate, Winchelsea

PRE-RAPHAELITE (founded 1848) Biography

The City Gate, Winchelsea (England, 1852)

Sold Sold
Pencil heightened with body-colour, on light buff paper
Inscribed under the old mount, on a label written by Coventry Patmore, 'W.Holman Hunt. Given to me by him. C.Patmore'


15.30cm high
24.10cm wide
(6.02 inches high)
(9.49 inches wide)
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Given by the artist to Coventry Patmore;
By descent to Mrs Coventry Patmore 1896;
Sold by direction of Mrs Patmore by Lewis & Badcock, auctioneers, at Solent House, Lyminton, Hants., 15 September 1920 (298) bt. Messrs Ernest Brown & Phillips (The Leicester Galleries)


W. Holman Hunt, Pre-Raphaelitism and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, (2 volumes, MacMillan & Co., Ltd. London 1905), volume I, page 334;
W. Holman Hunt, Pre-Raphaelitism and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, (2nd edition, 2 volumes, London 1913), reproduced volume I, page 244
Judith Bronkhurst, William Holman Hunt, A Catalogue Raisonné, Volume II, number D64, illustrated page 40, Yale University Press New Haven and London, 2006

Exhibition History

London, Leicester Galleries, An Exhibition of a Series of Drawings "Rossetti and his Friends", by Max Beerbohm, Sculpture by Riccardi, Drawings and Paintings by the Pre-Raphaelites and others, September 1921, number 45
London, Royal Society of British Artists, Centenary Exhibition, March-April 1923, number 199
(lent by Messrs. Ernest Brown & Phillips).

Description / Expertise

In mid-August 1852 Holman Hunt joined his new friend Edward Lear at Clive Vale Farm, between Fairlight and Hastings, in order to paint ‘Our English Coasts’, 1852 (‘Strayed Sheep’) (Tate Gallery, London) and to begin ‘Fairlight Downs - Sunlight on the Sea’ (Peter Nahum, A Celebration of British and European Painting of the 19th and 20th Centuries, London, 1987, pages 12-17, reproduced in colour page 13; private collection). Bad weather delayed Hunt’s progress, for most of the work had to be executed out of doors, and he did not return to London until the third week of November.

In mid-September Millais spent a weekend at Clive Vale Farm and met Lear for the first time. According to Hunt’s memoirs, the three artists made an excursion to Winchelsea (nine miles from Hastings) and Rye, and: were all delighted with the locality we had walked to see. We were able to examine the church and the country about, which made such an impression upon Millais, that two years later he returned, with Mike Halliday as his pupil, and painted “L’Enfant du Regiment” and “The Blind Girl” while he superintended his pupil in painting the background of “Measuring for the Wedding Ring”. Both Thackeray and Leach were guests at different times. I took occasion soon after to go again to Winchelsea, and made a pencil drawing of the city gate and the hillside, which I gave to Coventry Patmore.

Relations between Hunt and the Patmores were close at this time. In June 1852 Hunt wrote to the poet from Oxford about an unfinished portrait of Milly he had commissioned (present whereabouts unknown), while another letter, written by the artist shortly after his arrival in Fairlight, asked F.G. Stephens to get his studio ready for a visit by Mrs. Patmore and the Brownings. Patmore visited Hunt at Clive Vale Farm in mid-November 1852, and may have been given the drawing ‘The City Gate, Winchelsea’ on that occasion.

To be included in Judith Bronkhurst’s forthcoming catalogue Raisonne on the artist.