William Holman Hunt 1827-1910
The Awakening Conscience 1853
The Awakening Conscience was conceived as the modern-life counterpart to Hunt’s celebrated image of Christian salvation called The Light of the World (1851–3, now at Keble College, Oxford). In this picture Hunt set out ‘to show how the still small voice [of conscience] speaks to a human soul in the turmoil of life’. A kept woman, realising the error of her ways, rises suddenly from the lap of her lover, inspired by the light pouring through the window from the garden. Many of the details, such as the bird trying to escape the cat, suggest both the snares of prostitution and the possibility of redemption.