Edward Robert Hughes

British, 1851 - 1914

Oh, what's that in the hollow...?

Date: circa 1895

An illustration to Christina Rossetti's poem 'Amor Mundi', in which two lovers, pursuing the easy downhill path of worldly pleasure, encouter warning portents, including a corpse:


'Oh, what's that in the hollow, so pale I quake to follow?'
'Oh, that's a thin dead body which waits the eternal term'.

When published in the Shilling Magazine in 1865 the poem was accompanied by one of Frederick Sandys' most famous illustrations.

The subject is a curious choice for Hughes, whose work is generally sweet and lyrical in mood. No doubt he realised that the picture would never be 'commercial', and selected it accordingly as his Diploma work for the Royal Watercolour Society. The dog-roses may owe something to Burne-Jones' Briar Rose paintings, exhibited to great acclaim in the 1890s.

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