Henry Holiday (Biographical details)

Henry Holiday (painter/draughtsman; designer; British; Male; 1839 - 1927)

Also known as

Holiday, Henry; Holiday, Henry George Alexander


Painter, stained-glass designer and watercolourist; member of Pre-Raphaelite circle.

Gere 1994
Holiday is now remembered only for two, incongruous, works: the large and at one time much reproduced painting in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, of 'Beatrice denying her Salutation to Dante', and the series of nine fantastic and grotesquely imaginative illustrations to Lewis Carroll's 'The Hunting of the Snark' (1876).
At the Royal Academy Schools, where he was a student from 1855 to 1857-8, Holiday was proud to describe himself as "a Pre-Raphaelite" (see his 'Reminiscences of My Life', 1914). His early work seems to have consisted mostly of landscapes executed in accordance with Pre-Raphaelite principles, and by about 1860 he had made the acquaintance of most of the Pre-Raphaelite circle. His 'Burgesses of Calais' of 1858-9 is in the Guildhall Art Gallery, but his 'Dante and Beatrice meeting as Children', of 1859-60, has disappeared. A highly finished drawing of the same subject from the 'Vita Nuova' by his close friend and fellow-student Simeon Solomon, inscribed with the date 1859-63, is in the Tate Gallery (Ironside and Gere, fig. 12.; Tate Exh., 1984, no. 228). In the 1984 exhibition catalogue, John Christian suggested that Solomon must have been consciously competing with Holiday. Holiday's 'The Bride and the Daughters of Jerusalem' (1861-3) has also disappeared, but the study (1982,0515.22) clearly reflects the influence of Rossetti and Burne Jones. By the mid-1860s Holiday was turning increasingly to decorative art, designing stained glass and mural paintings in conjunction with architectural schemes. Twenty years later, the Rossettian subject of 'Beatrice denying her Salutation' (1881-3) is in contrast to its correctly academic treatment. In his later years much of his time was devoted to such causes as radical politics and Rational Dress.


Gere 1994; Sauer