'The Last Pre-Raphaelite' returns to St Albans Cathedral

Visitors to St Albans Cathedral can learn about 'the last Pre-Raphaelite' painter Edward Robert Hughes who lived here in St Albans, in a special exhibition of his inspiring works.

For two weeks starting from 24th April, visitors to the Cathedral can view a sumptuous display of the printed works of E.R. Hughes, a local painter strongly connected to the Pre-Raphaelite movement but who remains largely unknown in St Albans.

Hughes worked at the heart of the Pre-Raphaelite circle and was a close associate of many of its leading members. He lived in No 3 Romeland next door to St Albans Cathedral, had his well-attended funeral here, and is buried in the Hatfield Road Cemetery, yet he remains largely unknown here in the city where he lived.

The centenary of his death on April 23rd will be marked by a public talk from a leading authority on Hughes, Victoria Osborne (Curator of Fine Art at Birmingham Museums) at St Albans Town Hall. A special commemorative display of his life and work will then be open to the public in the North Transept of the Cathedral from 24th April to 6th May.

This exhibition has been organised by a group passionate of St Albans citizens and organisations, including local business, cultural organisations, and educational establishments.

Event organiser, Geraint John said, "I have always loved the Pre-Raphaelites for their romance, honesty and skill in painting realistically. Discovering that Edward Robert Hughes, who we have called the ‘Last Pre-Raphaelite’, lived here next door to the Cathedral was like opening a Pandora’s Box. He is virtually unknown in St Albans: this exhibition, opening on the anniversary of his death, will remedy this. It will honour him and bring his delightful work to public knowledge".

The exhibition will reflect on Hughes' other work and his relationships within the Pre-Raphaelite circle. In his early career he time spent in the studio of Holman Hunt, one of the pre-eminent Pre–Raphaelites, who painted ‘The Light of the World’ (Keble College, Oxford), in its time arguably one of the most famous paintings in the world. Hunt went on to make a larger version of ‘The Light of the World’, now in St Paul’s Cathedral, but due to Hunt’s failing eyesight it was probably painted mostly by Hughes, who was working in his studio at that time. Hughes went on to produce many works in oil and watercolour as well as book illustrations and drawings, copies of which will be illustrated in this printed panel-based exhibition.

The exhibition will open in St Albans Cathedral from Thursday 24th April – Tuesday 6th May in the North Transept.

Opening hours are Monday – Saturday 10.00 – 15.30, Sunday 12.30 – 15.30. Admission is free.

Click here to view event details for the exhibition


  • 'Edward Robert Hughes - The Last Pre-Raphaelite?', a public talk by Victoria Osborne, Curator (Fine Art), Birmingham Museums at St Albans Town Hall, The Market Place, 4.00-5.30pm, Wednesday 23rd April 2014. Admission free.
  • The exhibition will display printed versions of Hughes’ paintings due to the delicate nature of the original artworks.
  • Hughes was the nephew of a major Pre-Raphaelite painter, Arthur Hughes, and modelled for members of the group.

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