The Triumph of the Innocents

William Holman Hunt, 1827 - 1910

The Triumph of the Innocents

William Holman Hunt 1827 - 1910


Made by C.R. Ashbee for Thomas Horsfall (1844-1932) following his request for 'a beautifully framed copy of some edifying picture' for the museum he established in Ancoats (the Thomas Horsfall Museum) for the benefit of the inhabitants of Manchester's slums. The photogravure of Hunt's painting in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, was made by Goupil & Co. and published by the Fine Art Society in 1887. Beneath the image is Ruskin's description of the painting taken from his essay 'The Art of England'. Ashbee formed the Guild of Handicraft in 1888, an association of craftsmen inspired by William Morris and John Ruskin's writing.

Display Label

Art for All: Thomas Horsfall’s Gift to Manchester Thomas Coglan Horsfall (1844-1932) was a pioneering philanthropist who established the Manchester Art Museum in 1884 in Harpurhey, moving it to larger premises at Ancoats Hall in 1886. The Museum was at the forefront of developments in art education, operating an innovative picture loan scheme for schools. In the 1880s, Harpurhey and Ancoats were crowded working class areas: the residents lived hard lives in impoverished surroundings. Horsfall wanted to make them aware of natural beauty by means of the Museum. He decided to locate the Museum close to their homes and to open it until 10 o’clock at night and on Sundays so that working people could visit. The Museum showed decorative and industrial art, original paintings and drawings, and copious reproductions. The works of art were arranged in themed rooms and everything had an explanatory label. Clubs for rambling, singing and woodcarving were formed and twice-weekly entertainments were held in the Museum’s concert hall. In 1918, the Museum and its contents were transferred to the management of Manchester City Council. The Museum finally closed in 1953. The majority of the items in this exhibition are from the original Museum. The exhibition has been co-curated by the Year 5 pupils at St Augustine’s CE Primary School in Harpurhey, Manchester.

Object Name

The Triumph of the Innocents

Creators Name

William Holman Hunt

Date Created



print (sight): 49.2cm x 81.9cm
inscription (sight): 7.5cm x 87.8cm
framed: 98cm x 131.6cm

accession number


Place of creation





engraving on paper


Transferred from the Horsfall Museum Collection, 1918


© Manchester Art Gallery

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