Lynn Hughes

Annunciation for William James

1982
Lynn Hughes’ paintings from the 1980s represent figures, objects, abstract shapes and texts in expressively symbolic combinations. Annunciation for William James is from a series titled The Suspects, which comprises nine portraits of prominent artists, writers and thinkers including Jean Genet, Henry Miller, Max Ernst, William James and others influential to Hughes at the time. The quote in the painting references James’ “radical empiricism,” whereby the American philosopher and psychologist questioned the limits of late 19th-century scientific inquiry. Motifs such as the camera and eyeglasses suggest modern objectivity, while the depiction of a six-winged seraph derived from a late 12th-century fresco lends the work a medieval and sacred tone. Hughes’ portrait acknowledges James “as a Victorian, but as one whose breadth of sympathy and intelligence put a serious strain on the era’s prejudices.”
Artist
Title
Annunciation for William James
Date
1982
Medium
Painting
Materials
oil on canvas
Dimensions
152.4 x 137.2 cm
Nationality
Canadian
Credit line
Purchased 1984
Accession number
28562