Midsummer Eve

The celebration of Midsummer’s Eve was from ancient times linked to the summer solstice. People believed that mid-summer plants had miraculous healing powers and they therefore picked them on this night. Bonfires were lit to protect against evil spirits which were believed to roam freely when the sun was turning southwards again. In later years, witches were also thought to be on their way to meetings with other evil powers.


Edward Hughes was a nephew of Arthur Hughes and a studio assistant to William Holman Hunt. He helped Hunt with some of his later work, including the St Paul’s version of The Light of the World. Hughes began his career among the Pre-Raphaelites, and like Edward Burne-Jones with whom he was acquainted, he inclined towards Symbolism. However, the majority of Hughes' work, carried out mainly in watercolour/gouache, displays the meticulous observation of nature and minute technique associated with the Pre-Raphaelite movement.