The Worlds Most Expensive Painting By A Living Artist And A Liverpool Merchant!

William Holman Hunt’s’ ‘The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple’.
The Finding of The Saviour - William Holman Hunt (1866)

With temperatures, predicted to plummet, in the next few days, we are all, probably wondering, when we will again, feel the warmth, of a summers day and dust off the tennis racket, for a gentle game, in the local park.

Last summer, my wife and I, visited our home city of Liverpool and temperatures reached a glorious 85% Fahrenheit (in old money). The old maxim, ‘the best things in life are free’, seems to take on even more significance, in the modern world, particularly as there seems to be, relatively few things that are free.

Sudley House in Liverpool is one of those things that are free to visitors. Sudley House is indeed a hidden gem. It is tucked away, in the leafy suburb of Mossley Hill, in Liverpool. Sudley House was the former home, of Victorian shipping merchant George Holt. The Holt family were noted philanthropists. George and his daughter Emma were generous supporters of Liverpool University. It was Emma who bequeathed the house and it’s contents to the City of Liverpool

With beautiful period furniture, carpets and wallpaper, Sudley House doesn’t feel like a regular gallery. The house also happens to house one of the finest private Art collections in Britain. They include works by Millais, Burne-Jones, Alma-Tadema, Rodin, Lord Leighton, Strudwick, Turner, Rossetti, Holman Hunt, Gainsborough, Romney, Reynolds and Landseer.

One of the most interesting works of Art in the house, is a smaller version of one of the most fascinating paintings in the world; William Holman Hunt’s’ ‘The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple’. The original, larger version was purchased by Victorian art dealer Ernst Gambart. At the time, it was the most expensive painting ever by a living artist.

‘The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple’ by William Holman Hunt, cost Gambart £5,500, in 1866 which equates to over £2 million in today’s market. The smaller version of the painting at Sudley House purchased by George Holt cost 1200 guineas, in 1888. It’s an exquisite painting, with incredible detail and well worth a visit to see. The next time you are in Liverpool, please consider visiting this remarkable house.

You can sit in the gardens and enjoy a wonderful cup of tea, made with the soft, rich tap water, Liverpool enjoys from the Welsh mountains. For further information on this lovely house, go to

My name is Steve Howard. You have been reading the Digital Circus.


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