Hesitation, William Henry Bartlett
  • Artist
    William Henry Bartlett
  • Born
  • Died
  • Title
  • Date of Production
  • Medium
    oil on canvas
  • Dimensions
    1409 x 1028 mm
  • Credit Details
    Purchased, 1888

William Henry Bartlett


An English landscape and genre painter, the son of a mathematical instrument maker and art dealer, Bartlett studied under Gérôme in Paris. He was a frequent exhibitor at the Royal Academy and the Institute of Painters in Oils. He visited Ireland regularly and is best known for his scenes of life on the Irish West Coast.

Hesitation is a rather improbable scene that shows an adolescent girl seated on a rock by the edge of the sea, with an outstretched foot poised above the water, pondering the consequences of taking the plunge. The image is probably meant to be perceived as a moralistic study on the challenges faced by all young people.

When it was purchased in 1888 this painting was also seen as being able to afford many valuable lessons, both in drawing and manipulation, to students of figure painting. It is an interesting reflection on Victorian social mores that the display of this image of a naked adolescent girl aroused no comment from the press or public at the very point in time when Ballarat's newly-formed Gallery Association nearly tore itself apart in a debate about the propriety of opening on Sundays.