Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue

Sir Hubert von Herkomer (1849-1914), Painter and illustrator

Painter; born 26 May 1849 in Bavaria, Germany. Settled in Britain from age 9; trained Southampton and South Kensington schools of art; magazine illustrator from 1868 and RA exhibitor from 1869, making an international name with social realist subjects such as The Last Muster (1875; Lady Lever AG, Port Sunlight) and Hard Times (1885; Manchester AG); elected ARA 1879, RA 1890; Slade Professor of Art, Oxford 1885–94; developed successful career in both portraiture (17 examples in NPG collection) and teaching, at his own art school (1883–1904) in Bushey, Herts., whose students included William Nicholson and Lucy Kemp-Welch; here he also produced ‘pictorial-music-plays’, and directed and acted in several films; acquired prefix ‘von’ 1889; KCVO 1907; died 31 March, 1914, in Devon.

Herkomer’s reputation dwindled posthumously, but his subjects are now regarded as a significant strand in nineteenth-century art. He is described as a man of prodigious energies and self-regard: ‘Such a d—d mass of egotism I never met before, not even in an artist; but it disarms you and wins you by its naivety and honest audacity.’ [1] Although a generous teacher and philanthropist, he also had ‘an exceptional faculty for rousing resentments and enmities’. [2] In appearance he described himself as having had jet-black hair and black eyes, with a sallow complexion. [3]

Dr Jan Marsh

Footnotesback to top

1) C.R. Ashbee, ‘Memoirs’ (typescript), vol.1, p.47; quoted Poole 1983, p.10. Ashbee visited Herkomer in Jan. 1888.
2) Mills 1923, p.311.
3) Herkomer 1910–11, vol.1, p.91.

Referencesback to top

Baldry 1901
Baldry, A.L., Hubert von Herkomer: A Study and a Biography, London, 1901.

Bucknole 2006
Bucknole, M.W., ‘Sir Hubert von Herkomer CVO, RA etc.’, British Art Journal, vol.7, no.1, 2006, pp.72–9.

Carr 1882
Carr, J.W.C., ‘Hubert Herkomer’ in series Illustrated Biographies of Modern Artists, ed. F.G. Dumas, London, 1882.

Cook & Wedderburn 1903–12
Cook, E.T., and A. Wedderburn, eds, The Works of John Ruskin, 39 vols, London, 1903–12.

Courtney 1892
Courtney, W.L., ‘Professor Hubert Herkomer ... His Life and Work’, The Art Annual for 1892 (Art Journal Christmas number), 1892.

Edwards 1999
Edwards, L.M., Herkomer: A Victorian Artist, Aldershot, 1999.

Edwards 2004a
Edwards, L.M., ‘Herkomer, Sir Hubert von (1849–1914)’, ODNB, Oxford, 2004.

Florence 1971
Firenze e l’Inghilterra Rapporti artistici e culturali dal XVI al XX seculo, exh. cat., Palazzo Pitti, Florence, 1971.

Herkomer 1890
Herkomer, H. von, The Autobiography of Hubert Herkomer, privately printed, 1890.

Herkomer 1910–11
Herkomer, H. von, The Herkomers, 2 vols, London, 1910–11.

Jones et al. 1996
Jones, S., and others, Frederic Leighton 1830–1896, exh. cat., Royal Academy, London, 1996.

Landsberg 1988
Sir Hubert von Herkomer, exh. cat., Neues Stadtmuseum, Landsberg-am-Lech, Watford Museum and Bushey Museum and Art Gallery, 1988.

Landsberg 1999
Mansel Lewis & Hubert Herkomer: Wales – England – Bavaria, exh. cat., Neues Stadtmuseum, Landsberg-am-Lech, 1999.

London 1907–9
Prominent Men of London, Shaftesbury Press, London, 1907–9.

McMaster 2008
McMaster, J., ‘That Mighty Art of Black-and-White: Linley Sambourne, Punch and the Royal Academy’, British Art Journal, Autumn 2008, pp.62–76.

McMaster 2009
McMaster, J., That Mighty Art of Black-and-White: Linley Sambourne, Punch and the Royal Academy, Edmonton, Canada, 2009.

Marillier 1896
Marillier, H.C., ed., Men and Women of the Century: Being a Collection of Portraits and Sketches by Mr Rudolph Lehmann, London, 1896.

Mills 1914
Mills, J.S., The Old Wood-Carver: A Tale of the Fourteenth Century told … from the cinematograph conceived and produced by Sir Hubert von Herkomer, R.A. and Siegfried Herkomer. With 52 illustrations reproduced from the film showing Sir Hubert von Herkomer in the name part, Cinema Books no.3, London, 1914.

Mills 1923
Mills, J.S., Life and Letters of Sir Hubert Herkomer CVO, RA: A Study in Struggle and Success, London, 1923.

O’Donoghue 1908–22
O’Donoghue, F., Catalogue of Engraved British Portraits preserved in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum, 5 vols, London, 1908–22 (and vol.6, H.M. Hake, Supplement and indexes, 1925).

Ormond 2010
Ormond, L., Linley Sambourne: Illustrator and Punch Cartoonist, London, 2010.

Ormond & Ormond 1975
Ormond, L., and R. Ormond, Lord Leighton, London, 1975.

Pietsch 1901
Pietsch, L., ‘Herkomer’ in series Kunstler-Mongraphien, ed. H. Knackfuss, Bielefeld and Leipzig, 1901.

Poole 1983
Poole, S., ed., Stand to Your Work: Hubert Herkomer and His Students, Watford, 1983.

Pritchard 1987
Pritchard, M., Sir Hubert von Herkomer and his Film-making in Bushey 1912–1914, Bushey, Herts., 1987.

Pritchard 1988
Pritchard, M., ‘From Bavaria to Bushey’, Country Life, vol.182, 29 September 1988, pp.210–13.

Spielmann 1901
Spielmann, M.H., British Sculpture and Sculptors of Today, London, 1901.

Swanson 1977
Swanson, V.G., Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema: Painter of the Victorian Vision of the Ancient World, London, 1977.

Tait & Walker 2000
Tait, H., and R. Walker, The Athenaeum Collection, London, 2000.

Walkley 1994
Walkley, G., Artists’ Houses in London 1764–1914, Aldershot, 1994.

Warner 1997
Warner, M., The Victorians: British Painting 1837–1901, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, 1997.

Watford 1982
A Passion for Work: Sir Hubert von Herkomer 1849–1914, exh. cat., Watford, 1982.

Watson 1907
Watson, A., The Savage Club: A Medley of History, Anecdote and Reminiscence, London, 1907.

Dr Jan Marsh