The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Hubert von Herkomer, 1849-1914

Nationality: Bavarian
Date of Birth: 1849.05.26
Place of Birth: Waal, South Bavaria
Date of Death: 1914.03.31
Place of Death: Budleigh Salterton


Hubert von Herkomer was a painter, illustrator, printmaker, stage designer, film maker, writer and teacher. His father was Lorenz Herkomer, a German woodcarver, and his mother Josephine Niggl, a pianist and music teacher.


Influenced by Luke Fildes, his fellow student at the South Kensington Art School in London, Herkomer began his career producing wood-engravings. His first illustration appeared in Good Words in November 1869, and from 1870 his social realist scenes appeared regularly in the Graphic and were collected by Vincent Van Gogh. Herkomer paintings also showed a concern for poverty and social injustice, e.g. Hard Times ( 1885; Manchester City Art Gallery) and he was a regular exhibitor at the RA. From 1880 he was particularly renowned for his portraits, e.g. Thomas Hawksley (1887; National Portrait Gallery, London).

Like JW, Herkomer was a controversial figure, who was well known for his outspoken comments, public lectures and writings. However, Herkomer, who succeeded Ruskin in 1885 as Slade Professor of Fine Arts at Oxford University, was a more accepted figure within academic circles. In 1872, the trustees of the Chantrey CoJWllection paid three thousand pounds for works by Herkomer. Although later to come under controversy for his own lithographic methods, JW, along with Sickert, protested when Herkomer attempted to sell photogravures for etchings.


Von Herkomer, H., Etching and Engraving: Lectures Delivered at Oxford, London, 1892; Von Herkomer, H., My School and my Gospel, London, 1908; Von Herkomer, H., A Certain Phase of Lithography, London, 1910; Von Herkomer, H., The Herkomers, 2 vols, London, 1910-11; Who Was Who: A Companion to Who's Who, vol. 1, 1897/1915, London, 1920-21; Mills, J. Saxon, The Life and Letters of Sir Hubert von Herkomer, London, 1923; Edwards, Lee M., 'Hubert von Herkomer', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 28 March 2002).