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Sir Hubert von Herkomer RA 1849-1914-bookcover

By: Isobel P. Williams

Sir Hubert von Herkomer RA 1849-1914

Pages: 88 Ratings:
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In 1848 Europe was in turmoil. People were starving, work was scarce. Hubert Herkomer’s father, a Bavarian woodcarver, emigrated to the United States with his wife, a musician, and their two-year-old son. But the settled future they hoped for did not materialize – after struggling for six years, the family borrowed money and settled in Southampton. They were almost penniless.

With his father’s encouragement, he picked up the paintbrush. At 13 he could paint in oils. Though art school was a disastrous experience, he sold his first painting at 19. His creative mind would end up contributing to multiple fields from photography to car racing.

But fame is a roller coaster. Hubert’s loyalty to Germany (and Britain) during the lead up to World War 1 resulted in personal and artistic unpopularity. He died just before the war.

However, his vivid and evocative work regained its value in the second half of the twentieth century, restoring his reputation as an artistic paragon and visual chronicler of the Victorian and Edwardian age.

This is the story of an artist and his art-filled life.

Isobel P. Williams qualified in medicine at St George’s Hospital, London, and became a consultant respiratory physician in the British National Health Service. She commenced her writing career on her retirement from medicine.

Throughout her distinguished medical career, Isobel retained two particular interests: the arts and in contrast, polar exploration.


This account of Sir Hubert von Herkomer RA reflects Isobel’s fascination with this Victorian/Edwardian artist who, at the height of his fame, was patronised by royalty and hugely popular with the public. He is now virtually forgotten.

Isobel traces his career and discusses reasons for his fall from fame. She concludes that now is the time for the work and reputation of this talented, versatile, and intelligent man to be reappraised.

Her interest in polar exploration led her to write highly successful biographies of three of the British explorers of the early 1900s.

She has written a blog for the past ten years on:

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