Hard times.

Hubert von Herkomer – a brilliant painter and graphic artist


Hubert von Herkomer – a brilliant painter, a brilliant graphic artist and one of the first organizers of motor racing in Europe

Hubert von Herkomer Hubert von Herkomer is a well-known British artist, a prominent representative of the realistic movement of the 19th century. He was famous for writing portrait paintings, making engravings and creating many book illustrations.

Hubert von Herkomer, in addition to painting and drawing, for a long time was engaged in literary activity and was fond of photography. In addition, he is rightfully considered one of the pioneers of car racing in Germany, as well as a successful theater director and composer.

Lorenz Herkomer Siegfried and Eliza.
Lorenz Herkomer Siegfried and Eliza.


Hubert Herkomer was born on May 26, 1849 in the small Bavarian town of Wahl in southern Germany. He was the only child in a poor family of a woodcarver and a music teacher. When the boy was two years old, his parents decided to move to the United States. But during the six years of their stay in America, the Herkomers did not manage to adapt to the new place.

The head of the family took his wife and son to England. They settled in the large port city of Southampton. There Hubert went to elementary school in 1857. The future artist was often sick, regularly missed classes, and then dropped out altogether. At the age of 14, Hubert began attending a local art school.

Hubert von Herkomer, In the garden.
In the garden.
Hubert von Herkomer, Back to life.
Back to life.


In 1865, Herkomer Sr., having accumulated a small amount of money, decided to take a bold step. Together with their son, they went to Munich. There was one of the most prestigious art academies in Europe at that time. With great difficulty, travelers reached Bavaria and Hubert attended nude lessons for several months with experienced professors of painting. But very soon they had to refuse admission to the academy due to visa problems. The German authorities refused to extend the stay of the father and son on their territory.

Hercomers returned to England and a year later Hubert entered the Royal College of Art in London. Due to lack of money, he studied at this institution for only two semesters.

In 1867, Herkomer’s paintings and drawings were presented for the first time at an art exhibition at Southampton. There he received good reviews. And the following year, Hubert moved to London and began to develop an independent professional career as an artist. The 19-year-old boy rented a small room and lived off odd jobs. Herkomer managed to find a small but stable income when he got a job as an illustrator for The Graphic newspaper.

Hubert von Herkomer, Forest landscape with rabbits.
Forest landscape with rabbits.
Personal life

In 1873, Huber married for the first time a German woman, Anna Weiss, who gave him two sons. She died ten years after the wedding. The second marriage of the artist with Lulu Griffiths lasted only a year, after which this wife died. The painter was able to find family happiness only on the third attempt, having married Margaret Griffiths in 1888. In his last marriage, he had two daughters.

Hard times.
Hard times.

Having married for the first time, Hubert rented a separate apartment and began to devote more time to painting. Gradually, he gained fame in London as a talented illustrator. In 1875, Herkomer’s career skyrocketed. At the exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, his painting “The Last Session” made a splash and was warmly received by critics.

Finally, the young master achieved wide recognition of the metropolitan public. He became a member of the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolours. In 1883, Hubert opened a free painting school, which he directed for over 20 years. There he trained about 500 young artists.

From the early 1880s, Hubert Herkomer became a highly sought-after portrait painter.

His fortune began to grow rapidly. With the money he earned, he built a huge house in Bushy, which he named “Lululand” after his second wife. In a spacious building, he set up a studio and a theater where he staged plays of his own composition. Since the beginning of the 20th century, he has been making films.

One of three landscape sketches.
One of three landscape sketches.

In addition, Herkomer was an avid car enthusiast, was fond of photography, jewelry art, wrote music for theatrical plays and personally designed costumes for productions. He often traveled to Germany, where he organized and sponsored the first auto races in the history of this country with his own money. In the early 1880s, Hubert bought a piece of land in Bavaria. And he built on it a 30-meter “Mother Tower” with five floors of tufa. Today, this building houses the artist’s memorial museum.

In 1907, the British King Edward VII granted the ingenious master the title of knight. From that moment on, he officially became known as Sir Hubert von Herkomer. By the end of his life, the painter received many government awards. He became a full member of eight different art academies. His paintings have been repeatedly awarded top prizes at prestigious exhibitions. And on March 31, 1914, Hubert von Herkomer died in his country house at the age of 64.

Hubert von Herkomer, Our village.
Our village.
Hubert von Herkomer, Road between Jerusalem and Jericho.
Road between Jerusalem and Jericho.