Hubert von HERKOMER
(Waal 1849 - Budleigh Salterton 1914)
The Head of a Bearded Man
Signed with initial H at the lower right and numbered from 1 to 10 near the bottom edge.
274 x 216 mm. (10 3/4 x 8 1/2 in.)
The present sheet once belonged to the actress Mary Williams (d.2000), the great-niece of Herkomer’s second and third wives Eliza Lulu and Margaret (‘Maggie’) Griffiths. Mary Williams lived in Bushey for most of her life and inherited a number of paintings and drawings by Herkomer; several of these were acquired by the Bushey Museum and Art Gallery.
An excellent portraitist, Herkomer depicted many of the most eminent persons of the day, including fellow artists such as John Singer Sargent and John Ruskin, whom he succeeded as Slade Professor at Oxford in 1885. Between 1882 and 1883 and again in 1885 and 1886 he spent several months in America, where he received several significant portrait commissions. By the turn of the century Herkomer was firmly established as one of the most famous painters of the Victorian era, and a celebrity in both England and Germany. Knighted in England in 1907, Herkomer published his memoirs in 1910, four years before his death. Although best known today as an artist, Herkomer was also a musician and composer, a pioneering filmmaker - producing costume dramas accompanied by his own music - and a motor racing enthusiast.
As may be supposed from his early success as an illustrator, Herkomer was a gifted draughtsman, working extensively in pen and ink as well as watercolour and gouache. Writing in 1901, the artist’s contemporary biographer A. L. Baldry noted of Herkomer that, ‘though his drawings have become fewer as other artistic responsibilities have crowded upon him, they have lost none of their distinctive quality and none of their beauty of style…The technical skill he has consistently displayed in this method of expression can, indeed, be very sincerely praised. Even in his slightest and hastiest productions the power with which he has used his materials is unhesitating and free from all hint of careless compromise.’
By descent to her great-niece, Mary Williams, Melbourne Road, Bushey, Hertfordshire
Thence by descent until 2004
Christopher Wood, London and Marston, Somerset
His sale, London, Christie’s, 28 February 2007, lot 21
Stephen Ongpin Fine Art, London, in 2008
Private collection, Los Angeles.