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My Heroes in Art – Hercules Brabazon Brabazon

Mountain Landscape by Hercules Brabazon Brabazon

Hercules Brabazon Brabazon Mountain Landscape.


One of my ‘Heroes’ in art is the Victorian artist, Hercules Brabazon Brabazon.

Today he is almost forgotten, except by the academics. He was born to an aristocratic family in 1821 and after graduation went to Rome to study Art and Music. He inherited estates in Ireland and Sussex and from then on, he divided his time between London, Sussex and foreign travels. He made three tours to Egypt and the Sudan, many trips to India and many more to europe and beyond. Art and Music were his passion and everywhere he went, he sketched and painted. His friends were invited to join him on his travels, painting and sketching every day. “I live for Art and Sunshine – they nourish and sustain me in body and mind” were his sentiments. Those friends included John Ruskin, DG Rosetti, Arthur Ditchfield and John Singer Sargent.

Some of his ‘entourage’ learned to paint in his style and even signed their work in his manner, with the initials HBB in pencil. (this has since caused many problems in local auction houses, – I once bought one of these copies.) In 1891 he was elected a member of the New English Art Club and in 1892, he was persuaded to exhibit his work for the first time, at the age of 71. During his lifetime, he produced many thousands of works in all media, and the above was painted in Gouache on grey paper. From then on, until his death in 1906, he had annual exhibitions in London. I think he deserves to be better known and since 1982, Chris Beetles Limited, a London dealer, have held numerous catalogued exhibitions of his work.

If you have an Art Hero who is not well known, I’d like to hear your story!

Fields and Farms near Wingham, Kent

Fields and Farms near Wingham, Kent

By way of a contrast, here is one of my own watercolours, painted ‘en plein air’ in my own style. This is a view of the fields and farms near Wingham in Kent, which is located to the east of Canterbury. Whilst I painted this, a friend whizzed past on his bicycle, and asked later, what was there to paint at that spot? It just shows that as artists, we develop a different way of seeing things, ie: not just looking – but seeing.   


Have you ever spent hours, searching for a perfect place to paint?