The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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John Rogers Herbert, 1810-1890

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1810.01.23
Place of Birth: Maldon, Essex
Date of Death: 1890.03.17
Place of Death: Kilburn, London


John Rogers Herbert was an English painter. His three sons, Arthur John (1834-56), Cyril Wiseman (1847-82) and Wilfred Vincent (fl. 1863-91), were also artists.


Herbert began his career as a portrait painter and book illustrator. In 1840, under the influence of A. W. N. Pugin, he converted to Catholicism and subsequent to this he painted works which were of a markedly religious character, e.g. Pope Gregory Teaching the Boys to Sing (1846; R.A., London). By 1842 Herbert was working with Dyce at the Schools of Design and collaborating with him on books for children. Both were greatly influenced by the Catholic Nazarene painters in Germany. Like Dyce, Herbert was commissioned to design murals for the New Palace of Westminster.

His work was influential for the young Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. However, Whistler regarded his style old-fashioned and in a letter to Henry Labouchère referred to him as one of 'the excellent army of mediocrity' (#09184). In 1881 Herbert opened the Herbert Gallery in New Bond Street to show his works, but his religious standpoint brought him much criticism.


Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, London, 1890, p. 166; Postle, Martin, 'J. R. Herbert', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 22 March 2002).