Edward Benjamin Herberte was an accomplished British painter of sporting and genre scenes.
Herberte’s charismatic portrayals provide a glimpse into the lives of the sporting aristocracy. Working when fox hunting was viewed as the ‘sport of kings’, he was popular with the upper classes, the ‘old money’. His depictions are often busy and buzzing with chatter. Starched riders gather near a tavern, gold buttons gleaming. While others soar over ditches, somehow retaining their top hats.
It’s fair to say that horses were his forte, their musculature and tack rendered deftly. Figures were a necessary inclusion, at times a little stiff but each with personality. Often, towards the foreground, he includes riders in some detail, so it’s likely that he produced numerous commissions with the patrons taking centre stage.
Aside from his sporting work, Herberte also produced rusticated farmyard scenes. These are a little reminiscent of George Morland (1763-1804). Pigs snuffle around in the hay, while a tatty farmhand looks on, trousers turned up to his shins.
Painting in this style required the support of a certain type of patron and it was very much a case of who you knew. Apparently, he began life as a theatre painter, so undoubtedly moved in the right circles. His father was also an artist.
Extensive details of his formative years are difficult to fathom but it’s tempting to consider John Frederick Herring Senior (1795-1865) as an influence. Herberte rendered horses with great skill at times and the similarities are evident.
Today, numerous works are held in private collections and also at The National Trust.
Berkswell Village Museum, the National Trust and Leicester Museum & Art Gallery.
Lived in Wolverhampton.
Married Elizabeth Long James in Greenwich, London.
Died in Prestwich, Lancashire.