It happened that before I left the South Kensington Schools, I came under the spell of Frederick Walker's work. There was much discussion in the class-room over Walker's first essay in oils, his picture of "The Bathers." I was at once bitten by the newness of his methods of painting, and of his view of nature. But that particular newness in his painting was the result of his training as a wood-draughtsman, which to the end of his days showed in both his water-colour work and his oils. With all his exquisite refinement, he never was a painter per se, such as Velasquez and Millais. One could recognise in his oil-colour work a perpetual struggle with the medium, and oddly enough, it was the evident signs of imperfect manipulation, arising from this struggle, that so fascinated me. Here was the first moment when I needed a master to guide me, as a fascination for a technical imperfection in another painter's work (which arises from inexperience and ignorance in the student's mind) works for mischief. It did so in my case. Instinctively, no doubt. Walker's feeling for nature was eminently sympathetic to me, but I was unable to separate that feeling from the expression. An understanding master would have made that clear to me.
I went through the same stages as Walker, who worked some time as a wood-draughtsman before he painted in water-colours and then, much later, took up the stronger medium, oil. [22, 25]
von Herkomer, Sir Hubert. My School and My Gospel. New York: Doubleday, Page, and Co., 1906.
Last modified 30 May 2007