Edward Robert Hughes: A Pre-Raphaelite Centenary

April 2014 marks the centenary of the artist Edward Robert Hughes (1851-1914), who painted perhaps the most popular watercolour in our collection: Night with her Train of Stars (1912).

Night with her Train of Stars, 1912 (Birmingham Museums)

Night with her Train of Stars, 1912 (Birmingham Museums)

Hughes was a close associate of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. He was the nephew of the painter Arthur Hughes, modelled for Rossetti, and worked for many years as the studio assistant of William Holman Hunt.  However, although Hughes also made a successful career as an artist in his own right, he is still little known.

At Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, research over the past 7 years has been uncovering new information about Hughes’s life and career and tracing paintings, drawings and watercolours by him in public and private collections in the UK and overseas. We’re now planning a major exhibition of his work – the first in the 100 years since his death – which will open at BMAG in October 2015.

ER Hughes aged 17 by his friend Charles Fairfax Murray, 1868 (Birmingham Museums)

ER Hughes aged 17 by his friend Charles Fairfax Murray, 1869 (Birmingham Museums)

Hughes died suddenly on 23 April 1914 in St Albans and is buried in Hatfield Road Cemetery.  His funeral in St Albans Cathedral was the largest ever held there, attended by his many friends, fellow artists, and pupils from his life-drawing class in London.

Romeland Cottage, St Albans: Hughes's home 1913-14

Romeland Cottage, St Albans: Hughes’s home 1913-14

St Albans Cathedral with Hughes's home in the background

St Albans Cathedral with Hughes’s home in the background

Grave of ER Hughes and his wife Emily Eliza, Hatfield Road Cemetery, St Albans

Grave of ER Hughes and his wife Emily Eliza, Hatfield Road Cemetery, St Albans

ERH grave inscription_sm

The 100th anniversary of Hughes’s death, 23 April 2014, was marked with a special lecture in St Albans Town Hall followed by an evening reception in his honour – a very happy occasion.

Guests at the reception

Guests at the reception

Cllr Annie Brewster, Mayor of St Albans City & District; Professor Geraint John, President of St Albans Civic Society; Lady Verulam

Cllr Annie Brewster, Mayor of St Albans City & District; Professor Geraint John, President of St Albans Civic Society; Lady Verulam

The Dean of St Albans, Dr Jeffrey John, proposing a toast to Hughes

The Dean of St Albans, Dr Jeffrey John, proposing a toast to Hughes

A special display celebrating Hughes’s life and work can be seen in the North Transept of St Albans Cathedral until Tuesday 6 May.

ER Hughes display in St Albans Cathedral

ER Hughes display in St Albans Cathedral

 

Victoria Osborne
Curator (Fine Art)

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One response to “Edward Robert Hughes: A Pre-Raphaelite Centenary”

  1. Christopher MacDonald says :

    Hello
    I would be very grateful to know more about the 2015 exhibition.
    My Great Great Aunt, Mary MacDonald, was engaged to Ted Hughes, but sadly died.
    Best regards
    Christopher MacDonald

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