Biographical sketch of Philip Hermogenes Calderon

Date Created

c. 1884


Frederick George Stephens (1828-1907), author and editor


F. G. Stephens, Artists at Home, photographed by J. P. Mayall and reproduced in facsimile by photoengraving on copper plates; edited, with biographical notes and descriptions, by Frederick George Stephens (London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington; New York: Appleton & Co., 1884), pp. 65-68.


Calderon, Philip Hermogenes (1833-1898), British painter

Date Issued

July 1884


The grandson of "Spain's great dramatic poet" and the son of a professor of Spanish literature at King's College, Philip Calderon began his life as a student of civil engineering before he became a painter, practicing an art very different from that of his accomplished relatives. At seventeen, he studied under James Leigh in his Newman Street studio and continued his education with François-Édouard Picot in Paris. Stephens provides a catalogue of Calderon's paintings exhibited at the Royal Academy, claiming that Broken Vows from 1857 secured his reputation as a technically and stylistically skilled painter. Calderon became an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1864 and made his mark with the dramatic paintings The British Embassy at Paris, on the Day of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, John Hampden’s Funeral, and In the Cloisters at Arles in the year he became an Associate. He became a full Academician three years later. By 1884 he had exhibited internationally, received a medal for his work in Vienna and a gold medal for Her Most High, Noble, and Puissant Grace, shownat the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1878, and was made a Knight of the Legion of Honour.

Is Referenced By

[F. G. Stephens] “Mr. Philip Hermogenes Calderon, R.A., Keeper.” The Athenaeum, no. 3680      (May 7, 1898): 605.


The online edition of this work in the public domain, i.e., not protected by copyright, has been produced by the National Gallery of Art.




Department of Image Collections, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Omeka record contributed by Anna Mahony

Date Submitted

September 28, 2016

Date Modified

October 1, 2016
January 17, 2017, by LM





THIS artist, who is descended from that old family to which Spain’s great dramatic poet likewise belonged, is the only son of the Reverend Juan Calderon, a native of La Mancha, and Professor of Spanish Literature in King’s College, London. The painter was born at Poitiers in May, 1833, came to England when about twelve years of age, and was educated principally by his father. It may be noticed that Dante G. Rossetti’s father was, not long previous to the office-holding of Professor Calderon, Professor of Italian Literature in the same college. Calderon began life early as a pupil of a Civil Engineer, who permitted the lad in leisure hours to amuse himself by drawing from prints after Raphael.  In the end this indulgent and discerning master persuaded Calderon’s father to allow him to become an artist, and procured for the student introductions to Uwins and Baily, R.A.’s, through whom he became a student at the British Museum and National Gallery. Under these circumstances it came about that although fond of drawing even in boyhood, the young Calderon did not seriously devote his attention to art as a profession until he was nearly seventeen years of age, when, in 1850, he became a pupil of Mr. Leigh, at the well-known drawing and painting school in Newman Street, Oxford Street, where, after no great amount of practice with chalks, he began to paint in oils from the life, and generally by gaslight. After some time he removed to Paris, and for a year attended the atelier of M. Picot, one of the ablest teachers of his time, whose method of instruction being the reverse of that adopted in Newman Street, compelled the pupil to draw carefully from the model with chalk, and delineate the outlines of the subject with scrupulous attention, abstaining from brushes and pigments altogether. M. Picot was a Member of the Institute, who retained many of the severe principles of the School of David and the artists of the French neo-classic period.

            After a year of this strict training our student returned to London and Mr. Leigh’s school, {66} where for nearly two years he worked, as he said, “somewhat irregularly,” painting in the evening, and copying Paolo Veronese and Rubens in the National Gallery on two days a week. He did himself less than justice when describing his preliminary studies as desultory. It is certain that he sent no mere trivial sketch to the Academy in 1853, when he was less than twenty years of age, being an illustration of the beautiful lament:

“By the waters of Babylon there we sat down,

Yes, we wept when we remembered Zion.”

 The exhibition in the same gallery, 1855, contained “Lord! Thy Will be done,” while “Maria, vide Sterne” was at the British Institution and priced at five guineas. In the latter place we saw, in 1856, “Inez,” priced at an equal sum, and at the gallery of the Society of British Artists a more ambitious example, which was priced at forty pounds, because it had several figures and attested a great advance in technical matters. The painter’s reputation was secured by the highly finished and pathetically designed “Broken Vows” at the Academy in 1857, a lady who heard her false lover devote himself to her rival. The British Artists displayed in the same year “Una hija del Sol” (“A Daughter of the Sun”), and a panel called “Queen Nymphalin and her Lord Treasurer,” while the British Institution contained “Spanish Ballads.” In 1858, until when the artist had been much occupied in portraiture, we had at the Institution “Far Away,” illustrating:--

 “Still in her heart she heard the funeral dirge of the ocean,

But with its sound there was mingled a voice that whisper’d

‘Despair not.’”

 “The Gaoler’s Daughter” and “Flora Macdonald’s Farewell to Charles Edward” were at the Academy in this year, while “Ave Maria!” was in Suffolk Street. At the former place, in 1859, appeared “Man goeth forth to his Work, and to his Labour, till the Evening,” and “French Peasants finding their stolen Child.” In 1860 we had at the Academy “Never More,” and at the Institution “Dressing for the Fair.”  In 1861 the Academy contained fine proofs of the artist’s energy and progress in “La demande en Mariage,” and “Liberating Prisoners on the young Heir’s Birthday.” The latter was a very effective and brilliant picture. In the same year the British Institution contained in “The Return from Moscow,” the last of Mr. Calderon’s works on its walls, while at the British Artists’ gathering was “La Chiffonière.” “After the Battle,” Mr. Calderon’s picture at the Academy in 1862, made a still stronger and deeper mark than “Broken Vows.” It showed the interior of a cottage where a little boy, deserted by his people, who had fled before victorious soldiery, sits on a table, and is half lost in wonder, half in fear, while the victors, still flushed with conquest and hot with warlike fury, gather about the child, and with varied emotions gaze in his tearful face.  “Katherine of Arragon [sic}and her Women at Work” accompanied the last-named example. The work of 1863 insured Mr. Calderon’s A.R.A.ship in 1864, and holds a high place among the more potent dramatic histories of the English School. My readers {67} will remember it as “The British Embassy at Paris, on the Day of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew.”  “John Hampden’s Funeral,” and “In the Cloisters at Arles,” were at Trafalgar Square in 1864. In 1865 the painter gave us nothing, but the next year made ample amends by the stately splendor and courtly movement, vivid local colours, powerful coloration, and brilliantly illuminated costumes and accessories of the charming “Her most high, noble, and puissant Grace,” which represents a little royal damsel proceeding with wealth of attire, attendance, music, and heraldry, along with an arrassed gallery, while accompanied by gallantly-clad ladies and other courtiers.  This picture has been engraved, and when in 1867 it appeared at the Parisian Exposition Internationale, the painter obtained for it the only gold medal awarded to an English artist.  With it at the Academy were “In the Pyrennes,” women spinning and driving turkeys, and “On the Banks of the Clain, Poitiers,” a landscape. “Home after Victory,” full of well-restrained energy, was with “Evening,” at the Academy, in 1867. “The Young Lord Hamlet” riding on Yorick’s shoulders showed the painter’s power of, so to say, re-dramatizing Shakespeare by means of a subject merely hinted at in the text. “Œnone,” “Whither?”, his diploma work on election as an R.A. in 1867, and

 “With slumber and soft dreams of Love oppressed,”

 were in Trafalgar Square in 1868. 1869 brought forth “Catherine de Lorraine, Duchesse de Montpensier, urges Jacques Clément to assassinate Henry III.;” “Sighing his Soul out in his Lady’s Face,” two lovers in a boat, where the youth, resting on his oars, regards the fair and stately damsel steadfastly; and “The Fruit Seller.” In 1870 we were charmed by “Spring driving away Winter,” a half naked and somewhat voluptuous damsel pelting a withered crone with flowers in a sunny landscape. “The Orphans,” “The Virgin’s Bower,” and “Mrs. Bland,” a portrait, accompanied it.  These works were followed in 1871 by “The new Picture—Portraits,” and “On her way to the Throne,” a sequel to “Her most high, noble, and puissant Grace.”  1872 gave us “H. S. Marks, Esq., A.R.A.,” “A high-born Maiden,” from Shelley; “Summer,” and “Mrs. Cazalet.” The pictures of 1873 were “Good Night!”,

 “Take, O take those lips away

That so sweetly were forsworn,”

 “The Moonlight Serenade,” “Victory!”, and “W. R. Elwyn, Esq.”  After these came “Half hours with the best Authors,” girls asleep; “The Queen of the Tournament,” and “Cynthia” (1874); “Refurbishing (St. Trophime, Arles);” “Les Coquettes, Arles;” “Toujours fidèle,” and “Great Sport” (1875); “The Nest,” “Margaret,” “Watchful Eyes,” and “His Reverence” (1876); “Joan of Arc,” “Constance,”

 “Home they brought her warrior dead,”

 {68} “Reduced Three Per Cents. (Bank of England),” “The Fruit Seller,” and “The Marchioness of Waterford” (1877); “Mrs. Bayley Worthington,” “The Nunnery of Loughborough,” “Mabel,” portrait, “The Marquis of Waterford,” and “La Gloire de Dijon” (1878); “Summer Breezes,” “A Voyage round the World,” portraits, “Twilight,” “Emily, daughter of the Right Hon. W. H. Smith, M.P.,” and “The Ambush,” portraits (1879); “The Olive,” “The Vine,” “Captives of his Bow and Spear,” and “Mrs. Brocklehurst” (1880); “Flowers of the Earth,” and “Daisy,” a portrait (1881); 1882 gave us no picture at the Academy.  “Dymphna,” “The Faithful Heart,” “Joyous Summer,” and “Mrs. J. E. Champney,” a portrait, were shown in 1883, followed, in 1884, by “Night,” “Cherries,” “Currants,” and “Mrs. Henry Fellows.”

            Mr. Calderon had two works at the International Exhibition, 1862, and, since 1858, he has occasionally contributed to the Winter Exhibitions at the French Gallery, including “Rigolette,” “Drink to me only with thine Eyes” (to which was awarded the prize of £100 for the best picture in the gathering), and “Attempted Escape of Mary Stuart from Lochleven Castle” (1865); “Hide and Seek,” and “The Letter” (1866). He was one of the committee and a promoter of the Dudley Gallery Exhibition of Pictures in Oil, to which he sent “Isabel,” “A Lesson of Charity,” &c.  He has likewise added examples to the General Exhibition of Water-Colour Drawings in the last-named gallery. In 1873 he was represented at Vienna, and received a medal. In 1878, having been selected to exhibit an extra number of works, he contributed seven pictures to the Exposition Universelle, in Paris, received a rappel of a first-class medal, and was made a Knight of the Legion of Honour.  He has been occasionally represented in the Grosvenor Exhibition, where, last year, he broke fresh ground with a nude figure, and repeated the effort this year with “Aphrodite.” With the latter picture was a female head. For the Fine Art Society’s Exhibition of Pictures of English Children, he produced “The Captain of the Home Eleven,” which has been engraved.

            One of his best pictures has never been exhibited, called “She Sang a Song of ‘Willow.’” It shows Desdemona singing sadly just before her death. Painted in 1863, it belongs to G. E. Schwabe, Esq., who has munificently bequeathed his entire collection to his native town of Hamburg.

Original Format

Book pages





Frederick George Stephens (1828-1907), author and editor, PHILIP HERMOGENES CALDERON, R.A.

Cite As

Frederick George Stephens (1828-1907), author and editor, “PHILIP HERMOGENES CALDERON, R.A.,” Victorian Artists at Home, accessed July 23, 2024,

Item Relations

This Item dcterms:relation Item: P. H. CALDERON, R.A.
Item: Weston Lodge, 16 Grove End Road (No. 15), St. John's Wood, Home of P. G. Calderon dcterms:relation This Item
Item: Philip Hermogenes Calderon dcterms:relation This Item
Item: Philip Hermogenes Calderon dcterms:relation This Item