Lionel Solomon Benson


late 19th century/early 20th century
Object number
Bequeathed by the sitter, and accepted 1929.


Colonel Lionel Seymour Benson (1848–1929), a distinguished amateur musician noted for his fine tenor voice, was a member of the RCM Council from 1897 until his death. By profession a businessman and soldier, arguably his most notable achievements were in the realm of vocal music: in 1866 at the age of 18 he founded the Magpie Musical Society which he went on to direct in the English premieres of many of the part-songs of Brahms, as well as specially commissioned works by composers such as Stanford, Parry and Vaughan Williams. He also edited and published a wealth of 16th- and 17th-century madrigals. An intimate friend of Sir John Millais, Benson was also a collector of paintings and prints, which he bequeathed to the College upon his death along with valuable collection of books and music including some fine 17th-century part-books.

Born in Germany, Sir Hubert von Herkomer (1849–1914) moved to England at a young age and studied at the Southampton School of Art and later the South Kensington Art School. Early in his career Herkomer contributed regular illustrations to the Graphic newspaper, where his vivid engravings won the admiration of Vincent van Gogh. He soon built a reputation in England and Germany as a painter of landscapes, and particularly of scenes of the poor and disadvantaged classes. It was only after 1880 that his main focus shifted to portraiture, and his portraits of highly distinguished subjects earned him a substantial fortune.


585 x 486 mm