Herbert Howells


Object name
painter (artist): Walker, Richard
Object number
Commissioned by the RCM Students' Association to commemorate the sitter's 80th birthday, 1972.


Herbert Howells (1892–1983) was both a student and professor at the Royal College of Music, beginning his studies in 1912 and joining the teaching staff just two years after his graduation in 1919. He regarded contact with students and amateurs (as a teacher, examiner and adjudicator) as a vital stimulus to his own creativity, and in addition to his work at the RCM, he taught at several schools and briefly deputized as organist of St John’s College, Cambridge. Whilst he won his early fame through the composition of songs, chamber music and orchestral works, he focused more exclusively on cathedral music from the late 1940s – and it is principally for this body of repertoire for that he is now remembered.

Richard Walker (1925–2009) was a portrait and architectural painter with a particular interest in music. In addition to producing pictures of such figures as the nuclear physicist William Penney, and Gilbert Beyfus Q.C., he also provided illustrations for biographies of Leopold Stokowski, Edmund Rubbra, Havergal Brian and Herbert Howells (in which his portrait is reproduced). This portrait was commissioned by the RCM Students’ Association to celebrate Howells’s 80th birthday in 1972 – by which time he had served on the staff for over fifty years. It is a mark of the high regard in which he was held that its original caption read: ‘The portrait is the gift of more than 100 friends’.


815 x 660mm

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