Herford, Anne Laura (1831–1870), painter
by Charlotte Yeldham

Herford, Anne Laura (1831–1870), painter, was born on 16 October 1831, probably in Altrincham, Cheshire, the ninth and youngest child of John Herford (1789–1855), wine merchant and philanthropist, and his wife, Sarah (1791–1831), artist and teacher, daughter of Edward Smith and his wife, Sarah, of Birmingham. , Charles James Herford (1817–1891), , and —who have been described as ‘strenuous fighters in various fields of social service’ (Herford, 4)—were her brothers. Both Anne Laura Herford's parents were from Unitarian families.

After the death in 1831 of Sarah Herford, who had run a prosperous girls' school in Altrincham, John Herford moved with his family into Manchester. In the 1850s Anne Laura Herford settled in London. She studied from the antique in the sculpture galleries of the British Museum and was a pupil both at Heatherley's academy in the late 1850s and at Eliza Bridell Fox's life drawing class. Arthur Paterson, Anne Laura Herford's nephew, wrote: ‘Never was a Herford known who did not enjoy speaking his mind to those in authority above him’ (Sharpe, 120). In 1859, when Lord Lyndhurst remarked in a speech on the benefits made available to all the queen's subjects by the Royal Academy Schools, Herford—referred to by E. C. Clayton as ‘a most earnest and energetic student’ (Clayton, 2.2)—wrote to him pointing out that women were excluded. Following communication with the president of the Royal Academy, Sir Charles Eastlake, she organized a petition signed by thirty-eight professional women artists and submitted a qualifying drawing signed simply A. L. Herford. Having accepted this, the Royal Academy was finally persuaded to admit women students. Herford became a probationer and entered the antique school in December 1860; in January 1862 she progressed to the school of the living draped model. A contemporary woman artist later commented: ‘All the women students there owe much to Miss Herford's courage and talent’ (Clayton, 2.3).

Herford exhibited a total of thirty-seven genre paintings and portraits, in oil and watercolour, at the Royal Academy (1861–7), Royal Manchester Institution (RMI) (1861–9), Royal Glasgow Institute (1861), Liverpool Academy and Liverpool Institute of Fine Arts (LIFA) (1862–5), British Institution (1863), Society of British Artists (SBA) (1864–8), Dudley Gallery, London (oil) (1867–9), and the Royal Scottish Academy (1869–70). Her genre scenes were chiefly domestic, such as Girl Drawing (exh. LIFA 1863) and The New Book (exh. SBA and RMI 1866); A Garibaldian (exh. LIFA 1864 and RMI 1865) and Viva Garibaldi (exh. SBA 1867) suggest political interests; another group, including Rosalind (exh. British Institution 1863), Imogen (exh. RMI 1866), and Falstaff (ex Parke-Bernet, Los Angeles, 22–3 May 1972), depicted characters from Shakespeare's plays. Herford's portraits included The Reverend Dr. Sadler, minister at Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel in Hampstead (exh. RA, 1864), Miss Macleod, probably the genre painter Jessie Macleod (exh. Dudley Gallery 1868), and Mrs. Scott Siddons, the actress (exh. Royal Scottish Academy 1870). Between 1861 and 1865 Herford lived at various addresses in Hampstead and from 1866 to 1870 occupied 40 Fitzroy Square, where in January 1867 her niece Helen Paterson (later Mrs William Allingham), herself an art student, went to live with her. She died there, unmarried, on 28 October 1870 at the age of only thirty-nine. A post-mortem found that she had died of a ‘fatty disease of the heart’.



d. cert. · E. C. Clayton, English female artists, 2 vols. (1876) · C. H. Herford, ‘Memoir of W. H. Herford’, in W. H. Herford, The student's Froebel, ed. D. B. and C. H., rev. edn, 2 vols. (1911–15) · Art Journal, 33 (1871), 80 · The Athenaeum (19 Nov 1870), 662 · M. Huish, Happy England (1903) · C. Yeldham, Women artists in nineteenth-century France and England, 1 (1984), 29 · Graves, RA exhibitors · Graves, Brit. Inst. · C. B. de Laperriere, ed., The Royal Scottish Academy exhibitors, 1826–1990, 4 vols. (1991) · R. Billcliffe, ed., The Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts, 1861–1989: a dictionary of exhibitors at the annual exhibitions, 4 vols. (1990–92) · E. Morris and E. Roberts, The Liverpool Academy and other exhibitions of contemporary art in Liverpool, 1774–1867 (1998) · J. Johnson, ed., Works exhibited at the Royal Society of British Artists, 1824–1893, and the New English Art Club, 1888–1917, 2 vols. (1975) · exhibition catalogues (1867–9) [Dudley Gallery, London] · exhibition catalogues (1861–2); (1865–6); (1869) [Royal Manchester Institution] · cuttings on the Herford family, Man. CL · H. Sharpe, The meeting house on Red Lion Hill and Rosslyn Hill Chapel (1914) · council minutes, RA, vol. 11, 3 Aug 1860, 371

Wealth at death  

under £1500: probate, 3 Jan 1871, CGPLA Eng. & Wales

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Anne Laura Herford (1831–1870): doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/69105