English historical painter and portraitist .
was an English painter who is most notable as a precursor of Pre-Raphaelitism. Herbert was born in Maldon, Essex. In 1825, he moved to London to study at the Royal Academy. His early works were influenced by the troubadour style of Richard Parkes Bonington. Subjects showed the influence of Byron and exotic episodes of Venetian history. Haydee (1834) depicted the heroine of Byron's poem Don Juan. Herbert's first major success was The Appointed Hour (1835), depicting a melodramatic scene in which a Venetian man lies murdered at the place appointed for a tryst with his lover. The work became a popular engraving. Herbert followed it with other dramatic subjects such as A Prisoner of Condottieri Freed (1836) and Desdemona asks for Cassio (1838). After he was chosen to paint a portrait of Princess Victoria, before she became queen, he became a favourite portrait painter of the aristocracy. Around this time, he came under the influence of the architect William Payne, a convert to Catholicism. In 1840, Herbert also converted to the Catholic Church. He then painted mainly religious subjects in a style influenced by the artists of the Nazarene movement. Herbert was elected to membership of the Royal Academy in 1846. Herbert's paintings The First Introduction of Christianity into Great Britain (1842) and Our Saviour Subject to his Parents in Nazareth (1847) were the inspiration for the two most important early works of William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais, founders of Pre-Raphaelitism. The two paintings, Hunt's A Converted British Family Sheltering a Christian Missionary and Millais' Christ in the House of His Parents were exhibited at the RA in 1850 to great controversy.