John Rogers Herbert RA

So who was J.R. Herbert who was responsible for the big fresco of Moses brining down the Tables of the Law to the Israelites in the so-called Moses Room at the Palace of Westminster ?   The answer is that he was a classic product of the Royal Academy Schools in the late 1820s (he entered the Schools in 1826) who turned his hand to book illustration and then to larger narrative painting before Queen Victoria came to the throne and before the Pre-Raphaelites made it fashionable.   Indeed, one of the aims of the Pre-Raphaelites was, as W.M. Rossetti described it, to ‘out-Herbert Herbert’.   He was also a close friend of A.W.N. Pugin and a fellow convert to Catholicism.   They both had a passionate belief in the historical importance and moral significance of the wall decoration in the Palace of Westminster.   Herbert became an RA in 1846, continued to submit work to the Summer Exhibition after he had gone blind, and was forgotten by the time he was dead.


8 thoughts on “John Rogers Herbert RA

  1. mark fisher says:

    Dear Charles

    Thank you. I thought I knew the Houses of Parliament very well but I’m not sure where the Moses Room is (presumably in the Lords, but where? Is it another name for the Peers’ Robing Room?)) And I certainly was unaware of Herbert.

    I’m grateful to you and to Mervyn, and have now gone back to Redgrave to read about Herbert and water-glass painting.



  2. Jane Wainwright says:

    Dear Charles ,
    Herbert also painted the portraits of Pugin and his wife, Jane, in the Pugin Room.
    All the best,

  3. It’s wonderful to see more attention being given to Herbert, who was very much forgotten shortly after his death. His is a very interesting story, and his work is varied and fascinating.
    The ‘Moses’ room is also known as the Peers’ Robing Room, and contains two monumental works- Moses and The Judgement of Daniel. They are meant to remind the Peers about the true origins of law and the dangers of corruption. However, Herbert’s symbolism is so subtle, you could be forgiven for missing it all together!

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