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Lucy Kemp-Welch is considered among the greatest British painters of equine subject. Lucy Kemp-Welch was 20 in 1889 when she arrived in Bushey to become a student at the art school run by German-born artist Hubert von Herkomer. She liked the village so much that she stayed there for the rest of her life, until she died, in hospital at Watford at the age of 89, on November 28, 1958. Her work can now be seen in the Bushey Museum.
She lived and worked at 20 High Street, Bushey. She was 26 when she exhibited her first painting, Gypsy Horse Drovers, at the prestigious Royal Academy in London in 1895. Perhaps the most famous work by Kemp-Welch was 'Black Beauty'. In 1915 she was commissioned by J.M. Dent to illustrate Anna Sewell's classic 'Black Beauty'. She used 'Black Prince' as the model , a horse given to her by Robert Baden-Powell. It has been said that this commission allowed her to draw parallels from her own life to the book , with her independence, sense of duty, hopes and disappointments all featuring in the classic tale. The years of WW1 were a difficult time for all and the time during which she made her most renowned images -Forward to Victory-Enlist Now, poster among many others . This aspect of her life is particularly interesting, how she was given unfettered access to the Cavalry horses in training and how she persistently attempted to find ways to get out to the front to paint the War Horse. This is a topic of another specific blog.
When Sanger’s Circus came to Watford, she was entranced and for several seasons she followed the circus, recording life behind the scenes and in the ring.
Other greats from the same school of art include Harry Becker and Sir John Arnesby-Brown. Both artists are favourites of Blondes and their work is represented in our current catalogue.