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Herdman Watercolours




William Gawin Herdman (also known as W. G. Herdman; 1805–1882) was an English author and painter, known for his scenes in the Liverpool area.

Herdman was a self-taught painter who started sketching in his early teens, documenting the city of Liverpool, making notes about how the city and its buildings were changing as the city grew. Herdman painted around 2,000 watercolours of Liverpool scenes which were included in the book, Herdman’s Liverpool which appeared in several editions after his death in 1882.

Herdman is best known as a landscape painter, typically of scenes around Liverpool. Herdman exhibited landscapes at the Royal Academy from 1834 to 1861. He joined the Liverpool Academy of Arts in 1836. In 1857 he left the Liverpool Academy and established the rival Institution of Fine Arts. The local academies were run along similar lines to the Royal Academy, holding exhibitions of the work of local artists alongside that of leading artists of the day including John Landseer and his son Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, as well as Ford Madox Brown, William Holman Hunt and Millais. Because of conflicts within the Artist Community, both Academies closed by 1870.

Herdman was a teacher and a successful commercial artist. He took commissions and after completing a series of paintings of scenes around Liverpool, which were also used to illustrate Herdman's books.

Herdman had 11 sons and five daughters; some were successful artists in their own right: William, William Patrick, John Innes and Stanley. At least one of his daughters was an art teacher. Herdman's son, also called William, was a very successful painter. Watercolors signed in full or with the initials WGH are by Herdman senior. Those signed “William Herdman” are by his son. Herdman was appointed secretary of the Liverpool Society, but found himself at odds with the membership. Herdman painted from real life, not the imaginary world of the Pre-Raphaelites and he objected when the Pre-Raphaelites were continually awarded the Academy’s annual prizes. Herdman resigned in 1857 and the following year, he founded the Liverpool Society of Fine Arts. The rivalry between the two institutions resulted in the closure of both, the Society in 1862 and the Academy in 1865.

A wide selection of Herdman work is stored in the William Brown Library and Museum in Liverpool.


A selection of his work appears below…

Click on any image to view them all in @Lightroom (TM)

Alexandra Theatre, Lime Street

Borough Gaol, Great Howard Street

Bridewell, 1850

Chapel Street, 1798

Dale Street, 1867

Everton Village, 1820

Everton Village, 1856

George's Dock - Mariners Church, 1858

George's Dock gate from corner of Water Street, 1867

Williamson Square, 1868

Sailor's Home

Hurst Street seen from Wapping 1866

Hurst Street warehouses

Irwell Street looking at George's Dock, 1869.

Old Fish Market, James Street, 1840

Kensington looking towards Prescot Street, 1859

Limekiln Lane, (Lime Street).
Showing Burrough's Gardens,  Old Bush Mill
and St Alban's Church, 1860.

Landing Stage, 1864

Offices of the Liverpool Waterworks Company, 1866.

London Road, 1870.

Bridewell, 1850

Marybone, 1869

Mason Street, Edgehill showing tunnels made by Joseph Williamson, 1858

Mersey Street, 1859

Old cottage, Kirkdale, 1862

Old Cottage, Walton Road on the North West side of
Black Bull Lane and Walton Road, Kirkdale. 1856

Old Haymarket, 1858.

Old pottery, Shaw's Brow, 1856
(Later William Brown Street)

Palatine Club, 1860s

Park Lane, West side, 1861

Peacock Inn, Park Road

Peter Street showing the construction of the Municipal Buildings, 1867

Prescot Street, 1859

Queen Square, 1859

Ranelagh Street, 1867

Regent Road, Townsend Mill, (also called North Shore Mill), at Nelson Dock, 1865

Richmond Fair, Fox Street, 1787 painted in 1856.

Loggerheads pub at Everton Brow - Richmond Row from Fox Street


Richmond Street, 1858

Shaw's Brow, (William Brown Street), 1855

Shaw's Brow (William Brown Street), 1853

Telegraph Office in Thomas Street, 1867

Sir Thomas Buildings, (Sir Thomas Street). Showing the
construction of the Municipal Buildings, 1858

South St. John Street demolition, 1862

Spitalfields, Whitechapel. Showing the demolition of Spitalfields to make way for Victoria Street, 1868

Strand Street, 1857

Tithebarn Street from Moorfields, 1856

Townsend Mill, (also called North Shore Mill),
Regent Road, 1859

Vauxhall Road, 1869

Waterloo Road, 1859

Pall Mall and corner of Tithebarn Street, 1869

Frederick Street, 1859






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