Last week a story about Hereford's supposed Gainsborough picture mentioned that at one time the portrait was cleaned by a Hereford artist Charles Lucy, a point which has brought to light one of the city's forgotten worthies.
Charles Lucy was born in Hereford in 1813 and was first apprenticed to his uncle, a chemist in the city. he then became a student under Delaroche at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris: after a while he returned to England and studies at the Royal Academy, London. he was later employed at The Hague and Paris in copying old masters for a Mr. Jones.
In 1838, while living in Hereford, he exhibited a portrait at the Royal Academy, London, and in 1840 exhibited his first historical painting "The Interview Between Milton and Galileo." For 16 years Lucy lived at Barluyon (sic.) near Fountainebleau, (sp? sic.) where, amid essentially French surroundings he devoted himself entirely to painting large historical paintings from English history, especially Puritan.
In the 1847 competition Lucy was awarded a premium of £200 for his painting, "The Departure of the Pilgrim Puritans, or Pilgrim fathers, to the Coast of America, AD1620." which was followed by "The landing of the Pilgrim fathers in America" exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1848.
Lucy painted a very large number of historical subjects, but his efforts did not meet with the success that they deserved. "Cromwell and his family listening to Milton playing the organ at Hampton Court" was purchased by Mr. Agnew, who had it engraved and it was subsequently presented by Mr. Graham, MP, to Glasgow Corporation Art Gallery. "Shakespeare before Sir Thomas Lucy" was engraved by Robert Graves, AE.
For many years Lucy was instructor at a drawing school in Camden Town, London. On the foundation of the New Britain Institution he was elected chairman of the committee.
Charles Lucy, died at 13 Ladbroke Crescent, Notting Hill, London on May 19, 1872, at the age of 59.
It is not know whether any of Lucy's works are still in his native city, but it is on record that in 1848 he painted a picture in fresco representing our Saviour over the altar in St. Martin's Church, Hereford. When the church walls were thoroughly cleaned some years ago however the fresco was destroyed.