The upcoming temporary exhibition at Maidstone Museum – Coming Home: Conflict and Care in 1916 – focuses on two paintings by artist Frank Hyde. Hyde was born in Surrey in 1849 and spent a large amount of time in London during his youth. His father had been in the army but retired to live the life of a gentleman upon inheriting the family seat, Hyde End Manor in Berkshire. Hyde, however, would later inherit and sell the Manor.
As a young man, Hyde trained as an artist at the Royal Academy, London, and his subsequent career revealed striking artistic versatility. His subjects varied from the portrayal of real, dramatic events to comic characters commissioned by the card manufacturer Raphael Tuck.
Starting out as a 1st Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers, Hyde moved on to begin his career as a war artist during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, producing drawings for ‘The Graphic’, an illustrated weekly publication.
Hyde married Constance Mary Louise Felgate in 1876, but she died less than a year later. While he travelled extensively throughout his life after Constance’s, death Hyde purchased a villa in Capri where he met Rosina Ferrara, whom he used as a model, and John Singer Sargent, with whom he shared a studio. Hyde is perhaps best known for his paintings of Capri (one of which we are going to have on display) and model Ferrara. Ferrara would become Sargent’s muse after Hyde introduced the two.
Hyde married Florence Ellen Louise Rowley in 1881, with daughter, Mina, was born in 1882 and son, Francis, in 1884. Francis would later become a Captain during the First World War. Hyde and Florence divorced in 1887, and she died in 1890. Hyde never remarried and chose to live in Petts Wood Cottage, Stockbury, near Sittingbourne from 1913 until his death in 1937.
Hyde painted three Maidstone/Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment related pieces which form part of the museum collection, two of which will be on display for the Coming Home exhibition. The ‘Arrival of a Convey of Wounded Soldiers at Maidstone East Station, 1916’, upon which the exhibition is based, captured the imagination of Maidstone and was bought by public subscription in 1918. This fee was added to the £30 already raised by Frank Hyde from the exhibiting of another of his paintings to raise funds for those left disabled by the war. He later painted and sold ‘Trones Wood’ to help further this cause. The paintings by Frank Hyde were also used to help raise funds for The British League of Help to assist the communities in northern France that had been devastated by the fighting.
Our Coming Home: Conflict and Care in 1916 exhibition runs until January 7, 2017. Discover the paintings of Frank Hyde plus a number of additional objects and photographs from the Maidstone Museum collection.