Man be­hind the paint­ing of in­jured sol­diers’ re­turn

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - YOUR LOCAL -

This paint­ing of wounded sol­diers ar­riv­ing at Maid­stone East Sta­tion dur­ing the First World War was re­cently used in an ex­hi­bi­tion at Maid­stone Mu­seum to teach school­child­ren about the Great War, in this the cen­te­nary year.

What not all the paint­ing’s ad­mir­ers may have re­alised is that the artist, Frank Hyde, who lived lo­cally, was de­pict­ing a real in­ci­dent and the civil­ians in the paint­ing greet­ing the sol­diers were real towns­folk.

Among them are Mr. F.T. Travers, Dr Pye Oliver, Bernard Haynes and Mr J.T. Pickard, who were the sta­tion­mas­ter and am­bu­lance­men of the time.

The wounded had re­ceived only im­me­di­ate first aid care on the bat­tle­field and were dis­trib­uted among lo­cal hos­pi­tals when they reached Maid­stone.

The paint­ing was one of sev­eral by Hyde about the First World War – another fa­mous pic­ture, en­ti­tled The Bu­gle Boy, de­picted 14-yearold Charles Tim­mins play­ing his in­stru­ment aboard HMS Cardiff while un­der shell­fire.

The lad, who came from Gilling­ham, was killed in the ac­tion and be­came a lo­cal hero.

Another, en­ti­tled First Bat­tal­ion, the Royal West Kent, at Neuve Chapelle, 1914, again de­picted a Maid­stone of­fi­cer, Lt H.A.H. White from Barm­ing, lead­ing the West Kents in a charge. But his First World War paint­ings came to­wards the end of a long ca­reer for Hyde, who was per­haps more fa­mous for his de­pic­tions of Capri, for his hu­mor­ous il­lus­tra­tions made for a greet­ings card man­u­fac­turer and for his al­le­gor­i­cal paint­ings.

Frank Hyde was born in 1849, the el­dest of six sons for Cap­tain John Fran­cis Hyde and El­iz­a­beth Gudge. Hyde who grew to be 6ft 8in, very tall for that era, spent his young life be­tween London and the fam­ily’s 1,500-acre coun­try es­tate Hyde End Manor in Berk­shire.

He gave up a ca­reer in the Royal En­gi­neers when he was asked by the Graphic il­lus­trated news­pa­per to sketch scenes from the Franco-Prus­sian War of 1870-71. His draw­ings from the front­line – in­clud­ing of the Bat­tle of Sedan – were sent back to ap­pear in the pa­per.

Hyde mar­ried Con­stance Fell­gate in Novem­ber, 1876, but she died less than a year later. Five years on, he mar­ried Florence Row­ley, a niece of Ad­mi­ral Row­ley, and the cou­ple had two chil­dren, a daugh­ter Mina and a son named Fran­cis Anger­stein Claren­don Row­ley-Hyde.

Hyde trav­elled widely, to Italy, Aus­tralia and Western Samoa and was an in­ti­mate friend of many of the lead­ing artists of the day, no­tably the Amer­i­can John Singer Sar­gent, with whom he shared a stu­dio in Capri. Both he and Sar­gent used a lo­cal girl named Rosina Ferrara as a model. Miss Ferrara was said to be a di­rect de­scen­dant of the 16th cen­tury pi­rate Bar­barossa.

Sev­eral of Hyde’s works were ex­hib­ited at the Royal Academy. As well as paint­ing the scenes he saw, he also wrote travel ar­ti­cles. He moved to Kent in 1913.

When he died in Septem­ber 4, 1937, he was liv­ing at Petts Wood Cot­tage in Stock­bury.

His obituary in the Kent Mes­sen­ger de­scribed him “as a ver­sa­tile artist with a big rep­u­ta­tion”.

His fu­neral ser­vice was held at St Fran­cis RC Church in Week Street, Maid­stone, and he is buried in Maid­stone Ceme­tery, in Sut­ton Road.

The paint­ing shows the ar­rival of a con­voy of wounded sol­diers at Maid­stone East Sta­tion

Artist Frank Hyde

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