Herbert Edward BUTLER

Herbert Edward BUTLER

Born in Islington and trained at the Royal Academy Schools, he came to Polperro with his artist friend Charles BOUTWOOD where they met their future wives, the Pond sisters, Thirza and Sophia.

Herbert and Sophia married in Talland Church, Polperro, in 1892, leaving immediately for Chicago to join Charles and Thirza Boutwood. They returned to England in 1894 with their first child, Alice. The family settled in Watford, where they had two further children, Mary and Jack. They returned to Polperro in c.1898 and had three more daughters, Ruth, Nancy and Catherine. In later life Nancy described their childhood in Polperro as 'idyllic'. In 1907 Butler established a school of painting there, together with his friend Arthur Romilly FEDDEN. 

He exhibited at the Royal Academy (1909) and, as well as the large oil paintings so fashionable with the Victorians, he turned more to smaller watercolours after the First World War. He also illustrated a number of books. He continued to paint with enthusiasm right up until his death in 1931.

He produced the one known Polperro war painting, 'The Homecoming', a large oil showing a soldier being welcomed home by his family in their cottage. This was donated to the Rowett Institute, Polperro, but the painting is now on loan to the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro (2022).


Painting in oils and watercolour; drawing in pastels

works and access

Works include: Polperro Harbour; Lansallos Street; Youth and Age (1899, but RA 1903); Early Morning, Polperro; Sunset Conversation, Polperro;


I; L; M; RBA; RI

RA (14)


Ipswich Fine Art Club


Hardie (2009) Artists in Newlyn and West Cornwall (p317)

Johnson & Greutzner (1975) Dictionary of British Artists

Tovey, David (2021) Polperro - Cornwall's Forgotten Art Centre - Volumes One & Two, Wilson Books

Year's Art 1910