This is a scene in the St James’s Workhouse in London. By this time the inmates in these grim establishments were mainly the old and the sick. Herkomer was one of the leading Social Realists who concentrated on urban poverty during the 1870s although in fact this painting conveys a relatively happy impression of institutional old age. The painting is based on an engraving by Herkomer in The Graphic - the magazine generally used by the Social Realists for their illustrations - and that engraving conveys a much bleaker impression of workhouse life. The violent recession into depth and the dramatic lighting effects lend, however, a sinister air to the picture.


  • Title: Eventide: A Scene at the Westminster Union
  • Creator: Sir Hubert von Herkomer
  • Date Created: 1878
  • tag / style: Realism; Social Realism; workhouse; Westminster Union; St James’s Workhouse; Hubert Herkomer; poverty; old age; bonnets; drinking tea; shadows; table; working class
  • subject: St James’s Workhouse, London
  • Physical Dimensions: w1985 x h1105 cm (Without frame)
  • Artist biographical information: Herkomer was born in Bavaria but his family emigrated to England whilst he was still a small child. His experiences as an emigrant probably fuelled his later social-realist paintings of working-class people and ethnic minorities.
  • Additional artwork information: Eventide' was the subject of an 'Artwork Highlight' talk at the Walker Art Gallery in 2000. To read the notes from this talk, please follow this link: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/picture-of-month/displaypicture.asp?venue=2&id=146
  • Type: Oil on canvas
  • Rights: Purchased in 1878

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