Philip Hermogenes Calderon was born in Poitiers, the son of Juan Calderon, later Professor of Spanish Literature at Kings College; his mother was French. He studied engineering, and became so much interested in the drawing side that he decided to become a painter. He became a student at Leigh’s School of Art, meeting there Stacy Marks, with whom he went to Paris to study under Picot. Following his return to England, Calderon's first picture at the Academy was in 1853, but he then had little success until his Broken Vows (1857), painted in the spirit of the Pre-Raphaelites was sent to the Academy and was both well received and engraved for a wider audience. A series of successful pictues followed. He married in 1858, became ARA in 1864 (the same year as Leighton) and became RA in 1867 (before Leighton). In 1887 he became Keeper of the Royal Academy. Only a few of Calderon's pictures are Pre-Raphaelite in type, and the bulk of his work includes historical scenes, of which St Elizabeth of Hungary was bought under the terms of the Chantrey Bequest, and female figure subjects such as Hagar and Ariadne - like his historical subject pictures, these often have a religious bias.
Calderon also seems to have done at least a little illustration, producing a harmless series of pictures for Mrs Scott Gatty's 'Parables from Nature', published in 1865.
St Elizabeth of Hungary and By the Waters of Babylon are in the collection of the Tate Gallery. Whither? is in the Royal Academy Diploma collection. Her Eyes are with her Thoughts and Ruth and Naomi are in the Walker Art Gallery. The Queen of the Tournaments is in Salford. A very genre Her Most High Noble and Puissant Grace showing a little girl with bowing and scraping courtiers and procession is in Leeds.
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