Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Robert Sauber

[Constance Shepherd and her Borzoi]
oil on canvas
1868 - 1936.
Genre and portrait painter and illustrator. Born in London of a German father; grandson of Charles Hancock, an artist. Studied at the Academie Julian. Exhibited at the RA and elsewhere from 1889.


david Eustace said...

Please contact me about this Artist

Hermes said...

Thank you David. Not sure how to contact you as you have no Blogger profile ?

Unknown said...

I have a picture oil on board titles "The Queen" Looks exactly like Constance Shepherd and her Borzoi. I would appreciate any information on this

Iain said...

Hello As per Mary's comment of 2011 I also have a very old framed picture of Constance and her Borzoi. However although signed by Sauber it is also titled "The Queen". Can you enlighten me further as to why it is called this and if what I have is not an oil painting how many of these textured prints were produced. This was my grandmothers and I assume she had this from 1920's. My email address is
Thank you

Hermes said...

Sorry I'm to ill to maintain this blog at the moment or do research except for a few pre raphaelite subjects.

zenkojiman said...

I am really grateful to you for solving the mystery of this painting of which I have an old print. Artnet says that Constance was Sauber's niece, which may account for the quality and feeling with which this portrait is realized. Perhaps 'Queen' was the name of the hound ...
I hope you are better now.

Parasol said...

Thank you to everyone for sharing your thoughts and information. I have some more information regarding this artist which may be helpful to you.

© Shirley J. Foster (reprinted with permission)

Artist’s Biography

Robert Herrman Sauber (British, 1868 to 1936) was an English painter and illustrator. He was born in London, England to Mrs. Francis Emily Hancock Sauber and Hermann August Sauber Salesman (German). Robert’s mother was the daughter of painter Charles Hancock (1795 to 1968), who was known for painting animal themes. Robert Sauber had a sister, Emily Ida Sauber (Wooliscroft after marriage), and a brother, Herman Hancock. Robert Sauber married his wife, Elizabeth Emily Marie Ellis, in London in 1895. Mrs. Marie Sauber died in 1934, two years before her husband.

At the turn of the century, in February 1900, a London magazine reporter interviewed Mr. Sauber at his Kensington art studio.
The Poster magazine article reported as follows:

Robert Sauber commenced his art career by working at Berlin for two years as a lithographer, where he gained, at the early age of seventeen, the first prize at a lithographic exhibition. On his return to London in 1887, he joined the Langham for about two years, and then migrated to Sketching Club, and worked there every evening for about two years with much profit. Some of the exceedingly clever studies produced at this school now adorn the walls of his studio and the hall, crowded into odd corners, every one of them forming the nucleus of what would be, with a few more finishing touches, a valuable and saleable picture. During this period he contributed several small figure subject paintings to the Royal Academy and other exhibitions.

In contrast to his plucky and brilliant time sketches, some of which deal with modern life, the exhibition pictures were highly finished, and reminded one greatly of Tenier’s work in colour and technique. They were mostly Cavalier subjects, painted on panels in oils. Sauber’s first important picture, which was exhibited in the Academy in 1890, was entitled, “The Golden Lure,” the best description of which is to be gained from the lines attached: “Fair ambition, bubble born, drops her laurel wreaths forlorn; Hands that wrestle, clutch and strain, only strive for greed of gain.” “I only commenced the picture two weeks before sending-in day,” remarked Mr. Sauber, as we faced it in his studio, where it hangs to the right of the window, “and I look upon it as my greatest success in oils; it was described by one of you facetious press-men as “The Golden Cure.”

About this time, Mr. Sauber began seriously to devote his attention to illustrating, and although this was a new branch of art, he quickly mastered the difficulties, and his drawing was soon well-known throughout the pictoral press. Mr. Sauber next studied in Paris for about two years, then migrated to Munich, but did not work in any school there. While in this art-centre he painted the pathetic pictorial allegory of “The Angel of Death bearing away the Soul,” which was exhibited in 1893 at the Royal Society of British Artists. This picture also adorns the studio to the left of the window, and shows the artist’s wonderfully poetic imagination. It represents a beautiful Psyche being borne away by a winged figure of death.

Mr. Sauber returned to Paris, as he is a great believer in the influence of French Art. He studied at the Academie Julien for a few months, where both M.M. Lefèbvre and Constant showed great interest in his work, but on the whole, he thinks a man learns more from consulting his own mind and feelings than from his tutors. “I have made my way,” he says, “without any school or academical training,” and there is no gainsaying this fact, since he illustrates far more papers in England and France than any other artist in London.

Parasol said...

Like other artists, he found that painting ambitious pictures brought plenty of glory but did not swell his banking account, and he began, therefore, to devote his attention to illustrating fiction and to posters, a branch of art for which his early training specially adapted him. His drawings were soon well-known throughout the illustrated press, and the few posters that have appeared from his brush have attracted considerable attention.

Upon the inquiry, “Do you believe feeling to be the greatest factor in Poster Art?” Sauber replied, “Yes, distinctly so. A man may have a strong technique, and genuine artistic impulse, but, to my mind, his most finished work will be spoilt if it lacks feeling. To speak broadly, it should be ‘alive, not lifelike. This I endeavour to make the chief characteristic of my work. I am always anxious to give the public my views and impressions of life as I feel them. I never strain after great effects, believing that simplicity is greatness.”

Mr. Sauber’s success is mainly attributable to the charm of his sweet and gentle types of female beauty, and his intimate knowledge of figure composition. One of his chief aims, and one in which he has so thoroughly succeeded, is in obtaining a wonderful effect of perspective in grouping his figures. They convey the impression of being in the same room with the spectator, and seem as if on the same level, instead of as if they were raised on a stage or platform. Of this achievement the artist is justly proud; one might almost say that he is the inventor, or, at least, the most untiring exponent, of “the correct perspective.”

It was, indeed, with this object in view that Mr. Sauber started a school of his own, where he superintends his classes, in the large and well-lighted studio at Phillimore Gardens. Here the students have the advantage of working from really good costume models.

Mr. Sauber commenced to draw for the press before the great wave of photographic processes threatened to inundate the pictorial papers, and the early results of reproduction by this means being neither artistic nor bright, he tried hard to stem the tide of cheap reproductions by advocating wood engraving as the correct means for rendering his designs, and even went so far as to have a number of his drawings engraved at his own expense. He soon found, however, that it was of no avail. The great improvement in the quality of paper and finer printing has now somewhat reconciled him to the modern methods, though, even now, he shows with pride the proofs of engraved work as against the half tone process, which loses all sense of direction and quality of material.

Another magazine, The Sketch, published some of Robert Sauber’s pictures in May 1903 and reported:
Readers of The Sketch cannot fail to be interested in the three beautiful pictures by Mr. Robert Sauber which I have the pleasure of reproducing this week. The originals decorate the walls of the banqueting-hall in Lord Howard de Walden's magnificent house in Belgrave Square. The walls of this spacious apartment are made of carved Italian walnut, and the glowing pictures are shown off to the best advantage by the rich, dark background. The subjects are classical and they are treated with remarkable refinement and grace. It is difficult to know which to admire most—the spirited group of Diana and her eager nymphs in pursuit of a stag which has taken to the water; the exquisite Amphitrite drawn along the water on a shell by Tritons and mermaids, with rosy Cupids whispering counsels; or the regal white figure of Ariadne borne aloft in a triumphal-car drawn by tigers, led by Love, and surrounded by a group of Centaurs and Bacchantes.

Parasol said...

These pictures have the effect of frescoes, though, in reality, Mr. Sauber paints the canvas in his studio, and it is afterwards let into the wall of its destined abode. It is well for an artist to know exactly the conditions under which his work will be seen, and delightful for the owner to possess a work of art which is designed to look its best in the room in which it is placed. A picture may be spoilt by being hung in a wrong light, but the artist who paints a decorative panel paints it so that it shall be suitable to the light in which it is to be seen.

Mr. Sauber began to study art at the early age of seventeen. He worked for some time in Paris under Benjamin-Constant, and also studied in Munich. His first success was the picture of “The Golden Lure,” exhibited in the Royal Academy in 1900, and universally praised by the Press. He has exhibited many pictures in London since then, and in Paris, Munich, and other places. He is also well known to the public by his work as an illustrator, and many of his drawings have appeared in The Sketch and the Illustrated London News. The art of Robert Sauber is very real, as has been well said by a recent critic. It is founded upon solid work and study, and his choice of subject has been most deliberate and dictated by a genuine love of a most picturesque period. As work, it is not only noteworthy for the pictorial possibilities of the costume chosen, but it commends itself even to the most superficial observer by reason of the soundness of the method employed as a means of expression and by reason of the completeness of the technique. Mr. Sauber’s work is characteristic of some of the best periods of costume. The favourite period of this Watteau-like artist is the eighteenth century.

In addition to his powers as an illustrator and a painter of allegorical subjects, Robert Sauber has decided gifts as a portrait painter. The artist who has so high an ideal of feminine beauty ought to be very successful in painting portraits (especially of women), as he would be able to bring out all the salient points of his sitters. He has several portraits on hand at present, amongst them one of Lord Howard de Walden in an historical costume. Mr. Sauber has just built a magnificent studio at the back of his house in Cromwell Road, and here he has placed part of his fine collection of antique furniture and tapestries. At the end of the studio hangs a grand piece of tapestry representing the funeral of Scipio, designed by Vandyck from a composition of Rubens. The drawing room is Louis Seize and contains some very fine specimens of Aubusson tapestry, with portures and furniture to correspond. The living-room is full of beautiful old oak and wrought-iron, and the walls are in a lovely shade of red. Some beautiful Italian tapestries are let into the wall in the entrance-hall, which is painted white. In one of the reception-rooms is Mr. Sauber's latest portrait of his beautiful young wife, who has always been his greatest inspiration.

In 1904, Robert Sauber purchased a villa in Monaco from the horse breeder Edmond Blanc. He set up his studio in the west wing of the villa. Robert Sauber and his wife apparently intended to keep the house, once called Villa Sauber, for ten years. Shortly before the outbreak of war in 1914, they sold it. Sadly, when the workshop and the School of Robert Sauber in Kensington (London) were bombed during World War I, many of Sauber’s works were lost. In 1925, the Saubers purchased Sauber Villa in Monaco. Mrs. Marie Sauber died in 1936. Robert Sauber died in 1938.

Parasol said...

The Original Constance Shepherd and Her Borzoi Painting

Robert Sauber painted “Constance Shepherd and Her Borzoi” in 1907. Constance was his niece. In 1994 in London, Sotheby’s auctioned an oil on canvas portrait of “Constance Shepherd and Her Borzoi” measuring 77.00 in. (195.58 cm.) high by 52.00 inches (132.08 cm.) wide for 40,000 GBP (the equivalent of $59,300 USD or 51,506 EUR). See referencing Lot 239 - Sotheby's, London (March 30, 1994) Victorian Paintings, Drawings & Watercolours (Sale No. LN 412). As well, in The Country Life, Vol. 185, Page 104, David Messum references an oil on canvas painting of “Constance Shepherd and Her Borzoi” by Robert Sauber, signed in the lower right, which was 76.5 x 51.5in.

Robert Sauber’s Other Works

Robert Sauber specialized in women’s formal dress and he captured light and texture nicely in his work. Although Constance Shepherd’s attire portrays late turn of the century formal dress, Mr. Sauber did not paint that work until 1907, inspired by to the fancy dress style he had studied as an art student. The National Portrait Gallery in London displays a photograph of Mr. Sauber. A portrait of Lord Howard de Walden painted in 1903 by Robert Sauber hangs in Dean Castle in Scotland and is considered property of Great Britain’s national art collection.

Some other known works by Robert Sauber include:

Portrait of Miss Kitty Wooliscroft, the artist’s niece
Ein Pikentrager Aus Der Zeit Oliver Cromwell
Marie Sauber in A Blue Dress. Marie is the artist’s wife
Portrait of A Lady In Evening Dress
Portrait of An Elegant Woman
A Mon Ami (1890)
Galante Unterhaltung Auf Einem Steg
Berger Distrait
Festklædte Mennesker I En Park
Portrait of A Woman in A Brown Coat and Sleeve
The Vicar’s Daughter (1890-91)
A Welcome Passer-By
A Ferryman’s Daughter
L’Écouteuse (1891-92)
Paying Toll
A Connoisseur
The Parson’s Daughter
A Windy Day and Merrymaking (1892)
A Pleasant Surprise and Hugh! (1893)
Sauber exhibited “A Puritan Girl” at the Royal Society of British Artists in 1889

Parasol said...


Early in his career, Robert Sauber studied lithography in Germany for about two years. When he later provided illustrations for the press in the early 1900’s, he was concerned about the quality of the reproduced images, and he “tried hard to stem the tide of cheap reproductions by advocating wood engraving as the correct means for rendering his designs, and even went so far as to have a number of his drawings engraved at his own expense.”

“Chromolithograph prints were intended to duplicate oil paintings (sometimes called the “German style”). The inks used were heavy, oil-based inks which when applied in several layers give a texture like that of an original oil painting. These prints were almost never printed with any text on them (though sometimes the title or a name might appear unobtrusively at the bottom of the image), they were usually issued with no margins, and often mounted either on a canvas backing or a board. They were also almost always sold in a frame (sometimes quite elaborate) without glass. Altogether this makes their appearance very close to that of an oil painting.”

“These prints are the ones that were designed to be sold to the middle classes so that they could hang these faux paintings in their home and benefit both from their sophisticated look and from being able to enjoy and learn from the artwork. It was as much through the chromolithographic copies of paintings, as opposed to the exhibition of the original work, that this art was disseminated to the general public.”

In examining your own inherited artwork, always consult a licensed expert for valuation purposes. However, in discovering more about what you might have, consider what medium the work is mounted on, how it is framed, and where it was purchased or acquired. Is it lacquered or are there visibly discernable brushstrokes? For example, upon examination of one copy of a 1900 period work, the portrait very much resembled an antique oil painting and it appeared to have an antiqued carved original wooden frame. Upon closer examination, however, the work was determined to be a chromolithograph printed on stretched linen. The work appeared to be facsimile signed, as there was no observed variance in the cursive strokes of the signature. When the work was held up to the light at a sunny window, there was no overlap in the paint colors observed from the reverse side. Had it actually been painted with oils instead of printed, there would have been visible overlap of some of the painted colors. The work was lacquered, which was common in the reproduction process at that time. The tones, colors and images portrayed exactly match other known published copies, which would be impossible if it had been an original painting. The pride and egos of artists commissioned to paint original works in the late 1800’s ensured that they produced paintings of their subjects which were at least five to seven feet high or more in size, thus the smaller dimensions of that particular examined work were indicative of a chromolithograph which was produced as a copy, which could be sold and distributed for the enjoyment of many at an affordable price. It is often difficult to ascertain how many copies or series of a work have been authorized and produced, but the joy derived from the simple beauty of antique artwork and the cherished memories of the person who passed it on to you for legacy purposes is of course priceless.

Parasol said...


1. The Poster and Art Collector, Vol. 3, Pages 252-257, edited by H. R. Woestyn, Hugh MacLeay, Charles Hiatt, published by H. R. Woestyn (Feb., 1900).



It appears that art consultant Phillip Brown of Westbury, Wiltshire, UK posted information under the pseudonym “Hermes” on this blogspot in 2009.


6. In 1994 in London, Sotheby’s auctioned an oil on canvas portrait of “Constance Shepherd and Her Borzoi” measuring 77.00 in. (195.58 cm.) high by 52.00 inches (132.08 cm.) wide for 40,000 GBP (the equivalent of $59,300 USD or 51,506 EUR). See referencing Lot 239 - Sotheby’s, London (March 30, 1994) Victorian Paintings, Drawings & Watercolours (Sale No. LN 412).

7. The Country Life, Vol. 185, Page 104, David Messum references an oil on canvas painting of Constance Shepherd and Her Borzoi by Robert Sauber, signed lower right. 76.5 x 51.5 in.

8. The Sketch: A Journal of Art and Actuality, Volume 21, Ingram Brothers (1898). See also The Sketch, Page 330 (Dec. 11, 1895): “Taken altogether, the Christmas and Winter Numbers of the year are excellent from every point of view. Literary and artistic matters are of the best, and the improvement in colour-printing has enabled charming effects to be obtained in papers, apart from their supplements. The Illustrated London News is, as usual, well to the fore. There is a stirring story by the late Robert Louis Stevenson, called “The Great North Road,” for which Caton Woodville has made some striking illustrations. Sir Walter Besant contributes an interesting tale, “The Luck of the Susan Bell,” to which there are pictures by Forestier. A big double-page drawing by Barnard, "cry suggestive of Christmas festivities, is here reproduced by permission of the Illustrated London News, and mention must be made of the two delightful supplements, the “Playfellows” of Luke Fildes, RA , am “A Young Briton." by Arthur J. Elsley. The Lady's Pictorial, with a charming coloured supplement, “Day-Dreams,” and dainty frontispiece by R. Sauber, is a model of what an interesting number should be.

9. (Photograph of Robert Sauber by Frederic G. Hodsoll, bromide print, 1904, 11 1/8in. x 9in. (284 mm x 227 mm). Purchased by the National Portrait Gallery in London, 1983. NPG Ax25169.)

10. Benezit Dictionary of British Graphic Artists and Illustrators, Volume 1, Oxford University Press (June 28, 2012). ISBN-13: 9780199923052. The Benezit Dictionary of British Graphic Artists and Illustrators consists of over 3,000 entries on a range of British artists, from medieval manuscript illuminators to contemporary cartoonists. The collection highlights the rich history of British printmaking-both fine art prints and mass print media-and related activities in the production and illustration of printed books and manuscripts.

11.“It is interesting that when we hang a good quality art chromolithograph in our booth at an antique show, it is not infrequently mistaken for an oil painting (as, of course, was the original intent). What is sad is that when I explain that no, this is not an oil painting, but instead it is a fabulous example of chromolithography, the viewer often loses interest. To me, the chromolithographs are as interesting and attractive as the oil paintings, and certainly are more affordable.”).

FashionHistorian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
FashionHistorian said...


Thank you for your fantastic post. I am conducting a research on Robert Sauber and it has been most useful!
However, I'm having trouble finding the source of the article by Shirley J. Foster, could you let me know where you sourced it from.
Thank you in advance for your help.
Please do contact me directly.

Rubikon said...


by Shirley J. Foster you have mentioned - I suppose it is a book, but I cannot find it anywhere, either on Amazon, ebay or elsewhere on the internet. Is it an existing book, then, available to buy?

Unknown said...

I also have a Sauber painting of Constance Shepherd and her Borzoi, with both Sauber's name in bottom right corner and "The Queen" in bottom left corner. I was wondering if anyone found out exactly what type of print/poster/reproduction this is.

Lstone said...

I also have the same painting on canvas with the same signature and title The Queen. Interested in what you find out.

Lstone said...

I have a chromolithograph copy of the portrait of his niece in a hand made frame from wood salvaged for the Dunrobin Castle. The purchases of the painting in 1920 inscribed the details of this paining on the stretcher frame. What is the worth of something like this. I intend to hold on to it but am curious.

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