Hercules Humphreys: celebrity centenarian?
A portrait of Hercules Humphreys, made in his alleged 102nd year, was the attraction to finding out more. The essential challenge, described in this article, was to confirm or disprove his claim to be 101 when he died. It became evident that Hercules’ story reflected a popular interest in people who lived to a great age. Whatever the truth of his claim, the general fascination with people of supposed great age generated portraits of people such as Hercules, often people of the lower and middling sorts of society, rather than the wealthy and powerful. This enables us to see images of people who, but for their age, would not have bequeathed their likenesses to posterity.