Herbert James Draper was born in London and educated at the St.John’s Wood Art School and from 1884 at the Royal Academy Schools. He won the Royal Academy Travelling Scholarship in 1889 and studied at the Academie Julian in Paris and then in Rome. He had already begun to exhibit at the Royal Academy, and showed there regularly between 1887 and his death.
A number of his works were bought for the recently founded British provincial art galleries and may be found in Liverpool, Manchester, Bradford, Preston, Truro and Hull. In 1898, his ‘Lament for Icarus’ (Tate Gallery, London) was bought from the Royal Academy exhibition by the Chantrey Bequest and in 1900 this work gained a gold medal at the Paris Exposition Universelle.
Draper was never elected Royal Academician, or even Associate. By the time of his death, his work had fallen out of favour and he did not even receive an obituary in the Times.