Harold Hume Piffard (British, 1867 – 1938)



Loneliness, Harold Hume Piffard (British, 1867 – 1938), oil on oval canvas, 42″ x 30″

Aviator and artist Harold Hume Piffard, known as Piff to his friends, was born in India and educated on the South coast of England. He exhibited four works at the Royal Academy, two works at the Royal Society of Artists in Birmingham, and several works at Liverpool.

Piffard finished his schooling in England in 1883 and returned to India to work briefly on a Darjeeling tea plantation. Still unsure where he wanted to focus his creative energy, he decided to join an acrobatic troop. In 1889, after few years of exploring possible careers paths, he went back to India to focus on his painting. He eventually entered the Royal Academy of Arts and later spent some time studying in Paris. He became a successful portrait painter and skilled history painter.

His well-known painting depicting the capture of the Spanish City of Zaragoza during the Peninsular War (Saragossa: 10 February, 1809 – also in The Knohl Collection) details the brutality suffered by the Spanish at the hands of the French army. It is a vivid image of a cathedral under siege; gun smoke fills the interior of the church as French soldiers trample Spanish monks to the floor.

A man of many interests and talents, Piffard was fascinated with designing and constructing model airplanes. He established The Aviators Finance Company Limited and built a box kite bi-plane, which he named Hummingbird.