Born Henry William Lowe Hurst in London in 1865, he was the son of Henry Hurst, a well-known African traveller and publisher. He was educated at St. Paul’s School in London and soon after started recording the political instability of Ireland through drawings and illustrations. He travelled to the United States of America where he found work illustrating newspapers in New York and Philadelphia. Hal returned to Europe studying art at the Royal Academy Schools and the Acad-mie Julian in Paris. He exhibited extensively at all the principal London galleries and was elected member of the Royal Society of British Artists in 1896, Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours in 1898, and the Royal Institute of Oil Painters in 1900.
He was a founder member of the Royal Miniature Society from its inception in 1896 and elected Vice President, a position he held until stepping down in 1913 – he was given the distinction of Honorary member status the following year.
Hal shared a studio at 23a South Audley Street, Mayfair, London with Alyn Williams founder of the Royal Miniature Society. A motivated, prolific and respected artist, Hal illustrated in excess of 20 published books including Mark Twain’s The American Claimant. In addition, his illustrations were published in Punch, Harper’s Weekly, Vanity Fair, The Idler and the Illustrated London News, amongst others.
He married and had one son and two daughters. He was the friend and neighbour of Douglas Sladen, the well-known author and travel writer, who also owned many of Hurst’s paintings. Sladen described Hurst as being ‘a very clever painter’ and having a ‘beautiful young wife.’
The National Art Library, London holds letters written by Hurst to Sir Isidore Spielmann and Reginald S. Hunt. Hal Hurst died in 1938.