Hubert de Camillis obituary: Loving father and Hampstead artist who was in love with learning

PUBLISHED: 17:49 04 October 2018

Hugh de Camillis with a CD cover he designed for guitarist Dúo Montes Kircher. Picture: de Camillis family

Hugh de Camillis with a CD cover he designed for guitarist Dúo Montes Kircher. Picture: de Camillis family


Hubert de Camillis, known as Hugh, was an artist whose work was exhibited alongside Cezanne, a music critic who befriended the greats of classical guitar music, and a loving father who never stopped being eager to learn.

Hugh de Camillis with famous Spanish classical guitarist Andrés Segovia. Picture: de Camillis familyHugh de Camillis with famous Spanish classical guitarist Andrés Segovia. Picture: de Camillis family

Hugh was a third generation Italian immigrant who spent almost all of his life within touching distance of Hampstead Heath, apart from a brief sojourn in Norfolk on national service.

His daughter Julia de Camillis said: “He was continually searching for new things and seeking to learn right right up until he died.

He just loved knowledge, he was always reading and observing.”

At 16, Hugh became the first student member of the Hampstead Artists Council.

Hugh de Camillis with classical guitarist Julian Bream. Picture: de Camillis familyHugh de Camillis with classical guitarist Julian Bream. Picture: de Camillis family

Julia added: “There was an exhibition where he had work exhibited in one room, and they had all sorts of famous artists exhibited in the next, people like Cezanne!”

Hugh’s life was peppered with remarkable anecdotes. As a child, he took dancing lessons in Golders Green at the same time as a young Elizabeth Taylor, while on the Hampstead Arts Council he mixed with well-known figures including Victor Passmore and Barbara Hepworth.

He had earned a scholarship to Central St Martin’s, and his artistic prowess dominated the early part of his career – one work was even purchased by poet laureate Sir John Betjeman.

In his forties, Hugh took up the guitar and this was to become his second great passion.

Hugh de Camillis with a self-portrait. Picture: de Camillis familyHugh de Camillis with a self-portrait. Picture: de Camillis family

He began teaching the instrument, before becoming a music journalist for classical guitar journals. This allowed him to meet and befriend titans of the genre including spaniard Andres Segovia.

Julia added: “He was such a great lover of art and music, and he knew so many people. As a teenager I can remember being taken to Ronnie Scott’s – he knew all famous jazz names.”

Hugh also took up a job teaching at University College School, which continued until retirement, well into his 70s, in 2006.

He died, aged 88, on August 28 and a humanist funeral service was conducted at Golders Green Crematorium.

He is survived by Julia and her elder brother Julian, who he brought up as a single father after a short-lived marriage.

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