Samuel Begg was born in London 1854 but spent much of his life in New Zealand after his parents emigrated to Napier in 1860.
In the early 1870s, he was working as an assistant surveyor for a firm of engineers at Eketahuna when he made the decision to follow a career as an artist. After submitting illustrations to local papers in New Zealand, including the Auckland Weekly Herald and the Illustrated Australian News in Melbourne, he moved to Europe where he attended art school in Paris.
In 1894, he was engaged by The Illustrated London News to join the paper and Begg remained there for the next 25 years during which time he established himself as one of the principal “black and white” men and covered numerous major events as a special artist.
He accompanied the Prince and Princess of Wales (the future King George V and Queen Mary) during a tour of India in 1905-6, was present at the eventful marriage of Princess Ena of Battenberg to King Alfonso XIII in Madrid in 1904 and recorded the funeral of the assassinated King Carlos of Portugal in 1908.
Sir Bruce Ingram said of Begg, “(he was) a marvel; he would produce a picture of the London Lord Mayor’s Banquet in 24 hours showing the building and recognisable principal people”. His work during the Great War covers a wide variety of subjects, from action scenes to women gardeners tending soldiers’ graves in France and a number of heartwarming pictures for the magazine’s Christmas numbers, such as “The Letter from Home’, published in 1916.