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Victorian Art and Artists (2)
More photographs taken at the home of art collector George McCulloch circa 1900
This article has no connection with Malvern
I was chatting to a lady sitting next to me at the hospital in 2013, while we were waiting for cataract surgery, and she mentioned that she had been researching her husband's family history and they had a painter in the family. Mildly intrigued I asked who he was and she said that he had painted the well known work 'The Wedding Procession' and his name was Luke Fildes.
She told me one of his paintings was in the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery in Bournemouth, a valuable painting had been sold to Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Luke Fildes' house was once owned by Michael Winner.
It was one of those strange coincidences as I had only just come across the name of Luke Fildes a few days previously.
The painting in the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum is named.
An English Girl (The Wife of the Artist)
Apparently it is not always on display but an image can be found on the Russell-Cotes web site.
The photograph below, most probably taken by the Victorian art collector George McCulloch about 1894 when the painting was purchased, but perhaps a couple of years later in 1896, shows Luke Fildes standing in front of his painting 'An Al Fresco Toilette' at 184 Queens Gate in London. Seated in the middle wearing a hat is his wife Fanny; Fanny looks a lot younger in the painting in the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery. On the left of the image is McCulloch's wife, Mary.
The painting was acquired through the art dealer, Arthur Tooth and the price paid was £1,365 (ref 1).
The man seated in front of Luke Fildes may be the man labelled unknown 11 below. Can you identify him or the elderly couple?
Luke Fildes also painted a very colourful portrait of King Edward VII in 1902, which was based on a coronation photograph; the painting was featured on the cover of the programme for Malvern Civic Week 2014 entitled Edwardian Malvern. The painting was given to the National Portrait Gallery by Edward's son King George V, who also had his portrait painted by Luke Fildes circa 1911.
We wondered if some of the sitters in the photographs below might be Victorian painters. We think we know a few, but can you either correct us or identify any of the others?
Two unknown ladies
Could these ladies (below) with stern expressions be painters, their wives or were they visitors?
John MacWhirter's painting 'The Sleep That Is Among The Lonely Hills' is in the background, and this seems to have been a favourite place for McCulloch to photograph guests, as it appears in other photos below.
Unknown lady 2
The unknown lady below is seated in front of the painting The Sculpture Gallery by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Could she be Laurence Alma Tadema, (1867 - 1943) the eldest daughter of Lawrence, who became a novelist. That seems a 'long shot' but what do you think?
Unknown lady 3
Below is another lady sitting in front of the painting 'The Sculpture Gallery'.
We had wondered if the man in the photo below might be Lawrence Alma Tadema, but he has been positively identified (ref 7) from a painting in the Tate Gallery and a plate in an art book as David Croal Thomson (1855-1930), a Scottish born art dealer, critic, and editor of the Royal Academy Art Journal (ref 5).
David Croal Thomson helped McCulloch with many of his acquisitions. One of these was a painting by James Abbott McNeill Whistler signed with the monogram of a butterfly. McCulloch made a request that the painting be signed with Whistler's name, but Whistler arrogantly refused!
David Croal Thomson at 184 Queensgate
Here he is in another photo:
David Croal Thomson
The young man below is again seated in front of the painting The Sculpture Gallery by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Do you know who he is?
The relaxed pose of the young man and woman in the photo below suggests they might either be a married couple, or brother and sister.
We wondered if the man might be the painter Sir Frank Dicksee (1853 - 1928) and his sister Margaret Isobel Dicksee (1858 - 1903) who was also a painter and lived with her brother; else their sister Mary Amelia.
Frank Dicksee, otherwise known as Francis Bernard Dicksee, came from a family of painters. He was more often seen with a beard, but his distinctive hairline matches a photograph of Dicksee in (ref 2). Does anyone have photos that can either prove or disprove this?
The woman seems to have been a favourite of the photographer as she appears in three further photographs (see below).
Second photo of the lady seen above, sitting in front of John MacWhirter's painting 'The Sleep That Is Among The Lonely Hills'.
Third photo of lady seen above.
Can you identify the paintings behind her?
Below are two photographs of a slightly older woman. Previously titled 'unknown' we now wonder, after seeing other photos, whether this might just possibly be Georgiana Burne-Jones nee MacDonald, the wife of painter Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833 - 1898). Victorian art collector George McCulloch had three paintings by Burne-Jones in his collection, plus circa 1898 he purchased stained glass and William Morris tapestries designed by Burne-Jones to furnish his home at Queensgate (ref 6).
The picture in the backround below is,
'The Sleep That Is Among The Lonely Hills'
by Scottish painter John MacWhirter RA HRSA RI RE (1839 - 1911).
The RA catalogue of 1909 described the painting:-
The picture has similarities with other paintings by MacWhirter such as 'Track of the Hurricane' and 'Broadford Bay'.
MacWhirter's entry in the Dictionary of Victorian painters reads:
Another photo of the lady seen standing above.
Georgiana Burne-Jones was one of the eleven children of Methodist minister Rev George Browne MacDonald; four of them are sometimes referred to as the 'MacDonald Sisters' as they were either the wives or mothers of famous people.
Alice MacDonald (1837 - 1910) was the mother of writer and poet Rudyard Kipling; Georgiana (1840 - 1920) married the pre-Raphaelite painter, Edward Burne-Jones and was the grandmother of novelist Angela Thirkell; Louisa (1845 - 1925) was the mother of prime minister Stanley Baldwin who was born in Bewdley; Agnes (1843 - 1906) married painter Sir Edward John Poynter, who was elected President of the Royal Academy in 1896 following the death of Millais.
A seated man, possibly in a painter's studio; note the poor condition of the floor.
A lady sitting in front of John MacWhirter's painting 'The Sleep That Is Among The Lonely Hills' who it has been suggested, from the strong jawline, is very likely Laura Alma Tadema (ref 7).
Laura Alma Tadema
McCulloch had three of her painting in his collection, besides two by her husband and one by her daughter.
An unknown man seated in front of the painting 'The Daphnephoria' by Lord Leighton.
Below, an older man sitting in front of 'The Daphnephoria'. We now think he was the painter George Frederic Watts (1817 - 1904), a member of the Holland Park Circle and considered one of the greatest painters of his time.
One of his paintings is listed in the 1909 Winter Exhibition catalogue.
George Frederic Watts RA
The subject is taken from Boiardo's Orlando Inamorato. The female figure represents Fortune or Opportunity flying through the air amidst bushes, hotly pursued by a knight, who seeks in vain to lay hold of the forelock of her hair by which she alone can be captured; in his efforts to grasp the lock he clutches her blue drapery; before Fortune runs a little mocking sprite beckoning.
Signed and dated GF Watts 1865
Canvas 79.5 by 40.5 inches
George Frederic Watts
George Frederic Watts featured recently in an episode of the TV programme Antiques Roadshow which was held at the Watts Gallery in Surrey, where a large number of his paintings can now be viewed.
Many of these photographs may have been taken in the home of George McCulloch (1848 - 1907) who was an amateur photographer and bought many paintings which he displayed in his home in London. The photo below, which in 1909 appeared in a special edition of The Art Journal (ref 4), shows McCulloch and his wife Mary surrounded by some of their paintings (ref 5).
The paintings cannot be seen in any detail but amongst them are,
The Flower Seller, Venice; also now known as La Friulanella by Henry Woods bottom left of image, above George McCulloch's shoulder.
(Venice, a flower-seller standing on a terrace in the right foreground, sniffing a rose at the top of a flight of steps overlooking the lagoon in Venice).
The Garden of the Hesperides, a well known painting by Lord Leighton is the large painting in the centre.
(View, looking along the Grand Canal, with the palace of Ca d'Oro on the right. Signed and dated F del Campo, Venezia 1880. Canvas 21 by 35 inches).
La Sagra, by Dutch painter Cecil Van Haanen, bottom right of image. Possibly also known as the Venetian Fair or the Venetian Gate.
(A group of peasants merrymaking in a courtyard , and watching two of their number dancing to a tune played on a concertina by a man in the background Signed and dated C Van Haanan 1890. Canvas 40 by 33 inches).
Another wall of the house, on which five paintings are hung, is shown in the photograph below, which was possibly taken about 1897.
The central painting is 'The Young Duke' by William Quiller Orchardson. The surrounding paintings are indistinct, so it is not possible to identify them, but from the McCulloch Collection catalogue we might hazard a guess:-
Bottom left, landscape with a pond. Just possibly 'Burnham Beeches' by Walter Follen Bishop.
Top right, pond or lake at front, sheep and trees behind, hills in background. Possibly 'A Summer Afternoon in Clairwin Valley' by Alfred East.
Bottom right, a wet road with horse and cart, possibly two figures at roadside. Very likely 'The Rain is Over and Gone' by Alfred Parsons, exhibited 1897.
You may remember on the first page mention was made of a special edition of the Royal Academy Art Journal which was devoted to The McCulloch Collection of Modern Art. It listed the paintings which were exhibited at the 1909 Winter Exhibition, and contained 140 illustrations, including some photographs of McCulloch's home (see examples above).
The RA exhibition catalogue contained no illustrations, so The Art Journal provides useful additional material for historians of Victorian art.
At the bottom of this page there is a link to the index of some hundred artists whose works were in McCulloch's collection; a few of the artists have been identified in the photographs on this and the preceeding page.
Cover of Art Journal, winter 1909
Some works were sold in 1909 and 1911, but the majority of the collection was sold by McCulloch's widow at Christie's in 1913 over three days on 23rd, 29th and 30th May. A large part of the collection was acquired for Lord Lever by Gooden and Fox; the other paintings purchased by dealers are now scattered widely across the world. Some have a new name, some are on public display, some are in private collections, those of lesser value may be in storage and some may have been either lost or destroyed in the course of two world wars.
McCulloch had earlier donated three paintings to the Broken Hill Art Gallery in 1904, on condition entry would be free, and a further painting Vae Victus was donated by his widow in 1913.
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Last updated 13th November 2018