The face of Joshua Smith!!

September 28, 2011 at 7:44 am (people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , , )

Thanks to a reader giving me a heads up on a bookplate, I literally stumbled upon this image — and the connotation is that this portrait is JOSHUA SMITH of ERLE STOKE PARK.

Really???

I’ve emailed the seller to find out whatEVER info might have led eBay seller Prexiepost or Photobucket’s RobertsonBruce to think — or know — this is a portrait of my Joshua. But if this little “pitch” here helps to answer that question also, I pitch away!

On the hunt for the library of Erle Stoke’s bookplate, I came across these “finds,” the first about a book belonging to Joshua — now, thanks to Mike H. at Tring Park School, I have Joshua’s will and can see how he divided his property (once I decipher the extremely terrible hand of the probate copywriter!):

  • Maggs Rare Books is selling a copy (£800) of Boswell’s An Account of Corsica (who knew Joshua read any of Boswell’s writings?!? fascinating!!). The listing says “Contemporary bookplate of Joshua Smith of Stoke Park, Wiltshire.”
  • Neale’s Views of the Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen (1823) which includes Earl Stoke Park

* * *

BREAKING UPDATE even before the post is published: It IS Joshua!!!!!

 

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Henry Austen & Cottesbrooke

September 27, 2011 at 8:40 am (estates, history, jane austen, jasna, people, places) (, , , , , , , , , , )

I am not one to speculate on Jane Austen’s novels — certainly not on what estates (IF any were in mind) might have served as prototypes for estates in her novels.

But Sunday (25 Sept 2011) our local JASNA-Vermont chapter hosted a talk given by incoming JASNA president, Iris Lutz. I first corresponded with Iris about five years ago when starting to think about getting up a chapter in the state — Iris was VP for Regions then. She put me in contact with Carol from Montpelier — who had had a similar idea and that was how JASNA-VT got off the ground.

Iris’ illustrated talk centered on the houses — in life and fiction — she had researched and/or seen in her travels. No mention of The Vyne, which was a bit of a surprise, seeing as it is highly accessible (it’s a National Trust property); but there were wonderful photos of the likes of Godmersham (the Knight estate in Kent) and Ibthorpe (home way back when to the Lloyd family; recently sold so it’s up in the air whether subsequent JASNA tours will be able to go visit the home). I thought a great talk could be made on Godmersham alone — the fabulous interior decoration in conjunction with Austen’s comments from her letters about the house or her stay(s) there.

Then an image flashed on that looked oh-so-familiar: It was Cottesbrooke! An estate that is a bit related to this blog’s research as it once was in the Langham family. And — as you might guess from the name — Langham Christie was  related to the Langhams of Cottesbrooke.

A friend to the Langhams of Cottesbrooke turns out to have been Henry Austen, Jane’s soldier-banker-clergyman brother.

Now, I always imagined some “knowledge” of Henry Austen by the Goslings — seeing as both were in banking. In Philadelphia, at the 2009 JASNA AGM, I had asked Maggie Lane, a writer on the Austens, if she had ever come across the Gosling name (or Goslings & Sharpe) when researching Henry; she had no recollection of the name.

Working on some separating writing (an Austen book chapter), I dug out my Le Faye copy of a bio on Austen cousin (and later Henry’s wife), Eliza de Feuillaide, I spotted Clive Caplan‘s 1998 article on Henry Austen as banker. So the hunt is on for this issue of the journal. Does Caplan find any Gosling & Sharpe? Does he mention the Langhams of Cottsbrooke? Time will tell.

Iris’ talk intimated that someone somewhere had the idea that Cottesbrooke might have served as a basis for Austen’s depiction of Mansfield Park. I personally doubt she “based” too heavily, although aspects might certainly have been used about ANY estate for any of her fictional places, but the idea is intriguing. Lots out there on the subject, I now find:

Facebook and AustenOnly are the main sources. Cottesbrooke Gardens get a nod from the Telegraph. You can find more mentions of the possible Mansfield Park-Cottesbrooke connection by searching for the two together.

* * *

 27 September 1801

on this day was born Emma Smith

who married James Edward Austen, later Austen Leigh

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Horsham’s “Big Dress” project

September 25, 2011 at 8:31 am (fashion) (, , , )

Looking for some information on The Diaries of Sarah Hurst — the first “Georgian Gem” noted on my new book blog — I came across this PDF of clothing at Horsham’s Museum. The “catalogue” opens by stating:

“Horsham Museum is fortunate to have a large collection of ‘dig dresses’ ranging in age from the early 1800s to the end of the nineteenth century.”

The work of conservation storage for their garments collection began in 2008.

The accompanying photos leave a little to be desired, but it’s still great to SEE as well as READ about the garments. Some lovely close-up images. Most seem to be Late Victorian. A number of wedding garments (just the type of clothes one would expect to have been kept).

A late piece (1890-1900), but with such gorgeous detail on the back jacket, I couldn’t resist, eventhough neither Mary nor Emma would have lived to wear such a garment:

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Ridiculous! Clothing in Caricature

September 24, 2011 at 12:57 pm (books, fashion, portraits and paintings) (, , , )

Always, when I visit blogs, I am thrilled to see what people write about their book-finds. This purchase by Sabine (Kleidung um 1800) grabs you the moment you see the cover!

Being a German text, it will probably not be easy to track down, but I have unearthed a few book particulars:

  • authors/editors: Adelheid Rasche and Gundula Wolter
  • publisher: Dumont Buchverlag
  • publishing date: 2003
  • pages: 320
  • illustrations: 150 color; 90 B&W
  • price (new): 29.90€

The book is the product of an exhibition, which took place at the Kunstbibliothek, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, 5 December 2003 through the 15 February 2004.

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A Spencer Jane Austen would love!

September 23, 2011 at 11:03 am (fashion, history, people, research) (, , , , , )

Kleidung um 1800 has a fascinating post on Sabine’s Whiskey-colored spencer.

For all of you who covet a closet of Regency clothing…

For all of you who sew…

For all of you who dream in technicolor when reading Austen novels…

You need to read about — and see — this beautiful piece of work. Blog readers get a real “feel” for this type of clothing, the spencer, which possibly gets more “press” than any other item of Regency-period clothing.

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Nothing So Lovely as a Tree

September 22, 2011 at 12:45 pm (history, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , , , , , )

I spent last evening reviewing photographs Charlotte Frost had taken of Fanny Seymour’s sketchbooks (held at the Bodleian Library, Oxford University). Today, I sit at my desk (I call it “sitting in a hall, staring at a wall’ – but you’d have to see my ‘office cubicle’ to appreciate the poetry….), the window is high above the section of wall, and looking up don’t I see some tall, thin, green, leafy TREE — just like so many Fanny sketched!

I was suddenly transported back in time (c1830) and place (England rather than the state of Vermont).

Studying these drawings — mainly architectural (some of the Smith homes: Tring Park and Mapledurham; some homes of relatives: Castle Ashby, Coolhurst, Purley Hall; some surroundings: gardens, walks, villages) — makes me cast a glance back on my own art studies in college.

I have only two specimens in my collection (guess I didn’t care enough about still life or models to keep those studies) and really don’t recall how long it look me to do the most intensive one: a “collage” of various items all spilling over across the paper, one “scene” segueing into the next. I’ve always been rather proud of it, though. Proved — to me! — that I had at least imitative talent.

I’m dating myself here, but think of the campaign, “Can You Draw This Girl? You Might Have a Career in Art.” This was a correspondence course type of ad. I’m sure I attempted the girl or the “Bambi” deer, but I never sent anything in.

An Aside: Guess they are still around!

 

  • Art Instruction Schools — since 1914.
  • a student has actually posted an interesting “review” of the Schools; but also a complaint.
  • in a hunt for the “Can You Draw This Girl?” I came across Wikipedia‘s entry for the School.

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National Coalition Independent Scholars awards grant

September 20, 2011 at 6:04 pm (jasna, news, research) (, , , , , , , )

Quick opportunity to say “Yipee” and “Thanks!” to NCIS for helping to fund my conference trip to the JASNA AGM in October.

One of the toughest things about being “independent” — besides sometimes feeling like ‘nobody cares’! — is that everything is out of pocket, and a very shallow pocket it is too at present… Microfilm, travel, primary documents. Published writing is often gratis. All outgoing and nothing incoming, therefore.

Trying to put one’s name and project out there sometimes entails doing something a bit different — like giving a paper on Jane Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility. Although, in that case, I feel I have something to say about women in that era (c1811) because I’m studying the lives of women who come of age over the next decade.

So how wonderful to find that a grant I applied for was granted! Gives another reason to celebrate with JASNA friends, old and new, down in Fort Worth. The AGM (Annual General Meeting) attracts hundreds of Austen fans and academics – and I’ll be in the thick of things.

Information on The National Coalition of Independent Scholars can be found at the NCIS website. They’ve also a Facebook account. Deep thanks this week (and it’s only Tuesday!) to Charlotte Frost for her Fanny Seymour information; Mike H. at Tring Park School for his “wills” of Drummond and Joshua Smith; Alan from Warwickshire for a new Seymour letter; and NCIS for some very welcome funding.

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Garrow in Essex (1829)

September 18, 2011 at 9:09 am (diaries, history, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

This past weekend I’ve given myself a “filler” job – to read through the diaries of Charles and Mary Smith which overlap each other, namely, the years 1829 and 1830.

Charles Joshua Smith began his (extant) diaries July 1826 — on his wedding day to Mary Gosling, although you’d NEVER know it from his matter-of-fact comment about driving Mary to Suttons.

Mary’s (extant) diaries begin January 1829, following the birth of her second child, Mary Charlotte (called Mimi). That other diaries exist — or at least existed — I have no doubt. Charles may have destroyed his former diaries; a loss if the case – as they would have contained comments of his Continental and Russian travels (if going back to the early 1820s), his marriage to Belinda Colebrooke, her death, his engagement (about which I’d KILL to know more) to Mary Gosling in the spring of 1826. Mary’s diaries surely began far earlier than 1829, and given the “holes” in the series, her diaries must have been dispursed between her children – maybe even were resident at Suttons (sold mid-20th century) until the estate was sold out of the family. A couple mysteries still awaiting solution.

So only two years exist in which husband AND wife comment on their daily lives. A lot of illness — and more to come with the decline of Charles’ health (he died in January 1831); some visits to Suttons by Emma and Edward Austen. The marriage of Margaret Elizabeth Gosling, Mary’s elder sister, with Langham Christie, and visits to Suttons by the Smiths and Goslings; and visits to ‘Town’ by Mary, Charles and the children. Charles attends some agricultural courses; obtains new livestock and looks after farm matters; and does his duty at the Law Sessions.

It is March 1829, and Charles writes of travelling to CHELMSFORD (Essex):

“Judges, Chief Baron Alexander & Sir William Garrow; a heavy calendar  about 150 Prisoners, not many very heavy offences”

Sir William Garrow (died 1840), now judge at Assizes, would not retire until 1832.

Charles arrived at Chelmsford on 9 March (a Monday); the following day he writes of the Grand Jury being charged and that he “Dined with the Judges who seemed anxious to have another {unreadable} Sessions established”.

Wednesday, the 11th, was “all the morning” on the Grand Jury; he noted “A very full attendance”. Court was “dismissed” the next day (Thursday, the 12th) at noon.

Garrow first appears in Charles’s 1828 diary, when he is one of the Judges at the Chelmsford Assizes in July. Again the session ran Monday through Thursday. One prisoner (whose case Garrow did not preside over), John Williams, was sent for execution.

Garrow appears by name for the last time in December 1829, when Charles notes his Grand Jury work on Wednesday the 10th. By this time, Garrow, born in 1760, would have been 69-years-old.

Can’t wait for the third season of Garrow’s Law — in December 2011, I heard; will now relish it for yet another different reason: Sir William Garrow and Sir Charles Joshua Smith of Suttons actually met!

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The Austens, Nattes & Suttons

September 16, 2011 at 12:07 pm (entertainment, history, news, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Was looking through the wonderful source Jane Austen: A Family Record, by Deirdre Le Faye; wanted to see what she had to say about Jane the artist (ie, drawing or music, but especially music).

Page 50 had this tidbit, regarding the year 1784:

“This year he {papa, George Austen} also paid  £11.9s.0d to Claude Nattes – presumably the artist better known as John Claude Nattes (c.1765-1822) and later to become famous as a watercolourist — who had possibly been staying at the Rectory to give drawing lessons to the children. In later years Henry was reputed to be the artist of the family, and some of Cassandra’s sketches still survive, while of Jane it was said: ‘She had not only an excellent taste for drawing, but in her earlier days, evinced great power of hand in management of the pencil.’ ”

There are a couple Nattes-stories relating to the Smiths! Online you can find two drawings of his inscribed ‘Suttons’ — one called “The Pigeon House &c, at Suttons  Essex/Augst 1st 1811” (pen and brown and black ink over pencil; 12 1/2 inches x 9 inches); the other “Farm yard &c, from the interior of a Barn. Suttons” (also pen and brown and black ink over pencil; 9 inches x 12 3/4 inches).

Peppiatt Fine Art has two articles with the two Nattes works on view, and support text: PDF & website. The PDF provides a nice LARGE image of both works.

For Nattes other Smith connection — the delightful governess Miss Ramsay, I point blog readers to my earlier post on Elizabeth (Grant) Smith, the Highland Lady — who mentions Nattes and Miss Ramsay in her own memoirs!

The picture is from the early edition of The Memoirs of a Highland Lady, found online. The only *kvetch* I have against the Tod edition: No family tree (boy! is it “needed” to keep track of who’s who) and NO PICTURES!

Just spotted this blog post on the Memoir at I prefer reading: enjoy!

I must do a little digging into Nattes’ death date; Le Faye gives 1822; Peppiatt gives 1839.

Wiki Gallery has a fair number of his images online. 42 works at last count! Even one, I see, from Sydney Gardens in Bath — a scene that Jane Austen must have been QUITE familiar with.

Small world, huh?

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Sulham – a Wilder estate

September 16, 2011 at 12:27 am (books, places, research) (, , , , , )

Finally, I posted on the “estates” page a picture of Sulham House, which should have come long ago.

Sulham becomes important to this research once Augusta Smith marries Henry Watson Wilder, of Sulham and Purley.

One tidbit: Henry and Augusta married in 1829 — NOT as stated in The Book of the Wilders, 1827. (NB: The couple’s death is also listed incorrectly: they died on 2 July 1836 NOT 6 July.)

Augusta wrote the most touching letter to youngest sister Maria soon before her marriage, and directed Miss Ashley (Maria’s governess) to give it to her. Thanks to Jacky in Maidstone I’ve been able to read this sisterly tribute. This is the second time tonight (the first was Mamma Smith’s “baby book” about Maria’s progress – how I WISH I had such documents for the other children!) that I read how much like Emma people thought Maria. Take a look at the “portraits” page and judge for yourself.

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