artwork done by…

viaggio4Sketch book of Lord Compton: Viaggio in Sicilia.

In 2013/2014 an exhibition of drawings, sketched in Sicily circa 1823, was complimented by a book and this superb page-by-page VIDEO presentation (click picture).

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The four Smith Sisters of Erle Stoke Park, Wiltshire painted “Botanicals,” along with their teacher Miss Margaret Meen.

rhs imagesAll five artists have work housed at the Royal Horticultural Society, London. A special “online” exhibition of Emma Smith’s work (aunt to Emma Austen Leigh) -> click photo. UPDATE August 2015: one of the EASIEST ways to find the four sisters is to search for JOSHUA SMITH: his girls are all ID’ed as being his daughters!

Currently, 29 botanicals show up with this term. Otherwise, search individually for them. Search for MARGARET MEEN and 48 images show up, including work of the Smith sisters. (She’s ID’ed in their write-ups too.) You can toggle the images to show text beside each work, which is highly instructive (if repetitive) background, and dates.

More “Botanicals” are on display at The Vyne (National Trust) in Hampshire, England. They hang in one of the bedrooms. Other works not on display. UPDATE August 2015: The NT now has some of these images ONLINE! Search with terms like Elizabeth Chute or Augusta Smith. UPDATE December 2016: today I searched with words watercolour vyne (note the British spelling!); you get more, but you get botanicals of Margaret Meen, Eliza Chute, Augusta Smith, as well as those that are “unknown” and merely ID’ed as “British School,” which surely belong to the Erle Stoke Sisters (Maria, Eliza, Augusta, Emma) or their teachers, Miss Meen.

(Today [pre-2021]: 71 results. Special notes: the Elizabeth Chute doing the interiors of The Vyne is Elizabeth Wiggett Chute, wife of William Wiggett Chute. No images for those NOT on display. Beware! some ID’ed as work of daughter, Augusta Wilder – no three-year-old painted these! They are work of her mother, Augusta Smith.)

Miss Meen, who also taught Queen Charlotte and the Royal Princesses, has more florals housed at Kew.

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*New* The Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, [scroll DOWN to see images; link already has “searched”], at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA). Art Curator, Lugene Bruno, alerted me to their collection of Botanicals (predominantly watercolor on paper) painted by Dorothy Davison – also known, in addition to her maiden name, as Dorothy Cook; and Dorothy Widdrington (her husband Samuel Edward Cook came into property, and changed his name). There are examples of Dorothy’s changing initials — which thrills me because that means she kept up the practice of painting Botanicals over a wider period than just her (unmarried) youth.

Dorothy Davison was the younger daughter of Alexander Davison and Harriot Gosling [see their portraits on this blog]. She’s a cousin to the Gosling siblings (including Mary Gosling, aka Lady Smith, my diarist along with Emma Smith/Emma Austen Leigh) who appear in this blog. The Hunt’s online catalogue includes small images of all 64 Botanicals,

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Three sketch-book albums of drawings by Fanny Smith are in the collections of the Bodleian Library, Oxford University. These were an early “find,” one of the first of artwork done by the sisters that is housed “elsewhere”. All are architectural drawings, mainly of houses visited or affiliated with the greater network of “family.”

*New* Tring Local History Museum (Tring, Hertfordshire, UK) – News has reached me of their acquisition of a sketch-book (an interesting history on its own) in 2018. The album features 31 architectural drawings by next-to-youngest sister Charlotte Judith Smith. The album recently returned from the conservator. Upcoming plans include a digital presentation of Charlotte’s sketches of the area, perhaps augmented by those which Fanny (the Oxford albums, above) also sketched. STAY TUNED for more info.

I begin (January 2021) to wonder if all three Oxford albums are solely the work of Fanny Smith. It’s the handwriting used to caption drawings . . .  I relooked through photographs of various family albums after news of the Tring album surfaced. Some hand-lettering in the Oxford albums seem very similar to writing on sketches I attribute (other albums) to Maria Smith (Lady Seymour; Lady Culme Seymour seems NOT Maria’s typical self-titling, so I’ll list both titles here). One Oxford album has Fanny’s name (and 6 Portland Place; their London address) inscribed. No individual works are “signed”. The sisters certainly went out, on “sketching parties”, together. Did they ever borrow each other’s books?? That is the question. I’d have to see sketches in either really good photographs OR in person (covid cancels out the chance of the latter!), and even then could I make a determination? BUT: it would answer the question as to WHY three drawings exist, in three albums (that I currently know of…) of Oddy Hill (near Tring), a scene featuring a horse and cart & driver. Enough similarity (in my opinion) even to wonder if the girls (one or even two sisters) did not copy someone else’s sketch into their own book. One Oxford album has the horse’s head in the “gutter” (the scene always sketched over two pages). The album inscribed by Fanny has a “full” horse; as does the scene from the album inscribed with Charlotte’s name. Alternative theory, an album might have been gifted and be inscribed with, not the artist’s name, but the gift-giver-artist’s recipient’s name. 

A small, ten-drawing album, certainly affiliated with the Smith girls (poor online pictures), sold on eBay in early November 2020 (and not to me). “1828 Pencil Sketchbook 10 Views Stanlake Park Twyford Tring Mansion Ashbourne &c“. [click before the listing and pictures disappear!] _I_ can date drawings (and they aren’t 1828), but I never heard back from the seller and have no idea who purchased it. Like “Lady Northampton’s Album” (below), I worry about art albums being broken up and sold piecemeal. I also *now* wonder: Is there a scene of a horse & cart headed down Oddy Hill in this eBay album too?? That would make Number 4! (but, its inclusion COULD narrow the actual artist who used any given album…)

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Drawings thought to be by Emma Smith (Emma Austen Leigh’s aunt) comprise the Macklin Album, Wiltshire Heritage Museum.

Drawings by Spencer Compton, his sister Elizabeth Compton, and his wife Margaret Clephane; illustrations in works by Sir Walter Scott from the collection of The Morgan Library and Museum. I saw several volumes in a brief research trip to the Morgan in summer 2015. They are spectacular, and speak to the familial relationship of the Clephane sisters of Torloisk to Sir Walter Scott (he served as their guardian, after their father’s early death).

Harriet Cheney‘s albums (which feature many Smith&Gosling portraits) were auctioned at Christie’s in October 2005.

Seymour_Michael-Halifax_smallA splendid “display” of the watercolor drawings of Capt. Michael Seymour (Richard Seymour’s brother; both, the sons of Admiral Sir Michael Seymour). The website Watercolourworld has eighteen images, from Michael’s journey in July 1846 to the eastern United States and Canada. He captured some VERY familiar places: Saratoga Springs, NY; Goat Island, Niagara Falls; Chesapeake Bay, Maryland. Being a ‘seaman,’ his pallet is soft, and his eye captures all that shore and sea have to offer. They are in the collection of the Library of Congress.
Other collections of his work include the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia [*new*: 21 IMAGES; use search term Michael Seymour]; Michael’s watercolors from Quebec, can be found at the Musée nationale des beaux arts du Québec. More links in my blog post. I remember, too, a past exhibition of Bermuda drawings, that became a book; will hunt up again that information.

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More family artwork has come under the hammer. Botanicals by Lady Northampton (the 1st Marchioness of Northampton, Emma’s aunt) sold out of the family in December 2020. I hope that, for £40,000 (estimate had been £20,000-£30,000), the album has gone to a UK museum or archive. My fear is that we’ll see the drawings ripped out and sold individually. Auction description claims, forty-five by Maria, Lady Northampton (unsure which were signed Maria Compton; which signed Maria Northampton; her father-in-law’s death would mark the difference); five “possibly” by Margaret Meen; one by “E.S.” – most likely Aunt Emma Smith, Lady Northampton’s youngest sister; one by “R.D.” (wonder: H.D.?); seventeen unsigned. Actively seeking information from readers on the fate of Lady Northampton’s Album. (note: rather erroneously entitled, for search purposes, I suppose, “Lady Maria Compton, Marchioness of Northampton (1766-1843), and Others.”

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January 2021: Although not BY any of the Smiths and Goslings, I will post here links to drawings by Jean Claude Nattes, sketched on the grounds of SUTTONS. (See also the blog post “The Austens, Nattes & Suttons“.) First found were these exteriors and out-buildings of Suttons. More recently I uncovered additional drawings, now in the collection of the Royal Watercolour Society. One is “displayed” online via ArtUK. Two others on the website “Watercolour World” (search NATTES SUTTONS, if link doesn’t bring up only those two works of art).

Suttons was (still exists, as CONDOS) the home of the “Smiths of Suttons.” Variously addressed over the years of the Smith & Gosling correspondence, as “Epping, Essex”; “Romford” and then “Rumford” in Essex; “Hornchurch,” Essex; and today as Stapleford Tawney, Essex. Purchased by Emma’s father in the 1790s (before his 2nd marriage), it passed to the eldest son, Sir Charles Joshua Smith in the 1820s. His death in 1831 meant that his widow (my Mary Gosling) lived there until her death (in July 1842); Suttons was then rented out until their son Sir Charles Cunliffe Smith reached his “majority.” Charles’ sisters, Mimi and Augusta, were “farmed out” — sometimes living in the household of Emma and James Edward Austen Leigh.

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July 2021: a 2017 article in the Sid Vale Association magazine gives information on Fanny Culme, her sister Elizabeth Culme (later Lady Seymour), and a small sketchbook in the Sidmouth Museum’s holdings, including a self-portrait of Fanny Culme (later Mrs. George Soltau). Also illustrated are a couple Sidmouth area drawings, circa 1819. At the very least, one can see one difficulty in locating such ephemera: The last name was thought to be at first Coulter, then Culine. Story by Rab and Christine Barnard.

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