Portrait: Which Mrs. Gosling?

December 2, 2017 at 12:33 pm (people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , )

Last year I was contacted by someone with a portrait purporting to be “Mrs. Gosling” painted (in oils) by Margaret Carpenter. The idea was that it could be a portrait of my diarist, Mary Gosling. But, as she was “born” a Gosling, I discounted that idea straightaway.

That left the possibility that she represented a spouse. The probability of “Mrs. Gosling” being SOMEHOW related hung on the idea that she had come to South Africa through Houghton family connections: Elizabeth Houghton (born 1739 or 1743; died June 1811) was William Gosling’s mother, wife of Robert Gosling and sister-in-law of Sir Francis Gosling.

Mrs Gosling_Carpenter

As you can see from the auction “ad” from 2006, the auction house placed the painter “in the circle of” Margaret Carpenter. There is no denying, however, that Mrs. Carpenter painted many members of the Smith & Gosling family – including Emma Austen, James Edward Austen, even Augusta Wilder and Spencer Smith.

I have never seen the “indistinct signature and date” that is supposed to be in the right lower corner. But I have seen the labels on the rear – which, of course, may not be contemporary with the painting.

One label queries a date – 1835? 1855? When I asked Hope Greenberg of the University of Vermont (and a fellow member of JASNA Vermont), she put the dress of the sitter to around 1840. The Gosling ladies would have been on the cusp of fashion; never a decade behind.

LOOK at all the bits and pieces that are up in the air: painter; sitter; date of the painting. Plus it made its way from England to South Africa. On the plus side that it was connected (at least anecdotally) to the Houghton family.

Also on the plus side, that it seems to have an “exhibition” (?) label, designating the painter as at an address truly associated with Margaret Carpenter (also known as Mrs. William Carpenter):

Mrs W:m Carpenter
3, Nottingham Gate
York Gate, Regent’s Park

Exhibition catalogues or Mrs. Carpenter’s own catalogue of sitters (a copy at London’s National Portrait Gallery exists) could help; at present, I have no access.

The sitter is on the younger side – so the Hon. Mrs. Gosling (née the Hon. Charlotte de Grey), William’s widow who died in October 1839, should be discounted.

So the next place to turn is the dress of the woman – who is very fashionably dressed, indeed! The hairstyle, and the jewelry, are also of interest.

It’s the long chain, VERY prominent, that made me wonder: Is it Georgina Vere Gosling? She was Mary’s sister-in-law, the only sister-in-law of the family; only Robert Gosling, the second son, ever married – William Ellis Gosling died young, unmarried; Bennett Gosling and half brother Thomas George Gosling lived longer lives, but never married either.

There is a photograph from 1865 of Georgina Vere Gosling, which I’ve seen elsewhere than online, in which she is wearing just such a chain, though it is not quite so “displayed” around the body, as on the portrait.

But Georgina (born Georgina Sullivan) was born in 1804 – and that is where another label comes into play: it seemingly claims the sitter to have been born in 1810. For the label which (in another hand) claims:

Signed Right/Hand lower/Corner.
By/Margaret/Carpenter/1835? 1855?

— each two line written on either “end” — states, in a large, beautiful, and prominent hand, the obvious intent of the label:

Mrs. Gosling
1810 —  

If we go with the birth date of 1810, that leaves out several wives of the Gosling cousins, for instance Richard Gosling married Maria Elizabeth Gregg in 1820; his wife would not have been a 10-year-old.

But the date does pose an interesting possibility: Born in 1809 was the youngest Gosling sibling, Charlotte Gosling. As Cassandra Austen once wrote that she was taking “brevet rank” — indicating that she now chose to be addressed as “Mrs. Austen” in the place of “Miss Austen,” due to her age, it’s possible that this “Mrs. Gosling” was in fact an unmarried woman, who thought herself past the age of being a “Miss”.

If she was exhibited, her title was merely “Portrait of a Lady” (again, according to the rear label). That the family did lend their private portraits to public exhibitions, at the behest of an artist, IS borne out by one letter (from 1830), in which Mary writes: “I can only sanction its being exhibited on one condition, that Mrs Carpenter should put it into another frame, as I am sure it would get knocked about, and that my Sister would not like it to be exposed to the risk.

To anyone with further thoughts or information, the comment box awaits!

 

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Jane Austen BookBenches

October 23, 2017 at 12:05 pm (entertainment, jane austen, portraits and paintings, travel) (, , , )

Sitting with Jane” was a summertime (17 June-30 August) installation of artist-produced benches that created a 24-stop Jane Austen trail. Last month (15 September 2017) the benches were sold at auction, raising funds for The Ark Cancer Centre Charity.

WHERE will the Jane Austen Trail benches turn up next?!?

I wish I had found this project earlier! The “Trail” looks so fun…

If you’re an ‘app’-person, there’s an app for it: available (or was available…) on iTunes and Google Play. The rest of us can “follow” on an old-fashioned MAP.

Sitting with Jane logo

For those of us now having to let our eyes do the walking online, there ARE illustrations of the benches.

Dancing with Jane

This bench, entitled DANCING WITH JANE, by Michelle Heron, was situated outside the Milestones Museum in Basingstoke.

As you see, the benches were “open books” in design, and the artists got to embellish them any way they wished. Michelle Heron was “inspired by regency dancing and the balls that Jane and characters in her novels attended, with a backdrop of a manuscript from her last fully completed novel, Persuasion.”

JANE AND HER FORGOTTEN PEERS, by Amy Goodman, was situated near Winchester Cathedral – where _I_ have enjoyed several “dining with Jane Austen” meals (though not on the Jane Austen bench, of course). Caroline Fairbairne painted TWO benches, one located in Chawton (entitled CHAWTON WOODWALK); while the other graced the area of Steventon Church (DO YOU DANCE, MR. DARCY?).

Oakley Hall (home of the Bramstons in Jane Austen’s time) gave people the opportunity of WAITING FOR MR. DARCY (by Traci Moss). But I must admit to rather liking the refreshing joke behind Mik Richardson‘s ARE YOU SITTING COMFORTABLY? at Worting House.

Are you sitting comfortablyPlease don’t sit on my book!

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Marylebone: the Art of Painting

September 4, 2017 at 8:08 pm (books, entertainment, london's landscape) (, , )

Watching a recent episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?,” featuring Charles Dance, there came an intriguing moment for _me_ when he chased after an ancestor who had a shop at No. 83 High Street, Marylebone.

It began when Charles Dance encountered a husband/wife pair of portraits. Knowing the husband was officially “an artist,” he simply had to track down some of his work (which he secretly hoped would lead back to the portraits, i.e., a portrait of his wife by the artist and a self-portrait).

His ancestor, Charles François FUTVOYE caused a LOT of comment. “Unusual name” was the gist of the consternation. When the following turned up in one of the London papers which _I_ have often consulted, MY ears perked up!

futvoye_ad

Charles Dance was related to a man who taught “Japanning” to the “Nobility and Gentry”. The above ad ran in 1829. Could any of my Smiths & Goslings visited his shop at No. 83 High-street??

For the older girls, married or marrying by 1829, some of them with young children, their desire for Japanning may have been lessening. And, like Charles Dance, I could well imagine that SUCH an unusual name (the man had emigrated from Spa, Belgium) would have caused me no end of consternation during transcription. So, even if he’s there, his name could be misspelled!

I did search, with no luck, Emma’s diaries from the 1820s; I’ll go back further – and also take a look through all the letters, to see if anything turns up. No. 83 High-street would have been a ten- to fifteen-minute walk from Portland Place. Mr. Futvoye also sold art materials. Anything is possible, therefore.

Today the premises is a lovely bookshop: Daunt Books for Travellers.

futvoye_shop

Recent fans will join Charles Dance’s newly-found kin in wanting to hear about Game of Thrones (his role: Tywin Lannister); I remember him most fondly for The Jewel in the Crown (his role: Guy Perron).

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The Matrimonial Ladder (1825)

August 20, 2017 at 9:35 pm (books, entertainment, history) (, , , )

Catherine Kullmann has posted the most delightful “graphic novel” – from the year 1825.

Declaration

With pages headed by words like Admiration, FlirtationApprobation, and Declaration (above), the reader enters into the romance of “Henry” and “Maria” via witty poetry and drawings. Given that the title is The Matrimonial Ladder, you know that things will not always go smoothly for the two lovers…

It is a true *find* – and readers are lucky that Ms. Kullmann has shared her ‘gift’ with the rest of us!

Click on the photo, then scroll to the bottom to get to the beginning of Henry & Maria’s story.

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Sotheby’s Museum Network

August 9, 2016 at 8:40 pm (entertainment, estates) (, , )

Charlotte Frost’s Twitter account is always informative, with news, books, English history (and that’s just for starters) – but this sounded EXTRA-EXCITING:

sothebys museum network

An August 5th press release announcing “an online destination to discover video content created by and about the world’s leading museums,” called Sothey’s Museum Network. “The Treasures of Chatsworth,” which is now in production, will be a 13-part series, featured on the network in the fall.

To read the entire article, click on the photo.

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“Funny Business” at the Huntington Library

August 28, 2015 at 6:35 pm (entertainment, travel) (, , )

huntington

For those lucky enough to be within striking distance of the Huntington Library in San Marino, California: Funny Business: Humor in British Drawings from Hogarth to Rowlandson. The exhibition opened on August 15 and runs until 30 November 2015.

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Portraits / Costume Database: The Portrait Project

January 29, 2014 at 2:42 am (entertainment, fashion, history, portraits and paintings) (, , , , )

Breaking news of a terrific website:

portrait project

If you’re like me, you might look at a portrait and wish you could “date” it; or, you might wish to know what costume looked like, say, in 1817. This database will help! A lot of “famous” faces, and you’ll soon begin to recognize certain “famous” artists, too. But what a wealth of well-arranged, early to navigate information & images!

There’s even a “History Timeline” which lays out a what-happened-when series of happenings, compositions or world events. For instance, if you see 1813’s mention of JANE AUSTEN’S PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and wish to see what portraits looked like from c1813, simply click on the link – et voilà!

Artwork represented comes from many nations and time periods; portraits are nicely ID’ed.

Highly recommended.

Lady Milner_vienna

Lady Milner

George_IV

George_IV

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Mrs Delany writes Letters

August 14, 2012 at 12:04 am (books, goslings and sharpe, history, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Ah, August… when the summer sessions at the university END, so ends the evening hours at the library. Booo!

Today, if they had been open past five, I would have gone to have a look at their collection of Mary Delany books. A new biography published last year had caught my eye, but there were other books I had looked at over the years but never taken out. I really want to see them, but must wait for noontime Saturday when the library’s open 12-5.

This silhouette comes, however, from a book published in 1821!  While I’ve long known about the more recent books, I had no idea anything was published as long ago as that. Might Emma and Mary have read Letters from Mrs Delany? Might Emma mention it in her diary and I just hadn’t been paying attention enough to make note of it?

Today Mrs Delany is remembered because of her Flower Mosaics. Yet a quick perusal of the index in vol. 6 of her letters shows how valuable her published letters could prove to the Smith & Gosling project. Why? Among other things, she evidently banked with Goslings and Sharpe!

For instance,

March 1780, from Mrs Delany: “I hope my last letter and draft on Gosling for L:y Clanbrassil’s christning {sic} money has arrived safe.”

September 1770, to Mrs Delany: “…he has vowed that he will be punctual to a day to the hands of your banker, Mr. Gosling.”

December 1758, from Mrs Delany: “I have indeed set my heart much upon your going to town, and you have a draught on Gosling, etc., which I designed should pay for the Birmingham boxes…”

She therefore, goes back to the very beginnings of the banking firm!

So who in 1756 might “Mrs Gosling” have been — she wouldn’t have been William Gosling’s mother (i.e., Mary’s paternal grandmother), as William’s parents only married in 1763. William’s father, Robert Gosling, though would have been with the firm — having joined in 1754, according to The History of Barclays Bank. At this time the firm was called Gosling, Bennett, and Gosling — for the partners (Sir) Francis Gosling, Samuel Bennett, Robert Gosling.

Could this describe Elizabeth Douce, William’s paternal grandmother? Elizabeth Midwinter, prior to Francis Gosling’s knighthood? (According to The Alderman of the City of London, Francis was knighted on 28 October 1760.)

It’s a curious comment, and a faintly unflattering one:

March 1756, from Mrs Delany: “Wednesday, I spent with Mrs. Donnellan instead of going to Israel in Egypt; and how provoking! she had Mrs. Montagu, Mrs. Gosling, and two or three fiddle faddles, so that I might as well have been at the oratorio.”

Mrs Delany was a Handel fan.

The Gosling circle tightens when one finds the Correspondence of Samuel Richardson contains (in vol. 4) letters to Dr and Mrs Delany, Mrs Donnellan, Mrs Dewes (sister to Mrs Delany). Samuel Richardson was the guardian of Miss Midwinter — who became Lady Gosling, wife to Sir Francis.

Oh, my….

It’s eleven at night and I find myself *WISHING* I had all the hours in the day to devote to research – there’s so much here. And how was it that I found Mrs Delany this evening: looking up information on BIO – Biographers International Organization. I’d love to hear from anyone belonging to BIO; I’m thinking of applying.

As midnight looms, I wrap up this post with a listing of the online books relating to Mrs Delany:

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In Nelson’s Navy: Seaman Hodge

May 3, 2012 at 6:35 pm (books, diaries, history, jane austen, news, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Searching for letters and manuscripts (I need to tap into the network of people who buy/sell letters – I want MORE scans of MORE letters!), I came across old information – but it’s too good to miss passing along to readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen — for what did Jane Austen follow with great intensity, but the exploits of the Royal Navy. Specifically, of course, the movements of her Sailor Brothers.

It seems we are still – 2/3 years later – in the dark about the purchaser of this little gem: See this wonderful post by Joan Druett.

Joan also fills in the background of the Diary of Seaman George Hodge. In 2009 – and you can find many press stories about this – the diary was put up for auction through a firm in Portsmouth, New Hampshire [so close to my home in Vermont!].

As you can guess from the above illustration, Seaman Hodge was an able artist as well. So I join the cry, if a bit late then at least with some earnest shouts: Please Publish the Diary of George Hodge!

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International Women – a Bit of a Rant

March 10, 2011 at 8:13 pm (news, people) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I was sorry to be waylaid by snow (and MORE and more and even MORE snow), here in New England, and be unable to post ANYTHING about International Women’s Day — IWD marked its 100th anniversary on Tuesday, March 8th.

See IWD’s website: http://www.internationalwomensday.com/

I am fairly apolitical, but certainly “dream” of a world of decency towards all, equality of the sexes, equal wages, equal opportunity — and am smart enough to know I’ll never live to see such things. (“Dreamers” see solutions to world problems, but no one listens.)

At the same time, it really annoys me when people, discussing Austen’s era, disparage the idea of women of the “leisure class” having nothing to do and how boring their lives must have been because they couldn’t go out and work, must marry and have children, must be under the thumb of father, husband or brother.

My Smiths and Goslings of course would be included here. And they were people not under anyone’s thumb (you’ve never seen anyone more formidable than Mamma Smith!); they also had money enough to live without marrying — but the girls chose to do so. Choice is something many today don’t have: we must work, even at jobs we hate, just to pay the bills. So who’s to say that “today” is better than “yesterday”? It really all depends on the individual.

I adore the arts. Lament that my parents were not encouraging when, in grade 5 or 6, I wanted to take up the drums (you can guess why they were not encouraging! however: I never learned to read music…). I grew up in a small Vermont city with no one in my life who was interested in plays, theater, concerts (which were as active then as today). I found those things, later, on my own. I enjoy working for hours and days and months on a writing assignment; it fills my mind when I write. I cannot imagine a house devoid of books (even Andy Rooney, last Sunday, spoke of Kindles and real books!).

In short, I would KILL for a life as lived by young Emma Smith and Mary Gosling: drawing lessons from artists; trips away from a country home (quiet!!!) to the bustle of London for the ‘season’; concerts and operas and plays enjoyed and understood; time to read; time to learn foreign languages — and money enough to go on trips to those foreign lands!

Now, I recognize that not everyone would have talent for, or even like, pursuits like drawing, music, travel, reading, learning. But some also don’t care to spend time in an office. Some people are Career-minded; Career with a capital C. Some are nurturers and want a homelife and children. Some work to live rather than live to work. Some are artistic — and just wish artists didn’t traditionally ‘starve to death’.

I’m sure there were women in the 19th century who wanted to “work” for a living (and were disparaged for it, if they did it), just as there are women today who would rather be home (and are disparaged for it). Every individual tries to do what brings them enjoyment; some are less successful than others; some just never have the opportunity to rise to their particular potential. Roadblocks exist, have existed, and will exist. I don’t fit into my “world,” but have tried and am trying to carve a new niche. None of us represent an era, a generation, or women in general. We are each only ourself.

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