New Matrimonial Ladder (c1853)

September 10, 2017 at 9:32 pm (books, entertainment, history) (, , , )

In search of images by artist Thomas Onwhyn (c1814-1886), also known as Samuel Weller (under which name he did “illegitimate” illustrations of works by Charles Dickens), I came across a wonderful blog post at BOOKTRYST. Onwhyn illustrated his own version of a book I fell in love with when first coming across The Matrimonial Ladder (1825).

new matrimonial ladder_possession

Onwhyn’s version – called (surprise) A New Matrimonial Ladder – of the “tale” has charm, and you see above his deft handing of scenery (many of his drawings were published by Rock & Co., London), with the cliffs in the background. It is a hard choice – like choosing between the prettiness of Brock or the allure of Hugh Thomson when discussing illustrations of Jane Austen novels.


The drawings of “M.E.” (above) have much in common with such delightful books as Mrs. Hurst Dancing (drawings of Diana Sperling) or A Picture History of the Grenville Family of Rosedale House (drawings of Mary Yelloly).

I think you will enjoy BOTH (online) “books”.

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Old Artists, Faded Art

May 15, 2016 at 7:01 pm (books, portraits and paintings) (, , , )

One of the most difficult things to accomplish is the identification of portraits. Too many portraits who remain unnamed.  Merely, “Portrait of a Gentleman” or “Portrait of a Lady”.

Ross_a Lady-closeup

Also “unnamed” – sometimes – are the small-scale artists. For instance, I have a will which gave the TANTALIZING news that family portraits existed (at least up to 1814). But who was the painter?

family pictures

“all the Family Pictures painted by Mr. Fold[s…]”

For the life of me I could NOT read the last few letters of the name…

But, while researching for my upcoming article on James Boswell and the city of Chester, I came across this book – and offer it as an excellent place to look up some SMALL Artists, a DICTIONARY of exhibitors from The Society of Artists of Great Britain and The Free Society of Artists, compiled by Algernon Graves (published in 1907):

society artists

I’ll give a special prize to the first reader to email me (smithandgosling [dot] gmail [dot] com) with the ONE exhibitor of paramount interest, a Smith & Gosling relative, who appears in Graves’ line-up.

NB: the artist’s name in the will extract may be John FOLDSONE (father of Anne Mee). Foldsone was described in 1808 as “A painter of portraits in oils, small heads, of no great merit, but with sufficient likeness to procure much employment at a small price. His practice was to attend his sitters at their dwellings.” (He was not alone in this practice, actually.)

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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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Arts Alive!

March 29, 2011 at 9:03 pm (books, news, people, places, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , , )

Over the weekend (Friday?) I saw a news story about military artists, ie, men in Afghanistan who were official “painters” at the front. I simply cannot put my hands on that story (though I’ll keep looking… this stuff usually gets posted at the news website — and I only get local channels, so CBS, ABC, or NBC are the possible choices.)

However, looking for this story, I’ve come across some other interesting links of war-era art.

My reason for looking, or being interested in this in the first place?

I just finished writing an article talking about art — and art, of course, is half my AGM paper (see references to “A House Divided? How the ‘Sister Arts’ Define the Dashwood Sisters” on this blog). Austen scholars tend to think of drawing as a female accomplishment but maybe don’t think about the fact that before the advent of the CAMERA pencil and paper were the only way to record people, places and things that meant something to you. Maria Smith even drew her own frontispieces to letters: she certainly had the artistic ability to do it with great success.

I once came across a notice about Mr William Gosling (Mary’s father) sketching at STOWE.

A travel sketchbook was last year auctioned in a house sale (New Hall); the artist was Mary’s cousin, Alexander Davison’s daughter Dorothy. The Italy Album, containing forty drawings made c1840, sold for more than twice its estimated: £5000.

Among my favorite books are some publishing Queen Victoria’s drawings.

So this news story (on whatever channel…) really caught my attention: people, in this digital day-and-age, still picking up the pencil, still coloring with watercolor — and at the warfront too!

While still searching for that particular story (tell me if you know!), I found some of these “stories” of interest too:

* They Drew Fire: Combat Artists in WWII

* US Army Center of Military History: Army Art Program – A Brief History

* A Brush with War: Military Art from Korea to Afghanistan [publication based on prior exhibition]

* World War I: Doughboy Center

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