Regency “It Girls” @ Bonhams

November 27, 2012 at 9:40 pm (diaries, fashion, history, news, people) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Thrilling happenings today. Over the last few days, with a new contact, I’ve been digging into the background of Bersted Lodge — this was the estate of Thomas and Susannah Smith, great aunt and uncle to my Emma Smith; and therefore Aunt and Uncle to her Aunt Emma.

So imagine my complete surprise to come across a watercolor – at Yale (in their British Center for Art) – of Bersted Lodge, done in 1831, by Anne Rushout. Who was she? Had she been at the Smiths’  Bersted Lodge in Bognor Regis in 1831? In one word: YES!

So I’ve been digging and digging…

and ultimately arrived at this little beauty, up for auction at Bonhams this past summer; you will NEVER guess what it sold for:

You may click on the picture to be taken to Bonhams site for a full description of this divine trio, but I will ID them:

  • Anne Rushout (c1768-1849)
  • Harriet Rushout (d. 1851), married Sir Charles Cockerell
  • Elizabeth Rushout (c1774-1862), married 1st Sydney Bowles; 2nd John Wallis Graeve (or Grieve?)

It was Harriet’s married name – Cockerell – that had me crowing: I remember transcribing a name that could be either Lady Cocherell or Lady Cockerell. Now I know… And I’ve not only Rushouts and Cockerells, I’ve at least one Mr Bowles, too.

But to get back to my trio of beauties.

Evidence suggests this work was commissioned by SYDNEY BOWLES – which makes it that much more special to me, for he obviously did not have a long life, if his widow remarried by 1819. Bonhams estimated the piece to sell for £10-15,000. It sold for an ASTOUNDING £67,250 !!! Whoa. Wonder: to whom??

I have found that the University of London has diaries (1828-1849) for Anne Rushout, including the time (I hope…) she spent at Bersted Lodge in 1831; Oxford’s Bodleian has letters to Harriet Lady Cockerell (alas, possibly not early enough for me – 1839-1850). But the interesting and somewhat perplexing note is that a 1958 article, based on diary entries for Anne Rushout, has her diaries spanning 1791 to 1845!?! I could easily suspect a division of the diaries in someone’s will; but what accounts for the additional years at the end?

I’d welcome any information on ANY of the Rushout Girls – but especially anything that puts them in contact with Mrs Thomas Smith (née Susan or Susannah Mackworth Praed); and especially about the whereabouts of those early-early 1791-1827 diaries belonging to Anne.

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Charlotte Frost: Sir William Knighton giveaway (contest)

January 8, 2012 at 5:04 am (books, news, people) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

 

Click on the above image to read more about entering this EXCITING giveaway: friend to Two Teens in the Time of Austen, author Charlotte Frost has written a wonderful guest post about her book Sir William Knighton: The Strange Career of a Regency Physician. Charlotte’s willing to answer questions, and commentors have an opportunity to win one of three copies of her Knighton biography! Jane Austen readers will recognize the world William Knighton inhabited: the court of the Prince Regent/King George IV. (Granted, the prince was not Austen’s favorite Royal…)

Be QUICK: The contest closes on 14th January. Open to “contestants” around the globe.

Charlotte Frost was lucky enough to do research in the Royal Archives, and Charlotte was twice “in conversation” here on this blog. Two Teens is indebted to her for a research trip she took to the Bodleian to photograph Fanny Smith’s sketchbooks. My “eyes” in Oxford! Charlotte’s biography on Knighton is a nice summation of a life few know about. Sir William Knighton was uncle-in-law to Fanny, and is mentioned several times in Richard Seymour’s diaries.

*

Sunday morning update: I’ve had a look at the comments that are coming in – some great “dialogue” going on. Readers interested in the Regency era might appreciate the books being recommended. And, of course, I encourage people to comment & enter. Buy the book, if you don’t win (paperback or ebook formats available). I’ve read it!

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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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Universities Big and Bigger

August 13, 2010 at 4:46 pm (books, news, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , )

A Bodleian staff member responded to my recent query about the SKETCH BOOKS OF FANNY (SMITH) SEYMOUR! The response is mainly ‘we’re moving; even if that were not the case, we don’t have staff nor time…’.

I was, however, encouraged (or I take it as encouragement…) to contact their Imaging Services. (I had asked about obtaining an image or two; I’m not in a position to pay for a lot of images, when there are diaries and letters I should be working with, instead of topographical drawings.)

I’m happy that my inquiry was not ignored. But, at the same time, would it take that much “time” to fetch one volume, flip through it, and describe it a bit? Size of book, number of drawings, that sort of think. I know; We are talking Oxford here, and the Bodleian is large.

I have had luck, in the past, to have gained the help of Prof. Jeremy Catto and Ariel College’s archivist Rob Petre in obtaining images of letters written by young Drummond Smith (Emma’s youngest brother), and copied out by one of the Smith sisters (I suspect Maria) [2013 Update: the handwriting is that of Fanny!]. Prof. Catto owns Drummond’s letter book, which was utilized in a history of Harrow — and that’s how I found out it existed. Talk about the ‘kindness of strangers’… I was and am grateful.*

So I will toss out this request: If anyone reading this post has ties to Oxford, lives nearby etc etc, can gain access to the library collection and has a half-hour to spare, please contact me (see Author page).

The main reason for this post, however, is to recognize someone who DID have time and take the time. She is Elizabeth Dunn, at Duke University, who responded to my initial query about Mary Gosling’s diary. I have remarked on this kindness elsewhere, but want to take the opportunity to reiterate how this project never would have gotten off the ground if I had been told ‘we have no time’. Instead, Elizabeth found the volume, found the entry I was most interested in (about the Ladies of Llangollen), described the diary and the other entries, and got the twenty or so pages xeroxed and sent to me. I met her in person some months later, when I traveled to Duke and transcribed the rest of the diary.

Months later, when I contacted Stanford University for information on holdings they have, my query got a response, but the proffered assistance was never actually acted upon (and I didn’t push it, having other avenues to pursue). Few realize just how important a drop of encouragement is to an “independent” scholar.

As my main hope had been to gain a view or two of Fanny’s books, if Imaging Services is willing and able, my curiosity might be assuaged. (To the tune of their minimum £15 charge!)

Drawing meant so much to Fanny, and (unlike many female amateur artists) she had an abiding desire to draw — even after her marriage. These sketches are dated c.1828-1838; Fanny married Richard in October 1834. Sophie du Pont, whose book I am just finishing, even Diana Sperling, pretty much gave up drawing after marriage.  Lucky Bodleian for having these souvenirs of Fanny.

*I am also lucky in my friendship with author Charlotte Frost, who photographed these three albums!

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Thrilling news of Fanny Seymour

July 22, 2010 at 10:21 am (news, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , , )

It’s always a *banner* day when something new and hitherto unknown turns up! Like Mark emailing about his having Augusta Smith’s 1798 diary — or finding that a giant library like Oxford University’s Bodleian has SKETCH BOOKS that once belonged to Fanny Smith / Fanny Seymour!

I’ve a bit of a soft-spot for young Fanny. When I travelled to England to do research in the Hampshire Record Office at Winchester, I had already been in email contact with Alan up in Warwickshire. Alan made arrangements for me to give a talk on “local girl” Fanny Seymour. It’s amazing that once you LOOK for the doings and goings-on in some one person’s life, comments about them just pop out. So here was I, transcribing big sister Emma’s diaries and letters written by Emma and Mamma Smith (ie, Mark’s Augusta, only twenty-plus years down the road), and putting together the fragments of Fanny’s life. It was a great talk — or so I hope my audience thought! (It was well-attended, though oh so few questions at the end of it all.) And I enjoyed my time up in Warwickshire; I even managed to work a short time with the microfilm containing Richard Seymour’s diaries (check out the old post on my trying to find the whereabouts of Richard’s original diaries).

But back to Fanny!

I wrote a small booklet — which you will hear more about shortly (I’ve been compiling images for it!) — about the young girl years of Fanny Smith, up until the time of her marriage. Alan was hoping to write something similar for Richard Seymour, but he’s been very busy. In that booklet, I had a comment that while Fanny was always written about as drawing, and even mentions herself her love of this art, I had never yet seen — or located — any of her work.

Then, two nights ago, just online trying various search terms, don’t I turn up SKETCH-BOOKS OF FANNY SMITH, and the description calls her Mrs Richard Seymour. The books (unfortunately…) are described as topographical — so NO portraits are expected but imagine seeing drawings of the homes Fanny lived in, visited, and loved!

I’ve been working up an email in my head and will shortly contact Oxford. Part of me simply cannot believe that such items — Fanny’s sketches — have ended up at the Bodleian! I have said and thought “this project is golden” more than once; and this discovery proves it yet again: The Smiths and Goslings obviously want to be found.

The picture is from the book of Diana Sperling drawings, entitled Mrs Hurst Dancing. EASY to imagine Fanny, Emma and the other Smith siblings as characters in this charming little glimpse at English life.

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