Paper Conundrums

May 30, 2019 at 9:01 am (entertainment, history, research) (, , , , )

After reading about Karen Ievers’ Photo Album (once belonging to Lord George Hill) having some bound-in “manuscript” pages, I thought about all the paper bits I have seen.

It’s not usual for “paper” to be reused. As well as, of course, collected. Countless letters no longer exist, while their address panels were saved (often cut out). These are typically franked pieces, collected for their “signatures.” The *hard part* is when writing from the letter appears on the backside! Potentially “valuable” pieces of evidence, just gone.

Augusta Smith, Emma’s sister, was a talented artist. At least in her early years (ie, during the late 1810s), her portraits were often done on pieces of paper quite evidently cut out from programmes obtained at the Ancient Concerts. Augusta and Mamma attended the Antient Music concerts faithfully every week during the season.

(Full concert programmes have only been seen by me as bound sets, online on books.google)

Some of those pasted down squares show the portrait VERY CLOSE to the text of that evening’s performance – as if Augusta had taken her pencil from her reticle and sketched while she listened!

Others, although pasted down, you can see the heavily-imprinted text from the backside, as in the subscribers’ list below.

Here, the Goslings – mother, father and the two sisters (Elizabeth and Mary) – are found in the list of subscribers for 1823 (the above link):

goslings1823

The interesting thing about Augusta’s portraits is seeing the wealth of music offered in an evening. All the choruses, songs, glees, and concerti. These were the golden days of the Knyvetts, Miss Travis, and Miss Stephens, names which turn up in the Smiths’ diaries and correspondence with great regularity.

What I discovered recently (to my dismay) is that old letters could also be used for SILHOUETTE CUT OUTS. Turning one such cut out over, I could just detect handwrting. Old paper tends to be stiff, and obviously made a useful item to pillage when one ran out of silhouette paper. But like the franked letters above, and even the Antient Music programmes, a loss to posterity of the original.

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Anne Rushout’s Sketchbook

November 20, 2014 at 11:40 am (diaries, entertainment, history, places, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , )

One of the MANY (many….) people peppering the Smith & Gosling papers is Anne Rushout, a beauty painted several times, and an artist of some merit. I first wrote about her when a search turned up a rather extravagant gavel price for a portrait of Anne and her sisters – Regency “It” Girls – all three of whom figure tangentially in my research, depending on which family members one follows.

The eagle-eyes of author Charlotte Frost (Sir William Knighton: The Strange Career of a Regency Physician) spotted this new-ish blog (thanks, Charlotte!) under the delightful name of Wicked William – which has posted two series of Anne’s watercolors (click on photo).

While there, I also invite readers to also check-out WHY William was “wicked”….

Rushout_Mersey-towards-Toxteth-Park-1829

* Anne Rushout’s “Regency Tour“, from which comes the View of the Mersey (above)
* Anne Rushout’s Wanstead
* and a little background info on the Rushout sisters, especially Anne

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Have You Seen this Lady?

November 10, 2013 at 12:31 pm (chutes of the vyne, estates, history, london's landscape, portraits and paintings) (, , , , )

Mike from Tring sent me a photo of a drawing – a room in a house: But which room and in which house (never mind by which Smith sister, assuming it to be by a Smith in the first place). The companion drawing has a notation of “Chinese Bedroom at Tring”. I can barely make out the date, which could be 1829? The other drawing is untitled and undated.

The un-ID’ed room has a box piano to the left, then a group of stout books (folios) in a free-standing bookshelf. Two windows flank a well-stocked bookcase (which includes a tier or two of ceramics); this is placed central in the sketch. What appears to be a chess set sits on a table in front of the left-most window. A seating area is seen to take up much of the right side.

The Ceiling is high and decorated with much plaster-work (no murals within the medallions); the floor is carpeted (a block pattern, with perhaps floral motifs?); wood flooring peeks out at the sides. The windows are tall, starting near the ceiling. A left-hand-side door leads to the rest of the house, a wing (or perhaps porch?) of which is glimpsed outside the window.

What catches the eye straightaway is the full-length portrait over the filled bookcase. Identification of the portrait may help ID the room and in turn the estate and the artist. I’ve got my guesses, but toss it out to TWO TEENS readers: Shout out if you’ve seen this Lady!!

The stag makes me think “Diana the Huntress” or some other “symbolic” figure; but the clothing seems right out of a portrait meant to represent (dare I hope) a family member, thought the head-dress may be conical and have a gauze-fabric (or is that more ‘tree’?). The scale of the portrait to the room makes the actual painting HUGE! It hangs just below the crown molding, and if the room has a 10-foot ceiling, the painting could be over five-feet in height!

mystery lady and deer

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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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Lady Elizabeth Dickins sighted!

March 27, 2011 at 8:58 am (people, places, research) (, , , , , )

Ah, just gotta love these 19th century published memoirs! Here is one, entitled Further Recollections of a Diplomatist  where the biographer has gone “on to Castle Ashby…” Sir Horace Rumbold describes being “at first much bewildered by the size of the beautiful old Jacobean pile, with its intricate passages and long, creepy galleries. But although a thoroughly haunted-looking house, no uncomfortable traditions appear to attach to Castle Ashby.”

He goes on to talk of the inhabitants: “We spent upwards of a fortnight here, our host taking a great fancy to the boy, and to the quaint German patois songs they had been taught to sing in parts by one of their nurses. Lord Northampton [the 3rd marquess; son of Spencer and Margaret] was already then in the very last stage of decline, but his conversation was still delightful, and, like his gifted sister, Lady Marian Alford, he was an admirable draughtsman, and worked with pencil and brush to the very last. Artistic gifts are indeed hereditary in the family, for staying in the house was old Lady Elizabeth Dickins [or Dickens, I see the name spelled BOTH ways…], Lord Northampton’s aunt, who used to amuse the children with very clever pen-and-ink sketches which she did, for choice, kneeling by the table, although then considerably past eighty.”

One letter, written in 1824, from Augusta (Emma’s sister) to Lady Elizabeth discusses her “scratches” and “sketches”. What precious items these would be to locate — but I am on the trail…

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The Envelope, please…

October 16, 2010 at 11:10 am (news) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Such good news came in yesterday’s post, even if slightly damp and limp thanks to generous all-day rain:

From the Annual General Meeting committee, 2011 – Fort Worth, Texas. My paper proposal was accepted for the AGM covering “Jane Austen: 200 Years of Sense and Sensibility“!!

Must admit to coming up with a great topic, one very apropos for my likes and interests — and for which I must thank Natasha Duquette and Elisabeth Lenckos; without their request for book chapters (mine on drawing, writing, and music in three Jane Austen novels), I would never have thought along the lines I did for this paper proposal.

The title says much about its content, and I include a short teaser description:

 “A House Divided? How the ‘Sister Arts’ Define the Dashwood Sisters”

In Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen consciously chose for eldest sister Elinor Dashwood a desire to practice the art of drawing; for middle sister Marianne, that of making music. What does this simple choice of dividing the sister arts between sisters imply for their characterizations?

With the artistry of Elinor and Marianne manifested in Elinor’s drawings adorning walls and Marianne’s music-making filling the parlor, visitors to Barton Cottage (readers included) have treats for their eyes and ears; likewise audience members attending this talk will be treated to the sights and sounds of the early-nineteenth century.

So, members of the Jane Austen Society of North America, accept this early invitation to “Barton Cottage” (aka some small conference space in the Renaissance Worthington Hotel) to attend my talk! Yeee-ha!

***

An aside: the Kimbell Art Museum is in Fort Worth; it houses the wonderful self-portrait of perhaps my favorite artist: Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun (view the portrait). The best Vigée Le Brun website is at batguano. TONS of information on the artist, her life AND work; just superb images culled from all over the world. Among the books on the site is the Kimbell Exhibition catalogue; I can recommend also the biography by Angelica Goodden (The Sweetness of Life) and her source material, Sian Evans’s translation of Madame Vigée Le Brun’s Souvenirs (“Memoirs”).

My last-spotted portrait is in the wonderful Museo de Arte de Ponce (a fabulous place! Puerto Rico’s gem!), the Comtesse de Chastenay.

My VERY FAVORITE portrait, which started this craze, is the evocative Countess Ecaterina Vassilievna Skavronskaya (thank you, Svetlana, for telling me about the Musée Jacquemart-André , Paris!)

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Funny thing happened today…

July 6, 2009 at 1:45 pm (portraits and paintings) (, , , , , )

I received a lovely email from Eliza, who has been ‘saving’ and ‘rescuing’ items related to the Tupper family. One of the items turns out to be a sketchbook by Mimi Smith’s daughter (Mary Gosling’s grand-daughter), Florence. As a coincidence, this turn-up is slightly astounding. Gearing up for a couple of talks in Hyde Park, Vermont (in August and September), my topic is lady artists – those who would never have thought to make a living at what they did, but who enjoyed drawing and painting enough to do it quite well. Unless the sketches can be dated (Mimi’s portrait is surely based on a photograph of her – though it may have been done long after the photo was taken; especially since the face looks quite young and the year of her death is penned in beside the biographical information the artist saw fit to include), it’s difficult to guess how old little Florence would have been. But as it seems a lesson in drawing (pen and ink) and coloring (watercolor), based on existing pictures, she must have been fairly young. A teenager, perhaps.

I thank Eliza for sharing her ‘find’ with me! Just proves my point that we never know what will turn up in someone’s closet or attic or rubbish bin…

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