Although I was too late to actually WATCH (online) this London auction (1 PM GMT, 25 January 2017), I quickly could see what this exquisite little diary SOLD FOR, and listen to the rapid sale of other manuscripts and books.
The sale was enticing advertised as representing “Jane Austen’s England”:
Jane Austen’s England.- [Hicks Beach (Henrietta, wife of Sir Michael Hicks, later Hicks Beach, of Netheravon, Wiltshire and Williamstrip Park, Coln St. Aldwyn, Gloucestershire, 1760-1837)] [Diary & Account Book], printed in red with manuscript insertions, 88pp. excluding blanks, most entries in pencil, a few in ink, pencil sketches of furniture on a few pp., list of novels at beginning and provisions at end, 1f. loose, browned, inner hinges weak, original roan, rubbed, ink date “1789” on upper cover, lacks head of spine, 2 tears on spine, 12mo, 1789. ⁂ Includes numerous references to visits and dinners, including to the Chute family of The Vyne (a country house near Basingstoke), and their relatives, the Bramstones of Oakley Hall, Basingstoke, both families known to the Austen and Hicks Beach families. “Friday 6th February 1789 Mr W Chute came to Dinner…”; “Sunday 13 September 1789 went to the Vine to Dinner… Mr. T. Chute”. Also includes amounts lost and won at cards, payment for wages, items bought, money received from Mr. Hicks and paid to their son, Michael. Other names including, the Pettat family (Rev. C.R. Pettat became Rector of Ashe), Polhill, Musgrave etc. Jane Austen was 14 in 1789 when this diary was compiled. “The Beach and Wither families were well known, and frequently discussed by the Austens at Steventon. When Michael and Henrietta Maria Hicks Beach… lost one of their babies, in 1796, Jane Austen was well enough acquainted with their romantic story to confide to her sister Cassandra, ‘I am sorry for the Beaches’ loss of their little girl, especially as it is the one so like me’ (9 January 1796).” – Chris Viveash. Sydney Smith, Jane Austen, and Henry Tilney, Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal, Vol. 24, 2002.
I suspect it was once owned by Chris Viveash. OH! how I wish I had gotten online in time to hear the auctioneer say, “Lots of interest in this lot”, (as he undoubtedly did!). The auctioneer goes through lots FAST, yet always the fair warning, which gives just enough time to put in a new bid, IF YOUR WALLET IS THICK ENOUGH.
The successful buyer must indeed have had deep pockets. The estimate was £400-600.
The selling price (which may NOT include the seller’s premium): £1,100!
Few will have heard of the Hicks Beach family – but attach the name “Jane Austen” and it was guaranteed to sell. Did it go to an internet buyer? phone buyer? or “In the Room” — would LOVE to know where it will be heading to, after today.
Would be WONDERFUL to learn that the Hampshire Record Office (Winchester), which has some Hicks Beach materials, or The Vyne – which gets mentions in the diary – was a purchaser. Will we ever learn its fate??
Perusing letters and diaries you find references to people otherwise long lost in the ‘mists of time’. Or so I would have thought — as you will see, below, two bloggers have discovered and discussed Miss Linwood!
But back to Eliza Chute and her sister Augusta Smith…
It was actually a letter reference that came first: Eliza Chute of The Vyne writing to her dear friend Eliza Gosling (Mary’s mum!) in August of 1798. But as Mrs Chute is travelling and discussing with MEG (as Eliza Gosling always signed her letters) the artworks she’s seen, it is easy to lose sight of MISS LINWOOD in this letter.
Sister Augusta, in her 1798 diary, however puts the focus squarely on the divine Miss L.: On Tuesday, 1 May 1798, Augusta writes, “Mr. & Mrs. Shrimpton Mrs Lefevre, Mrs. S. Lefevre Mr. Ewer, Mr. Still [Stile?] & Mrs. Young to Dinner. Went to the Exhibition & to see Miss Linwood’s Pictures in Needle Work.”
Mrs Chute is more expansive, though, giving a clue as to what it was that Miss Linwood did. The Chutes had visited Burleigh, “taking a great round on purpose to see it. I must own, that it is well worth travelling forty or fifty miles to see; tho’ I had heard much of it, still it answered nay surpassed my expectations…”
The two Elizas could now turn to the subject of art collected at Burleigh: “You know the famous picture of this collection is Christ blessing the elements by Carlo Dolci, which Miss Linwood copied so well, but who can equal the beauties of the original?”
Mrs Chute then continued discussing the painting that was so vividly fresh in her mind as she sat with pen and paper ready to tell her dear friend all her thoughts. She ends, “I think I shall be very difficult to please for a long while…”
But what of Miss Linwood?, you say! Who was she? She did what?
She “copied” paintings, by reproducing them in needlework.
When looking for any information on her yesterday, waves of biography, news, even a diary mention came up — and these two blogs:
- let Miss Vic at Jane Austen’s World — who is always so thorough — fill you in on the life of Mary Linwood.
- and see Number One London for a close-up of that portrait of Napoleon, along with other details of Linwood’s life & work.
**Both websites show the V&A portrait of Mary Linwood (by Hoppner)**
**See it for yourself at the Victoria & Albert Museum website**
It was in trying to find ANY representations of her work — what might Eliza and Augusta have seen?? — that I came across her exhibition booklet (at books.google): Miss Linwood’s Gallery of Pictures in Worsted, the 1822 edition. Might such a fragile companion once have been purchased by the Smiths or Goslings?
But all was not sunshine and light in the life of Miss Linwood… An 1839 diary of Miss Harriette Story Paige gives this glimpse into the lady’s life:
“Friday, July 12. Went to see Miss Linwood’s surprising productions in needlework; they are most of them copies, from paintings of the old masters, and being in frames, the deception is perfect at a short distance. For one piece, a copy of a head of our Saviour from Carlo Dolce, we were told, Miss Linwood had been offered 20,000 guineas. Miss Linwood is now 82 years old, her eye-sight, within the last five years has failed, and of course these are her last productions. It is certainly a very interesting monument of taste, and industry; the ‘death of Abel’ she completed about five years ago, and it is difficult to believe, that the whole effect, is entirely produced by stitches….; this exhibition for many years, has been one of the ‘Lions’…”
But to leave Miss Linwood on a happier note: If any readers come across her actual works, please do tell!
P.S. to all listening, as I am, to the Vienna New Year’s Day concert — Prosit Neu Jahr!
Ah, Thanksgiving has rolled around once again. How time flies…
Just a short post today, putting in a couple links that I found in the past week that I thought would be of interest to readers.
The first is another first-rate find of Vic’s at Jane Austen’s World: She ‘tours’ the fabulous miniature rooms of Mrs James Ward Thorne. Reviewing the “Adam” rooms is like looking through the windows at the two Portland Place residences of the Smiths and Goslings.
And speaking of the Portland Place residences, the wonderful blog Ornamental Passions, which discusses architectural details most people miss when walking around London, has some interesting information on Portland Place buildings — including an important post on No. 5 PP: that the current building at the “address” was built in 1911.
I admit to still not finding out the layout of the street in the early 19th century — although many sources have surfaced telling who lived where on the street!
Anyway, check out both these blogs; you will give thanks!
By the way, if you have a kazillion dollars, you can purchase a flat in No. 5 Portland Place, Marylebone, London.