William Ellis Gosling moves to El Paso, Texas!

May 25, 2013 at 11:52 am (books, news, people, portraits and paintings) (, , , , )

IMAGINE my utter surprise to see the following turn up in a December 2012 Newsletter for the El Paso Museum of Art:

william ellis gosling portrait

They’ve purchased my William Ellis Gosling’s portait!!
(by Sir William Beechey)

Designated the “Members Choice 2012 Winner”, it has been at Lawrence Steigrad Fine Arts, having once hung (but been ‘deaccessioned’ in 2000) in West Bend, Wisconsin. Ah, little does anyone know what they had, and El Paso now has.

William Ellis Gosling, the eldest child of banker William Gosling and his (first) wife Margaret Elizabeth (“Eliza”) Cunliffe, was born in the summer of 1794. The painting, exhibited in 1800, is surely of a child younger than age 6. Mention is made of “Master Gosling” (p. 72) and the family sittings (p. 244) in the 1907 book Sir William Beechey, R.A. (I don’t know why you can’t search the “read online” copy and find Gosling anymore…)

I will finish this post – with some information about dear William Ellis – later. Off to the library at present! (pouring rain…)

6.49 pm – have returned; and it’s STILL pouring out.

William Ellis Gosling was the eldest of seven children. Mary’s earliest diary, from 1814, is a door-to-door travel memoir of her trip from London to Oxford — to see her brothers who were at the university. For the 29th of June, Mary wrote,

“Tuesday [sic: Wednesday] morning having been invited by William to breakfast in his room accompanied by Robert we walked to Brazennose where there was a very sumptuous Collation prepared for us, Dr and Miss Burton partook of it, afterwards Papa, Mrs Sandoz my Sister my two brothers and myself went in a four oared boat to Nuneham  William and Robert rowed us and as they could not get any other young men to row us they got two fishermen and Miss Burton’s butler steered us.  Mama Dr. and Miss Burton were in the open carriage”.

A few years later, in September 1818, William is mentioned as having been at trial over a pick-pocket; the young man, Thomas Gardner – only 21-year-old) – was found guilty and sentenced to transportation. The short transcript of the Old Bailey proceedings says, in part,

“THOMAS GARDNER was indicted for stealing, on the 25th of June, from the person of William Ellis Gosling, one pocket-book, value 3s; one half-sovereign, and one 1 [pound] bank note his property.

WILLIAM ELLIS GOSLING, ESQ. I am a banker, and live in the Strand. On the 25th of June I was in Bear-street, Leicester-fields, at the time of the election, about half-past four o’clock, looking at the state of the poll, which was up in a shop-window, and felt somebody touching my right-hand coat-pocket. I turned round, and saw the prisoner with my pocket-book in his hand. I charged him with taking it, which he denied. I took him into a shop, and sent for a constable.”

Groan! a red morocco “pocket book”! So perhaps William kept a diary, like his sister, if this was something like The Daily Journal…

Between 1823 and 1828 William commissioned (one presumes) two portraits by Sir Edwin Landseer… of his dogs: Bob (a terrier) and Neptune (a Newfoundland). Both works went on to be engraved by Landseer’s brother Thomas. (full color of each dog: Bob; Neptune) Mary’s husband Charles notes in his diary for January 3, 1829: “Went with W:m Gosling to see Landseer’s pictures  he is a most admirable artist”.

Spotting William in Mary’s diaries is easy; he is frequently mentioned, coming for visits (and going), dining; when not in company with one of his brothers, he accompanies Spencer Smith, Charles’ younger brother. After Charles’ death, William often is her man of business, coming when the rents were due. William is also mentioned in this capacity in the diaries of Susannah Smith (Charles’ great-aunt, the widowed Mrs Thomas Smith).

Dreadful news comes in Mary’s entry for the 30th of December, 1833:  “Received an account from my Mother to inform us that William had got the Scarletina, but was going on well.” And on the following day, “Went to town, and saw my Father who was much the same. Made many inquiries about William but I could not learn many particulars.  he dined at Richard Gosling’s on the 29th and complained before dinner of having a sore throat, during dinner it became so much worse that he was obliged to return home… on Monday morning Mr Tupper pronounced it to be Scarletina… he expressed it as his opinion that none of the family should go up to him, as he considered it an infectious complaint.”

The next FIVE years of Mary’s diaries are missing…

While I can chart – somewhat – the last illness of Mr Gosling (the father), in the diary for 1834 kept by the Rev. Richard Seymour (some sections of the diary have been cut out, probably removing sections about Richard’s distress about the family of his brother John), nothing is said of the death of this young man, which occurred on the 3rd of January, 1834. Richard records that Mrs Smith (“Mamma”) asked him to visit Mr Gosling on Sunday, January 12th; he calls the next three days. One more visit is recorded (what missing might once have existed is of course unknown) before notice of his death: “Heard from Lady Smith of the death of her poor Father Mr. G – wrote her a note of comfort – & by her request went to them at 4.” (27 Jan 1834)

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Howdy from Texas and the JASNA AGM

October 15, 2011 at 11:33 pm (jane austen, jasna) (, , , , , , , )

How-dee!

Been some wonderful weather down here in Fort Worth, Texas — cloudless blue skies; warm days but some breeze. Can’t say I’ve seen much of the city, however what I’ve seen is quite lovely. This evening, for instance, on the Promenade (yes, those dressed in costumes walked the square; I don’t dress but I did walk!), a gorgeous building near Sundance Square was illuminated and the trumpeting figures on the sides of the facade stood out in full relief. A-ma-zing.

Some highlights:

  • Tried taking the public transportation (bus –> train to Fort Worth and the hotel); all worked well, but it took me nearly as long to get luggage, get bus, await train, and walk to hotel as it did to FLY from Manchester (NH) to Atlanta (GA)! 3 hours….
  • My Friday talk — “A House Divided? How the ‘Sister Arts’ Define the Dashwood Sisters” — went well. People seemed interested in hearing about music and opera, art and drawing and how the two elder Dashwoods somewhat personified the art they each practiced.
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner was on our own Friday; I had a cup of tea English Breakfast tea made with water in the coffee maker, and with half-and-half (no milk!). Lunch was a sandwich; I think it was turkey & cheese on a croissant. Not bad – but purchased in the hotel so a bit pri$ey. Thanks to the PRESS for TIME (am: last read-through of paper; lunch: really the last read-through and a little preparation — while the room was being cleaned…) dinner was going to be the bag of popcorn on offer for the evening’s movie marathon. Instead: it was pizza shared with screenwriter Andrew Davies, who sat down beside me. How kind. Can say that I ‘rubbed elbows and shoulders’ with him. If only some of his Austen “luck” would rub off on me.
  • an interesting talk on miniatures and hair tokens, with perhaps a source for helping to track down some of those “missing” portraits I know about.
  • a nice breakfast on Saturday with three British ladies (and much better tea than the day before!).
  • a lovely dinner Saturday night, followed by the promenade.
  • a fun talk (though it lacked any true “ending”) by Andrew Davies, with clips from Pride & Prejudice (of course), Northanger Abbey, Emma (EXCEPTIONALLY hysterical story behind that one!), and Sense & Sensibility.
  • the singing Cowboys, “(clap-clap-clap-clap), deep in the heart of Texas”.
  • a five-second face-to-face with Freydis Welland and her sister about their relatives: the Austen Leighs, Smiths of Suttons &c.
  • a wonderful roommate in JASNA board member Sally Palmer.

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Texas Beckons – Long and Winding Road nears its end

October 12, 2011 at 8:03 am (jane austen, jasna, news, travel) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Today marks the beginning of the JASNA AGM long and winding road: I leave for Manchester, NH and a Thursday flight for Dallas-Fort Worth.

It has, indeed, been long and winding…

Was last year about this time that I proposed a paper to the Annual General Meeting 2011 of the Jane Austen Society of North America. Then came the acceptance! Hurrah, was my first thought; but it’s been much work — and time away from my beloved Smiths & Goslings. In the last month, when I might have been living life in 1830s England, transcribing Richard Seymour’s diaries, I’ve been looking to fine tune some Jane Austen writings. I’ve read Austen because she would have been Emma’s “Aunt”; Emma, on visits to Chawton, when she describes Cassandra Austen or Edward Knight, might have been rubbing elbows with a woman whose books she read (there is a diary notation of Mansfield Park in 1818). I’ve certainly learned a lot about life, reading Austen’s novels; and also learned about obscure aspects of her novelistic world by studying the Smiths & Goslings. Yet, I’ll be glad to get back to “work” come November. I’m missing “my people”!

I’ve never been West – so this will be a bit of a treat. Going book-looking in New Hampshire (if all goes well) at my favorite used bookstore: Old Depot No. 6, in Henniker.

Not a lot of book room in the suitcase, should the JASNA Emporium beckon…

Hope to keep you up-to-date while I’m at the AGM!

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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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