Thursday, 30 September 2021

Review: Rossetti's Portraits at the Holburne Museum

 Good Lord, it seems an age since I went to see anything pretty.  Very slowly the unlocking seems to have become a reality and museums are feeling brave enough to tempt us back in.  What a wonderful way to start my Autumn - a visit to Bath and the Holburne Museum, for this rather glorious exhibition...


Yes, it's an exhibition devoted to the portraits of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, which honestly sounds like a good time in my book.  As you can see, the exhibition is accompanied by a little precious gem of a catalogue (hurrah, catalogue!) and so I was over excited to attend (and get out of the house).


The exhibition is in one large room with the sections split between walls, and separated with a text panel about the subject.  We start with a few early sketches of both himself and his friends, before we move on to the women who dominate both his life and work.  This is very much an exhibition of  The Women Who Loved Rossetti, even though there are a few exceptions sprinkled in, just to show that he didn't need to be in love to make art.

Elizabeth Siddal (1854)

Obviously, Elizabeth Siddal is the first of the women who feature (other than family members and Emma Madox Brown).  It's a special experience being close to the intimate little drawings of Elizabeth leaning and sitting within the confines of Chatham Place. I had not really considered how caged and observed she looked in these sketches, but especially in the image above, I am reminded of paintings like Spencer Stanhope's Thoughts of the Past,  which I guess was painted at a neighbouring window a few years later...

Thoughts of the Past (1859) John Roddam Spencer Stanhope

Although she doesn't look as tortured as the poor soul in Thoughts of the Past, in the sketches of Elizabeth, she looks restless.  I wonder if that was how Rossetti saw her or indeed felt himself? The works of Elizabeth are at least less stagey and extravagant than what follows...

The Fanny Section!

Imagine my utter joy at discovering they had a Fanny section!  I was a very happy Fanny-Obsessed Art Historian indeed. This is the second exhibition where Mrs Cornforth got her own section and the fact that she has now firmly wiggled into the official narrative is such a proud and joyous thing for me.  She absolutely deserves to be there, sunning herself in the limelight.  Anyway, after I stopped having a moment, I was very pleased to be faced with this selection of beauties...

Sketch for Fair Rosamund (1861)

The Blue Bower (1865)

Fazio's Mistress (1863)

I have to give a special word of praise for Fazio's Mistress which I don't think I see that often and is not glazed, so you can get a really good look at under lighting. It's a cavalcade of gorgeous creamy flesh and high sensual drama, a complete change from the intimate reality of the previous section and I think the strength of his work with Fanny is what makes her special and of note within Rossetti's art history.  Yes, he follows with equally strong and sexy images of Alexa Wilding and Jane Morris but it's Fanny who opens the farmhouse door into Oz, if you know what I mean.  Talking of Alexa...

Detail of Monna Vanna (1866)

I am always amused by our endless puzzlement about Alexa, who is so mysterious and yet everywhere in Rossetti's work from 1865 onwards.  God bless Sylvia Broussine and Christopher Newall for name checking me for my Fanny-centric reading of Monna Vanna which is one of the hills I am happy to die on.  She's holding a fan! Anyway, Alexa and Annie Miller make an appearance before we move on to Jane Morris and Rossetti's endgame with his deep, rich tributes to his love of Jane. 

The Blue Silk Dress (Jane Morris) (1868)

Jane gets to be the poster girl for the exhibition and you can't help but be completely taken aback by the scale of the beauty in these portraits.  That blue seems to have so much texture and depth, it takes your breath away.  I also got to admire his rather nifty roundels...


That's the thing about Rossetti - yes it's his pictures we know him for now but he also thought about the frames and how we experience the whole thing as a piece of luxurious devotion. Not only that, I was delighted to see some of his jewellery in a little case...


I absolutely loved the exhibition; it was succinct and beautiful, giving you exactly what you need to see in a wonderfully calm and dreamy atmosphere.  The catalogue is equally deceptively small but packs a hefty punch in terms of interesting text and wonderful illustrations. It was the exhibition equivalent of someone giving you a big hug and saying 'Come on back outside for a bit, it'll be fine.'

Find out more about Rossetti's Portraits here.

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Review: The Magnificent British Garden Robin (in his own words)

 On the blog page for my novel We Are Villains All, I included this gorgeous illustration...

It comes from a Victorian natural history-type book called Creatures of the Night by Alfred W Rees and I imagine the aim of it was to bring the animals to life for the reader.  I'm a huge fan of such books as they are wonderfully illustrated and teach you a lot about animals you see everyday.  There were scores of them, all gorgeous and fascinating...


...and of late the genre has made a bit of a reappearance as we all slow down and take more time to appreciate the beauty that is on our doorstep (especially in the last year when that is about as far as you are allowed to go).  A couple of Christmases back I bought this little book on robins...


And so I was delighted when I was approached to review a new book on our red-breasted friends.  Not only is the new book on robins, it was written by an actual robin himself.  I am a fan of primary evidence, so I was delighted to read more...

I'm just guessing but this has to be one of the first autobiographies written by a bird I have ever read.  The entire mechanics of how Mr Robin writes are not a problem as far as I'm concerned (far less problematic than how Mr Pusskins uses a phone in the seminal Mr Pusskins by Sam Lloyd) and who better to explain a year in the life of the nation's favourite little bird and a constant visitor to all of our gardens?


The book has a lively Deco feel to it, and it's split into the four seasons, explaining how robins live, love and feed in different parts of the year. For example, it's rather joyous to think as Spring creeps upon us that there are tiny feather-y folk building nests and warming eggs in our gardens as we speak.

I own chickens and so spend many a happy day carrying a hen around, and the subject of their ears has always puzzled me.  I mean, really, where are they?  And how can their hearing be so sensitive that they know when the end of a croissant is not going to be eaten? Honestly, it's just one of the many mysteries of birds, but I do feel a little more educated after reading this book and had a lot of fun doing it.


The illustrations are plentiful and delightful.  I'm a massive fan of Edith Holden (as testified in this post) and so appreciate a well-illustrated nature book.  You will be charmed and disarmed by the little robins and so impressed by their writing skills...



Included in this book are pages on the history of robins and their names through the ages, the Christian iconography and frequent appearances in Victorian paintings. One of my favourite things is spotting the little robin in Millais' Ophelia...


Sort of top-left-ish, in case you were wondering.

There are all sorts of handy, practical things you can learn from this book, from building your own bird bath, to what to feed the little chaps and when. Nothing in my garden can compete with my massive sparrow army, but when my robin does appear, I like to think I'm helping his survival with the food I leave out and I hope he sees at least a few of the mealworms (although with my hens around, it seems a little doubtful).

This is a charming book and perfect for a summer read while we are mostly home-based. It's good to have a greater appreciation of our surroundings and not to come off too Park Life, caring for the wildlife does give you a feeling of enormous wellbeing. I think we could all do with a bit of that right now.

The Magnificent British Garden Robin can be purchased from Amazon UK here and USA here now.

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Mary F Raphael (1861-1942)

Occasionally I'll see a picture and think - 'That's lovely, I'm sure there is loads known about that artist...' and then see it's by a woman and think - 'Rats...' because unless that woman is lucky, or has a lot of kids to keep her art then donate it when the market is more favourable, or she has a solid presence in public collections, then they are often lost.  Anyway, this is the story of Mary F Raphael, one of those artists...


Marianna (Mary) Florette Moses was born on 11 July 1861.  Her father, Assur Henry Moses, was a very well respected Jewish merchant and stockbroker who married Henrietta Cohen in 1855. Marianna was the eldest of six children who followed in the 1860s.  In a later article on her life, it was reported that she was talented with pencils as a child but probably never thought it would be a part of her life.  Her father was apparently a talented pen and ink draughtsman and Mary would idly fill the margins of her school books with ivy leaves, dogs, cats and even mermaids.  These were passed down to her younger sisters who treasured them more for Mary's art.  She was allowed to study art at Mr B S Marks studio in Linden Garden, but this was just biding time before her marriage in 1883, to Arthur Lewis Raphael.

The Water Nymph (undated)

Arthur Raphael came from an extremely wealthy family - when his father died in 1899 he left over a million pounds to his children and grandchildren. I'm sure Mary thought she was set for a straightforward life, with her husband and baby daughter Gladys, born in 1885, but it was not all easy.  Gladys was born with hip problems and was disabled as a child, but no doubt the wealth of the family aided treatment as I will tell you of Gladys's exploits in later life in a bit. Mary fulfilled the role of a society wife, appearing at functions such as the Royal Drawing Room, in May 1889, dressed in velvet and white satin, embroidered in gold.  All was opulence and luxury. Then in on Valentine's Day 1891, Arthur died suddenly, aged only thirty three.

Florizel and Perdita (undated)

Possibly Mary turned to art as a salve after such a shock, possibly it had been planned before Arthur's death and she carried on regardless, but months after becoming a widow at 30, Mary enrolled at Cooke's Studio on Fitzroy Street (in the very pleasant Fitzrovia area of Greater London). The studying there was strict, and she was only allowed to use charcoal until the end of her preliminary study period of technique was completed.  A visiting artist-teacher, Solomon J Solomon saw Mary's art and was impressed, encouraging her over her three and half years of study. She went then to Paris to study at Julien's Atelier under William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant, Jean Paul Laurens and Gabriel Ferrier.  Solomon and Mary must have remained in touch because in the 1895 Society of Portrait Painter's exhibition, Solomon exhibited a portrait of Gladys Raphael, praised for its simplicity and sincerity.

Gladys (1895) Solomon J Solomon

Mary came to prominence at what was probably her first Royal Academy.  She was hung on the coveted line in Gallery VI and her painting, The Wood Nymph, was praised for its delicacy and design. The St James Gazette described it as a pretty and graceful nude, but the outline was a little hard.  However, there was a feeling of 'general unity and whiteness of the flesh tones which is observable in the work of Bronzino and Correggio'. 

Britomart and Amoret (1899)

Her fame continued with a frontispiece in 1899 in the Art Journal.  Her Britomart and Amoret was praised by some for its quality and considerable style, but for others, it was not so sweet.  The East and South Devon Advertiser reported that it was 'a nice clean picture of two models posing as a knight and a lady with an impossible dragon kicking about in the background. Is not this sort of thing rather played out in 1899? Mr Hacker or Mr Byam Shaw, rather than Rossetti, is  the inspirer here.'  I hesitate to go against such an illustrious publication as the East and South Devon Advertiser, but I rather like Britomart and Amoret not least because the couple are two girls, the knight Britomart rescuing the beautiful Amoret from a wicked wizard Busirane (well, actually it's Busgrau the Dragon, but still Girl Power and all that). Britomart is wearing some stunning armour and that is definitely some outfit goals when I come out of lockdown.  I find it interesting that, although the viewers would have been familiar with the subject (there were other depictions of the pair, most famously by Etty), there was no discussion of how androgynous  Britomart was in comparison to previous paintings. Being a lady-knight previously seemed to involve some armoured boobs, apparently...

Britomart Delivering Amoretta from the Enchantment of Busirane (1824) Henry Fuseli

By the 1901 census, Mary and Gladys were living at 2 Hanover Terrace (current property price estimate, £8million) with four maids and a cook.  In her later memoirs, Gladys remembers that her mother became a rather distant figure, so immersed in her art that Gladys was left to governesses, growing up as a shy and timid child. Interestingly in 1901, Mary lists herself as a retired artist.  She had exhibited with the Society of Women Artists in 1900, showing A Lady in White, a portrait of a lady in a white satin dress and sable cloak against a pale blue background.  In the May after the census, she presented Queen Guinevere at Almsbury at the Royal Academy.  She also produced a cover design for An Island Interlude by John Amity, as what seems to be her first foray into the publishing world...


It's not overwhelming and you have to tilt the screen a bit to get the effect so I wondered if there was a more spectacular version of the cover available, but I haven't found one so far.  Not only that but in 1904 she held an exhibition of forty-five oil paintings, entitled 'At Home and Abroad' at McCleans Gallery in the Haymarket.  The Queen magazine reported that 'Mrs Raphael's colour is good, and in her treatment of sunset effects she displays praiseworthy control of her palette, while her street scenes maybe regarded as her best work; she conveys a sense of sunshine without undue glare of colour. "Fields of France" is a charming landscape, soft in colour and having nice feeling.  Her studies of flower are also very pleasing.' One reporter complained that although they appreciated her art, 'too many cases the drawings were spoiled by excessively heavy frames'.

Queen Guinevere at Almsbury (1901)

1904 also saw the marriage of Gladys to Louis Ernest Mendl.  Mendl was actually the brother of Gladys's uncle (married to Mary's sister Frances) and you have to wonder whether it was a slightly arranged affair to sort out Gladys's future. Mary painted either her daughter or her sister as 'Mrs Mendl' in 1906 in a full-length portrait, although there was a mention that 'some of the attention which should be bestowed on the handsome and pleasant face is diverted to the rich texture and colour of the dress.'

In 1905 she exhibited Iphigenia in Tauris showing the figure of a priestess of the temple of Artemis, the complication of emotion playing over her face. Without seeing the painting, it's tricky to say but I wonder if the priestess was there to sacrifice poor Iphigenia (daughter of Agamemnon, who offended Artemis and had to sacrifice his eldest daughter) or if the figure they are describing is in fact Iphigenia. The year later Queen magazine described her painting The Three Witches, praising the sunshine flickering through the trees onto the mossy bank below the trio.

Hide and Seek (undated)

In 1911 at the time of the census Mary was staying with her sister Frances and her husband Sigismund Mendl (brother of Gladys husband. Keeping up?  Jolly good).  She was travelling most of the time in this period, spending time in Venice, then returning to her studio at Hanover Terrace.  In 1912 she held an exhibition in Baillie's Gallery, including Versailles Twilight...

Versailles Twilight (1912)

As War approached, Mary turned her art to more charitable purposes, holding exhibitions in aid of St Dunstan's Hostel for Soldiers and Sailors Blinded during the War.  Both Mary and Gladys were supporters of female suffrage and offered assistance in the cause but it was Gladys who took this forward.  She divorced Mendl in 1912 and almost immediately remarried to Australian bateriologist Dr Harry Schutze, another suffrage supporter.  In 1914, Gladys took part in a deputation to Buckingham Palace where she was beaten by a policeman and kicked by a police horse, injuries from which she never completely recovered.  She remained a keen supporter of the WSPU (Women's Social and Political Union) and sheltered Emmeline Pankhurst at her house in Chelsea, Glebe Place, from where Pankhurst gave  a speech from her balcony.  She also smuggled WSPU documents to Christabel Pankhurst in Paris, rolled up in her hair.  

1914 saw a change of direction for Mary.  She had been involved with cover design of books and her portraits had appeared in books, but in 1914 she published her first novel Phoebe Maroon, the story of an artist's model. It was given very positive write-ups, some remarking that it was thrilling and 'handles an absorbing theme with tact and delicacy'.  This was followed by The Lure of the Loire (1923), The Romance of English Almshouses (1926), The Best PolicyJust in Time and Keeping her End Up, amongst others, all of which were popular and a number published through Mills and Boon. She also published countless short stories in the newspapers and seemed to find greater, or certainly as great, success as a writer than as a painter.  Gladys also wrote, publishing as Henrietta Leslie, and produced books of memoirs which I now am eager to read because she seems to have had a hell of a life.  The frontispiece of one of her memoirs was the portrait by Solomon J Solomon.

Henrietta Leslie (Gladys Raphael Mendl Schutze) (1933) Bassano

The eve of the Second World War saw Mary staying in the New Forest on the south coast, at the Bulmer Lawn Hotel (very fancy indeed although the traffic in Lyndhurst is a nightmare) with countless other people who lived on their own means and had possibly brought their own ladies' maid. She died in 1942, back in London.  Gladys died in 1946 while staying in Switzerland with Harry, who died barely a month later.  I can't imagine it was a coincidence but can't find any mention of the circumstances, despite the fact that her books continued to be talked about after her death.

The Wood Nymph (1896)

So why do we not know Mary F Raphael, despite her having two very successful careers as both a novelist and an artist?  She was well connected, she was wealthy, it's hard to see what the problem is.  Only one of her paintings is in a public collection, The Wood Nymph which resides in Cheltenham at the Wilson Collection.  Her dates are not listed and I could find no more information on the links between her art and her novels.  Mary F Raphael (1861-1942) is yet another woman artist who needs our attention.  I really want to see more of her paintings in colour, and I also want Britomart's armour.  Also, why on earth has no-one written a biography of Gladys? Any woman who smuggles feminist secrets to Paris in her hair has my attention...





Saturday, 30 January 2021

A Drawing of Mary Hillier

 One of the things I most love about this blog is being contacted by people who have images to show me, and then being able to bring you those pictures for your pleasure too.  Also, I love the fact that we often act as a hive mind to solve art mysteries and this is a bit of both. This weekend I have been contacted by someone who had a drawing of Mary Hillier.  Imagine my utter delight because, after all, this book appeared last year...


Up to that point, I was unaware of many, if any, drawings of Mary, who only seemed to exist in the photographs of Julia Margaret Cameron and a bas relief by Murial Perrin. As you can see by that post, the Perrins also drew Mary, but as an old woman.  However, I knew that Mary had acted as a traditional artists model, as in a 1926 local newspaper interview, she talked about sitting for people like G F Watts and Coutts Lindsay, but I had never come across their, or any, other sketches of Mary.  I am fairly certain that Watts turned this photograph given to him by Cameron...

The Holy Family (1864) Julia Margaret Cameron

...into this painting...

Charity (1898) G F Watts

...however, up to this point I had not seen anything like the chalk drawing I was shown, which I shall now show to you.


Right, to start with, it was bought as 'Portrait of a Scottish Girl' by Margaret Cameron, but is clearly Mary Hillier (who wasn't even vaguely Scottish, in case you were wondering).  Here are a couple of useful photographs for comparison...

Group (1870) Julia Margaret Cameron

Study After The Elgin Marbles (1867) Julia Margaret Cameron

The nose bump gives it away. As far as we know, Cameron did not draw as well as photograph, but her circle certainly contained enough artists to be likely candidates.  I have to admit, I was strongly reminded of some of Dante Gabriel Rossetti's sketches of Fanny Cornforth, like these...

Fanny Cornforth (late 1860s) Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Fanny Cornforth (1865) Dante Gabriel Rossetti

 Whilst we know Rossetti knew Julia Margaret Cameron, so it isn't out of the question he borrowed her best model, we also know that Rossetti avoided her company, and didn't visit her on the Isle of Wight.  Rossetti would have mentioned it in his copious correspondence that we still have, and I can't imagine for a moment that Julia would have been able to hold back from telling everyone she could if she managed to get Rossetti in the doors of Dimbola.  Plus, she would have definitely have photographed him.  

Okay, so who else?  Edward Burne-Jones was in the Little Holland House circle, so could it be him? He doted on Cameron's niece Julia Jackson, so could he have used the lovely Mary as a model too?

Desiderium (1873) Edward Burne-Jones

Whilst Burne-Jones did have the opportunity, his style of drawing is often more stylised.  I mean, we can all pick a Burne-Jones woman out of a line up, they are so willow-y perfect.  However, that's not to say that he didn't do the chalk sketch of Mary, he had range as we can see from Desiderium.  However, are there any other suspects?

Portrait of a Girl (undated) Val Prinsep

How about a member of the family, like Val Prinsep, who would have had lots of access to Cameron's home? I don't know enough of Prinsep's drawings to be able to compare, and I haven't seen any chalks by him.  This is where you lot come in - do you have any ideas who did this wonderful chalk of Mary Hillier?  If so, tell me, I'll be excited to hear you thoughts.  It's such a gorgeous chalk and I am so pleased to see other artist's imagery of Mary.  


 I look forward to hearing from you...



Saturday, 2 January 2021

Price and Forse

 Happy New Year and let's hope 2021 treats us a lot less roughly than 2020 did.  I'll kick the year off with a post on two men and one painting.  To start with, here is the painting...

Reverend Edward John George Forse (1906) Reginald Price

Here we have a nice chap of the cloth, the Reverend Edward John George Forse, painted by Reginald Price, but who were these men and how did they come to meet?  I love a good mystery and so I did a bit of digging.  Let's start with Reginald Price...

St Mary's Church, Selly Oak - Thomas Price was the first incumbent in 1862

Actually, Mr Price turned out to be the least interesting of the two in terms of what he left behind him, which is terribly unfair as he came from an interesting enough background. He was the youngest son of thirteen children (thirteen! heavens...) and only older than his younger sister Helena.  Born in Selly Oak in 1878, he was baptised by his father, Reverend Thomas Price, the Vicar of St Mary's Church.  The Price children were obviously close with each other, and through the censuses you can see them staying with each other, or living with each other, the married siblings taking the single ones in. I wonder if there was a 'second parent' sort of a relationship between them all as there was twenty years between eldest Price child, Clement, and Reginald.

By the 1891 census, the Price family were living at Claverdon in Warwickshire, with Reverend Thomas looking after the church there.  He must have made the job look attractive because his son Hugh was his curate and other son Bernard was studying theology.  Reginald had other ideas than going into what seems to have been the family business and took himself off to study art in Birmingham.  Hurrah!

Birmingham School of Art (c.1900)

Full disclosure, I massively miss Birmingham which contains many family, friends and Pre-Raphaelite Society meetings.  Anyway, Reginald took himself off to the Art School there which had girls and art and no-one becoming a vicar! Looking at this image (and the others on this site) it looks heavenly and I want to go too.  By 1901, Reginald was staying with brother Hugh (who had his own vicarage and everything, level unlocked!) in Aston Manor and working in metals as a 'craftsman' of the arty persuasion. He found employment at Rossell School in Fleetwood, teaching art, including painting in oil and watercolour, drawing from cast, nature and the blackboard, drawing from memory and outdoor sketching in the summer (according to their advert in 1911). Just before this however, Reginald became acquainted with a young Edward Forse, a clergyman three year his senior...

Edward John George Forse was definitely a force to be reckoned with. With both his parents teachers, I guess it is unsurprising that Edward was clever.  Born in 1876 in St Jude's Schoolhouse, Englefield, he went off to London University at a very early age, graduating at 18 while also acting as a pupil/teacher. As he was the youngest ever to achieve his degree while teaching, a newspaper report praised his ability and dogged determination in his studies, working seven and a half hours a day, five days a week.  One of the tactics Edward had deployed was if he had not understood part of a text he was studying, he would write to the author and ask.  This paid off well in the case of The Brus, a poem translated by Walter William Skeat, who when asked, wrote back 'a long and most kind letter, literally teaming with information'.  

Walter William Skeat, very helpful indeed.

Less helpful was William Morris, who, when asked about his work Jason, replied that it was so long since he wrote it he had forgotten the subject matter himself.  Seeing as it was around 30 years since Morris had written, this would have been fair enough had Edward Forse not  seen an advert shortly afterwards for a new edition of Jason, 'thoroughly revised by the author'. The newspaper concluded 'Mr Morris's Socialism seems to be of the strictly academic kind which does not permit of his sharing anything, even information, with a casual correspondent.' Ouch.

William Morris, not helpful, apparently.

After London came Cambridge where he received an MA - it's not noted whether he bothered any authors there too, but I'm assuming he did as he was a thorough fellow and I respect that. He also was not short of opinions and certainly not backward in coming forward, as we shall see...

The first letter I found was from 1904 where he wrote of the failings of paraffin lamps and how you have to clean them, you filthy people.  He followed that up with a 1906 letter which went into the statistics for illegitimate births. Apparently the people who compiled the statistics had not gone into the matter of lower infant mortality and longer life expectancy and so the percentages were not telling the whole story.  This is technically correct (the best kind of correct) but makes you wonder who feels moved enough to write a letter to this effect to the newspaper. A man of substantial intellect and desire to share it, no doubt.

Edward was also responsible for numerous books including Glimpses of Poland (1917), La Frontera (1933) and a book of poems and prose, not to mention my personal favourite, Ceremonial Curiosities and Queer Sights in Foreign Churches (1938).  He was also quoted from his parish magazine to the local newspapers, mainly because of his extraordinary trains of thought.  Being one who is not averse to a random thought myself, he is an absolute hero...

The Sydney Herald 1929 (yes, that's Australia), quoted Edward's article about snobs and language.  This is absolutely corking so I hope you will forgive me quoting fullsome-ly...

'The sniffy genteel who contemptuously abhor vulgar abbreviations and never, never, never say 'bike' when they mean 'bicycle', might at least practice what they preach. By George and James and Jehoshaphat and the living Jingo, they will have their work cut out! Remember that 'cab' is a vulgar abbreviation of 'cabriolet', 'pun' should be 'pundigrion', 'mob' is 'mobile vulgus', 'wig' is short for 'periwig', 'chum' is short of 'chamberfellow', 'wag' for 'waghalter', 'rum' for rumbullion', 'gin' from 'Geneva' and so on, ad infinitum. On the other hand, 'pal' is not an abbreviation at all, but a highly respectable Sanskrit word meaning brother. And 'guts' is a polite Anglo-Saxon term of the same origin as ingot.'

Marvellous, and I shall henceforth call people 'chamberfellow'! Another one of Edward's glorious pieces was quoted in the Daily Mirror in 1934 on the subject of London, which he confidently predicted would not exist in 60 years time.  Cities of the past had vanished, he reasoned, and these had been built of solid stone, rather than today's modern 'friable brick, rusting steel and crumbling mortar'.  London would be reduced back to 'a walled town the area of Green Park' surrounded by bramble, most probably by 1995...

Edward obviously travelled with his work, serving as curate in St Paul's in Jarrow, St Bede, Monkton, Maidenhead, Guildford and Southwark, as well as travels abroad, before settling later in life as the vicar of St Katherine's in Bournemouth.  There he stayed, living at 3 Wollaston Road, Southbourne (very nice too, have a look on Google maps), still writing and providing clues for crossword puzzles in The Scotsman. On his retirement, he moved to Boscombe and possibly had to downsize (Vicarages are often generous in size) and so donated the painting by Reginald Price to his local art gallery, the Russell-Cotes. He died in 1944, aged 67 and left his money and belongings to his younger brother Leslie, who was also a vicar. Naturally.

Royal Warwickshire Regiment, First World War

I wish I could say that Mr Price had as happy an old age but he did not reach it.  As a teacher at Rossall School, he felt the call on the outbreak of war in 1914 and enlisted immediately. Rossall seems to have embraced the military life as part of its regime, and many pupils both past and at the time joined up as soon as they could.  Reginald rose through the ranks becoming first a corporal and then a second lieutenant with a commission in the autumn of 1915 with the 6th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment in France. His battalion arrived at Mailly in time for the beginning of the Somme and on the first day, 1 July 1916, they moved forward only to be trapped, pinched in from the sides by German troops. Of the Royal Warwickshire's 1st 6th battalion (there were three different 6th battalion due to size of area they were drawn from, Birmingham) on that first day of the Somme, 130 men were killed or missing presumed dead, with 316 wounded.  Among them was Reginald Price, missing presumed dead, only 37 years old. His name is among those of the boys he taught on Rossall School memorial which is depressingly long.  He is listed on the second panel, one of almost 300 Rossallians who died.


So how did these two very different men meet and how did a painting come to be? I like the mystery of this as, on the face of it, they did not seem to know each other, and Reginald Price was not a portrait painter (that we know of) and so how did we end up with this work?  It's a really beautiful painting and judging by the photograph in the front of Edward Forse's book, a good likeness.  Reginald specialised in metalwork, not painting, but obviously was skilled enough with oil to create this work. As Edward was a vicar, along with many of Reginald's brothers I think it likely that is how the pair met.  Edward is a striking looking chap, so possibly either Reginald just wanted to paint him or Edward commissioned him to do the portrait, which he kept until just before his death.  He obviously thought enough of the work to take it to his local art gallery to donate it, even though Reginald never had the chance to become a well-known artist (no other paintings by him are in public collections). It's a wonderful painting, giving us a thoughtful young man with his fragile golden glasses glinting on a handsome face.  It would be entirely fanciful to presume any other sort of relationship between the two men, but Reginald gives us a very beautiful image of the young, dynamic curate, one the latter would treasure to the end of his life.


So, Chamberfellows, I shall leave you with this mystery.  I now want to read more of the Reverend Edward's thoughts on any subject, but we shall probably never know more of Reginald Price, who died without leaving a trace.  At least we have this painting revealing the talent of one and the beauty of the other.