I am presenting a study course on the Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923) for Greater London Arts Society. The traditional study day with three one-hour sessions will be replaced with three following days, one hour each morning.
The dates are:
Monday 9, 16, 23 November (FULL)
Tuesday 10, 17, 24 November
Due to popular demand Monday is already at full capacity.
But there are still places left for Tuesday.
Start time each morning is 11.00 am. The session will last until around 12.30/1.00, allowing time for questions and discussions.
The fee for each individual one-hour session is £10, with a bargain rate of £25 for all three.
If you are interested, please contact Susan Branfield….
Happy to offer this to all Art Societies, as a study day or short course.
Joaquín Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light
This series of three interconnected lectures follows on from the highly acclaimed exhibition held at the National Gallery, London in 2019. For many this will have been their first experience of ‘Spain’s John Singer Sargent’. In his day Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923) was acclaimed for his dexterous representation of people and landscapes under the bright sunlight of his native land. Sorolla’s work is often exhibited together with that of his contemporaries and friends, Sargent, Anders Zorn and S. Peder Kroyer. The Spanish painter Velazquez influenced their painterly style, all three artists known for their bravura technique. Born in Valencia, Sorolla and his sister were orphaned at an early age. His talent recognised, Sorolla was awarded a grant which enabled a four-year term studying in Rome. A long sojourn in Paris in 1885 provided his first exposure to modern painting. He created a high-chrome version of impressionism, with many paintings lit and composed like snapshots. His art looks fast; Sorolla was known to be quick, not least because he normally worked outdoors, even when painting on vast canvases.
Sorolla’s breakthrough was but one aspect of Valencia’s fin de siècle culture. Modernisme Valencià was comparable to developments taking place in Barcelona in literature, art and architecture. Sorolla’s Valencia had opened its eyes to modernity, aided and abetted by both prosperity and a desire to assert Catalan identity. The city was transformed by the architects Demetrio Ribes Marco (1875-1921) and Francisco Mora Berenguer (1875-1961), who was appointed the municipal architect. Typically, Modernisme Valencià used modern materials, iron, glass and ceramics. As in Barcelona, mosaics played their part in decorating exteriors and interiors, most notably the famous railway station, Valencia North. Local motifs include oranges, fishermen and the fallera, girls dressed in traditional costumes and jewellery, that parade during Las Fallas, Valencia’s spectacular festival of fire on the 19th March. Sorolla tried to capture this spirit of Spain in his monument series The Provinces of Spain, depicting all the regions of the Iberian Peninsula, painted for the millionaire Archer Huntington. Famous in his day, Sorolla’s reputation was eclipsed by Cubism and Abstraction. But like his contemporaries, Sorolla has been recuperated, his art seen to embody the modernity of the fin de siècle.
My presentation on the De Morgans and Lovelaces, for the De Morgan Foundation, included the Lovelace’s neighbours on the Chelsea Embankment. The Lovelaces lived at No.12, Wentworth House, commissioned by Ralph King-Noel-Milbanke, Baron Wentworth, later 2nd Earl of Lovelace, Byron’s grandson. The area became a renowned artistic enclave best described as ‘haute-bohemian’, as residents along the Embankment included Sir Percy Florence Shelley, 3rd Baronet of Castle Goring, the son of the poet, and solicitor and art collector Wickham Flower. At No.7, Monkswell House, commissioned by Sir Robert Porrett Collier, 1st Baron Monkswell, we find another artistic family. This magnificent town house, described as a ‘Victorian country house brought to town’, housed the entire Collier clan. It was a complicated household, with Sir Robert’s son, the artist the Hon. John Collier and his wife Marian ‘Mady’ Huxley, accommodated in a self-contained flat and studio with a separate entrance behind on Dilke Street. The premises comprised:
the big studio on the 1st floor & the billiard room on the ground floor. There was sufficient space in the billiard room for another if rather smaller studio. There were enough small rooms built off the big studio to make it a self-contained domicile…The connecting link between the studio (Dilke Street) portion of the house & the main building fronting the Chelsea Embankment was a large greenhouse. (Collier 29)
Monkswell House, 7 Chelsea Embankment, designed by R. Phené Spiers, architectural master at the Royal Academy.
Despite his aristocratic title, the Hon. John ‘Jack’ Maler Collier (1850-1934) was no amateur ‘Sunday afternoon painter’. His father, Sir Robert acted as Solicitor General and Attorney General before serving as a full-time judge of the Privy Council.
Sir Robert Collier, later 1st Lord Monkswell, 1817-1886
Sir Robert Collier, The Jossen Horn (Christie’s South Kensington, 2002)
A gifted amateur artist himself, Sir Robert encouraged his son’s artistic ambitions. Collier recalled, ‘I was a younger son and my father thought he might risk it’ (Obituary, Yorkshire Post) The Collier family appears to have been exceptionally talented; Sir Robert’s brother, Arthur Bevan Collier (1832-1908) was a professional artist best known for his Scottish, Welsh, and Cornish landscapes.
Arthur Bevan Collier, Carthamartha (Plymouth City Council)
Hon. John Collier, Portrait of Robert Collier, 2nd Baron Monkswell (1845-1909), Secretary of State for War in 1895, Chairman of the Royal Commission on Health and Safety for Miners and author of the novel Kate Grenville (City of London Guildhall Art Gallery, formerly in the GLC Heritage Collection). After Sir Robert’s death in 1886, Robert succeeded his father as the 2nd Lord Monkswell.
John’s elder brother Robert (‘Bob’) and his wife Mary (nee Hardcastle, 1849-1930) were also content to live in this patriarchal fashion; no doubt they enjoyed being cared for by eighteen servants. As Mary Collier tells us in her journal, Monkswell House was a pleasant place to live: ‘A big red house, where we shall all live, with stables, billiard room & studio- a separate drawing room for me and a study for Bob…This will suit me down to the ground as we shall have country air & yet be in town’. (Collier 28) The neighbours were certainly of the right calibre: ‘To the East of us are three houses supposed to belong to Shelly, Lowndes [barrister and writer John James Lowndes, 1814-91] & Dundas [Hon. John Charles Dundas, youngest son of Lawrence Dundas, 1st Earl of Zetland, 1845-92] (Collier 29). Able ‘to live in one of the nicest houses in London with that view of a mile of river, and right up to Sydenham; very often to use the family carriage; to be allowed to give 4 or 5 dinner parties of our own…’ the Colliers saw no reason to move out. (Gooch 97)
Mary, Lady Monkswell’s journals provide a rich source of information on the Collier/Hardcastle/Huxley families. As Mary was a fellow-student of John Collier at the Slade School of Art, they also provide insight into artistic life. However, the published journals, edited by her youngest son Eric Cecil Frederick Collier were expurgated. With access to the uncensored volumes in the Dorset History Centre, Simon Gooch was able to present a more accurate picture in his The Collier Family (2007), particularly Mady Huxley’s tragic descent into psychosis and John Collier’s subsequent marriage to her sister Ethel ‘Babs’ Huxley (1866-1941). Such a union was not possible in England before the passing of the Deceased Wife’s Sister’s Marriage Act 1907. Lady Monkswell did not approve, cutting the Collier’s off.
A Liberal MP, Robert Collier’s politics were radical, which must have placed him at odds with his wife. While he endorsed Irish Home rule, she was a flag-waving jingoistic Unionist. Nevertheless, she supported his political career becoming a dutiful wife, making the social rounds and holding dinner parties. As to her brother-in-law, John Collier, she considered his ‘views most advanced’.(Collier 9)
As a young woman she took her time at the Slade seriously, even continuing to attend after her marriage: ‘I went to my Slade school and worked for 2 ¼ hours at the head of my Apollo Belvedere. My enthusiasm is somewhat cooled by hearing that it is only a Roman copy of the Greek original’. (Collier 9, 29 Jan 1874) Her son Eric claimed, ‘in drawing and painting she could be really good’ (Collier ix). Mary was present to see her brother-in-law John Collier awarded 1st prize for the painting from life: ‘All the students were assembled in the life room in a great semi-circle some 200 or more & Poynter [Edward Poynter, first director) lectured upon the competition drawings and announced the prizes’. (Collier 13, June 1874)
Mary was keen gallery goer: ‘We went to the Academy & had a good look at all the pictures except the popular Roll-Call by Miss Thompson which was surrounded by a struggling multitude’ (Collier 13, May 1874). In June 1877, we find Mary visiting Mr Heathcote’s ‘amateur drawings’: ‘in nearly all the “amateur” was very strong’, and practice at drawing was sorely needed (Collier 24).
In addition to her education at the Slade, Mary Collier had the benefit of tuition and criticism from her father-in-law and John Collier. Lawrence Alma-Tadema, a close friend of Sir Robert, was a regular visitor to Monkswell House. Mary recalled a visit to Alma-Tadema’s studio-house, Townshend House, Regent’s Park, in 1878:
I went to a party at Alma Tadema’s which suited me exactly. I sat on a comfortable sofa & heard Brühl (?), a new man, play a most wonderful what I took to be a fantasia of Liszt’s. Then dear Joachim [Joseph Joachim, the famous violinist)played a Bach suite and afterwards these two great swells played the 2nd part of the Kreutzer Sonata together. My eyes, it was nice!… Joachim’s sleepy eyes blazed open & his face quite changed while he played.
I afterwards examined Tadema’s picture for Sir H. [Henry] Thompson [the famous physician]- a Roman inner court planted quite full with great red poppies & sunflowers. The story of the picture seemed to be that the Roman father & mother have just come back home & are being welcomed by a charming little daughter aged about 12. The mother, a young woman with red hair, a glorified edition of Mrs Tadema, is embracing the daughter. Behind is a smaller daughter sitting on her heels & beckoning to a Skye terrier (I did not know they existed with the ancient Romans). The father is coming down some steps on the right with a grand toga. It looks so natural and life-like that I can hardly believe the originals are buried along the Appian way….
It was certainly a very distinguished party. Alma Tadema, one of the first of living painters. Sir Henry Thompson, the first of living surgeons. Thomas [Huxley], the first physiologist. [Robert] Browning, poet. (Collier 31)
A Corner of a Roman Garden or Hearty Welcome (1878, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford) features Alma-Tadema’s family: his second wife, Laura Epps and his daughters by his first wife, Laurence and Anna. Much later John Collier would paint Laurence Alma-Tadema’s portrait; an accomplished novelist and poet, her artistic dress indicates that Laurence wished to be depicted as a successful New Woman.
Miss Laurence Alma-Tadema, 1864-1940 (exhibited at the RA 1900)
Alma-Tadema and his wife were invited to John Collier and Mady Huxley’s wedding on 30th June 1879. After the service, Mary was ‘very much pleased and amused by sitting in the little garden, talking and looking at Herbert Spencer [philosopher and biologist], Alma Tadema, Sir Joseph Hooker [botanist and explorer, Darwin’s closest friend] & Mrs Alma Tadema, who was enveloped in a most wonderful garment which looked like a cream coloured pillow case.’ (Collier 36)
Much later, in 1893, Lady Monkswell recorded a trip to Alma-Tadema’s studio in the company of Henrietta Vyne, Lady Ripon, her neighbour who lived at ‘Turners Reach House’, 9 Chelsea Embankment:
It was a delightful afternoon. I picked her up & she talked to me in her charming, brilliant emotional manner all the way up to St John’s Wood. Old Tadema was most attentive to us & showed her everything. I had seen before the studio with the apse lined with silver, & the upper gallery & the Pompeian Court where he writes his letters, & the recess looking into the greenhouse with the painted panels. But Tadema himself is as the hymn says, ‘new every morning’. I certainly had not seen the garden door; the upper half is very thick inlaid glass in a sort of Japanese design with a broad border of what might well be uncut jewels. It faces east & Tadema said in his wonderful enthusiastic, eloquent & also unintelligible manner (the manner of genius) ‘When the sun shines through it, it is like a hallelujah’. He said another pretty thing; we were remarking how forward the trees were in his garden & I was lamenting their infatuation at coming out & being frost-bitten year after year—He half whispered to me ‘It is because they are getting old—they forget’. (Collier 220-1)
‘I had seen before the studio with the apse lined with silver, & the upper gallery’
Alma-Tadema’s Studio-House, Grove End Road: Rudolph de Cordova, ‘Hall of Panels’, The Strand Magazine (December 1902). This numbered fort-five panels, a memorial to an entire circle of artist-friends. John Collier contributed Temple at Philae (The Windsor Magazine, Vol. XX, 1904, p. 255).
As her family grew- her first son, Robert Alfred Hardcastle Collier, was born in December 1875- and her husband’s political career prospered, Mary evolved into a society grand dame. Her social circle was wide and varied judging by the dinner parties she attended. In 1886 the Colliers died with the Stewart Hodgsons. James Stewart Hodgson, a partner in Barings bank, was a patron of Frederic Leighton, PRA. Mary Collier sat between her host and George du Maurier, the famous cartoonist, observing ‘he is quite absurdly like Alma Tadema.’ (Collier 125) March 1889 saw them dining with their neighbours the Wentworths: Mary Collier was almost overwhelmed at meeting the ‘GOM’(Grand Old Man), William Ewart Gladstone, even though he was undermining the ‘foundations of the Empire’ with Irish Home Rule. On this occasion she sat between Mr Leveson Gower [Edward Frederick Leveson-Gower, Liberal MP for Bodmin] and the American author Henry James: ‘Every word he says is worth taking down’ (Collier 148). At a ‘nice party at the George Trevelyans’, Mary attempted to converse with Trevelyan, ‘one of the most interesting men in London to talk to, tho’ he does not converse, he holds forth & you have to listen- but that suits me.’ (Collier 149) Apparently, it looked as if the curse of Cain were upon Trevelyan, as ‘his right eyelashes are white and his left black. Perhaps this is since he turned Home Ruler.’
Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema, 1836-1912
George du Maurier, 1834-96
Sir George Otto Trevelyan, 2nd Baronet, 1838-1928
Mary invited the ‘great and the good’ to her own dinner parties. In May 1889, the ‘pretty members of the party’ were Virginia, Lady Goldsmid (‘a fair Italian… with lovely blue eyes, a sweet smile & a sweet voice’) and Dorothy, Lady Grey, the wife of Sir Edward Grey, ‘a very young Gladstonian member’[later 1st Viscount Grey of Fallodon]: ‘There was a perfect roar of conversation; I don’t think anyone was bored’. (Collier 149-50)
Dorothy, Lady Grey, the wife of Sir Edward Grey, by Cyril Flower, 1st Baron Battersea (NPG)
There were also plenty of house parties, such as the long weekend with the Goldsmids at their country estate Somerhill, near Tonbridge, Kent in November 1884. Sir Julian Goldsmid, 3rd Baronet, lawyer, businessman and Liberal MP, expanded Somerhill, a Jacobean mansion, to accommodate his large family – he had eight daughters! Mary Collier entered the mansion with some trepidation but as Count Münster and Mrs Childers treated her kindly she ‘felt in my proper place.’ (Collier 117) Georg Herbert Fürst zu Münster von Derneburg, German diplomat and politician, served as ambassador to London 1873–1885.Hugh Culling Eardley Childers was appointed Secretary for War in the Liberal Government returned in 1880; by 1882 he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. It would have been his second wife, Katherine Anne Gilbert, who reassured Mary, who was suffering from ‘imposter syndrome’.
Mary’s accounts of dinner parties, musical soirees, and ‘weekends’ catalogue an incredible array of ‘swells’, with many celebrities drawn from the world of politics and diplomacy. The Huxley family introduced men of letters, scientists, and figures from the medical profession into the mix. John Everett Millias, Lawrence Alma Tadema, Frank Dicksee and George du Maurier added a touch of glamour; these successful artists enjoyed an unprecedented degree of social mobility.
Sir Julian Goldsmid, 3rd Baronet, 1838-96
Unlike her sister-in-law Mady Collier, Mary Collier never professionally exhibited. Like many lady artists, she painted for pleasure and used her artistic talents to support her philanthropic causes. When the committee of the Amateur Art Society asked for a sketch for their annual exhibition, she never refused; ‘ her sketch- usually of flowers, but she was just as good at landscape—was invariably sold at once’ (Collier x).
Mary, Lady Collier, Walkham River, Devon (1898, Private Collection)
John Collier, portrait of Mary Collier (1874, private collection)
In July 1874 Mary sat to John Collier for her portrait: ‘I gave Jack a long sitting for my picture which is gradually getting a little more like. Artists conspire to make me the living image of despair when my disposition is rather cheerful otherwise.’ (Collier 14) When not able to sit, Jack had improvised a lay-figure; ‘It gives one a horrid shock to see your favourite gown suffered with cushions sitting on a raised chair in the most indifferent manner’. Fortunately, Mary was pleased with the final outcome: ‘Jack has made the most flattering likeness of me: I look so mild, sensible and pleasant I really do not know myself; I could not wish of anything better to go down to posterity (Collier 14, July 1874)
The Hon. John Collier and his wife Mady Huxley Collier will be the subject of separate blogs.
You can also watch a short video on the Hon. John Collier’s portrait of Lewis Waller as Monsieur Beaucaire on my YouTube channel:
Mary Caroline Stuart-Wortley on her Wedding day on 30th December 1880
Although needed at home to nurse her invalid father, Mary Stuart-Wortley wanted to be a professional artist. She even considered commercial work, notably designing greetings cards. Perhaps she hoped to supplement the family’s income. According to family tradition Mary yearned to be an artist from her youth: ‘She ardently wished to study painting, and she put all the force of an exceptionally strong will into becoming an artist. She decided to have training at the Slade School in Gower Street. Her parents always bent to her will and they agreed to this’ (Tweedsmuir 1952, p. 28). Unlike the Royal Academy Schools, the Slade, which opened in 1871, admitted both male and female students to the life classes.
Although Mary might have envied her brother Archie’s educational opportunities, he likewise enrolled at the Slade. Their attendance may have overlapped, as Mary was enrolled c.1872-73. She would have found herself in the company of Evelyn Pickering (1855-1919), who married William De Morgan in 1887 and Mary Fraser-Tytler (1849-1938), the second wife of the painter and sculptor George Frederick Watts.
Drawings from cast and life undertaken by Evelyn De Morgan at the Slade School of Art, De Morgan Collection.
Apparently, Mary S-W hung her martial home Wentworth House with Evelyn’s paintings. Her family had little regard for them, although ‘they respected Evelyn de Morgan as a hard-working and dedicated artist’ (Tweedsmuir 1966, p. 23). I only painting I can securely document is The Sea Maidens (1886), as this was returned to Mrs Wilhelmina Stirling, Evelyn’s sister and biographer.
‘Aunt Mary had strong views about the necessity of helping artists of her date and age, and she inveighed against the many people who bought old masters or hung reproductions on their walls’. Mary preferred ‘the company of architects and craftsmen’ (Tweedsmuir 1966, p.23).
Susan Buchan, Lady Tweedsmuir claims that once married, her aunt had ‘to endure a quiet and ingrown existence’ (1966, p.22). Her ‘strange and lonely life caused her opinions to be frozen into the attitudes of her youth’. Mary, Lady Monkswell’s Diary, gives us a rather different picture of life at Wentworth House (Sat 16th March 1889; Collier 1944, p.148):
‘We dined with the Wentworths our neighbours & had the great, almost overwhelming honour of meeting the Grand Old Man (William Ewart Gladstone). I cannot say what I feel when I see him & consider his wonderful appearance his age (79), his past…I sat between an agreeable Mr Leveson Gower & Henry James, the American…Every word he says is worth taking down.’
Also present was Lady Compton, 5th Marchioness of Northampton (1860-1902) the Hon. Mary Florence Baring, daughter of the 2nd Baron Ashburton. Lady Monkswell noted ‘I should like to have her for a friend’. Apparently she was ‘the only child of an exigeante Mother & had to look after an exigeant husband & a very exigeant father-in-law’ (p.149). On the evening in question she was wearing black velvet with strings of diamonds & turquoises, ‘tall & pretty but extremely thin, which is not to be wondered at’.
Lady Monskwell observed: ‘Wentworth House was charming, full of old pictures, china and the central figure Lady Wentworth, with her fair hair, in white and diamonds’.
Lady Monkswell, nee Mary Josphine Hardcastle (1849-1930), married Hon. Robert Collier in 1873, becoming Lady Monkswell upon the death of her father-in-law Robert Collier, 1st Baron Monkswell (1817-1886).
Mary Hardcastle also enrolled at the Slade during its opening years, her attendance perhaps overlapping with her brother-in-law, the Hon. John (Jack) Collier (1850-1934), who took 1st prize for painting from life in 1874.
Mary Hardcastle, Lady Monkswell by the Hon. John Collier
Portrait of the Hon. John Collier by his wife Marion Huxley (1859-87)
The Slade attracted serious female students from the middle and upper classes. Their aspirations were satirized by novelist Vernon Lee:
‘Young ladies, varying from sixteen to six-and-thirty, with hair cut like medieval pages, or tousled like moenads [sic], or tucked away under caps like 18th century housekeepers, habited in limp and stayless garments, picturesque and economical, with Japanese chintzes for brocade, and flannel instead of stamped velvet– most of which young ladies appeared at one period, past, present, or future, to own a connection with the Slade school, and all of whom, when not poets or painters themselves, were the belongings of some such’ (1884, p.309).
According to her niece, Mary S-W was the only girl in the family with no dress sense. Allegedly, she never wore corsets. Her family clearly regarded her as an ‘oddity’, referring to her paintings as ‘Mary’s Daubs’. Yet Mary was still anxious to safe-guard her social position as a respectable lady. Travelling from St. James’s Place to the Slade on Gower Street was a tricky task:
‘When she was young, no girl of quality could be seen alone in the street without scandal. She had to leave too early for the schoolroom party and their governess to be free to go with her. Her mother’s maid was busy with the much more congenial task of running up the seams of cheap stuff for ball dresses for the young ladies, and the daily ride in a four-wheeler (hansoms were barred as being too exposed to the public gaze) was much too expensive to be contemplated. However, by sheer force of character and insistence she managed to get an escort through the danger zone of Bond Street and Regent Street, where friends and acquaintances might be met. Then, alone, she embarked on a quick rush through the remaining streets till she reached the Slade, and she told me amusingly of her terror lest any friends, returning in a luggage-laden four-wheeler from King’s Cross or Euston, should catch a glimpse of her. After all these dangers were past, she stood at her easel all day, walked to within a shilling fare for a cab in the evening, and came home to amuse her invalid father’ (Tweedsmuir 1952, p.28).
Mary would have studied under Edward Poynter, Burne-Jones’s brother-in-law, who was appointed the first Slade Professor at University College in 1871.
Edward Poynter 1836-1919
Poynter forged a friendship with the Stuart-Wortley family through several different avenues. He was a close friend of Millais, who tutored Mary’s brother Archie. Through Millais, Poynter secured a prestigious commission from Edward Montagu-Stuart-Wortley-Mackenzie, Earl of Wharncliffe (1827-99), Mary’s cousin. Poynter was charged with decorating the billiard room of Wortley Hall, near Sheffield, in June 1871. Poynter’s pencil drawing of Margaret Stuart-Wortley, dated 1875, appears to have been a preliminary study for a portrait (Christie’s Victorian Paintings, 1995, Lot No.66, p.43).
It seems probable that Mary was introduced to Edward Burne-Jones by Poynter. Their relationship is dealt with in a further post.
Although Mary allied herself to the avant-garde, preferring to show her paintings at the Grosvenor Gallery rather than the annual summer exhibition of the Royal Academy, her style was informed by Poynter’s academic standards. Her illustrations to The Story of Zelinda and the Monster or Beauty and the Beast, re-told after the old Italian version and done to pictures by Mary Stuart Wortley, Countess of Lovelace (London: Dent, 1895) would appear to place her amongst the so-called ‘Olympians’. The classical setting echoes paintings by Poynter and Lord Frederic Leighton.
There stood the Monster, and he came down to meet them.
“Zelinda, canst thou love me?”
Marriage did not deter Mary, Lady Wentworth from exhibiting. The following were shown at the Grosvenor Gallery, the titles giving us a good idea of the subject matter she was attracted too:
1879: Evening on the Cherwell
Here’s flowers for you; hot lavender, mints, savory, majoram.
The marigold that goes to bed wi‘ the Sun, And with him rises weeping.
1884: Bavarian Orchard
1885: In an upright country
Portrait of Five Sisters.
Of these works, only a photographic copy exists of Portrait of Five Sisters in the archives of the National Portrait Gallery. Mary based her self-portrait on an image by Frederick Hollyer (1837-1933), the famous photographer who reproduced many paintings by Burne-Jones. She sits with her face in profile, turned away from the viewer. Both the painting and the photograph depict a fashionably dressed lady, not the ‘oddity’ described by Susan Tweedsmuir.
Collier, Hon. E. C. F. 1944. A Victorian Diarist Extracts from the Journals of Mary, Lady Monkswell, 1873-1895, London: John Murray.
Lee, Vernon. 1884. Miss BrownA Novel. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood & Sons.
Tweedsmuir, Susan. 1952. The Lilac and the Rose, London: Duckworth.
Tweedsmuir, Susan. 1966. The Edwardian Lady. London: Duckworth.
In her reminiscences, The Lilac and the Rose (1952), Susan Buchan, Baroness Tweedsmuir, the daughter of Caroline and Norman Grosvenor, recalled: We did not know many artists when we were children. But William de Morgan and his wife were friends of the Lovelaces and I saw them for time to time, though they were hard […]
In her reminiscences, The Lilac and the Rose (1952), Susan Buchan, Baroness Tweedsmuir, the daughter of Caroline and Norman Grosvenor, recalled:
We did not know many artists when we were children. But William de Morgan and his wife were friends of the Lovelaces and I saw them for time to time, though they were hard working artists with little time for social life. They lived at The Vale, King’s Road and I recall that it was heavy with Virginia Creeper, whose strands had to be parted to allow passage to the house, where a pleasant shabbiness reigned. There was a gentle charm and philosophy about Willian De Morgan and he was a delightful talker. I remember we once went to see them in Florence one evening- in their little apartment. Conversation turned to life after death, and William De Morgan said ‘I should like to be a speck somewhere in the sky when I die, a speck with intense perception’ (1952, p. 56)
This Blog relates to a Zoom presentation I gave on the De Morgans and the Lovelaces for the De Morgan Foundation. Ralph Gordon King Noel Milbanke (1839-1906), Viscount Ockham and Baron Wentworth from 1862 and 2nd Earl of Lovelace from 1893, was William De Morgan’s friend since childhood. He married Mary Caroline Stuart-Wortley (1848-1941) in 1880; Mary attended the Slade School of Art alongside Evelyn Pickering, William De Morgan’s future wife. I first came across Mary Stuart-Wortley while researching Edward Burne-Jones’s painting The Golden Stairs (1880, Tate Britain). Several sources placed Mary on the stairs alongside her contemporaries: Francis Graham, May Morris, Laura Lyttelton and Burne-Jones’ daughter Margaret.
Penelope Fitzgerald, Edward Burne-Jones: A Biography, 1975.
Having never come across her before, I set out to recover Mary Stuart-Wortley’s story. Over the following twenty years this endeavour has taken me down some strange paths. Lady Mary became a prominent activist in the Royal Amateur Art Society, Octavia and Miranda Hill’s Kyrle Society and the Home Arts and Industries Association founded in 1884. It is worth tracing Mary’s trajectory from aspiring artist to committed philanthropist. Her story also offers insight into the complexities of Victorian society. Family ties and friendships formed during childhood and schooling forged alliances later in life.
As the interconnections through family ties and marital alliances are so complex, I have broken my account of the Stuart-Wortleys into sections on individual family members. I am rapidly concluding everybody in this story is a ‘cousin’. In addition, we are dancing on the edges the coterie known as The Souls, who dominated intellectual life at the close of the century.
Wentworth House, 12, Chelsea Embankment. Designed by John Hungerford Pollen for Ralph, Lord Wentworth in 1877.
Turners Reach House, 9, Chelsea Embankment, London
Home of George Frederick Samuel Robinson, 1st Marquess of Ripon. Block designed by Richard Norman Shaw.
No.7 Chelsea Embankment, ‘Monkswell House’.
Designed for the judge and amateur painter Sir Robert Collier, later 1st Baron Monkswell, by R. Phené Spiers, architectural master at the Royal Academy. This large residence also included a flat with a studio for Collier’s son, the Hon. John Collier and his wife Marion Huxley, both professional painters.
Chelsea Lodge built in 1878 for the Hon. Archibald Stuart-Wortley to the design of E.W. Godwin. Archie shared this studio-house with Carlo Pellegrini (1839 – 1889), nicknamed Ape, Italian for Bee.
A Circle of Siblings
Although Oscar Wilde keenly observed Society was ruled by women, Victorian social networks were centred on birth: ancestral, familial and marital ties. Marriages resulted in complicated interconnecting family genealogies. A web of relationships, family allegiances and alliances, could ensure the progression of one’s career.
Mary or ‘Mamie’, as she was known by her family, was the eldest of nine children. Her father the Rt Hon. James Archibald Stuart-Wortley, Q.C., M.P., Privy Councillor (1805-81), was the third son of James Archibald Stuart-Wortley-Mackenzie, 1st Baron Wharncliffe. In 1846 Stuart-Wortley married the Hon. Jane Lawley (1820-1900), who was the daughter of Paul Beilby Lawley Thompson, 1st Baron Wenlock.
Rt Hon. James Archibald Stuart-Wortley, Q.C., M.P.
Mary spent much of her early childhood in a handsome London town house, 3 Carlton Gardens (Tweedsmuir, 1952, p.26).
Stuart-Wortley was Solicitor General from 1856 to 1857. He was expected to become the Speaker of the House of Commons until a crippling stroke (or riding accident) left him a permanent invalid and her mother had to cope with increasingly reduced means (Moore, p. 2). This necessitated moving out of London, to East Sheen Lodge (which was renamed Wortley Lodge) near Mortlake. With his condition worsening, the family moved back into central London to 16, St. James’s Place. Despite this burden, and the loss of two siblings, William aged 10 and James aged four, who died in 1863, the household was described as ‘a rookery, densely crowded by active talkative young birds.’ (Hayles, p.120). As the eldest daughter, Mary had the greatest family responsibilities, particularly nursing her father. This may account for her younger sister Margaret marrying before her and her own marriage coming relatively late in life: ‘They were an exceptionally devoted family, and their interests were wide and varied’ (Moore, p.1).
Despite financial difficulties, the Stuart-Wortley boys were well educated. Mary’s eldest brother Archibald, ‘Archie’, Stuart-Wortley (1849-1905) attended Eton from 1862 to 1865 before going up to Merton College, Oxford, where he roomed with Lord Randolph Churchill. However, he did not shine academically, failing to graduate. Forsaking a legal or political vocation, he was apparently encouraged by John Everett Millais to pursue a career as an artist. Deemed Millais’s ‘only pupil’, Archie would become a well-known portrait and sporting painter (Hayles, p121).
His portrait of the great cricketer W.C. Grace, the original at Lords Cricket Museum, in his best known work.
Mary’s younger brother Charles Beilby (1851-1926) went to Rugby and then Balliol College, Oxford before being called to the bar in 1876. Following a distinguished political career, he was raised to the House of Lords being created the 1st Baron Stuart of Wortley in 1917. His second marriage in 1886 was to Alice Sophia Caroline Millais, the artist’s third daughter, a romantic attachment surely fostered by his brother’s friendship with the famous painter. Carrie, as she was known in the family and Charles shared an interest in music, playing Grieg and Schumann concertos on two grand pianos at their home, 7, Cheyne Walk, on the Chelsea Embankment. Among their friends were the art critic Claude Phillips, the arts patron Frank Schuster, and the composer Edward Elgar to whom Carrie was known as ‘Windflower’ (Moore, p.2).
Circles within Circles
From left to right
Blanche, Mrs Frederick Firebrace,
Caroline, the Hon. Mrs Norman Grosvenor, married 1881,
Margaret, the Hon Lady Talbot, married 1877 (playing the piano),
Katharine, the Hon Lady Lyttelton, married 1883 (leaning on the piano),
and finally, with her back turned, Mary, Countess of Lovelace.
From Alice Buchan, A Scrap Screen, London: Hamish Hamilton, 1979.
Alice was the daughter of Susan Buchan, Lady Tweedsmuir, who in turn was the daughter of Caroline Grosvenor (nee Stuart-Wortley).
It could be argued that marriage was the making of the Stuart-Wortley girls; in 1877 Margaret (1855- 1937), became the first of the sisters to marry. Her husband, Major General Hon. Sir Reginald Chetwynd-Talbot (1841-1929), was the third son of Henry, Viscount Ingestre, later 3rd Earl Talbot and 18th Earl of Shrewsbury. From 1869 to 1874, Talbot represented Stafford as a conservative MP. He returned to active duty, serving in the Zulu War (1879), Egypt (1882) and the Nile expedition which did not rescue General Gordon (1884-85). He became General Officer Commanding the British Troops in Egypt in 1899. Talbot was appointed Governor of Victoria, Australia, in 1904. As the Governor’s wife, Margaret, Lady Talbot, ‘far from being… the woman behind the man behind the times’, actively promoted social welfare projects.
The Talbot match established a pattern, with the Stuart-Wortley girls marrying younger sons from illustrious families. In 1881 Caroline Susan Theodora (1858-1940) married Captain the Hon. Norman de L’Aigle Grosvenor (1845-98), a younger son of Robert Grosvenor, 1st Baron Edbury, third son of Robert Grosvenor, 1st Marquess of Westminster.
Katherine (1860-1943), the youngest sibling, became the Hon. Mrs Neville Lyttelton in 1883. After a distinguished military career, General Sir Neville Lyttelton (1845-1931) eventually became the Governor of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea.
These liaisons were largely determined by family ties; their mother Hon. Jane Lawley was connected to the Grosvenor family. Jane’s brother, Beilby Richard Lawley, 2nd Baron Wenlock(1818-80)married Lady Elizabeth Grosvenor (1824-99), daughter of Richard Grosvenor, 2nd Marquess of Westminster. Their son Beilby Lawley, 3rd Baron Wenlock (1849-1912), who came into the title in 1880, married Lady Constance Mary Lascelles (1852-1932), daughter of the 4th Earl of Harewood. Lady Constance Wenlock was a prominent member of The Souls.
Stuart-Wortley cousins therefore include Lady Constance Wenlock and Lady Emmeline ‘Nina’ Welby-Gregory (1867-1955), who married the notorious ‘rake’ Henry John Cockayne-Cust (1861-1917); all were prominent members of The Souls.
Confused by all the titles and marriages? Don’t worry, the important point is to realize that Victorian society was highly ‘incestuous’.
However, it was Mary Caroline Stuart-Wortley (1848-1941), the eldest sister, who made the most striking match, marrying at the ‘advanced age of thirty-two’, Ralph, Lord Wentworth, afterwards 2nd Earl of Lovelace (1839-1906), the grandson of Lord Byron. Mary’s marriage must have come as a surprise to her family; she had spent much of her life caring for her invalid father and pursuing a career as an artist. Marriage did not curtail her ambitions, as she continued to exhibit at the Grosvenor Gallery; it was only when her husband inherited the Lovelace title and estates in 1893 that Mary’s life took a different turn. Determined to revive the family’s extensive properties in Leicestershire, Surrey and Somerset, Mary sought instruction from architects C.R. Ashbee and C.F.A. Voysey; she has even been described as Voysey’s pupil.
My next Blog will cover Mary’s career as an artist….
Some authorities do not hyphenate Stuart Wortley.
Many of the records relating to the Lovelace estates in Leicestershire, Somerset and Surrey were lost after the last world war. The Blunt Papers are held by the British Museum, the Lovelace Papers are in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. The latter contains approximately 130 letters relating to Lady Lovelace.
Hayles, Sally. 2014. ‘Archibald Stuart Wortley (1849-1905) Sport and Art in Union’, pp.119-32, Barnsley Art On Your Doorstep.
Archibald John Stuart Wortley – Barnsley Art On Your Doorstep barnsleyartonyourdoorstep.org.uk › uploads › 2015/04
Lee, Vernon. 1884. Miss Brown A Novel. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood & Sons.
Moore, Jerrold Northrop. 1989. Edward Elgar: The Windflower Letters. Correspondence with Alice Caroline Stuart Wortley and her family. London: Clarendon Press.
Tweedsmuir, Susan, 1952. The Lilac and the Rose, London: Duckworth.