Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Medallion Man

I don't think there can be any doubt this is by Lucius Gahagan, or perhaps at least by a Lucius Gahagan. It's a small circular bronze relief, 17cm across, of the Revd. Francis Skurray (1774--1848). According to Bonhams, who sold it, along with a version in patinated plaster, for £29 in 2004, it's signed on the edge "L. Gahagan, published July 14 1841".

It could hardly be by Lawrence Gahagan, if, as seems generally agreed, he started his career in Dublin 85 years before that. Anyway, Skurray was local to Bath, where Lucius, indeed both Luciuses were based; he was educated there, and his maternal grandfather had been mayor of the city. At the time of his death he was perpetual curate of Horningsham in Wiltshire, and Rector of Winterbourne-cum-Steepleton in Dorset, and of Lullington, Somerset. He was a poet, author of a volume called "Bidcombe Hill, and other Rural Poems", which was sucessful enough to go into three editions, and was something of an art collector, as this view of the interior of the parsonage at Horningsham, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum demonstrates:

A label on the back of the painting says that it shows the "Gothic Room" built for Skurray in 1839, and that the collection illustrated included works by Guercino, Guido Reni ("The Infant Saviour") Titian ("Abelard"), Francesco Solimena (Faith Hope and Charity), Sassoferrato and Ruisdael. Clearly in those days, clergymen were wealthy enough to be able to afford a decent collection, though no doubt some of the attributions were overambitious: I can't, for instance find a single reference to an "Abelard" by Titian.

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