Thursday, 29 December 2016

How To Look Like An Artist

Photo: Rijksmuseum. High definition version available here.
Particularly splendid pastel self-portrait by Abraham Hulk Snr's teacher, Jean Augustin Daiwaille (1786-1850).

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

A list of artists of the Hulk family

Self-portrait byy Araham Hulk Senior (1813-1897)

This list is an attempt to clarify the  bewildering range of names and conflicting dates given for the artists of the Hulk family. It has been checked against Familysearch where possible, and  in a couple of places with Dutch newspapers available online. In the main, it ties in quite neatly with the information given on the RKD database for the Dutch born members of the family, with one or two additions.  It seems that  a certain amount of confusion comes from some of Abraham Hulk Junior's children adding an "e" to their surname sometime around the First World War. Several of the family went by both Dutch and English variants of their names.

First generation:
* Abraham Hulk Senior. Born Shoreditch, London, 1813, son of Hendrik Hulk, a Dutch merchant. Lived in England from 1870, but died at Zevenaar  in 1897.
* Johannes Frederik Hulk. Abraham Snr's younger brother. Born Amsterdam 1829, died Haarlem 1911.

Second generation:
* Hendrik Hulk. Son of Abraham Hulk Snr. Born Amsterdam 1842. Died in Haarlem in 1937 at the age of 94. A brief obituary in Dutch here.
* Abraham Hulk Junior. Son of Abraham Hulk Snr. Born Amsterdam 1843, died Eastry, Kent 1919.
* William Frederick. Son of Abraham Hulk Snr. Born Amsterdam 1852. lived much of his life in Shere, Surrey, and died at Guildford  in 1921.
* John Frederick / Johannes Frederik. Son of the older Johannes Frederik. Born Amsterdam 1855, died Vreeland 1913. By the end of his life the English form of his name was used even in Dutch sources.

Third generation:
* Frederick Martines Hulk. Born St Pancras, London, 1876. Son of Abraham Hulk Junior. Graduate of St Catherine's College, Cambridge, Died Wycombe, Buckinghamshire,  5 June, 1950, described as "late of Deal, Kent",. Signed his work "F. Martines  Hulk".
* William Claude Hulk. Born St Pancras, London, 1876. Son of Abraham Hulk Junior.  Died Lambeth 1955. I'm guessing that he was the painter of the many works signed "Claude Hulke"; I can't find any trace of anyone else who might have done them.
* Henry Dollond Hulk. Born Brixton 1885. Son of Abraham Hulk Junior. Died Dover 1968. Signed his work "H. Dollond-Hulke"
* Frederick William Leicester Hulk. Son of William Frederick Hulk. Born St Pancras 1881. Exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1898. Recorded at Frinton, Essex, in the 1911 census.

Monday, 26 December 2016

H Dollond Hulke

I came across this watercolour, signed H. Dollond-Hulke in a charity shop.  He's an artist whose  landscapes and coastal scenes  show up in  auction catalogues occasionally. Sometimes the "Dollond" is misread as "Hollond" or "Holland", because of the curious "D" of his signature. His works rarely seem to raise much interest and perhaps this is understandable: they often seem curiously empty, devoid of people or architecture. Over the last hundred years or so plenty of people have made made an aesthetic out of the curiously empty, but its not immediately obvious that this was Dollond-Hulke's intention.  A big red-brown cliff  on the right, with a series of headlands rapidly receding into blueness. Half-a dozen-seagulls hang in the air above the breaking surf.  The composition is a bit naive, but  it's nicely enough  painted.

H Dollond-Hulke doesn't show up on the genealogy websites, but Henry Dollond Hulk - without the terminal "e" - does. He was born in Brixton in 1885, the son of Abraham Hulk  and his wife Blanche, née Werninck. Abraham, born in Amsterdam in 1844,  was a member of a large Anglo-Dutch family of artists who pursued their careers in both Britain and the Netherlands. His father, also called Abraham,  was a marine painter, but Abraham Jnr also painted landscapes.

Henry's family moved around quite a lot - they were in Willesden in 1891, Nottinghamshire in 1901 and Henley in 1911. Henry D Hulk is recorded under that name in the census of 1911, with his profession given as "painter (artist)".  By the time of their deaths, Henry, his three brothers and an unmarried sister were all recorded as "Hulke".  Perhaps the "e" was added during the First World War in an attempt to give the name a less Germanic look (though to me the effect is quite the opposite). He was presumably  the Henry D Hulke who died in Dover, aged 83, in 1968.

His  brother  Frederick Martinus signed his work "F. Martinus Hulk".  I suspect that  the  painter who signed  "Claude Hulke" was another brother, William Claude (1878 - 1955).

Monday, 10 October 2016

Virtuosi, we have eight years to find this painting!

E.D.  Leahy drawn by JP Davis 1830.
In 1824 the Somerset House Gazette reviewed Edward Daniel Leahy's painting  "Catching the Expression", shown at the British Institution that year. Like most of the artists work it has, alas, slipped into obscurity.
We know not whether this admirable record of an artist's study, is that of young Edwin Landseer's, or young Edward Leahy's, as both their portraits are introduced; but, as this picture is well worthy of preservation, we can fancy some group of virtuosi, some two hundred years hence, peering through their glasses at these two old English masters. We delight to hold a morning gossip in tne confusionary of a painter, up to our knees in portfolios, broken casts, lay-figures, velvet cushioned chairs, without a chair to sit upon, amidst the arcana  of art. All these trophies of present study, however, will he regarded the more, anno domini two thousand and twenty-four, as they will  then savour of dry antiquity. Here we have another instance of the advantage resulting from careful finishing. This apparently playful effusion of the talent of Mr. Leahy, is a work taken up in earnest. It is an excellent effort of an aspiring young artist, and its merit is acknowledged. We are gratified to find, that a gentleman of taste has purchased this picture for the sum of one hundred guineas. Merit does not always remain unrewarded.
The New Annual Register, though less informed. had a few more details:
 "Catching the Expression," is, in parts, a clever and pleasing little work. It represents a young artist's study, probably that of the artist himself, E. D. Leahy, who is watching intently while another youth is setting a little dog at a cat, and "catching the expression" of the scene. The portraits are very cleverly executed, and include considerable individuality of character; and the colouring, though in an agreeable tone, is harmonious and consistent with itself; the animals are very indifferently expressed, and are quite inferior to the rest of the picture. 
Hopefully the virtuosi of  anno domini two thousand and twenty-four will nicer to cats.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Portrait by Richard Evans identified (almost)

A major commission by Richard Evans,  his portrait of Admiral Sir Edward William Campbell Rich Owen  (1771 – 1849), first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1827,  has been rediscovered. Actually it had been hiding unattributed  in plain sight in the collection of the museum  in Evans' native  Shrewsbury,  under  the title of  "Portrait of a Naval Gentleman".

Admiral Edward Owen by Richard Evans

Admiral Owen  was born in Newfoundland in 1771, the son of a Welsh Naval officer called William Owen, who has an unusually clear and interesting Wikipedia entry:
Captain William Owen (1737–1778), born in Glan Severn, Montgomeryshire, Wales, of a family of Welsh gentry. He was youngest son of David Owen of Cefn Hafod, Montgomeryshire. He was a member of the Royal Navy and lost his right arm from a wound suffered during the Seven Years' War off Pondicherry when supporting the British East India Company forces in 1760. Not content with the half pension he was receiving, he served as an impress officer. After the war, Owen contacted a former fellow officer, Lord William Campbell, who had recently been appointed governor of Nova Scotia. Late in 1766, Owen travelled with Campbell to Halifax. The following year, as payment for his work in aid of Campbell, he was awarded a large parcel of land. The grant, which included three of his nephews as grantees, was Passamaquoddy Outer Island in Passamaquoddy Bay. In 1770, Owen renamed the island Campobello Island after Lord Campbell; he also took into account the Italian meaning, "fair field", of the new name.
In England, Owen spent some time in Shrewsbury, where he was sworn a freeman of borough on 5th October 1764, and, by then a Captain in the navy, served as Mayor in 1775-76, following which he returned to service in India.  Owen was killed, accidentally,  in Madras, India while carrying dispatches from India to England.
 Owen left on his death two surviving natural sons via Sarah Haslam (latter named Sarah Bagshaw). His eldest son was Edward William Campbell Rich Owen and his younger son was William Fitzwilliam Owen. The latter became sole owner of Campobello Island in 1835 and settled there.
Although Admiral Owen's father was mayor of Shrewsbury, his own connections to the town were rather slight, as William Owen set up Sarah Haslam and his sons in a house near Manchester. A detailed outline of Edward Owens's life can be found on the  History of Parliament website.

Nevertheless, Shrewsbury thought it worthwhile to honour him with a civic portrait. It is mentioned in Henry Pidgeon's " Memorials of Shrewsbury" (1837), amongst a list the paintings due to be installed in the new Guild Hall:
The following portraits, presented to the late corporation, will decorate the walls of the new building : —King Charles I. Charles II. William III. George I. George II. George III. Queen Charlotte, Admiral Benbow (a native of Shrewsbury), the Right Hon. Lord Hill (by Sir William Beechy), and Admiral Owen (by R. Evans, Esq. a towns man). The two latter portraits possess life and spirit in their execution, and are justly esteemed most faithful resemblances of these illustrious heroes and fellow-citizens.
The portraits of Benbow and Hill are both in the collection of the Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, so it would make sense to look for Evans' depiction  of Owen there. And the museum's "Portait of a Naval Gentleman" - shown wearing what certainly looks like the regalia of a Knight of the Order of the Bath - seems the only possible candidate

Despite good cirumstantial evidence for the identification of the painting, one slight problem remains: the naval gentleman doesn't look much like the one painting of Owen in the public domain, painted by HW Pickersgill in the year before the admiral's death. In this he looks very pale and worn, in contrast to the massive rubicund figure shown in the portrait at Shewsbury.

Admiral Owen byHW Pickersgill
Fortunately, though, there is a much closer resemblance to an engraving of him as a much younger man, used as the frontispiece of  the first volume of Abraham Crawford's "Reminiscences of a naval officer, during the late war"  (1851). He is only named in an illegible scrawled facsimile signature, and detached from the book this depiction of Owen would be completely unidentifiable. His identity is, though,  confirmed by the declaration  on the title page that memoirs are "embellished with portraits of Admirals Sir Edward Owen and Sir Benjamin Hallowell Carew". The engraving of Carew forms the frontispiece of the second volume and there are no other illustrations.

Crawford gives an extensive biography of Owen, which  includes some reminiscences of his striking physical appearance. He remembers from his first meeting:
My new Captain was a man somewhat turned of thirty, with light hair and a fair complexion; having an open and cheerful countenance, with bright blue eyes that bespoke at once intelligence and good-nature. His figure was tall and commanding, with a frame of vast power and strength, exhibiting in his person the semblance of one of those Saxon Thanes who led his followers to the conquest of Britain.
Of the period during which the portrait was painted, Crawford  writes:
When the Lord High Admiral resigned his office, in 1828, Sir Edward Owen became one of the Board of Admiralty which was then formed, with Lord Melville at its head; and in December of the same year he was appointed Commander-in-Chief on the East India station. On my return from the West Indies, in the spring of 1829, I found him at Spithead with his flag on board the 'Southampton,' on the eve of starting for his destination. I immediately got a boat, and went on board to see my old and valued chief I found him, as he always was, kind and affable, and glad to see an old shipmate; and I rejoiced to see that though he had grown much stouter, and years had rounded his person, they had not dimmed the lustre of his eye, nor damped the ardour of his vigorous and ever-active mind.
This bulk is tactfully indicated in Evans's painting.

So why the "almost" in the title of this post? Well, the painting's title on Art UK, and presumably in the museum's records, has recently been changed to "Sir Edward Owen Fisher Hamilton (1854–1944), KCB (?) ". Oh well.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Archer James Oliver: Putting his mother on a pedestal.

A lot of artists must have painted pictures of their mothers. They're available, for a start.  A self portrait with your mother, that's a  much rarer thing. But here we have the once-fashionable, but pretty-much forgotten painter Archer James Oliver painting himself painting his mother, Anna Maria. It's a studio scene, of course, but there's something just very slightly religious about the set up as  well.

Oliver was born in 1774, and christened on October 3rd of that year, at St Mary's church in Whitechapel. He was admitted to the Royal Academy Schools at the age of 16. From there he had a career that seems to have been  successful for the most part, but is curiously hard to trace.

He exhibited a large number of works at  the Royal Academy showing 210 paintings in all. The first, in 1791 was a self portrait, and his second, the next year, was  a "portrait of a gentleman", apparently a Mr King. His address in these first two years is given as 65 Long Acre. He then moved round the corner to 80 St Martin's Lane, submitting various portraits, whose exact subjects are mostly unrecorded. An exception is that one  of himself and his mother from  1794. It turned up at auction in Paris just over a year ago

By 1803 he was benefiting from aristocratic patronage, showing  a "Portrait of --------- Howard, Esq., of Arundel, representing William de Albini, an English Baron of the beginning of the thirteenth century; to be executed in stained glass, for a window in Arundel Castle" and "A portrait of His Grace, the Duke of Norfolk, representing Robert Fitzwalter, an English Baron of the beginning of the thirteenth century", also destined to be copied onto glass. This is a window from the same series, though I'm not sure if it's after one of Oliver's paintings. Still, they would have been very much along these lines.

The subject of  another Academy exhibit caught my attention too. In 1813 he showed a "Portrait of Sir Paul Baghott, Proxy for Lord Strangford, K.B. at the installation of Knights of the Bath, June 1, 1812, in King Henry the Seventh's Chapel, Westminster." It's hard to imagine it's not this picture of Baghott hanging unattributed in the museum at Stroud: