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).

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