Social history - Victorian Art and Artists (3)
The Royal Academy Winter Exhibition of 1909 Art Journal illustrations, featuring the 'McCulloch Collection of Modern Art'
This page contains just a few photographs of the 140 or so illustrations in the special edition of the Art Journal of 1909 featuring the McCulloch Collection of Modern Art.
A big thank you to historian David Wright of Australia for supplying these images.
The photos feature George McCulloch who once owned the art collection, his wife Mary, his daughter-in-law Lesley, and his home at 184 Queen's Gate London.
More information on the McCulloch's home at Queen's Gate can be found on the Royal Borough of Kensington website. The art collection was sold and dispersed in 1913, and the building seriously damaged by enemy bombing in 1944; it was finally demolished in 1971.
Catalogue number 104
Three-quarter figure, standing facing the spectator: his right arm leaning on a table; brown coat, grey background.
Signed and dated PAJ Dagnan-B, 28th April 1896.
Canvas 50.5 by 38.5 inches.
Does anyone know if this painting still exists and if so where it is?
Though indistinct, we are certain the bronze on the table on McCulloch's right is 'Theseus Combating the Centaur Bianor' by French sculptor Antoine Louis Barye (1795 - 1875).
See illustration opposite. Theseus is seen sitting astride the Centaur seemingly grasping its right arm, and about to strike a 'death' blow.
Barye produced reproductions, in different sizes. and an example can be found at the National Gallery of Australia; there is a description of the work on the Dahesh Museum website.
The sculpture is not recorded in the RA catalogue, but it's possible it was sold by McCulloch's widow and her third husband, the painter James Coutts Michie to help fund the building of their new 'arts and crafts' home at Hazlemere which they named Oak Hall; later the property became Wispers Girl's school and it is now part of Wispers Park Retirement Village.
Catalogue number 357.
Bust, bronze. Portrait of the late George McCulloch.
Catalogue number 96.
Three-quarter figure seated to right, her left hand resting on the arm of the chair; three-quarter profile; green fur trimmed dress; dark background.
Signed and dated PAJ Dagnan-B, 1900.
Canvas 50 by 38 inches.
Catalogue number 19.
Three-quarter figure seated to right, holding a fan.
Signed and dated J Coutts Michie 1895
Canvas 49 by 39.5 inches.
Catalogue number 346
Bust to left; blue dress and bonnet. Inscribed, sketch study for a picture, JCM.
Pastel 23 by 14.5 inches.
She was born Lesley Maud Cecil Wright, the daughter of industrialist Alfred Cecil Wright.
She married first Alexander McCulloch, Edinburgh 1907, and second, at London in 1938, Prince Abdullah Ben Ayad son of Mahmoud Ben Ayad of Tunis. The couple retired to Montreal in 1940. Prince Abdul Ben Ayad died at Montreal in 1946, and Princess Lesley in 1951; buried Royal Mount Cemetery.
During WWI Lesley's brother, John Allan, joined the Royal Flying Corps and became a fighter pilot. Later he became MP for Erdington, Birmingham from 1936 to 1945.
This photo from the Art Journal shows how George and Mary McCulloch displayed their art collection in their lavish home. Interestingly in the 1901 census McCulloch's occupation was recorded as a 'Retired Australian Squatter'.
The large 'round' painting in the middle of the photo is The Garden of the Hesperides by Frederic Lord Leighton, 1892, that is now in the Lady Lever Art Gallery.
The photo below shows the 'circular' dining room at Queen's Gate. Note the electric lamps, and the painting 'The Lion at Home' by Rosa Bonheur on the wall opposite. This painting is now thought to be in the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull where it is much admired by children.
Below the painting there is a small statue of a boy in a kilt. That could be,
Catalogue number 350
Statue, marble. Master Alec McCulloch. Full length figure in Highland Costume, by F Vichi.
To the right of the image is the bust of George McCulloch by Edward Onslow Ford mentioned above.
At the bottom of the photo there is a note,
From a photograph by the late George McCulloch Esq
George Dick Meudell (1860 - 1936), who had been born in Australia, wrote about a dinner he attended:
(Note: 'Varnishing Day' was a special event that took place at the Royal Academy of Art in London. Officially it was the day in which artists could touch up and varnish their paintings before the official opening of the Summer Exhibition. In reality, it was also a private viewing of the exhibition, in which artists, journalists and celebrities could meet and discuss the paintings before the exhibition opened to the public).
Australian entrepreneur Hugh Donald McIntosh (1876 - 1942) in his memoirs wrote an account for the Sunday Mail May 5th 1940 about dining with McCulloch.
This final photo shows Mrs McCulloch seated in front of some more paintings.
On the left of the image is a painting of George McCulloch painted shortly before his death by American artist John Singer Sargent. In the centre is the painting 'The Potato Gatherers' by the French painter Jules Bastien-Lepage, now in the National Gallery of Victoria, and to the right is a self portrait by Whistler.
At the bottom left of the photograph you will again see a note,
From a photograph by the late George McCulloch Esq
A portrait of George McCulloch hangs in the Broken Hill Art Gallery, New South Wales. This was thought to have been painted by an unknown artist named Manks, but recent research suggests the portrait was painted by the London based Welsh artist Barnett Samuel Marks RCA who also painted wealthy Australian merchant Jacob Montefiore.
On 27th March 2013 Dr Gerard R Vaughan gave an interesting lecture entitled 'Australian Art Collectors Abroad', in the Dean's lecture series, at the Faculty of Arts, University of Melbourne. The lecture which contained a lot of information about George McCulloch was posted as a YouTube video, which sadly has subsequently been withdrawn.
References and further reading
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Last updated 13th May 2017