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Social history - Victorian Art and Artists (4)

Barnett Samuel Marks (Victorian painter)

Overview

On the website we have described the 'McCulloch Collection of Modern Art', which featured at the Royal Academy Winter Exhibition, London, in 1909.

Illustration of memorial c. 123-mcc.comThere is in the Broken Hill Art Gallery a portrait of George McCulloch, the owner of the collection, which bears a close resemblance to the bronze plaque which was once on his memorial at Brookwood Cemetery (stolen in the 1970s). See reconstruction of what the memorial may have looked like (opposite).

The portrait of George McCulloch is attributed to an unknown painter named Manks, and over the years we have attempted to identify him for the gallery.

Circumstantial evidence now leads us to believe that the painting of George McCulloch in the Broken Hill Art Gallery may be by the Welsh portrait painter Barnett Samuel Marks (1827 - 1916) who latterly lived not far from George McCulloch in Kensington and painted many eminent people.

This article describes our reasons for attributing the painting of George McCulloch in the Broken Hill Art Gallery to Barnett Samuel Marks.

Contents

Broken Hill Art Gallery

Art Gallery of South Australia

Mabel Terry Lewis

Barnett Samuel Marks


Broken Hill Art Gallery

Copyright Broken Hill Art GalleryIn March 2008, following some correspondence about the Scottish painter James Coutts Michie, we were sent an image of the portrait of George McCulloch in the Broken Hill Art Gallery by the gallery manager Bruce Tindall (ref 1), see opposite.

The relevance was that Coutts Michie had married McCulloch's widow in London in 1908.

The painting of George McCulloch was gifted by Mrs Coutts Michie in 1928 and the event was reported in the Barrier Miner newspaper (ref 2).


To quote from the newspaper,

Thursday 26th April 1928:

LATE MR G McCULLOCH

PORTRAIT IS PRESENTED TO THE CITY COUNCIL

Thc City Council has received from Mrs Coutts Michie of Cobham, Surrey, an oil painting of the late Mr George McCulloch her first husband who was manager of Mount Gipps Station and pegged out the original Proprietary blocks and was one of the seven which formed the first Proprietary syndicate. Because of his contribution to the Hospital when it was built on its present site, what is now known as Ward 1 was first called McCulloch Ward. The portrait will be hung in the Art Gallery.

The exact identity of the painter, thought to be 'Manks', was however a mystery and Bruce sought our help to identify exactly who the painter might be. Despite many enquiries we were unable to find a Victorian artist named Manks.

Nearly eight years elapsed before we realised that we had seen a similar painting by British actress and miniaturist Mabel Terry Lewis (see below), whose father had been an amateur artist.

Art Gallery of South Australia

The Art Gallery of South Australia now holds the two 'miniatures'; one of George McCulloch and one of his wife Mary painted by Mabel Terry Lewis; these were donated to the Art Gallery of South Australia by George's widow Mary in 1928 (ref 3).

Miniature of George McCulloch

Comparing the portraits you will see that the miniature by Mabel Terry Lewis was almost certainly painted from the larger painting now in the Broken Hill Art Gallery, raising the question who painted the original, how did Mabel in London get to copy it, and how did the miniatures come into the possession of George McCulloch's wife?

The implication is that George McCulloch, his wife, the painter and Mabel Terry Lewis  knew each other, circulating amongst London based artists and galleries.

Another painting

Also in the Art Gallery of South Australia is a portrait of Jewish merchant Jacob Montefiore (1801 - 1895) whose family was prominent in the founding of the colony of South Australia. The South Australia Register newspaper records that he presented his portrait to the city of Adelaide in 1885. It was painted by Barnett Samuel Marks, and has a similar colouring to the background of the painting in the Broken Hill gallery (see more about below).

The Jewish encyclopedia records that in 1885, at the request of the directors of the Art Union Gallery of Adelaide, Jacob sat for the artist B S Marks, the portrait being hung in that gallery.

Jacob's brother Joseph Barrow Montefiore is mentioned in the Australian Dictionary of Biography as are his contemporaries, George McCulloch and his cousin merchant Sir James McCulloch.

Jacob Montefiore, who died in 1895, latterly lived at 35 Hyde Park Square not far from George McCulloch at 184 Queens Gate, and his brother who died in 1893 had lived at 36 Kensington Gardens Square.

On the tombstone of Jacob Montefiore in the Novo Jewish cemetery Mile End Road is the inscription:

Jacob Montefiore died November 3rd 1895

Aged 94 years

He was the last survivor of the commissioners appointed in 1834 by King William the IV for the colonization of South Australia

Trusted in the Lord God of Israel

This is mentioned as both George and Jacob appear to have a connection with Australia, the painter Barnett Samuel Marks and retirement to London.

Mabel Terry Lewis

Mabel Gwynedd Terry Lewis (1872 - 1957) is recorded in history as a British Actress, and it largely goes unnoticed that she had also been a painter of miniature portraits.

Her father Arthur James Lewis (1824 - 1901) had been a wealthy businessman, amateur painter and musician, while her mother Kate Terry was a well-known actress.

The 1901 England census (ref 4) records Mabel living in London at 49 West Cromwell Road with a parlour maid, cook and housemaid, not far from George McCulloch at Queens Gate.

Clearly, having three servants, she was reasonably well off.

George McCulloch's house at 184 Queens Gate, Kensington, was not completed until 1896 (ref 5), Mabel's father died in 1901 and she married Captain Ralph Cecil Bates in 1904. Given also that George's beard is white in these portraits and he died in 1907 we guess that the miniature by Mabel Terry Lewis may have been painted circa 1901.

Who's Who in 1935 (ref 6) recorded that she had exhibited miniatures at the Royal Academy, Grafton and New Galleries and at Liverpool, Glasgow and Manchester.

The next question is how and when did she see the larger painting from which she painted the miniature of George McCulloch's portrait.

Not being able to find an artist named Manks, we considered signatures which might be mistaken as Manks and thought 'Marks'. Searching the England census (ref 4) and Dictionary of Victorian Painters (ref 7) we came across Barnett Samuel Marks as the most likely painter.

Barnett Samuel Marks

The 1901 and 1911 England census (ref 4) record Welsh portrait painter Barnett Samuel Marks living at 10 Matheson Street Kensington, a short distance from the homes of George McCulloch and Mabel Terry Lewis. A comparison of George McCulloch's portrait with others painted by Marks (ref 8) shows a marked similarity in the backcloth.

Barnett Samuel Marks and his daughter Anne are recorded in the Dictionary of Victorian painters thus:

Marks, Barnett Samuel RCA 1827 1916

Welsh portrait painter. Born in Cardiff; moved to London about 1867. Exhibited at RA 1859 1891, and occasionally elsewhere. Also painted some genre eg 'Listening to a Fairy Tale', 'A Rabbi Reading', 'A Jewish Bibliophile' etc.

Biblio: Rees, Welsh Painters 1912

 Marks, Miss Anne fl 1893 1900

Exhibited two works. 'Sweet Seventeen' and 'A Study' at the RA. London address.

For works illustrated by, see VAM card catalogue

(Despite being mentioned above, we have seen no evidence that Barnett Samuel Marks exhibited paintings at the RA although a contemporary, Henry Stacy Marks, did.)

A much more detailed account of Barnett Samuel Marks' life can be found in the archives of University College London which seems to be largely based on information in Who's Who. To quote:

Barnett, Samuel Marks, born 1827 in Cardiff, the son of Mark Lyon Marks, watchmaker and engineer, and Anne Michael.

Educated at private school in Cardiff and studied art from earliest days as a portrait painter; when young he was commissioned by the younger brother of the Marquis of Bute to paint his portrait, which led to other commissions from distinguished people.

Married his cousin Zipporah, daughter of Michael Marks in 1858.

One of the earliest recruits to the Volunteer Force established in 1859; moved to London, circa 1867.

President of Art Section of the Cymmrodorion Society in connection with the National Eisteddfod of Wales, 1883; member of Royal Cambrian Academy of Art (RCA); organised drawing classes for artisans; part founder of the Cardiff and Ealing Free Public Libraries; Master of the Buckingham and Chandos Lodge of Freemasons; President, Cardiff Hebrew Congregation; Vice-President of the Industrial Committee of the Jewish Board of Guardians; committee member, Jews' Free School, Westminster Jews' Free School and Bayswater Jewish Schools , where he also taught art; delegate to the Jewish Voluntary Schools Association; died 1916.

Portraits include: King Edward VII (as Prince of Wales); Maharajah of Kuch Behar; 7th Earl of Shaftesbury KG; Earl of Lathom GCB; 1st Lord Rothschild GCVO; Lord James Crichton-Stuart; Baroness Charlotte de Rothschild; Rev Daniel Lewis Lloyd the Bishop of Bangor; Very Rev Frederic William Farrar the Dean of Canterbury (who was the maternal grandfather of Field Marshall Bernard Montogmery of Alamein KG, GCB, DSO); Chief Rabbi Dr Nathan Marcus Adler; Chief Rabbi Very Rev Dr Hermann Adler CVO; Sir Morgan Morgan (who was a solicitor, and Mayor of Cardiff in 1886), and Lady Morgan; Sir John and Lady Monckton; Sir Edward Hill, MP; Sir Philip Magnus, MP; Sir Thomas Marchant Williams; Sir Edward Montague Nelson KCMG; and Sir Horace Brooks Marshall; also painter of genre works.

His daughter Anne Marks was educated at Calderon's and other studios; exhibited at the Royal Academy and other exhibitions; specialised in animal painting; instructor in drawing at Bayswater Jewish Schools.

It seems Barnett Samuel Marks was not a rich man and mainly earned his living by painting portraits for the eminent and wealthy; being a Freemason he would have been able to establish a good network of contacts. Perhaps through them or possibly a direct approach he had offered his services to his near neighbour, George McCulloch.

Painter and Freemason Barnett Samuel Marks latterly of 10 Matheson Road, Kensington died on 6th December 1916. His executors were Constance Isabelle Marks, spinster, Michael Herbert Marks, a member of the Stock Exchange, and Percy Leman Marks, an architect - three of his six children (ref 9). You will find him listed in the Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo Jewish History (ref 10).

Several examples of his work can be found on the BBC Your Paintings website, including a self portrait, the original of which is held by Ealing Central Library. Click to see paintings of Barnett Samuel Marks.

Based on the above circumstantial evidence, we have come to the conclusion that the painting of George McCulloch in the Broken Hill Art Gallery was very likely painted by Barnett Samuel Marks possibly about 1900.

However we know that 'the art world' would need to see a paper trail linking the painter to either George or his wife to be firmly convinced, and that we don't have. So do please contact us if you know where such a record might be found!


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References

  1. Communication from Bruce Tindall, Broken Hill Art Gallery, 23rd March 2008.
  2. Trove digitised newspapers, Barrier Miner (Broken Hill NSW) Thursday 26th April 1928
  3. Communication from D Wright 19th July 2010.
  4. England census
  5. McCallum, Lawrence, George McCulloch, Glasgow, Broken Hill and Kensington. A life of ships, sheep, silver and art, published 2015
  6. Who's who
  7. Dictionary of Victorian Painters
  8. BBC Your Paintings website
  9. National Probate Calendar
  10. Rubenstein, William D, The Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History

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