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Social history - Victorian Art and Artists

Sale of the McCulloch Collection of Modern Art in 1913

Contents

Background

Transcript of reports in The Times

About the dealers

References

Background

George McCulloch (1848 - 1907) became a significant collector of modern art, following his return from Australia circa 1891, and housed his collection at his home at 184 Queen's Gate, London.

He started collecting during the financial crash of the 1890s caused by the Barings Bank Crisis, when many 'good things' apparently came on the market (ref 1).

Other collectors of the Victorian period included the soap magnate Lord Lever, Sir John Aird whose firm built the Aswan dam, iron merchant Andrew Maxwell (1828 - 1909) of St James Terrace Glasgow, merchant banker Robert Henry Benson (1850 - 1929), barrister and judge Sir John Day (1826 - 1908), Scottish accountant Alexander Young (1828 - 1907), and Australian born George Salting (1835 - 1909); there were many others.

The McCulloch collection was inherited by George's widow and by implication her third husband the Scottish painter James Coutts Michie. A few paintings were sold following the Royal Academy Winter Exhibition of 1909, more in 1911, and, with the exception of some family portraits by Sargent, the majority of the collection was sold at Christie's in May 1913 (ref 1).

An account of the sale,  which took place over three days, was reported in 'The Times' newspaper on 24th, 30th and 31st May 1913 (ref 2). Below is a transcription of the newspaper articles which report some of the pictures sold, their value and who bought them.

The format is generally: painter, name of picture, date, selling price, (buyer).

The words are as reported, but we have altered the layout to highlight the pictures sold.

A further record of the sale is a copy of the Christie's Sale Catalogue which is thought to have been marked up with prices achieved by the art dealer David Croal Thomson. This also provides an indication as to who bought the lesser known works. Click to read a transcription of the 'annotated' sale catalogue on our master sales index page.


Transcript of reports in The Times

Transcript from the Times Digital Archive 24th May 1913

 HIGH PRICES FOR MODERN PICTURES

THE McCULLOCH SALE

Messrs Christie, Manson and Woods began yesterday the three days’ sale of the collection of frequently exhibited modern pictures and water-colour drawings formed by the late Mr George McCulloch, of 184, Queen’s-gate, SW.

Mr McCulloch confined himself entirely to the purchase of works by contemporary artists, generally direct from the Academy or Salon.

It was feared the sale would result in a general ‘slump’ in prices, but this did not prove to be the case; in many instances unexpectedly high figures were reached, and the 106 lots produced £55,165  5s.

Undoubtedly many pictures fell far short of cost price, but the Maris landscape and the two examples of J W Waterhouse together show a profit of nearly £9,000 on the original outlay.

The sale attracted curators of public galleries, dealers and private collectors from all parts of England, the Continent and America; several works were secured for Aberdeen and Glasgow, and Sir Whitworth Wallis just failed to secure Lord Leighton’s enormous canvas ‘The Daphnephoria’ for the Birmingham Art Gallery.

The surprises of the afternoon were chiefly associated with the works of J Maris and J W Waterhouse. The Maris Dutch Landscape, 31in by 57in, dated 1873, was purchased for £850 some 20 years ago, and now fell to Mr Croal Thomson, of Messrs Wallis, at 6,600 guineas from an opening bid of 2,000 guineas.

The previous English record for a work by this artist was 3,000 guineas, paid at the Young sale in 1910.

The two examples of Mr Waterhouse, ‘Saint Cecila’, from the Royal Academy of 1895, and ‘Flora of the Zephyrs’, from the Academy of 1898, are understood to have cost about £1,600 together, and now sold for 2,300 guineas (Gooden and Fox) and 1,700 guineas (Merton) respectively.

This artist’s previous auction record was 480 guineas in 1909.

Lord Leighton’s ‘Daphnephoria’, 89in by 204in, based on a passage in Proclus, and exhibited by the Royal Academy, 1876, was purchased at the J S Hodgson sale in 1893 for 3,750 guineas; yesterday, from an opening bid of 500 guineas it fell to Mr Sampson at 2,500 guineas. A second example of the same artist ‘The Garden of the Hesperides’, circular, 65in diameter, from the Academy of 1892, sold for 2,500 guineas (Gooden and Fox).

The other English pictures included:-

G Clausen ‘Ploughing’, 1889 – 560 guineas was purchased by Messrs Gooden and Fox for the Aberdeen Art Gallery;

Hon John Collier, ‘A Glass of Wine with Caesar Borgia’,1893 – 350 guineas (Gooden and Fox);

Frank Dicksee, ‘Funeral of a Viking’, 1893 -360 guineas (Agnew);

J Farquharson, ‘Cold Blows the Wind frae East to West’, 1888 - 270 guineas (Evans);

A Hacker, ‘Vae Victis! The Sack of Morocco by the Almohades’, 1890 - 260 guineas  (Cobbett);

H Hughes-Stanton, ‘The Gorse, Fontainebleau’, 1907 – 280 guineas (Pawsey and Payne);

J Seymour Lucas, ‘The Call to Arms’, 1894 – 420 guineas (Cassell);

Sir J E Millais, ‘Lingering Autumn’, 1890, etched by Th. Chauvel – 1,450 guineas (Gooden and Fox);

Albert Moore, ’Winds and the Seasons’, etched by V Focillon – 380 guineas (Sampson);

David Murray, ‘The River Road’, 1892 - 280 guineas (George);

Two by J J Shannon, ‘Fairy Tales’, 1895 – 450 guineas; and ‘Magnolia’, 1899 - 720 guineas – both purchased by Mr T Permain;

and J M Swan, ‘Orpheus’, 1894 – 1660 guineas (Sampson).

PICTURES BY FOREIGN ARTISTS

In addition to the Maris already mentioned, the works of Continental artists included three by, J Bastien-Lepage.

  •  ‘The Potato-Gatherers’, 70in by 76in 1878 – 3,100 guineas (Cobbett);

  •  ‘Pauvre Fauvette’, a small peasant girl in a landscape, 1881 – 1,400 guineas (Dunlop);

  •  And ‘Pas Meche’, a gamin in ragged clothes carrying a whip, 1882 – 1,910 guineas (Pawsey and Payne);

these prices are far in excess of any previous ones in England for this artist;

Eugene de Blass, ‘Admiration’, 1891 - 340 guineas (Sampson);

Rosa Bonheur, ‘The Lion at Home’, 1881 – 920 guineas (Lister);

W A Bouguereau, ‘Cupid and Psyche’, 1889 – 360 guineas (Tooth);

Three by P A J Dagnan-Bouveret,

  • ‘Dans la Foret’, 1892 – 1,000 guineas;

  •  ‘La Cene’,1896,  a finished study for the large picture – 600 guineas, both purchased by Messrs Boussod Valadon; and

  •  ‘The Madonna and Child’, 1888 – 1,150 guineas (Knoedler);

H Harpignies, ‘Une Soiree d’Automne’, 1894 - 1,800 guineas (Agnew);

Two by L’hermitte,

  •  ‘Noonday Rest’, 1889 – 1,250 guineas (Tooth); and

  •  ‘The Harvesters’, 1903 – 1,700 guineas (Wallis);

F Pradilla, ‘Boabdil’s Farewell to Granada’, 1879-92 – 500 guineas (L Harris);

V L F Roybet, ‘Un Propos Galant’, 1893 – 480 guineas (Tooth);

Fritz Thaulow, a factory in Norway – 420 guineas, purchased by Messrs Gooden and Fox for the Aberdeen Gallery.

The drawings included a pastel by L Lhermitte, ‘Haymakers’, 1895 – 490 guineas (Wallis).

STATUARY AND BRONZES

The most important lot in this section, Rodin’s group in white statuary marble of two female figures, one of them winged, clasped in an embrace, and entitled ‘The Kiss’, 20in high, started at 200 guineas, and fell at 2,900 guineas (Blaker) – this cost about £1,250 some 15 years ago;

and two bronze groups by J M Swan, ‘Orpheus’, two figures of the youthful god playing a lyre to to two pumas – 500 guineas (Agnew);

and a puma carrying a macaw in its mouth, for the Royal Academy of 1901 – 620 guineas (Tooth).


Transcript from the Times Digital Archive 30th May 1913

Report on the second day of the sale.

GOOD PRICES FOR MODERN PICTURES

THE McCULLOCH SALE

Messrs Christie yesterday resumed the sale of the collection of modern pictures formed by the late George McCulloch. The 94 lots produced £73,910  11s. The sale of 200 lots now amounts to £129,075  16s, to which will have to be added today’s total.

The interest was fully maintained up to the last lot, the competition being keen for all the more important pictures. As will be seen below, a number of public galleries have secured additions at this sale, and the McCulloch family have themselves bought back W Orpen’s ‘The Mirror’, with the intention of presenting it to the Tate Gallery.

MILLAIS, BURN-JONES, AND ORCHARDSON

The highest price of the day was paid for Sir J E Millais’s picture, ‘Sir Isumbras at the Ford: A Dream of the Past’, exhibited at the Royal Academy of 1837, with some verses written for the occasion by Tom Taylor, art critic of The Times. This picture at one time belonged to the eminent collector Mr Benson, who refused various offers for it and who only consented to sell it for £10,000. The late Mr McCulloch immediately accepted the challenge and bought it, we believe through Messrs Agnew, at that enormous sum. Bidding was started yesterday at 1,000 guineas, and at 7,800 guineas it fell to Messrs Gooden and Fox, with Mr Dunlop of Glasgow as the under-bidder. We understand that it was purchased for an English collector.

The same firm also secured Millais’s whole length figure of a little girl in a yellow dress, known as ‘In Perfect Bliss’, 1884, for 1,500 guineas.

The two pictures by E A Abbey,

  • ‘Richard Duke of Gloucester and the Lady Anne’, 53in by 103in from the Royal Academy of 1896 and

  • ’King Lear , Act 1, Scene 1’, 53in by 126 in, from the Academy of 1898,

are believed to have cost Mr McCulloch about £4,500;

they now sold for 5,400 guineas (Brown and Phillips) and 4,800 guineas (Knoedler) respectively.

The two examples of L Alma Tadema were,

  • ‘The Sculpture Gallery’ 86in by 66in, from the Academy of 1875 – 2,600 guineas (A Wertheimer), and

  •  ‘Loves Jewelled Fetter’, 25in by 18in – 1,900 guineas (Wallis); the latter was purchased for an Indian potentate.

Three were by Sir E Burne-Jones,

  • ‘Love among the Ruins’, 1894, with an interesting note by the artist on the back of the picture – 4,800 guineas (C Davis);

  • ‘Psyche’s Wedding’, 46in by 84in, 1895 – 1,050 guineas (A Wertheimer); and

  • ‘The Sleeping Princess’, 49in by 91in, 1872-94 – 1,250 guineas (Sir Hugh Lane).

Three were also by Sir W Q Orchardson, the large picture known as

‘The Young Duke’, Royal Academy, 1889, and

 ‘Master Baby’, 1886,

each fetching the same amount 4,400 guineas and purchased by Mr A Wertheimer and Sir Hugh Lane respectively;

while ’Music, when sweet voices die, Vibrates in the memory’, a young lady in pink seated at a tall piano, Royal Academy, 1893 – 750 guineas (Connell);

this was purchased at the Humphrey Roberts sale in 1908 for 320 guineas.

The one example of G F Watts, ‘Fata Morgana’, 1865, fell to Messrs Gooden and Fox at 1,700 guineas.

PICTURES FOR PUBLIC GALLERIES

The purchases for public galleries consisted, so far as is known, of the following:-

Cecil G Lawson, ‘Marshlands’ 47in by 70in, 1876 – 2,800 guineas (Gibson, for the Melbourne Art Gallery) – this is believed to have cost the late owner about £2,000;

Stanhope A Forbes, ‘Forging the Anchor’, 83in by 67in, from the 1892 Academy – 500 guineas (Gooden and Fox for the Ipswich Gallery, for which pictures by Mr John Collier and Sir Alfred East were bought last week);

C Napier Hemy, ‘The Crew’, 59in by 96in, from the 1902 Academy – 280 guineas (Gooden and Fox, for the Aberdeen Gallery);

J C Hook, ‘Hearts of Oak’, 1875 – 340 guineas (Wallis, for the Nottingham Gallery; and

 W Orpen, ‘The Mirror’, a girl seated as a model and seen reflected in a mirror, 1900 – 540 guineas (Wallis, for the McCulloch family for presentation to the Tate Gallery) – this picture it may be mentioned, was bought at the New English Art Club in 1900 by Mr D Croal Thomson for £35.

There were also the following:-

F Brangwyn, ‘Charity’, 1900 – 880 guineas (Colnaghi);

Lady Butler, ‘Inkerman’, 1877 - 850 guineas (Lister);

D Y Cameron, ’October’ – 520 guineas (Colnaghi);

Sir Luke Fildes, ’An Al Fresco Toilette’, 1889 - 1,500 guineas (Gooden and Fox);

A C Gow, ‘After Waterloo: Sauve qui peut!’ 1890 – 530 guineas (Cox);

Three by Peter Graham,

  • ‘Caledonia, Stern and Wild’, 1891 – 1,450 guineas (Lister);

  • ‘The Hamlet by the Sea’, 1892 – 780 guineas (Fine Art Society); and

  • ‘A Highland Glen’, 1891 – 780 guineas (Ackermann);

H H La Thangue, ‘Cider Apples’, 1899 – 580 guineas (Longstaff);

Two by B W Leader,

  • ‘Worcester Cathedral’, 1895 – 600 guineas (Gooden and Fox); and

  •  ‘When the Sun is Set: a Worcestershire Village’, 1892 – 650 guineas (Lister);

W McTaggart, ‘Away over the Sea’, 1889 – 700 guineas (Aitkin Dott, of Edinburgh);

Henry Moore, ‘A Breezy Day’ 1887 – 480 guineas (Gooden and Fox);

Two by John Pettie,

  • ‘The Jester’s Merry Thought’, 1883 – 550 guineas  (Connell); and

  •  ’The Threat’, 1875 – 480 guineas (Wallis)

these two cost 390 guineas and 215 guineas in1895 and 1888;

C Sims, ’The Kite’, 520 guineas (Renwick);

Solomon J Solomon, ‘The Judgement of Paris’, 1891- 500 guineas (Gooden and Fox); and

Edward Stott, ‘The Inn: Evening’, 1897 – 600 guineas (Fine Art Society).


Transcript from the Times Digital Archive 31st May 1913

Report of the third (and last) day of the art sale.

END OF THE McCULLOCH SALE

A LARGE SUM REALISED

Messrs Christie concluded yesterday the three day sale of the late Mr George McCulloch’s collection of modern pictures and drawings. The 326 lots (out of which two or three were withdrawn) produced the large total of £136,944  19s, to which yesterday’s sale contributed only £7,213  5s.

The most important of the few drawings was Millais small version in water-colours of ‘Sir Isumbras at the Ford’, 5 1/2in by 7in. This drawing formerly belonged to Mr Arthur Sanderson at whose sale in 1908 it realised 125 guineas; yesterday it was bought by Messrs Gooden and Fox for 340 guineas on commission for the gentleman  for whom that firm purchased the original picture on Thursday.

Yesterday’s pictures included:-

Lady Alma Tadema, ‘The Puppet: The Great Reward’, 14in by 7in – 105 guineas (Sampson);

J Charles, ‘A Summer’s Day’, 15in by 22in 155 guineas; and two other pictures by the same, purchased by Messrs Riggs of Bradford;

G Clausen, ‘Going to Work’, from the Royal Academy of 1899 – 210 guineas (Rigg);

D Farquharson, ‘May Blossom near Callendar’, 1890 – 145 guineas (Gooden and Fox);

Mrs Stanhope Forbes, ‘The Witch’, 140 guineas (Gooden and Fox);

E J Gregory, ‘Rediviva: Great Grandmother’s Wedding Dress’, Royal Academy, 1903 – 160 guineas (Sampson);

Alexander Johnston, ‘The Press Gang’, Royal Academy, 1858 – 130 guineas (Lister);

W McTaggart, ‘Love’s Whispers’, 1890 – 190 guineas (Wallis);

Henry Moore, ‘Off Gerran Bay Cornwall’, 1891 – 350 guineas (Agnew)  (this realised 330 guineas in 1897);

Sir W Q Orchardson, ‘Blossoms Fair’, 1901 – 370 guineas (Agnew);

B Priestman, ‘The Watering Place: Evening’, 1899 – 155 guineas (Howarth); and

Mrs Adrian Stokes, ‘The Goatherd’ 155 guineas (Agnew).


About the dealers

We are just beginning to investigate the people reported in 'The Times' to have bought pictures; most of them were dealers, buying on behalf of either private clients or public bodies.

We think we have identified many of the buyers, but there are several either unidentified or we are not sure of, so please do let us know if you can tell us who they were.

Three of the dealers; Ackermann, Agnew and Colnaghi are mentioned in reference 3 which has an interesting chapter (14) about Dealers, Print-Publishers, and Photographers. It seems printing of works of art could be a lucrative business.

Arthur Ackerman Ltd

The 1911 census records an Arthur Ackermann, a retired fine arts dealer, born Blackheath, Kent about 1831. Earlier he had been a print-publisher, a business started by his grandfather Rudolph Ackerman who was born in Germany.

The phone book records Arthur Ackermann and Son Ltd, Fine Art Dealers, at 157a New Bond Street.

Thomas Agnew and Sons

Agnew's was another fine art dealership in Bond Street.

Quoting from reference 3:

Sir William Ackermann, Baronet, (1825 - 1910)

One of the great art dealers of the nineteenth century and partner in his father's firm of Thomas Agnew and Sons. He was Liberal MP for South-East Lancashire and Stretford from 1880 to 1886; created Baronet 1885.

His sons George and Charles Morland Agnew also joined the business.

Aitkin Dott

According to the National Portrait Gallery this leading Edinburgh business was founded by Aitken Dott (1815-92) as carvers, gilders and frame makers in 1842 and developed by his son Peter McOmish Dott (1856-1934) to become fine art dealers known as the ‘The Scottish Gallery’. It was continued by George Proudfoot (1873-1943). Aitkin Dott Galleries was in Fredrick Street, Edinburgh, Scotland

Blaker, Hugh Oswald

Hugh Blaker is best known nowadays as advisor to the wealthy sisters Gwendoline and Margaret Davies of Llandinam in the formation of their internationally renowned collection of French nineteenth century paintings and sculpture which they bequeathed to the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff.

Boussod Valadon & Cie

A French art dealership formed out of the original Goupil & Cie with an office in London.

Brown and Phillips

Ernest Brown & Phillips Ltd was founded in 1903 and traded as The Leicester Galleries, London, until 1977.

Cobbett

We do not know who Cobbett was; but it seems he bought back two significant paintings for the seller, Mrs Coutts Michie:

  • A Hacker, ‘Vae Victis! The Sack of Morocco by the Almohades’, 1890 costing 260 guineas, and the expensive picture

  • J Bastien-Lepage, ‘The Potato-Gatherers’, 70in by 76in 1878 costing 3,100 guineas.

Vae Victis was donated to the Broken Hill Art Gallery in 1913 by Mrs Michie.

'The Potato Gatherers' was bought by the Felton Bequest for the National Gallery of Australia, Victoria, Melbourne in 1927. The provenance on a Google art project web page is quoted:

Collection of the artist until his death, 1884; included in Jules Bastien-Lepage estate sale, Hotel Drouot, Paris, 11-12 May 1885, no. 13; from where purchased by Emile Bastien-Lepage (1854–1938) (brother); by whom sold to Arthur Tooth (dealer), London, 1897; collection of George McCulloch; then to Mrs Coutts Michie (McCulloch's widow), until 1927; acquired from Mrs Coutts Michie, through Croal Thompson of Barbizon House, on the advice of Frank Rinder, for the Felton Bequest, 1927.

Possibly Cobbett was merchant Henry Alexander Cobbett (1846-1933), son of the artist Edward John Cobbett, but perhaps he was just an acquaintance of Mrs Michie asked to bid at the sale.

Colnaghi

Colnaghi was a long established art dealership in New Bond Street, Mayfair.

Reference 3 mentions distinguished art dealers Dominic Colnaghi (1790 - 1879) and his nephew Martin Colnaghi (1821 - 1908). Neither was living at the time of the McCulloch sale when the firm was under new management.

Cox

Possibly this was Joseph Cox described as a Fine Art Dealer when he married widow Vera Harwood, maiden surname Gammon, at St Marks, Hamilton Terrace, London in 1904. His father was a butcher. In 1911 they were boarding at the Ivanhoe Hotel in Bloomsbury.

Davis, Charles

We think this may be Charles Davis MVO (1849 - 1914), a well connected Jewish art dealer of New Bond Street. He was interested in Russian Art and was appointed 'art expert' to Edward VII in 1903.

Dunlop

We wondered whether this might be Sir Thomas Bailie Dunlop (1855 - 1938), a Scottish merchant and ship owner. In 1908 he was vice-president of Glasgow arts Club and he became director of the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine arts.

Evans

We wondered whether this might be Ernest Francis Evans, born Birmingham about 1852, who in 1911 was recorded as a Fine Art Dealer and Framemaker living in Hamspstead, but it could be his brother Francis Michael Evans who was also an art dealer. They were both associates of the art dealer W W Sampson who is mentioned below.

Fine Art Society

The Fine Art Society, was and is an art dealership in New Bond Street, established 1876.

George

George purchased David Murray's painting ‘The River Road’, 1892  for 280 guineas.

The painting is now in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, but we have not found any information about him; do you know who George was?

Frank Gibson

Frank Gibson was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1865. From 1908 to 1914 he was art advisor to the 'Felton Bequest' and National Gallery of Victoria, entrusted with the acquisition of works of art in England and Europe (source: obituary, The Times, London, 1931).

The painting Gibson acquired was Cecil Gordon Lawson's 'Marshlands' which is now owned by the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. It was purchased by the Felton Bequest trustees for the Melbourne National Gallery in 1913. Alfred Felton (1831 - 1904) who made his wealth in Australia was an entrepreneur, art collector and philanthropist.

Gooden and Fox

The dealership known as Gooden and Fox was founded around 1903 by Stephen Thomas Gooden (1856 - 1909) and Frederick William Fox (1857 - 1934). Fox originally worked for Agnew's Gallery until 1903 when he set up the partnership with Gooden.

Fox later became an art adviser to philanthropist William Hesketh Lever.

Gooden was a print publisher. He married Edith Camille Elizabeth Epps (1868 - 1954) and their son was the engraver Stephen Frederick Gooden (1892 - 1955).

Harris, Lionel

This was most probably art dealer Lionel Harris (1862 - 1943) whose business was The Spanish Gallery at 50 Conduit Street, London. He purchased:

F Pradilla, ‘Boabdil’s Farewell to Granada’, 1879-92 for 500 guineas.

More about Lionel can be found on the Anita Harris family website.

His son Tomas Harris (1908 - 1964) worked for MI5 during WWII. He was killed in a car crash in Spain. Read more

Howarth

This name may have been miss-spelt in The Times report.

We think it likely the buyer was in fact Richard  Haworth (1864 - 1937), who the 1911 census records as a dealer in works of art living at Isca, Merlin Road, Blackburn, with his wife Bertha Jane and two children.

The painting he bought, Bertram Priestman's 'The Watering Place' is now in the Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery which quotes:

Perhaps the greatest influence on the quality of art at Blackburn can be credited to Richard Haworth, a reputable local art dealer who also served the neighbouring authorities of Accrington and Burnley. His discerning taste dictated what art was sold to Blackburn’s shrewd nouveau riche, some of which later became museum donations or bequests. Haworth was also a key figure in negotiating competitive prices for the Museum, sometimes directly from the artist (source: Vanessa Mitchell, Curator of Art, Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery).

Knoedler gallery

M Knoedler and Co was an American based art dealership.

Lane, Sir Hugh

Sir Hugh Lane (1875 - 1915) was an art dealer in London. He is best known for establishing Dublin's Municipal Gallery of Modern Art. Sadly he was amongst the 1,198 passengers and crew lost when the British passenger liner Lusitania was torpedoed by a German U boat.

Lister, Dyson

The Curator of Art at the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull confirms that a Dyson Lister, described as 'Gallery Agent', bought at least three paintings for the City of Hull which are now in the Ferens Art Gallery which opened in 1927. These were:

Rosa Bonheur, ‘The Lion at Home’, 1881 – 920 guineas;

Lady Butler, ‘Return from Inkerman’, 1877 - 850 guineas;

Alexander Johnston, ‘The Press Gang’, Royal Academy, 1858 – 130 guineas;

The first two are considered amongst the most important in the Victorian holdings of the Ferens Art Gallery and 'The Press Gang' by Scottish artist Alexander Johnston is also much admired.

The Ferens Art Gallery was gifted to Hull by Thomas Robinson Ferens (1847 - 1930) British politician, philanthropist, and an industrialist.

Purchase of these paintings is thought to have been made possible through the Tasker Bequest of 1911.

The Tasker Bequest was the gift of retired grocer William Wright Tasker of 28 Peel Street, Kingston upon Hull who died childless on 21st October 1911 aged 79 years leaving £33,875 (source: National Probate Calendar). The London Standard newspaper of Friday December 15th 1911 records that after other bequests he left £22,000 to charitable causes.

Kelly's directory of 1899 records that William Wright Tasker was a partner in grocery business 'Tasker and Richardson Ltd', wholesale and retail grocers, tea and provision merchants and Italian warehousemen of Junction Street,  St John Street, Anlaby Road and Beverley Road. His business partner was Charles Richardson

Art dealer, Dyson Lister was born Huddersfield about 1858, and died at The Grange, Woodside, Harrogate in 1931. The 1881 census recorded him as an Artist Portrait Painter, but in 1911 he was a Picture Dealer living at 26 York Road, Harrogate with his wife Mary Ellen; they had two sons Arthur and Percy. The London electoral rolls suggest he also had a home in Lion Road, Harrow and a shop 'Dyson Lister and Sons' at 26 Kings Street near Pall Mall.

There was a well known Australian artist William Lister Lister (1859 - 1943) but it seems unlikely that he would have had a connection with Hull.

Longstaff

This was probably the Australian artist Sir John Campbell Longstaff (1861 - 1941). H H La Thangue's painting  'Cider Apples' was acquired by Longstaff for the Sydney Art Gallery.

Merton

Merton purchased John William Waterhouse's painting,  ‘Flora of the Zephyrs’ exhibited at the Royal Academy of 1898 for 1,700 guineas.

So far we have not found an art dealer named Merton; the only reference to a dealer or collector that we have found is the art collector Sir Merton Russell Cotes who once owned the Bath Hotel in Bournemouth.

More likely this may have been wealthy merchant Emile Ralph Merton of 17 Park Lane, born 1850 Germany, died 1921. Emile married Helen Meates daughter of an East India Merchant in 1880. Their son Sir Thomas Ralph Merton KBE, DSc, FRS (1888 - 1969) became a famous physicist and art collector.

Another possibility is that this was Emile's elder brother Zachary Merton of 6 Green Street, Park Lane, London. Another researcher has told us that in 1907 Ernest Brown and Phillips (Leicester Galleries) held a sale of the remaining works of the late James Charles. Three of the pictures (namely: In Lickfold - Sussex; Gathering Bracken - Ambersham Common; and The Hayfield ) were sold to Zachary Merton, a wealthy metal merchant who was born in Germany about 1843 (ref 9).

It was once said of the painter James Charles (1851 - 1906):

He was one of the first to practise plein air painting in England. His unpretentious and often charming studies of country life in England have never attained the reputation they deserve (ref 8).

George McCulloch had eight paintings by James Charles in his collection.

See examples of James Charles' paintings on the BBC website.

In 1912 Zachary Merton purchased Folly Farm, Sulhamstead, near Reading. The house had been extended by Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869 - 1944), and Zachary contracted Lutyens to extend the house further. Possibly Zachary bought the painting of Flora of the Zephyrs for his new home.

Lutyens was later to design the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

On 29th November 1915 Zachary Merton died aged 71 years leaving a charitable trust to assist organisations helping the sick, convalescent, disabled and handicapped. Zachary's obituary was published in the The Times on 4th December, and it reveals that during his lifetime Zachary did many good works benefiting the poor of London.

Circa 2010 the painting 'Flora and the Zephyrs' was believed to be in the collection of John H Schaeffer of Sydney, an Australian businessman, art collector and philanthropist, who like George McCulloch, 100 years before, seems to have been especially attracted to the art of this period.

Pawsey and Payne

A British firm of Fine Art Dealers with premises at 1 Bury Street, St James, London SW.

Gilbert Pawsey, born 1881 Greenwich, died 1951, was an auctioneer's clerk in 1901, and recorded as a fine art dealer in 1911. His business partner was carver and gilder James Spencer Payne (1853 - 1931).

Permain,T

This was likely the Fine Art Dealer Thomas Watson Permain (1867 - 1928). His father William Richard Targett Permain (1840 - 1910) was an art dealer as was his brother Ernest (1871 - 1954).

Renwick

We are not certain who Renwick was, but the painting he bought, by British painter Charles Sims, The Kite, is now in the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff.

That makes us think he was Alderman William Henry Renwick, a coal exporter of Harlow Lodge, Llandaff near Cardiff who was born at Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1865 and died at Cardiff in 1926. He was the brother of Sir George Renwick who became MP for Newcastle-on-Tyne.

According to the Cardiff Museum website WH Renwick had been instrumental in commissioning a painting depicting Captain Scott's ship, the SS Terra Nova, leaving Cardiff Docks on its ill-fated Antarctic Expedition on June 15 1910. To quote:

Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott had named Cardiff as the Terra Nova's home port in recognition of the support the expedition had received from Wales, and Cardiff in particular. 

It can be argued that without this support, in both money and in kind, Scott would not have left in time to reach the Pole in 1912.

Funds were raised and sponsorship secured from businesses in the area resulting in donations from steam coal to cooking utensils, lamp oil, to the provision of dock facilities.

Cardiff had also raised more cash than any other city for Scott, and two leading Cardiff shipowners, Daniel Radcliffe and William James Tatem became two of the expedition's most fervent supporters.

The painting was commissioned by Alderman W H Renwick and W H Newtown to mark the city's pride in playing such a key role in the expedition, and the money required for commissioning it was raised from public subscription.  Hanging in the library of the Coal Exchange building in the docks, when news reached Britain of Scott's death in February 1913, the Union Jack and black crepe were draped around it, echoing the profound sense of shock that was felt in the city.

The picture of the Terra Nova leaving Cardiff was painted by Richard Short RCA born Cornwall (1841 - 1916), a Cardiff based painter of coastal scenes, and landscape, working mostly in South Wales.

Rigg of Bradford

This was likely Alfred Edward Rigg, Fine Art Dealer, born Bradford, Yorkshire about 1871. He and two of his brothers, Arthur Herbert Rigg and Ernest Higgins Rigg were artists.

William Walker Sampson

William Walker Sampson was an art dealer of Piccadily. He was born William Walker in 1865 and adopted the surname Sampson when his mother married. He died at Brighton in 1929. The 1911 census recorded him as a Fine Arts Dealer boarding at the Queen's Hotel, Leicester Square in London.

Thomson, David Croal

English art dealer and writer, David Croal Thomson (1855-1930) worked at or managed several major galleries in London and edited the Art Journal. David Croal Thomson was born at Edinburgh in 1855; he studied drawing and painting in Edinburgh, where he also apprenticed as a printseller and artist's colourman (1867), and went on to manage Hill's Picture Gallery and its art publications (1872-1880). He then went to Paris to continue his studies in art (source: on-line archives of California).

He was a writer and connoisseur, known chiefly as a director of the Goupil Gallery, and as founder of the art firm Barbizon House. He was assistant editor of 'The Year's Art' from 1881 and editor of the Art Journal from 1892 to 1902. He died on 4 January 1930, aged seventy-four (source: Tate Gallery).

Tooth

Arthur Tooth & Sons was a prominent art gallery located at no. 5 and 6 Haymarket in London, near the establishment of another picture dealer, McLean. The firm was founded in 1842 by Charles Tooth, a carver and framer, to set up his son, Arthur, in business. Until the 1880s, the gallery dealt in the occasional 18th-century, but mainly 19th-century British and some Continental paintings, thereafter expanding into old master paintings. Arthur Tooth also had a New York location from around 1900 until 1924 as well as a branch in Paris. The London branch remained in business until the 1970s.

Wallis, Sir Whitworth

Sir Whitworth Wallis (1855 - 1927), who was born in Birmingham, became a hard working museum curator; he was the first curator of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery; click to read more about Whitworth Wallis.

Asher Wertheimer

Asher Wertheimer was a British art dealer of German Jewish descent who became rich buying old master paintings from continental and Russian aristocrats, then selling them to American and British collectors.

His career flourished between 1870 and the First World War, when the circle of financiers, including the Rothschilds and Sassoons, who surrounded the Prince of Wales led to accusations that the future Edward VII was 'practically in the hands of the Jews' (source: The Telegraph 15th Jan 2000).

He and his family were painted by the American artist John Singer Sargent.


Click this link for an interesting story we came across about an 'art ring' possibly influencing prices, which mentions some of the dealers listed above.


References

  1. The Advertiser newspaper, Adelaide, Wednesday 7th May 1913
  2. The Times Digital Archive
  3. Maas Jeremy, Victorian Art World in Photographs, 1984
  4. 1911 Census
  5. Wikipedia (see links)
  6. Other sources, mentioned in-line

Other reading

  1. Maas Jeremy, Victorian Painters, 1969.
  2. The Grosvenor Gallery, a palace of art in Victorian England, Yale University Press, edited by Susan P. Casteras and Colleen Denney.
  3. Dakers Caroline, The Holland Park Circle: Artists and Victorian Society, 1999.
  4. Catalogue of the Royal Academy Winter Exhibition, 1909.
  5. Special Edition of the Royal Academy Art Journal 1909.
  6. Billcliffe Roger, The Glasgow Boys. The Glasgow School of Painting 1875 - 1895, John Murray (publishers), first printed 1985.
  7. Dakers Caroline, The Holland Park Circle: Artists and Victorian Society, 1999
  8. Wood Christopher, Victorian Painters, Volumes 1 and 2 (Dictionary of British Art Vol IV), published by The Antique Collectors' Club, 1995.
  9. Communication from P Wood, October 2015

(Reference 8 is in two parts. The first volume 'The Text' contains brief details of about 1,100 painters, and the second 'Historical Survey and Plates' contains more about some of these painters in alphabetical order with illustrations of some of their paintings; mostly these are black and white plates. The cover of the first volume shows the middle of a charming painting by George Earl 1824 - 1908 named Going North. It depicts an appealling group of Victorian travellers and their dogs, mostly Setters, at a railway station. An earlier version of Going North was painted in 1875 and a sister painting made named Coming South).


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