A curious thing happened when I was doing some research this week. I discovered the Landbeach church once had a master painting in it. It was Pieter Aertsen’s The Nativity, 1562.
Robert Masters, Rector of All Saints’ church, Landbeach, Cambridgeshire (1746-97) and bequeathed by him to that church in 1787. Removed in 1868 to the Rectory, where it remained until 1976. Deposited at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and subsequently the Fitzwilliam Museum until 1981.
Sold by order of the Diocesan Council; Sotheby’s, London, 9 December 1981, lot 20 as Joachim Beuckelaer (£21,000). Anon. sale, Sotheby’s, London, 5 July 1989, lot 59 (£48,000=$78,000).
Masters demolished one of the Lady Chapels in the church and also cut down part of the chancel screen and replaced the font. The painting was sold to pay for repairs to the roof in 1981.
Born at Hetherset, Norfolk, he was descended from William Master of Cirencester. He was admitted to Corpus Christi College in 1731; graduated B.A. in 1734, M.A. in 1738, B.D. in 1746; and was fellow and tutor of the college from 1738 to 1750. On 14 May 1752, he was elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He continued to reside in college till he was presented by that society to the rectory of Landbeach, Cambridgeshire, in 1756. Matthias Mawson, bishop of Ely, collated him to the vicarage of Linton, which he resigned for that of Waterbeach in 1759. This latter benefice he with the bishop’s permission resigned in 1784 to his son William, for whom he built a house.
Masters was in the commission of the peace for Cambridgeshire, and acted as deputy to William Compton, LL.D., chancellor of the diocese of Ely, who resided abroad. In 1797, he resigned the living of Landbeach in favour of Thomas Cooke Burroughes, senior fellow of Caius College, who, immediately upon his presentation, married Mary, Masters’s second daughter. Masters continued to reside in the parsonage with his son-in-law and daughter until his death on 5 July 1798. He was buried at Landbeach, where a monument was erected to his memory.
When Barnett Freedman was asked to illustrate Siegfried Sassoon’s Memoirs of an Infantry Officer, it was likely a bit of an avantgarde choice for the time, but the publishers Faber and Faber would have known Freedman had a wonderful talent of draftsmanship and imagination.
It is likely that the same choice of imagination was why the Folio Society gave Paul Hogarth the same job of illustrating Sassoon’s famous memoir.
One of the most interesting elements Hogarth adds is colour, so many of the illustrators to tackle war stories tend to keep it monochrome. Hogarth’s work is rather brash and he is famous for his journalistic eye of drawing from books like Looking at China (1956), Majorca Observed (1965), Paul Hogarth’s American (1973) and I can’t help feeling his depictions come off feeling a little frivolous of the subject and fail to convey a lot of the turmoil of the trenches.
Leonard and Virginia Woolf had retreated from London to their country home, Monk’s House, Rodmell. Virginia Woolf’s apartments at 52 Tavistock Square and 37 Mecklenburgh Square were both blitz damaged and the countryside was more peaceful for both to work in. Rodmell, like Charleston are both located south-east of Lewes.
Monk’s House, Rodmell
In 1940 Virginia had published a biography on her late friend Roger Fry and in the wartime conditions the, reviews were not abundant and although she had finished the manuscript for her last (posthumously published) novel, Between the Acts she fell into depression and was unable to write.
Virginia Woolf’s writing shed in the garden of Monk’s House.
Virginia had chosen to take her life and on that day was missing from Monks House, she had left a letter for him. After looking all over the house and garden Leonard was sure she would have gone to the river:
“I ran across the fields down to the river and almost immediately found her walking-stick lying upon the bank. I searched for some time and then went back to the house and informed the police.
On 28 March 1941, Woolf drowned herself by filling her overcoat pockets with stones and walking into the River Ouse near her home.
Woolf’s body was not found until 18 April. Her husband buried her cremated remains beneath an elm tree in the garden of Monk’s House, their home in Rodmell, Sussex.
On the day of her death Leonard wrote:
I found the following letter on the writing block in her work-room. At about eleven on the morning of March 28 I had gone to see her in her writing-room and found her writing on the block. She came into the house with me, leaving the writing-block in her room. She must, I think, have written the letter which she left for me on the mantelpiece (and a letter to Vanessa) in the house immediately afterwards.
Virginia Woolf’s Suicide Note to Leonard:
I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don’t think two people could have been happier ‘til this terrible disease came. I can’t fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can’t even write this properly. I can’t read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that — everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer.
I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been. V.
Virginia Woolf’s Letter to her sister, Vanessa Bell:
You can’t think how I loved your letter. But I feel that I have gone too far this time to come back again. I am certain now that I am going mad again. It is just as it was the first time, I am always hearing voices, and I know I shan’t get over it now. All I want to say is that Leonard has been so astonishingly good, every day, always; I can’t imagine that anyone could have done more for me than he has. We have been perfectly happy until the last few weeks, when this horror began. Will you assure him of this? I feel he has so much to do that he will go on, better without me, and you will help him.
I can hardly think clearly any more. If I could I would tell you that you and the children have meant to me. I think you know.
I have fought against it, but I can’t any longer. – Virginia.
Front cover of the New York Times, 3rd April 1941.
The news that Virginia was missing was posted in the papers, and although her body was not washed up for two and a half weeks it was presumed she was lost, feared dead.
Below the two quotes are from the diaries of Frances Partridge, wife of Ralph. Although she seems unaffected, it was maybe from being on the outer orbit of the Bloomsbury group.
Opening The Times this morning I read with astonishment: “We regret to announce that the death of Mrs. Virginia Woolf, missing since last Friday, must now be presumed.” From the discreet notice that followed it seems that she is presumed to have drowned herself in the river near Rodmell. An attack of her recurring madness I suppose; the thought of self-destruction is terrible, dramatic and pathetic, and yet (because it is the product of the human will) has an Aristotelian inevitability about it, making it very different from all the other sudden deaths we have to contemplate.
Sat out on the verandah, trying to write to Clive in answer to his letter about Virginia’s death. He says: “For some days, of course, we hoped against hope that she had wandered crazily away and might be discovered in a barn or a village shop. But by now all hope is abandoned … It became evident some weeks ago that she was in for another of those long agonizing breakdowns of which she has had several already. The prospect two years insanity, then to wake up to the sort of world which two years of war will have made, was such that I can’t feel sure that she was unwise. Leonard, as you may suppose, is very calm and sensible. Vanessa is, apparently at least, less affected than Duncan, Quentin and I had looked for and feared. I dreaded some such physical collapse as befell her after Julian was killed. For the rest of us the loss is appalling, but like all unhappiness that comes of ‘missing’, I suspect we shall realize it only bit by bit.”
After the funeral of Virgina, Leonard buried her ashes at the foot of the great elm tree in their garden. There were two great elms there with boughs interlaced which they always called Leonard and Virginia. In the first week of January 1943, in a great gale one of the elms was blown down.
Leonard Woolf – The Journey not the Arrival Matters, Hogarth Press, 1969.
Frances Partridge – A Pacifist’s War, Hogarth Press, 1978
New York Times, 3rd April 1941.
Here are a set of prints I found from when I was a student doing printmaking and illustration. Many are using photographs from trips to California or my friends.
This is a link to a podcast about Lucia Moholy, below is a short summery of the show, but it’s worth while while listening.
Lucia Moholy was a photographer and her work documented much of the of the Bauhaus’s output, from architecture to the products it exhibited and promoted. When fleeing Germany Lucia Moholy entrusted her photo collection of works and negatives to Walter Gropius who then refused to return them and then went out of his way to deny her the credit and royalties of her own work.
Moholy fled Germany to Prague temporarily to stay with family, and then made her way through Switzerland, and then Austria, and then Paris, eventually settling in London. Moholy weathered out the war in England. While there, she worked as a portrait photographer for British high society, and also published A Hundred Years of Photography, a book about the medium’s history.
Moholy did not get physical possession of her original material until 1957, but even then she only could recover a portion of them, 230 out of the 560 Bauhaus-era negatives she took, while 330 negatives, according to Moholy’s own card catalogue, are still missing. Her 1972 publication, Moholy-Nagy Notes, was an attempt to reclaim credit for her work that was printed without permission. After her death, the collection of negatives was donated to the Bauhaus Archive in Berlin.
Until a few days ago I didn’t know of Ina Boyle or her work. Boyle was born in Bushey Park near Enniskerry, County Wicklow, and grew up in a restricted circle of her mother, father and sister. Her first music lessons were with her father William Foster Boyle (1860–1951), who was curate at St. Patrick’s Church, Powerscourt, and was given violin and cello lessons by her governess with her younger sister Phyllis.
From the age of eleven, she studied theory and harmony with Samuel Myerscough, the English organist who founded the Leinster School of Music in 1904. From 1904 onwards, she also undertook lessons via correspondence with Charles Wood, who was married to Boyle’s cousin Charlotte Georgina Wills-Sandford.
Charles Herbert Kitson encouraged her to compose the two anthems published in 1915. From 1923, Boyle began to travel to London to take lessons with Ralph Vaughan Williams at his home in February 1923.
Working most days she returned to Ireland and out of a social loop, it was hard to promote her work outside of letters. Her output is remarkable as she worked composing for orchestra in her rural home.
John Maltby (1910-80) rose to prominence during the thirties, when the camera was influencing architectural practice and criticism more than ever before and when the International Style was gaining a tentative foothold. In the same way as Claude Gravot was the favoured photographer of Le Corbusier, so Maltby was closely allied to Lubetkin, one of the great modernist imigri architects working in Britain at the time.
Maltby also had a lucrative commission from Odeon Cinemas – to photograph every theatre in the Odeon cinema chain. His photographs show the wonderful Art Deco architecture as well as members of staff.
After World War II and in stark contrast to the opulence of the Art Deco cinemas, his photographs of Alison and Peter Smithson’s Hunstanton school were admired and reproduced around the world, while his commercial work helped to spread the popularity of the Contemporary look.
John Maltby’s career spanned five decades and produced some of the most enduringly evocative images of British architecture and design during the twentieth century, yet his name remains relatively unknown. There are a number of reasons for this undeserved obscurity. He never became official photographer to a leading journal with his own by-line, as, for example, Dell & Wainwright did at the Architectural Review, but remained a freelance with a varied clientele.
His work, though widely reproduced, was often uncredited. In addition, this work, embracing as it did a broad range of subject matter such as interior design, industry and product manufacture, as well as architecture, was far more diffuse than that of his narrowly focused contemporary practitioners in architectural photography. Above all, however, the reason can be found in the innate modesty which once led Maltby to describe himself simply ‘a record photographer’ and saw him steadfastly rebuff all attempts to intellectualise his work.
While critics rightly laud the great masterpieces of architectural photography, it is often the seemingly more mundane but solidly professional compositions of photographers such as John Maltby, which prove to have the more telling contribution to architectural discourse.
With the sad news of Ronald Blythe’s death comes an interesting question. What happens to Wormingford’s Bottengoms Farm? Blythes estate has been settled up and I am now the owner of some of Christine Nash’s works.
Christine Kuhlenthal – Standing Nude, 1913
I find her work so significantly because of her early links with Dora Carrington and the Slade but also her affect on John. This drawing was for the Slade Figure Prize in 1913. The images below show that the drawing is from the Prize as it’s the same model used for Dora Carrington’s winning entry. Alongside Carrington in her class would be Mark Gertler, Paul Nash at the Slade.
Christine also worked in the Omega Workshops for the Bloomsbury group, mostly sewing Vanessa Bells fabrics into dress designs.
She met and married painter John Nash. ‘One artist in the house is enough’… that’s what Christine told Ronald Blythe. However history lost a good artist when she gave up art for acting and country dancing so not to upset John. During the end of her time at the Slade School of Fine Art she discovered she had glaucoma. It was too difficult to paint sometimes and she needed glasses to work, but she still could.
When Tirzah Garwood was dying it was Christine Nash who found her a nursing home in Copford and went to visit her with art materials most days. When she died John and Christine picked flowers from their Wormingford garden for her grave. She has been anonymous in so much history.
The nude drawing is also featured in Blythe’s book First Friends, published first by the Fleece Press and then Viking. Pictures like this are rare and to be cherished.
It’s rather annoying to loose one’s keys; to search the house, from worktop – to hallway table, your coat pockets and then find them in the jeans you wore yesterday that had been screwed up and posted in the laundry bin. But it must be another thing to lose a sculpture.
The photographs here are of a lost work by John Skeping of his first wife, Barbara Hepworth made in Rome. It must have weighed a lot, it’s not small and somehow it is missing.
Skeaping wrote in his memoirs that he had advertised for the sculptures return and to find information on where it might be today. Might it be in an Italian household somewhere? Who knows. The mystery lives on for now. Finding it would be the sensation of the modern age.