On the hunt with Michael Brockway


 Michael (Gordon) Brockway – Manor House, Downton.

This weekend I bought a painting by Michael Brockway. It’s a landscape with a house. I like to know what paintings are off, so I turned detective. 


The first step was removing the picture from it’s frame. On the back was ‘Manor House, Downton’. A google of that came up with hundreds of images of the Television show ‘Downton Abbey’. I then Googled ‘villages called Downton, UK’ and a list of ‘things called Downton’ from Wikipedia came up. 


Using the church and it’s spires in my picture, I went down the list of villages. The matching church was Downton Wiltshire.


Then after entering ‘Manor House, Downton, Wiltshire’ I looked on Google Maps, the picture below is of the house and the church. The roof-line matched.

In the other details on the village I was lucky enough to get an estate agent’s property listing, with the house in my painting.

“It is a building with history. Below is a quote from the Daily Mail on the property when it went up for sale: First lived in more than two centuries before William the Conqueror set foot on British soil, this ancient house is believed to be the longest continually inhabited home in the south of England.

Dating back to 850, the Manor House in the pretty Wiltshire village of Downton, was once home to Sir Walter Raleigh.” “The Grade I-listed five-bedroom, four-bathroom house was originally founded as a chapel in 850, after which it was transformed into a medieval hall house, and subsequently into a comfortable country home”.

“In the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I leased the house from Winchester College, giving it first to Thomas Wilkes, Clerk to the Privy Council, and then to her favourite, Raleigh. In 1586 he invited the monarch to stay, but not before he made substantial improvements to the property, and the Raleigh family coat of arms still stands above the fireplace in the house’s wooden panelled Great Parlour. Another improvement by the Raleigh family, who lived at the house for about a century, was the addition of a first floor, created with wood from a ship which had been sailed up the River Avon and then dismantled”.


On Michael Brockway more detective work was needed. He was Born in 1919, in London. Michael Gordon Brockway was a painter and author. He was schooled at Stowe and Peterhouse, Cambridge. After WWII he studied under Simon Bussy in France. After deciding to take up painting professionally he studied at the Ruskin School of Drawing, Oxford and Famham School of Art.

In addition to his exhibits at London’s Royal Academy, he has been the subject of several successful solo exhibitions at Walker Galleries, King Street Galleries.

In 1952 he wrote a monograph on the watercolourist Charles Knight, R.O.W., R.O.I. The book was a limited edition of 350 copies.

He is a honorary life member of the New English Art Club (NEAC), other members were: Walter Sickert, William Orpen, Augustus John, Gwen John, William Rothenstein, Evelyn Dunbar and Muirhead Bone.

Masses and Masses of Masses – The Most Dangerous Magazine in America.

In a garage sale I bought a book of magazines. I love old newspapers and annuals bound into books, it saves them from damage and keeps them in order of date. On that day, I came away with a bound book of The Masses Magazine – A left wing american publication from 1911-1917. It was an interesting period for America, with the Mexican revolution and the start of the First World War happening around them.


“Perhaps the most vibrant and innovative magazine of its day, The Masses was founded in 1911 as an illustrated socialist monthly, and it was soon sponsoring a heady blend of radical politics and modernist aesthetics that earned it the popular sobriquet “the most dangerous magazine in America.”
The magazine had three editors during its first two years—Thomas Seltzer, Horatio Winslow, and Piet Vlag (the magazine’s founder)—but for the remainder of its short life The Masses was brilliantly edited by Max Eastman, who—with Floyd Dell, as managing editor—helped turn it into the flagship journal of Greenwich Village, the burgeoning bohemian art community in New York”. †

After Max Eastman took over editing the magazine, the front covers became more colourful and less conservative looking. Inside the magazine the lithographs and illustrations became more contemporary, looser drawings rather than cartoonish ‘Punch’ like illustrations.

In his first editorial, Eastman argued: “This magazine is owned and published cooperatively by its editors. It has no no dividends to pay, and nobody is trying to make money out of it. A revolutionary and not a reform magazine: a magazine with a sense of humour and no respect for the respectable: frank, arrogant, impertinent, searching for true causes: a magazine directed against rigidity and dogma wherever it is found: printing what is too naked or true for a money-making press: a magazine whose final policy is to do as it pleases and conciliate nobody, not even its readers.

 The Masses magazine cover, by Frank Walts, 1916.

Many scholars have noted the high quality of the writing, imagery and design of the Masses. Specifically, they all identify the magazine’s visuals as its hallmark. The complete list of works that mention the magazine would be too extensive to list exhaustively, but in a number of works, the Masses takes centre stage. Discussions on the magazine and imagery can be found within histories of print journalism and the little magazine; works on the intellectual and artistic life of New York City in this period. ‡

Max Eastman was accused later on of going against the collective nature of the magazine when he wrote and published articles and illustrations without consulting the board who hired him. Eastman hired an assistant editor, Floyd Dell, he recalled “some of the artists held a smouldering grudge against the literary editors, and believed that Max Eastman and I were infringing the true freedom of art by putting jokes or titles under their pictures”.


 Maurice Becker – Laying Down Our Lives for Their Country

Above is a typical illustration from the magazine; Capitalists laying down the bodies of soldiers at the alter of Profit. The magazines socialist agenda wasn’t masked at all. Below a picture about the Mexican Revolution and how a Mexican is hiding behind a rock from gunfire where as the American Fat Cat is hiding behind the gold of Wall Street.


Maurice Becker again, – This was one of the more interesting illustrations, it was untitled – drawn direct onto newspaper print and then printed up. Maybe unknowingly initiative.


 Maurice Becker – Christmas Cheer, 1914.

The picture above is captioned “Cheer up, Bill – time next Christmas comes around, we may be prisoners of war.”

In 1918 Maurice Becker became a conscientious objector to American participation in World War I. He fled to Mexico with his wife to avoid the draft. He was arrested upon his return to the United States in 1919 and was tried, convicted, and sentenced to 25 years of hard labour, of which he served 4 months at Fort Leavenworth prior to commutation of his sentence. After he was released he lived in Mexico for a few years before returning to America.


 Glenn O. Coleman – Overheard on Hester Street.
(To the Suffrage Canvasser) “You’ll have to ask the head of the house – I only do the work.”

The Masses, as in the picture above, were keen to promote women’s rights.
The magazine vigorously argued for birth control (supporting activists like Margaret Sanger) and women’s suffrage. Several of its Greenwich Village contributors, like Reed and Dell, practised free love in their spare time and promoted it (sometimes in veiled terms) in their pieces. Support for these social reforms was sometimes controversial within Marxist circles at the time; some argued that they were distractions from a more proper political goal, class revolution.


 K. R. Cahmberlain – At Petrograd
Russian Officer: ‘Why these fortifications, your Majesty? Surely the Germans will not get this far!”  The Czar: “But when our own army returns…?”

It’s hard to say if the Masses did anything at the time to change the political thinking of America. It’s true to say they sponsored and promoted art and writers that would go on to become significant. As a historical document, it’s value has been justified by time.

The Masses found itself constantly entangled in lawsuits claiming libel brought by major corporation and syndicates (most notably the Associated Press), and eventually the government, invoking the Espionage Act of 1917, barred it from the mails in August 1917 for its critique of the U.S.’s involvement in World War One. Without being able to ship the magazine to it’s subscribers the magazine folded.

† http://modjourn.org/render.php?view=mjp_object&id=MassesCollection
‡ Constructive images: Gender in the political cartoons of the “Masses” (1911–1917)

Masquerading School Print

Following my Post on the John Nash ‘Harvesting’ Schools Print I thought I would present another unravelling of prints from my collection of books.


 A detail of Harlequinade by Clarke Hutton, 1946.

Stanley Clarke Hutton was born in Stoke Newington, London, on 14 November 1898, son of Harold Clarke Hutton, a solicitor, and his wife Ethel, née Clark. In 1916 he became assistant stage designer at the Empire Theatre. About a decade later he took a trip to Italy, which inspired him to become a fine artist.

In 1927 he joined A.S. Hartrick’s lithography class at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London, after Hartrick retired he taught the class himself until 1968. He experimented with the technique of auto-lithography with the aim of developing a way of printing affordable full-colour children’s books, and worked with Noel Carrington at Penguin Books to develop the Picture Puffin imprint. With Penguin he also illustrated Popular English Art by Noel Carrington, for King Penguin Books, in 1945.

He used the auto-lithography techniques he developed for the Oxford University Press’ Picture History series. Other notable publications where for The Folio Society. He illustrated about 50 books in all, for publishers in the UK and USA.

His paintings, figures and landscapes, were widely exhibited. His later work took on a surrealist influence. He died in Westminster in the second quarter of 1984.


 A Picture History of India by John Hampden – Oxford University Press, 1965
Illustrated by Clarke Hutton

It was his illustrations for Noel Streatfeild’s ‘Harlequinade’ that the link to the Schools Print lays. It’s remarkably similar. Most of the figures are all represented, the harlequin, the ballet dancer and the policeman in the corner. Again under the same street light the clown, dog and jester appear.

The book was published in 1943 and the Schools Print was produced in 1946. So rather like the case of the John Nash ‘Harvesting’ the Schools print is made from recycled earlier sketches and ideas, in my opinion, to great effect – these days it would be considered good marketing for the book.


 Noel Streatfield – Harlequinade. Chatto and Windus, 1943.
Illustrated by Clarke Hutton


 Clarke Hutton – Harlequinade – A Schools Print, 1946.

About The Schools Prints:
Set up in 1945 by Brenda Rawnsley, the School Prints scheme commissioned well-known artists to create lithographs, which would then be printed in large numbers and sold cheaply to schools for display in classrooms. The aim was to give ‘school children an understanding of contemporary art’. Each lithograph had a drawn frame so that the print could be pinned to the wall. 

In the spirit of post-war optimism, artists responded enthusiastically. The scheme was a unique attempt at giving children access to original works of art in a period of austerity but ended in 1949 because of financial problems. 

Memorial at Cawnpore

I was in an antique shop in Cambridge just before Christmas when I saw an embroidery on the wall. It was a Victorian memorial piece made from silk and the detail of it was stunning. It was done in the memory of the victims of Cawnpore. Below, in short, is the story of the Indian mutiny.

 The large embroidery for the victims of Cawnpore. 

Cawnpore was a major crossing point of the Ganges and Grand Trunk Canal, and an important junction where the Grand Trunk Road and the road from Jhansi to Lucknow crossed. Cawnpore was to become a vitally important garrison town for the British, straddling key communication lines.

In 1857 it was garrisoned by four regiments of native infantry and a European battery of artillery and was commanded by General Sir Hugh Wheeler. Wheeler had served in India most of his life, had an Indian wife and a gross overconfidence in the loyalty of the sepoys under his command.

Sepoys were the native, Indian soldiers who served in the army of the British East India Company. On June 27th, 1857, in Cawnpore, India, a British garrison with many women and children, under siege, were offered safe passage and sanctuary. Instead, they were betrayed and butchered. The surviving women and children were later hacked to death. The British retribution, when it came, was unrelentingly severe.

 A View of Cawnpore, India, 1858) †

There was one complicating factor in the area that would come back to haunt Wheeler and the garrison. Nana Sahib was the adopted heir of the last great Mahratta king Baji Rao.

Unfortunately for Nana Sahib, the East India Company decided that Baji Rao’s pension and honours would die with him and would not be passed on to any successors. Nana Sahib lobbied hard sending an envoy, Azimullah Khan, to London to petition the Queen directly but to no avail.

This dispossessed Hindu aristocrat would play a dangerous double game before deciding who to support in the mutiny.

 A Portrait of Nana Sahib, one of Victorian Britain’s most famous villains. – The Illustrated Times, 1857.

With the patronage of the Mughal Empire in New Deli the mutineers ransacked towns and cities. The Mughal Empire was to be reestablished of Hindus and Muslims, these combined forces where to evict the Christians from India forever. This turned a localised army mutiny into a more significant political challenge to the rule of the East India Company.

The slow response by the commander of the East India Company General Anson did not help. He underestimated the size and escalation of the challenge to the company’s authority. He would not be the only one to make that mistake in 1857

 Bridge of boats across the Ganges at Cawnpore – Seeta Ram, 1814/15 – British Library

Wheeler expected reinforcements to come from the South of Cawnpore, so he made camp of defence a few miles South of the city at a small military base where barracks were being constructed. His hope was to build an entrenchment around this camp as a defence from the outside. However it was the height of the Indian hot season and digging defences was hampered by an iron backed ground. It was almost impossible to get the trenches below waist height and the surrounding area outside of the fortifications had buildings to shelter the enemy and their gunfire.

The biggest problem was the lack of decent sanitatary facilities. There was only one water well and that would be exposed to enemy fire.

The entrenchment would be fine to defend with a significant force of soldiers or for a very short period of time. As it was, there would be a thousand plus civilians with a pitifully small garrison of European soldiers who would end up having to defend for far longer than they had possibly anticipated.

Although no direct threat had yet occurred in Cawnpore, European families began to drift into the entrenchment and tried to find a space in one of the sturdier buildings available. The very sight of the Europeans withdrawing into relative safety was not unnoticed by the Indian sepoys and sowars.


To try and disperse the number of Indian soldiers away from Cawnpore, General Wheeler decided to send troops on various ‘missions’ to relieve garrisons in the region. They mutinied against the British, killing both their commanders. Oblivious to this the men making Entrenchment fortifications at the south of Cawnpore kept working.

Nana Sahib had declared his loyalty to the British and sent what volunteers he could spare to be at the disposal of Wheeler and for the defence of Cawnpore. He sent his units to camp just south of the Entrenchment, to guard the treasury. Wheeler had barely 250 forces in total and he had to defend a thousand odd civilians.

 A Map of Cawnpore. The Entrenchment being centre-right.

Tensions would be raised on the night of June 2nd when a drunk Lieutenant Cox fired on his own guard. He missed, was disarmed and thrown into jail for the night. The following day the sowars were less than impressed when a hastily convened court failed to convict him of firing on his own troops. This seemed to confirm that there was one rule for the English and another for the Indians.

Rumours of mutiny and impending treachery were becoming so widespread that it was difficult to tell the truth from the rumours. There were still Native regiments based in the city. (The 1st, 53rd and 56th Native Infantry and the 2nd Bengal Cavalry).

It was to be the 2nd Bengal Cavalry that were the prime instigators of the mutiny. It seemed to them as if the English were already prepared for them to mutiny. They cited the insulting fortification of the entrenchment, artillery guns being primed and aimed at them, the fact that they had to collect their pay out of uniform and one by one so as to not all turn up in the entrenchment armed and en masse, the acquittal of Lt Cox and rumours that they were to be summonsed to a parade where they were to be blown to pieces all convinced the sowars that something was seriously amiss.

 A map of Wheeler’s Entrenchment.

In the city at 1:30am on June 5th, three pistol shots signalled the start of the mutiny. At least one Rissaldar-Major Bhowani Singh refused to join his comrades and was cut down there and then.

As predicted by Wheeler the sowars began to burn buildings, loot and cause mayhem. The 53rd and 56th were groggily awoken by the panic and started to form up. The 56th began to panic and started to run off. European artillery opened up on the fleeing sepoys assuming they were mutineers too. If they hadn’t been before, they were now. Worse than that, the 53rd, Wheelers old regiment, were caught up in the cross fire. The confusion and panic had led the British defenders to fire upon what was probably the most loyal unit in the area. Soon virtually the entire native contingent had risen up or run off.

It was then that Nana Sahib’s and his men looted the treasury and set off down the Grand Trunk Road. He caught up with the bulk of the mutineers at Kalyanpur. Seeing advantage for himself, he therefore pleaded with the mutineers to about-turn and come back with him to besiege and capture the city on behalf of the Mughal Emperor, bribing the men with the British Gold.

Ominously for the British, the mutineers trundled back into town. This time, they made sure that they had expunged all the Europeans from outside of the entrenchment and systematically plundered and destroyed all European owned property. Native Christians were also singled out for gruesome fates.

Whilst all this was happening Nana Sahib took the time to write a letter to General Wheeler informing him to expect an attack the next morning at 10am!

 A larger map of Cawnpore showing the Entrenchment bottom left and the Grand Trunk Road slashing top left to bottom right. 

The attack started half an hour late at 10:30 on June 6th. It would actually take the form of a prolonged artillery bombardment but this offered little comfort to the defenders who realised quickly that the mutineers had more and better guns available to them and that the entrenchment offered and that they were surrounded.

Fortunately for the British, the mutineers were reluctant to test the defences in an all out assault. In fact, they had been led to believe (falsely) that the entrenchment had gunpowder filled trenches.

The following days, and indeed weeks, would only confirm what a difficult position this was to defend. The fact that it was the hottest time of the year only added to the miseries of the defenders. The one well was exposed to the enemy artillerymen and snipers who took delight in aiming at the desperately thirsty defenders. Water extraction would have to take place at night to stand any chance of success. A second dried-up well would have to serve as the make-shift burial chamber. The solid ground was too difficult to dig individual graves. Dead bodies would have to be piled up outside the buildings awaiting nightfall when they would be dragged and dumped with as much ceremony as could be summonsed given the circumstances.


The defenders were becoming increasingly desperate, their already small quantity of soldiers was being steadily whittled down by the combined attritional effects of successive bombardments, snipers, assaults, disease and poor to non-existent medical supplies. Food and water were dangerously low and the hot season was still beating down the sun unmercifully on the defenders. By the 21st of June, they had probably lost a third of their number.

With the prospect of relief seemingly as far away as ever, General Wheeler assented to Jonah Shepherd slipping out of the entrenchment in disguise to ascertain the condition of the mutineer army. Jonah was picked up pretty quickly by the mutineers although they failed to appreciate that he had been part of the defending force and merely imprisoned him as a wastrel.

Whilst this was all taking place, Nana Sahib and his advisers had come up with a plan of their own to end the deadlock. They used a female European prisoner, Rose Greenway, to approach the entrenchment with the idea of initiating negotiations. She conveyed to the defenders a note that said that Nana Sahib was willing to offer safe passage to Allahabad for all those who lay down their arms. This offer was rejected by General Wheeler ostensibly because it hadn’t been signed and that therefore no personal guarantee had been offered.

The following day, June 25th, a second note was brought, this time by a different female prisoner, a Mrs Jacobi. This letter was signed by Nana Sahib himself. Debate swirled amongst the survivors and it was clear that there were two camps forming: Those determined to hold out versus those wishing to lay their trust in Nana Sahib’s assurance. Wheeler, already in a poor state of mind, was actually in favour of holding out, but when some of his officers began to talk of the sense in escorting the surviving women and children to safety, the old general relented and offered to lay down his arms in return for safe passage.

The next 24 hours saw an immediate improvement in the condition of the defenders. No longer having to brave the bombardment just to get a bucket of water meant that the defenders could drink their fill and wash and bathe for the first time in three weeks. Additionally, as the remaining rations would no longer be required for a long siege, allowances were doubled and the defenders could eat satisfying quantities for the first time in a long time.

With a day for preparation and laying to rest any remaining fallen comrades, the morning of the 27th June was designated as the day to board the boats to take them down the Ganges to Allahabad.

 The ‘Sati Chaura Ghat’ on the bank of the River Ganges.

A large column was formed with General Wheeler leading from the front. They tried to show as much dignity as they could muster but the privations and conditions were unable to be concealed from the Indian onlookers. The respect shown to the front of the column gradually broke down as looters and pilferers tried their luck in grabbing the personal effects of those further down the column. More locals swarmed into the entrenchment hoping to find things of value left behind by the defenders.

One unanticipated problem was that the river was unusually dry and the boats were left fairly high and dry. It would take some serious dragging and effort to find the deeper parts of the Ganges. General Wheeler and his party, being the first to arrive, were the first aboard and the first to manage to set their boat adrift. It was at this point that some of the mutineers began to look nervously at the general’s boat floating downstream. It was clear that not all the boats were yet loaded and there were still a lot of Europeans waiting to board the at all.

There was a bit of confusion as the Indian boatmen jumped overboard and made for the banks. They knocked over the cooking fires on the boats before jumping in, thus setting some of the boats ablaze. Then, all hell broke loose. Tatya Tope ordered the 2nd Bengal Cavalry unit and some artillery pieces to open fire on the hapless Europeans. The massacre was merciless. Bullets flew from all directions as the Europeans desperately attempted to scramble into the burning boats.

Women and children were inevitably caught up in the deadly fire. At the boarding point, the carnage continued. It then stopped almost as suddenly as it started when the mutineers suddenly ceased fire. Any remaining women and children were taken prisoner and escorted to Savada House. Any remaining men were cut down where they stood. Approximately 120 women and children were thus taken away.

Wheeler’s boat, floating away was pursued. Under-fire and with the low tide, the sandbanks and rocks hampered escape efforts. General Wheeler’s own family members were probably killed in the water trying to free the boat.

Lieutenant Thomson led a last gasp desperate charge out of the river into the mutineers. Unbelievably, the suicidal charge worked and in fact allowed them to capture some vital ammunition. The next morning yet another grounding resulted in another charge by Thomson and 11 volunteers. Having left the boat the mutineers captured it and the people on-board were unceremoniously escorted off the boat. The men where executed on the bank and the women and children were taken back to Savada house. The men in Thomsons charge ran, hid, attacked and were surrounded. They ran to the river, four survived including Thomson – they swam to the centre of the river. They drifted downstream as best they could – although they now had to worry about crocodiles too. They came exhaustively ashore a few hours later. Their fortunes finally turned for the better when they were discovered by Rajput matchlockmen who worked for the Raja Dirigibijah Singh who had remained loyal to the British. They were taken, or rather carried, to the Raja’s palace. With the exception of Jonah Shepherd, these were the only male survivors of the ordeal.

 A photograph of the river in 1908 showing the width at a fuller tide.

The dazed, shocked and confused women and children were moved from Savada House to the Bibighar. It was terribly cramped for the women and children. The original 120 women and children would later be joined by other women and children from Wheeler’s boat, some from a second flotilla from escaping violence in Fatehgarh. In total there were about 200 souls crammed into the house.

Nana Sahib placed the care for these survivors under one of his mistresses serving girls who would become known as the Begum. Her real name was Hussaini Khanum. She seemed particularly unmoved by the plight of her captives and did little to help them. Food was provided but little thought was given to the dignity or care of the prisoners.

Nana Sahib had decided to use these prisoners as bargaining chips to try and keep back the relieving force of Havelock and Neill. They demanded that the British retreat to Allahabad. Havelock’s force though advanced relentlessly towards Cawnpore. An army was sent by Nana Sahib to intercept the relatively small but determined flying column. They met at Fatehpur on July 12th where Havelock’s forces quickly out-manoeuvred the larger mutineer force and captured the town.

As it became clear that the British were going to enter Cawnpore, Nana Sahib, Tatya Tope and Azimullah Khan debated about what to do with their captives. As mutineers scurried out of the city, it was not clear how 200 women and children could be escorted anywhere and their use as bargaining chips had patently failed. Azimullah Khan was also worried that Nana Sahib might flee and abandon the mutiny altogether. The order was given to eliminate their prisoners.


At first the guarding Sepoys refused to obey the order. They had executed the remaining men without much thought, but murdering women and children was another matter. It was only when Tatya Tope threatened to have the sepoys themselves executed for dereliction of duty that they agree to try and remove the women and children from the courtyard for their execution.

The women had already realised what was going on with the execution of the remaining menfolk. They barricaded themselves in as best they could by tying the door handles with clothing. Some twenty soldiers opened fire into the cramped compound. A second squad that was to fire the second volley was so disturbed by what they saw that they discharged their shots into the air and staggered away. The sepoys now adamantly refused to finish the job off.

The Begum was so irate at what she called the cowardice of the sepoys that she had to get recruit her lover Sarvur Khan to finish the job off. He went into town and hired butchers with cleavers to finish off the nasty business. They were hacked to death. The following day, orders were given by Nana Sahib to clean up the scene of the massacre. They were surprised to come across the half dozen or so women and children who were still alive. The women actually threw themselves down the well rather than be murdered on the spot. The children, who were only five and six years of age, tried to evade the scavengers and mutineers until exhausted. They were then chased around the corner into waiting executioners who decapitated them. Eventually, all the bodies were looted of whatever pitiful possessions that they still had on their bodies and were then dragged to the nearby well and thrown down it.

The horror was indescribable. There was so much blood that they could not clean the walls and floors despite their attempts at scrubbing.

On the 16th of July, a group of British officers and soldiers were directed by fearful local Indians to the Bibighar. They were horrified by the smell and sight that greeted them. They had assumed that they were arriving to rescue the women and children. Any feelings of elation at the victories and relief quickly turned to feelings of despair and then through to vengeance.

 A plan of the Bibighar, where the slaughter took place.

It was beyond comprehension for Victorian soldiers to believe that innocent women and children could be butchered in such a manner. Most pitiful were the tiny hand and footprints of the children who had been slaughtered.

 A photo of the well from 1858.

Discipline had all but collapsed amongst the British who were in utter despair at the massacre. The slaughterhouse Bibighar became a place of pilgrimage for the British soldiers who then turned their indignation on any local Indians who happened to be in the way. They wondered how any of the locals could have let this massacre occur and do nothing to intervene and stop it. Neutrals became hostiles in the minds of the British soldiers. Looting, burning of houses and murder became acceptable as old testament-style vengeance was meted out indiscriminately. Looted alcohol fuelled the despair and destruction.

The worst vengeance was applied to any mutineer captured. No mercy was shown to them at all. A set of nooses was set up next to the well at the Bibighar, so that they could die within sight of the massacre. Colonel Neill decided that the crime was so serious, that all captured mutineers would be expected to clean up the scene of the massacre literally with their tongues. They were beaten and clubbed into licking the floor of the Bibighar compound. They would then be forced to eat Beef if Hindu or Pork if Muslim and then hanged at the gallows adjacent. Sweepers were employed to execute high-caste Brahmins. Some Muslims were sown into pig skins before being hung. The idea was to ritually humiliate and defile the victims to preclude any reward they might have expected to find in the afterlife.

 The memorial at Cawnpore, 1860

Memorial at Cawnpore (present-day Kanpur), devised by Charlotte, Countess Canning (1817-61) and her sister Marchioness of Waterford (1818-91), with the figure of an angel executed by Baron Carlo Marochetti (1805-67) and a screen by Colonel Sir Henry Yule (1820-89). C. B. Thornhill, Commissioner of Allahabad and superintending architect. 

Count and Countess Canning paid for the sculpture, the large park surrounding it was paid for by a levy on the citizens of Cawnpore, as a sort of punishment.

Regardless of the savage history of the tapestry, I requested it as a Christmas gift. My mother and the antique dealer then both acted in a masquerade of it being sold until I was delighted on Christmas day with it. The detail of it is amazing. The work of the windows and brickwork, not to say the angel. All hand stitched.


† The History of the Indian Mutiny Giving a Detailed Account of the Sepoy Insurrection in India and a Concise History of the Great Military Events Which Have Tended to Consolidate British Empire in Hindostan – The London Printing and Publishing Company, London, 1858

The Body of text for this post and the maps were sourced from this website:

Young Artists of Promise

I bought a book called ‘Young Artists of Promise’ in a local bookshop, the author was Jack Beddington, the man famous for being Shell’s publicity director. 

Beddington was a curious figure in the history of British Art; with his role at Shell Oil he commissioned a set of poster campaigns that were seen nationally in the 1930s. In doing this he presented the people of Britain with modern art, for what was likely to be the first time, this being the days when museums charged admission. 


I found looking through the pages of ‘Young Artists of Promise’ there were not only artists I knew, but many others that where unknown to me. It was these ones that were rather challenging to find details on. The artists that didn’t become famous but where full of promise when at art school to me are the most interesting of all.


 One of the known artists. Robert Tavener – Sea Urchins. Lithograph.

Below I have selected parts of Beddington’s introduction from the book with a few of the pictures I liked best. It’s both interesting for his loyalty to the artists he used and discovered from the 1930′s and 40′s and his view on both art and artists in the 1950′s.

“When I was first asked to compile this book, I had to allay certain pangs of conscience. I had quite recently written to the Press a letter which had been published complaining that help was needed far more for middle-aged artists, and for artists with established reputations, than for young artists. I felt that the young ones now were getting a better break than they had had for a very long time. There were a great many teaching jobs going; there were lots of little galleries where they could have shows, and there was patronage on a wider scale. The fashion had been set for helping young artists to make their name rather than for helping those who had had success before the war. So the idea of this book seemed something of a betrayal.”


 Stephen Crowther – Sunday Morning, Seaton Carew. Oil.

“Before I could make up my mind what to do, I asked a number of my friends, including principals of art schools and others and, on the whole, they all thought that such a book as this might do more good than harm.

I was assured by the publishers that it would probably have considerable circulation outside this country, and that if the artists’ names and addresses were properly recorded at the end of the book, it might help them”.


 A list of names, addresses and there the artists trained.


 Alfred Daniels – Painted Stall, Palermo. Oil.

“There were practically no cheerful pictures except landscapes. I chose, as far as I could, pictures which I would like to have myself.”


 Arlie Panting – Painted Ladies. Oil.

“This brings me to the subject of teachers in art schools. I think that I have more sympathy with them than with any other small section of the community. Their reward can only lie in the success of their pupils. There are certainly no other strong incentives. In a way, they lead dedicated lives. Thousands of young people come to be taught who have no talent at all. At the end of last year there were over 120,000 whole and part-time art students in the United Kingdom. Their teachers for the most part are teaching in order to earn a living. but the others to whom teaching is a vocation must find it, at times, intensely discouraging”.


 Arthur H. Taylor – Sea Wall. Oil.

I have never found that artists are either unpractical or difficult to get on with, or particularly dirty. Some are, but they are very rarely the best ones. If they wear beards, why shouldn’t they? If they like to have strange hats, why shouldn’t they? If you will ignore this and remember that they are probably just as intelligent and just as hard-working and just as anxious to have a happy life as you are, you will probably find them very much easier to get on with. My experience has always been that they are infinitely more adjustable than businessmen”.

King Penguin Books

The King Penguin book series were beautifully printed books. To me, they were like the Ladybird Books for adults, covering a wide range of unconnected topics and monographs.


 A Prospect of Wales, illustrated by Kenneth Rowntree, 1948.

The motive for Penguin Books was to broaden its appeal to the public. While still a young company, Penguin shocked the Publishing world with paperback books for sale by known and respected authors. Before that the idea of paperback fiction was to expect an unknown author and a throw-away after use book.

The original run of penguin books were black and white inside and mostly text, with the iconic two stripe colour banding. The colour schemes included: orange and white for general fiction, green and white for crime fiction, cerise and white for travel and adventure, dark blue and white for biographies, yellow and white for miscellaneous, red and white for drama; and the rarer purple and white for essays and belles lettres and grey and white for world affairs.


 D.H.Lawrence – Sons and Lovers, 1948. Original Penguin Book cover.

They were an British knock off of the Insel-Bücherei (Island Library) series published in Germany by Insel Verlag from 1912 onwards. The size of the German books with their repeated pattern book coverings was an inspiration. The head of Penguin books is quoted:

Why, we felt, should there not be a similar series of books in this country? The experiment, started a few weeks after war broke out, turned out to be successful. One of the most distinctive features of this series is their decorative covers.” †


  Friedrich Nietzsche – Poems. Insel Bucherei 

The aim of the King Penguin is different. These have not been planned to coincide with the public’s growing appreciation of art, but rather to appeal to the general liking for illustrated keepsakes of special projects.” 

The King Penguin series were also hardback books with colour lithographic illustrations, a move away from paperback and monochrome books.


 British Butterflies, cover by Paxton Chadwick, 1951.

The books originally combined a classic series of colour plates with an authoritative text. The first two volumes featured sixteen plates from John Gould’s ‘The Birds of Great Britain’ (1873) with historical introduction and commentary on each plate by Phyllis Barclay-Smith, and sixteen plates from Redouté’s Roses (1817–24) with historical introduction and commentary by John Ramsbottom. The third volume began the alternative practice of colour plates from a variety of sources. There were 76 volumes of King Penguin books in total.

Where as the educated scholars writing the books were the famous people at the time, today most people hunt for the illustrators, like John Piper, Edward Bawden, Hutton Clarke, Barbara Jones and Enid Marx.


 Birds of the Sea, cover designed by Enid Marx, 1945.


 Popular English Art, illustrated by Clarke Hutton, 1945.


 Life in an English Village, illustrated by Edward Bawden, 1949.


 Flowers of the Meadow, Illustrated by Robin Tanner, 1950.

† The Private Library p143, 1977

A trip to Norfolk on bike.

I got the train to King’s Lynn with my bike, (it’s wonderful how some of the railway companies embrace non-rush-hour cycle travel). From London it is just under two hours. The aim was to get to Babingley to see a Norfolk ruined church that John Piper painted. It is located in the middle of a field.


Said to be the place where St Felix landed about 636 from Burgundy and thus where Christianity entered East Anglia. The present church is not older than the C14. Like so many others in this part of Norfolk, it is ruinous. The walls stand, but the roofs are gone. It was repaired in 1849 but after the mission church was build in 1880 by the main road there was no use for it.” †


Here is a quote from a book on villages about Sandringham that gives light to the problem many of the rural estate churches had in Norfolk and singles out St Felix’s.

By the time the future Edward VII, as Prince of Wales, acquired the estate in 1862, it had fallen into ruin. Besides, like many Norfolk churches, it stood by itself among fields, the village having migrated to the main road.
‘Up to the last year of his life he was continually improving his domain, repairing churches, spending money on the place in one way or another,’ a friend remembered of Edward VII after his death in 1910.
” ‡

The roof of the church has been removed and few of the other internal details remain that are not part of the structure. The windows are all empty of both glass and the masonry. The church was once one long nave but due to the dwindling congregation the centre of the church was bricked up with a window, to make it two rooms and a bell tower.


 John Piper – Babingley Church, 1983.

The screen-print of the church was produced in 1983. It was printed in both colour (1983) and sepia (1984) editions. Below are more images from walking around the church.


The church today is protected by a sea of stinging nettles (urtica dioica) and many signs telling of ‘Danger’. The heras fencing over the doorways and windows with the health and safety signs make it look depressing, even in a ruin we, the public, must be protected.


Above, is an image of some of the dead creepers on the wall coming out of the window, it looks haunted, like a Rackham illustration. Below, a picture of my bike and the fields next to the church.


On cycling from St Felix’s Church I passed St Felix’s Chapel. It’s a strange building of corrugated iron and thatched roof with traditional window frames in.

The church of St Mary and St Felix at Babingley shows that corrugated iron can also have charm. It stands on the Sandringham estate.” ‡


The cycle ride back towards Kings Lynn took me back through Castle Rising. There is a cycle path going on the edge of the village down a tree lined avenue and over a river where I saw a swan and her signets. The bridge over the river had been graffitied with the words ‘Hustlers Ambition’.


Castle Rising is a small village with the castle still, more-or-less in tact. However I didn’t have much time to see it but the photos from the village were of a rather practical war memorial in the form of a lamp post (maybe an eternal light/flame?) for the First World War. The other was an old sign post for the castle.


With some time to spare before my train home I cycled around the old docklands of King’s Lynn. It was surprising to see so many scuttled boats at low tide.


Below are some Seagull chicks with their enormous feet.


One of the roads by the docks is made up from millions of used shells from the near-by sea food factory. The image below shows how the lorries driving up and down turn the shells into a gravel.


To celebrate the connections with the local R.A.F. Marham over the last 100 years, 15 sponsored and uniquely decorated model Tornados have been positioned around the town. Below is the one outside of the station.


Norfolk by John Betjeman ≠

How did the Devil come? When first attack?
These Norfolk lanes recall lost innocence,
The years fall off and find me walking back
Dragging a stick along the wooden fence
Down this same path, where, forty years ago,
My father strolled behind me, calm and slow.

I used to fill my hands with sorrel seeds
And shower him with them from the tops of the stiles,
I used to butt my head into his tweeds
To make him hurry down those languorous miles
Of ash and alder-shaded lanes, till here
Our moorings and the masthead would appear.

There after supper lit by lantern light
Warm in the cabin I could lie secure
And hear against the polished sides at night
The lap lap lapping of the weedy Bure,
A whispering and watery Norfolk sound
Telling of all the moonlit reeds around.

How did the Devil come? When first attack?
The church is just the same, though now I know
Fowler of Louth restored it. Time, bring back
The rapturous ignorance of long ago,
The peace, before the dreadful daylight starts,
Of unkept promises and broken hearts.

† Norfolk 2: North-West and South, Part 2. p190 9780300096576
‡ Villages of Britain.  9780747588726
≠ John Betjeman’s collected poems – p210 9780719568503

The Other Books of Ambrose Heath

The books of Ambrose Heath illustrated by Eric Ravilious or Edward Bawden are worth a lot of money in mint condition. I was thinking that it was sad that people are only collecting those books, for the illustrations, not the recipes. But also there are so many other wonderful designs of books by Heath worth buying.


 Ambrose Heath – Good Dishes from Tinned Foods – Faber & Faber, 1939.

I doubt that Heath had much say or interest in who illustrated his books or how, most of it seams to be same in the hands of Faber and Faber.


 Ambrose Heath

Ambrose Heath was born Francis Geoffrey Miller on the 7th February 1891 in London. He was a journalist and food writer who wrote for newspapers including The Times and The Manchester Guardian, before becoming the food writer for The Morning Post.

In 1933 he published his first book ‘Good Food: Month By Month Recipes’ (illustrated by E. Bawden). It was a success and the year later another three books and reprints came. In the 30′s he wrote over 20 books and many more for publications and companies like Aga stoves. The most expensive of the cook books is undoubtedly ‘The Country Life Cookery Book’ (illustrated by Ravilious in 1937).

Heath wrote and translated more than one hundred works on food. In his lifetime he was best known for a translation of ‘Madame Prunier’s Fish Cookery Book’ that enjoyed many reprintings. He died on the 31st May 1969 in Surrey.


 Ambrose Heath – Madame Prunier’s Fish Cookery Book – Nicholson & Watson, 1938.

Below are a the beautiful covers of his other books without ER or EB. I think all the samples I have selected where published and thus designed by Faber & Faber.


Eric Ravilious Obituary

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Today it is hard to ignore the artist effect of Eric Ravilious, the tide of books on him alone prove his popularity. This is an article from ‘The Artist’ magazine, March, 1943. It ends with a short record of his death, some weeks before. I thought it was interesting that its intention was a review of his life and works but became an obituary. 

Eric Ravilious by Richard Seddon
Artists of note: Number 97. The Artist Magazine. March 1943


 Eric Ravilious – The Causeway, Wiltshire Downs, 1937

Paul Nash was the first to notice the work of Eric Ravilious. This happened when Ravilious was a student of the Royal College of art under the instruction of Nash in the school of design. His wood engraving impressed Paul Nash as being worthy of special attention, and it was on the latter’s introduction that Ravilious became a member of the Society of Wood Engravers. In the society’s exhibitions Ravilious’s engravings immediately drew attention from publishers and their agents. Ravilious illustrated several books and was soon established as a book illustrator of exceptional status.

Between that time and the present he has consolidated a reputation as a leader of contemporary art; not as a leader in figurative or influential, but rather in the most academic sense, of the advancement of research and knowledge. He does not supinely follow the present tendencies and work in a certain manner merely because that manner can be accepted as the logical outcome of the particular form of art and aesthetics accepted at the moment in the country. He does not look for what is being done nowadays, in order to do likewise.

Leadership in art, as in anything else, calls for the usual hackneyed attributes: courage, self-confidence, faith in purpose, and so on. But in art, somehow, as in anything abstract, it needs enthusiasm enough to keep it up in the face of that inexplicable hostility that people show in face of anything that is ‘new.’

In feeling and temperament the work of Ravilious is very English. Ravilious, unlike so many Englishmen, does not try to paint as though he were a Frenchman. His work has its roots deeply sunk into the life and the countryside and the culture of England. His water colours are the lineal descendants of the English eighteenth century school of water colour than in its time gave England a brief reign as a country important in the world’s art, a reign that lasted until the French impressionists wrested the sceptre for France, a reign into which, it is felt, England was re-entering at the beginning of this war, through the excellence of the contemporary school of English landscape, of which Ravilious is one of the most important members.

That, because of his very full knowledge of the history and methods of English art and design, he carries on the English tradition, is apparent in his work in any of the media he employs. His wood engravings revive and extend the essential tradition of Thomas Bewick and the English eighteenth century wood engravers. In his water colours he takes up the story where Peter de Wint, Paul Sandy, John White Abbott and their contemporaries left off, and carries it a stage farther, in the life of modern knowledge. Examples of his pottery design that he carried out for Wedgwood can take their place in the Victoria & Albert Museum, among the original products of Josiah as if by hereditary right. 

It is not possible to select one or two influences that can be credited with the moulding of Ravilious’s vision. After leaving school in Eastbourne, he attended Eastbourne School of Art, from where he went up to the Royal College of Art, in London. There, under principal-ship of Sir William Rothenstein, he was tutored by some of the most important contemporary artists in the country. Naturally, the powerful influences of such men must have affected his outlook; indeed, they did. In addition he received, asI have said, an exhaustively comprehensive education in art and design, from which soure he derived the solution of those problems of expression that he always seems to face with courage and solve with ingenuity. 

He might easily have been tossed for ears upon a sea of conflicting influences; if so, it happened when he was at the R.C.A., and the process was completed by the time he began his career as a practising artist. At least, no indecision has ever shown itself in the work of his maturity. that he owes something, as all artists, to skilful pilotage, can be safely assumed, but that he emerged with an original style is patently a logical result of his own personal outlook. 


 Eric Ravilious – Design for Coronation mug for Edward VIII, 1936.

He is thirty eight, and therefore can be said to have not yet reached the peak of his artistic maturity. As regards his work, whatever the medium he invariable approaches a subject with an open mind and embodies in the work, whether it is a wood engraving, a water colour, ceramics, or fabric design, at least one idea that arises from the needs of that particular job and no other. Of course he refers in his mind as he is thinking it out not only to history but to past works of his own to help in solving the problem of the moment, but he avoids any tendency to repeat successes of the past ad nauseam, giving the same colours, the same subtleties, the same textures and so on, whether or not they are the right ones for the present job. I stress the fact that he does not walk in such a manner because very many artists, both distinguished and otherwise, do so. 

Ravilious never rests on his laurels. It cannot be said about a sequence of his work as it can of the work of other artists that, having seen one, you have seen them all. Though they are all built around the personality of the artist, each of his productions is sufficient unto itself. 


 Eric Ravilious – Rendering Mines Safe, 1940. (Now called Dangerous Work at Low Tide)

In a Ravilious exhibition, the paintings are, in the truest sense, variations on a theme and not repetitions. It is said that there are four different ways of looking at a picture, Firstly the observer might stand away and savour the emotional content and the subject matter.Secondly, he might appreciate the purely academic appeal, such as the colour harmony and the broad lines of the composition. Thirdly he might go near the picture and closely examine the technical minutiae: the brushwork, the qualities of the surface, the interplay of ‘fat’ and ‘lean’ painting, and so on. Fourthly, he might scrutinise, analytically, the patterns achieved by the painter, by the use of his range of different ways of coving a surface and of filling in a space. 

The Victorian painters appealed to the first two methods, and many contemporary schools solely to the last two. A few contemporary painters, including Eric Ravilious, appeal to all four. Ravilious particularly appeals to the last. His textures and patterns, whatever the medium, are an important feature of his work. He composes as a rule within a tight linear framework, making spaces of carefully contrasted size and shape which he fills with textures that derive partly from the intrinsic textures of the original of the subject and largely from his own fertile imagination. The settings for his landscape painting have been the Downs and coast of Sussex, and localities in Essex, Wiltshire and Wales. 

Apart from his war painting he confesses to a tendency to paint in sequences: groups of broken-down tractors and old cars and buses in fields, the discarded machinery of Essex. He has painted a series of Sussex hills, a set of chalk figures (such as the Aylesbury White Horse), a set of lighthouses, rowing boats, beds, beaches and greenhouses. Ravilious was educated at Eastbourne Grammar School. He left the Royal College of Art only to return in 1929 as instructor in design, which position he filled until 1938. Whilst a student at the college he and Edward Bawden completed a well known mural decoration in the refreshment room of Morley College, which was destroyed by a bomb.

Other important mural decorations by Ravilious are those in the circular room at the L.M.S. Hotel at Morecambe and the ceiling decorations in the dining hall of the new Merchant Taylors’ School. Since 1926 he has illustrated books for the Kynoch Press, mainly by wood engravings. His engravings have also illustrated Volume I of ‘Signature’ and Gilbert White’s ‘Selborne.’ From 1937 to 1939 he designed pottery for Wedgwood. One of the best known of these designs was the Coronation Mug. His designing for glass he dismisses as a mere gesture; as a gesture it was brief, but effective. 

Exhibitions of the work of Ravilious were held at the Zwemmer Gallery in 1934 and 1937, and one at Tooth’s in 1939. Three of his water colour drawings are in the Victoria & Albert Museum, and there are others in the public galleries. At the beginning of the present war he was offered and he accepted an appointment as official war artist to the Admiralty. He holds with the rank of hon. captain in the Royal Marines.


 Eric Ravilious – Lewis Gunner

Since this article was written, Eric Ravilious has been posted as ‘missing’. After spending a period in Iceland, in his capacity as official war artist, he life that island by plane and has not been heard of since. Thus ends the career of a very fine artist, whose last efforts were devoted to recording events connected with the war – records which will go down to posterity, and which will keep his memory green, especially in the art world which respected him for his achievements. He was a sane progressive, sound in judgement and method. 


 Eric Ravilious – Convoy From Merchant Ship At Anchor, 1943

Art of the Ancients

After buying the etching below and looking up the artist and location, it struck me how the uncovering and preservation of British ancient monuments in the twentieth century, together with the age of motoring bought artists to translate these places into art.

Chalk Men:


 John Grigsby – Cerne Giant

Cerne Abbas is a parish just about eight miles north from Dorchester, in Dorset, England, where, as in the etching above, a human figure has been cut into the chalk hillside. The figure, generally referred to as a giant, is the outline of an ithyphallic man carrying a club in his right hand. At about 55 metres high and 51 metres wide it dominates the valley below. Above the Giant is another landmark, the Iron Age earthwork known as the “Trendle” or “Frying Pan”. The carvings are formed by outlines cut into the turf about 2ft deep, and filled with crushed chalk. The construction of the Wilmington Giant is much the same.


 Eric Ravilious – Wilmington Giant, 1939.

“The Long Man of Wilmington and the very phallic Cerne Abbas Giant are of unknown age and controversy still rages over the date of the latter in particular”. 

The Ravilious painting is a watercolour using white resist makes the Giant Glow out from the paper’s natural colour, as do his cross-hatched, almost engraver brush-strokes of differing tones of colour.



 Gertrude Hermes – Stonehenge, 1959.


 Henry Moore – Stonehenge, 1973

Above two sculptors draw and engrave their perception of Stonehenge. Archaeologists believe Stonehenge was constructed from 3000 BC to 2000 BC. The surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC. Unlike the chalk men, there have been writings of Stonehenge from most of recorded time. The earliest record of the chalk giants is from the 17th century.

Moore on Stonehenge: I began the Stonehenge series with etching in mind, but as I looked at, and drew, and thought about Stonehenge, I found that what interested me most was not its history, nor its original purpose – whether chronological or religious – or even its architectural arrangement, but its present-day appearance. I was above all excited by the monumental power and stoniness of the massive man-worked blocks and by the effect of time on them. Some 4000 years of weathering has produced an extraordinary variety of interesting textures.



 John Piper – Avebury, 1944


 Paul Nash – Landscape of the Megaliths, 1937

Above are both the avenue and the stone circle of Avebury painted in different styles by both Nash and Piper. John Piper’s image was for a book on Romantic British Poetry and he is making use of limited use of colours in the printing process of the book to make the dark-to-light drama washed with umbers. Nash’s lithograph is one of his less surreal of this working time period, unlike the image below where Nash project’s his own vision for modern monoliths. They maybe hay-bails or car grills but these are, to Nash, the monoliths of today.


 Paul Nash – Equivalents for the Megaliths, 1935.

With Nash it’s best to use his own words about why he came to paint ‘Equivalents for the Megaliths’

These groups (at Avebury) are impressive as forms opposed to their
surroundings both by virtue of their actual composition of lines and masses and planes, directions and volumes; and in the irrational sense, their suggestion of a super-reality. They are dramatic also, however, as symbols of their antiquity, as hallowed remnants of an almost unknown civilisation. 

In designing the picture, I wished to avoid the very powerful influence of the antiquarian suggestion, and to insist only upon the dramatic qualities of a composition of shapes equivalent to the prone or upright stones simply as upright or prone, or leaning masses, grouped together in a scene of open fields and hills. –  Paul Nash – Letter to Lance Sieveking. May 1937. 

The Cambridge Illustrated History of Prehistoric Art. p116 9780521454735
Paul Nash Places. 9781853320460
Henry Moore. Writings and Conversations. p299 978-0520231610