Saturday, December 29, 2018

Victoria Monkhouse (1885 – 1970) - British Artist and illustrator, possibly best remembered for her illustrations of women working on the Home Front in Britain during the First World War.

Louisa Victoria Monkhouse was born on 24th May 1885 in Barton, Chesterton, Cambridgeshire
Her parents were Alfred William Monkhouse, an Anglican Church Minister, and his wife, Mary Eliza Monkhouse, nee Stuart, who was from Canada.   Louisa had the following siblings:  Mary Violet, b. 1877, Alf Cyril Delopope, b. 1878, Mabel Agnes, b., 1879, Ellen Janet, b. 1882.

Victoria was educated at Cambridge University where, alongside her studies, she created a series of caricatures of university academics, which the “Cambridge University Magazine” published during 1907.

During the First World War the sisters all helped the war effort - Mary Violet worked as a Red Cross Nurse, Mabel Agnes, worked in Ordnance in Coventry, Ellen Janet was a VAD  nurse and Victoria worked as a canteen worker.

Following the establishment of the Imperial War Museum (IWM) in London during the First World War, a decision was made to record the contribution women were making to the war effort.  Writer and explorer Agnes Conway, daughter of the first honorary Director-General of the IWM, was appointed to organise and lead the Museum's newly created Women's Work Sub-Committee.  Agnes contacted Victoria Monkhouse and commissioned her to produce a series of sketches and watercolours showing women working in the jobs left vacant by men who were serving in the forces. Victoria produced a series of paintings, showing women working as bus conductresses, drivers, window cleaners and in a wide variety of other exclusively male roles.

After the War, Victoria exhibited her work in various exhibitions during the 1920s.
In 1939 Victoria lived with her sisters – Mary Violet, who was also an artist, Mabel Agnes and Ellen Janet - in Eton, Buckinghamshire.  Victoria died in 1970.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Major Sir William Newenham Montague Orpen, KBE, RA, RHA (1878 – 1931) – artist

I appreciate that Orpen is one of the most famous War Artists of the First World War, but his career as a war artist on the Western Front is not that well documented.

Born in Stillorgan, County Dublin, on 27th November 1878, William Orpen was the fourth and youngest son of Arthur Herbert Orpen (1830–1926), a solicitor, and his wife, Anne, nee Caulfield.  Both his parents were amateur artists, and his eldest brother, Richard Caulfield Orpen, became a notable architect. William was a naturally talented painter and shortly before his thirteenth birthday his parents enrolled him in the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art. During his six years at the college, William won every major prize.

In 1901, William held a solo exhibition at the Carfax Gallery in London.  That year, he married Grace Knewstub, the sister-in-law of the artist Sir William Rothenstein. They had three daughters but the marriage was not a happy one and, by 1908, William had begun a long running affair with Mrs Evelyn Saint-George, a well-connected American millionairess based in London

During the First World War, William was the most prolific of the official war artists sent by Britain to the Western Front. Although he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1918 King's birthday honours list, and also elected a member of the Royal Academy of Arts, his determination to serve as a war artist cost him both his health and his social standing in Britain.

In December 1915, William was commissioned into the Army Service Corps and reported for clerical duty at London's Kensington Barracks in March 1916. Throughout 1916, he continued painting portraits, most notably one of a despondent Winston Churchill. In January 1917, the “Daily Mirror” reported that Field Marshal Douglas Haig himself had "conferred" on William the title of Official Artist with the British Army in France. The other artists on the Department of Information War Artist scheme had the honorary rank of second lieutenant and were restricted to three weeks visiting the Western Front, whereas, William was promoted to the rank of Major and given indefinite permission to remain at the Front. An officer from Kensington Barracks was appointed as his military aide, a car and driver were made available in France and Orpen paid for a batman and assistant to accompany him.

When the war ended the Imperial War Museum commissioned William to remain in France and paint three large group portraits of the delegates to Paris Peace Conference. He moved to Paris in January 1919 to begin work on his next commission and during 1919 painted individual portraits of the delegates to the Conference which formed the basis of his two large paintings, “A Peace Conference at the Quai d'Orsay” and “The Signing of Peace in the Hall of Mirrors”.

William considered that the whole conference was being conducted with a lack of respect or regard to the suffering of the soldiers who fought in the war and he attempted to address this in the third painting of the commission. This picture was to show the delegates and military leaders as they entered the Hall of Mirrors to sign the Treaty of Versailles.

After the war William returned to painting society portraits and enjoyed great commercial success. In May 1931, he became seriously ill and, after suffering periods of memory loss, died aged 52 in London, on 29th September 1931. William was buried in Putney Vale Cemetery. A stone tablet in the Island of Ireland Peace Park Memorial, Messines, Belgium, commemorates him.

Sir Alfred James Munnings, KCVO, PRA (8 October 1878 – 17 July 1959)

Although Sir Alfred Munnings is very famous - perhaps best known for his paintings of horses - I did not know he was a WW1 artist.

Alfred Munnings was born on 8th October 1878 at Mendham Mill, Mendham, Suffolk, across the River Waveney from Harleston in Norfolk. His father, John Munnings, was the mill owner, and his mother was Ellen Emily, nee Ringer. Alfred had the following siblings:  William G., b. 1877, Frederick, b. 1881 and Charled E., b. 1885.

Educated at Framlingham College, at the age of fourteen, Alfred was apprenticed to a Norwich printer where he designed and drew posters.  He lost the sight of his right eye in an accident but continued painting. In1899 two of his pictures were shown at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.  He was associated with the Newlyn School of painters, and in Cornwall met Florence Carter-Wood, a young horsewoman and fellow artist. They were married on 19th January 1912 but Florence attempted suicide while they were on honeymoon and died in 1914.

Alfred volunteered to join the Army when war broke out but was unfit for active service.  He was put in charge of processing Canadian horses destined for France.  Alfred was then posted to one of the Remount Depots on the Western Front, where he was employed as a war artist to the Canadian Cavalry Brigade, under the patronage of Max Aitken. During the war Alfred painted many scenes, including a portrait of General Jack Seely mounted on his horse Warrior in 1918 (now in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa). He also painted the Charge of Flowerdew's Squadron in 1918, in what became known as "the last great cavalry charge" at the Battle of Moreuil Wood.

The Canadian Forestry Corps invited Munnings to tour their work camps, and he produced drawings, watercolors and paintings, including Draft Horses, Lumber Mill in the Forest of Dreux in France in 1918. The extent to which horses were used during WW1 is under-reported but horse fodder was the single largest commodity shipped to the front by some countries during the conflict.

In 1920, Alfred married Violet McBride. After the war, he began to establish himself as a sculptor. He was taken on by Lord Beaverbrook's Canadian War Memorials Fund and was given several prestigious commissions after the Great War.

His first public work was the equestrian statue of Edward Horner in Mells, Somerset, a collaboration with his friend Sir Edwin Lutyens, who designed a plinth for the statue.

Alfred was elected president of the Royal Academy of Arts and was made a Knight Bachelor in 1944. In the 1947 New Year Honours List, he was appointed a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.

Alfred died at Castle House, Dedham, Essex, on 17 July 1959. After Alfred's death, his wife turned their home in Dedham into a museum of his work. The village pub in Mendham is named after him, as is a street in the town.

Note: The Army Remount Service was the body responsible for the purchase and training of horses and mules as remounts for the British Army between 1887 and 1942.

“Alfred Munnings War Artist, 1918” - an exhibition of WW1 paintings by Sir Alfred Munnings at the National Army Museum, Royal Hospital Road, London, SW3 4HT - from 30 November 2018 - 3 March 2019.

£6.00;  Concessions (incl. veterans): £5.00 | Students: £4.00 | Groups: £4.00 | Under 16s: FREE | Serving Army personnel (plus one additional adult): FREE

Subjects covered by the exhibition:  First World War, Art and Literature, Animals, Cavalry, Horses

Portrait of Alred in 1911 by Harold Knight.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Anthony (Tony) Frederick Sarg (1880 - 1942) - American artist and pupeteer.

Another very interesting interesting piece of research from Historian Debbie Cameron:

“For Christmas 1913, Sarg produced a poster called ‘In Toyland’ representing a scene of gift-buying frenzy. Children clamber on the floor with toys in hand, and rotund gentlemen struggle to carry their spoils. Despite Sarg’s gentle mockery of London’s materialism, there is a festive, joyful exuberance to the poster.

12 months later, the country was at war. In 1914 Sarg duly produced a topical version of his ‘In Toyland’ poster of the previous Christmas. The image in the top half was identical to the original, but the text and characters in the lower half were altered. "

Featured - both posters for comparison.  With thanks to Debbie Cameron.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Nellie Elizabeth Isaac (1886 - 1955) – Artist, illustrator, designer and inventor

With thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron of the Facebook Page for posting the link to one of Nellie Isaac's paintings that set me off researching Nellie.

Nellie was born in 1886 and grew up in Hampstead, London, UK. Her Father was Percy Lewis Isaac, a naval architect and marine engineer with ship telegraph cable laying patents to his name. He was the son of the Liverpool ship portraitist and lithographer John Raphael Isaac. Nellie’s Mother was Florence Maud Isaac, nee Alexander. Nellie had a sister, Rose Amelia, and a brother, John Robert.  In 1901 the family lived at 20 Dennington Park Road in what is now London NW6.  By the 1911 Census, Nellie and her sister were both still living at home and listed as artists.

In 1904 Nellie had two watercolors “A Florentine” and “La Blonde” at the Royal Academy. In 1906 she won a second prize for “Providence and the Guitar”.

She set up shop with her sister Rose with premises at Eastgate Street in London’s west end. Before The First World War, Nellie exhibited her paintings at the Royal Academy and elsewhere.

During the First World War, Nellie and Rose Isaac gave up their art and design business and for two years they worked at Gordon, Watney and Co in Weybridge in order “to do something that we felt would be of national importance”. Gordon Watney & Co. Aeronautical Engineers of Weybridge were a large engineering works near Addleston that specialized in stripping-down and repairing cars and lorries.

When war broke out, Gordon Watney was appointed by the War Office to form a Mechanical Transport Supply Column within the Army Service Corps (MTASC), Home Counties Division afterwards attached to the 29th Division.  He turned part of his factory into a drill hall and urged men – including his employees – to enlist. He enrolled over 250 men in “Watney’s Lot” aka “Watney Boys” who served as mechanics and drivers. On 7th November 1914, the ‘Watney Boys’ marched to St James’s church, Weybridge, for a farewell sermon before posting to Egypt and Salonika and to the Dardanelles.

Watney’s wartime production included aeronautics and munitions and the factory also worked with the Canadian army in refurbishing motor transport vehicles – cars, ambulances and lorries.

Gordon Watney came from the famous Watney brewing family. He was a pioneering racing car driver and entered events at Brooklands Race Track. Before the war he was also dealer and rebuilder who specialized in remodeling high-quality motor cars.

One of their products was the Type Z7 Clerget-Blin rotary aero engine designed by Pierre Clerget in France in 1911. Clergets were one of the more common engines in use during WW I and were fitted to a number of aircraft including the Avro, Beardmore and the Sopwith Pup.

Contemporary newspaper accounts report that Gordon Watney built a theater in the works canteen and that he often directed and performed in plays.

When the Imperial War Museum came into existence in 1917, Agnes Conway – the daughter of the honorary director Sir Martin Conway – was invited to form a Women’s Work Sub-Committee.
Nellie Isaac contacted Conway asking if she could contribute to the effort. The committee offered her a guinea (£1. 1s. 0d – equivalent to about £210 in 2018) for each painting. Nellie was eventually able to negotiate a better rate.

After the war, Gordon Watney returned to his sports car business and Nellie and Rose Isaac went back to their illustration and design business in London. In 1934 the London post office directory list the business of the Misses N.E. and R.A. Isaac as follows:  ‘decorative artists at 26 Wells Street, Fitzrovia’.  The sisters had premised behind Oxford Street in London’s West End. Newspaper accounts in the 1930’s say that Nellie held art exhibitions organizing art exhibitions and that she invented 'an eggshell veneer' paint.

The sisters lived for a time at Rugby Mansions in Marylebone, before moving to Bramham Gardens, Earls Court where they lived with their mother until her death in 1938 and then for the remainder of their lives.  The girls' brother Robert emigrated to Canada when he was still in his teens.

Travel records demonstrate that the sisters travelled fist class to Mombasa in 1949 and to Madeira in 1953.

Nelly Isaac died in 1955 and her sister Rose died in 1959

Paintings by Nellie Isaac during WW1:

“A Performance in the Canteen Theatre” depicts women munitions workers at at Gordon Watney & Co., Aeronautical Engineers, Weybridge.

“Behind The Scenes in the Canteen Theatre - Waiting in the Wings” at Gordon Watney & Co., Aeronautical Engineers, Weybridge.  This painting depicts costumed women in the theatre wings, waiting to go on stage. Two men stand to the left, one holding a black cat prop by the tail.

“Receiving the News of the Armistice, November 11th 1918”

“Revels at the Victory Ball Given at the Canteen”: Ink and watercolor

“Armistice Week in the Canteen. November 12th 1918: Gordon Watney & Co., Aeronautical Engineers, Weybridge”


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Ernest Howard (E.H.) Shepard, MC (1879 - 1976) – British artist

Perhaps most famous for his illustrations of the A.A. Milne stories about Winnie-the-Pooh

Ernest Howard Shepard, known as ‘Kip’ (from the musical hall term ‘giddy kipper’ meaning someone who was excitable), was born on 10th December 1879 in St. John’s Wood, London, UK.  He was the second son and youngest child of Henry Shepard, an architect, and his wife, Jessie, nee Lee.  Jessie was a daughter of William Lee the artist who co-founded “Punch” magazine.  Ernest had a sister, Ethel, J., b. 1877 and a brother, Cyril H., b. 1878. As a child he was interested in the Army and in guns and how they worked.

The children’s mother, Jessie, died when Ernest was ten years old.

Educated at Colet Court preparatory school, then St. Paul’s School, London, where his uncle was a master, Ernest studied art at Heatherley School of Fine Art.   He went on to win a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy Schools.  In 1901, Ernest had two works accepted by the Royal Academy for their Summer Exhibition.  He also drew cartoons for the magazine “British Boys”.

Ernest’s father died in 1902.  Ernest met a fellow art student called Florence Chaplin, known as “Pie”, and they were married in 1904.   In 1906, Ernest had his first illustration published in “Punch”.

When war broke out, Ernest volunteered to join the Army and joined the Royal Artillery on 14th December 1915.  He served on the Western Front from 10th June 1916, seeing action during the Somme Offensive.  Ernest wrote letters home and made numerous sketches and took photographs where possible.  Ernest’s brother Cyril joined the Devonshire Regiment and was an Acting Second Lieutenant when he was killed on 1st July 1916 during the Somme Offensive.  Ernest was able to locate his brother’s grave and visited it regularly.

Ernest’s regiment of Royal Garrison Artillery also saw action during the Arras and Passchendaele Battles.  In May 1917, Ernest was awarded a Military Cross for his courage and bravery during an attack on the guns on 23rd – 24th April 1917.

After the Italian defeat at the Battle of Caporetto, Allied troop reinforcements were sent to the Italian Front. Ernest and his 105 Siege Battery were posted to Italy on 12th November 1917 and were initially based on Montello Hill, overlooking the River Piave.   During home leave in May 1918 after attending a gunnery course, Ernest received his Military Cross from King George V at Buckingham Palace.  His leave ended on 24th June 1918 and Ernest returned to Italy, where he remained until March 1919, supervising the exchange of prisoners of war, the return of displaced people to their homes, where possible, and the securing of all arms and equipment.  Ernest was promoted to Acting Major in January 1919.

After the war, Ernest continued working for “Punch” and one day a fellow “Punch” contributor, the poet E.V. Lucas, father of poet Audrey Lucas, (see and, approached Ernest regarding illustrations for some verses written by A.A. Milne ( And so began one of the most successful collaborations in literature.  Initially published in “Punch”, “When we were Young” was published in 1924.

Ernest’s wife Florence died in September 1927.  He went on to illustrate Kenneth Grahame’s “Wind in the Willows”, which was published in 1930.  Ernest and Florence’s daughter, Mary, became an artist and illustrator and illustrated “Mary Poppins”.  Mary married Edmund Valpy Knox (E.V. ‘Evoe’) Knox (see “Arras, Messines, Passchendaele & More: Poets, Writers, Artists & Nurses in 1917 – p. 107).  Ernest’s son Graham, a Lieutenant with the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, was killed during the Second World War when “HMS Polyanthus” was torpedoed on 19th – 20th September 1943.

Ernest married Norah Carroll, a nurse, in November 1944.   In 1954 he parted company with “Punch” after fifty years as a contributor and 20 years as Chief Cartoonist, when Malcolm Muggeridge became editor of the magazine.  Ernest was awarded an OBE in 1972 and died in Sussex in 1976.

“Shepard’s War: E.H. Shepard "The Man who Drew Winnie-the-Pooh” compiled by James Campbell (Lom Art, London, 2015) Note: pp 100 - 101 has an interesting drawing “Asiago Plateau 2 April 1918”.

Beatrice Ethel Lithiby (1889 – 1966) – British artist

Beatrice was born in Richmond, Surrey, UK on 4th December 1889. Her parents were John Lithiby (1853-1936), a barrister, and his wife Ethel Stewart Lithiby, née Smith (1860-1943), who were married in Brentford, Middlesex in 1888. By 1901, the family had moved to Porchester Square, Paddington, London, UK.  Beatrice had a brother, John S. Lithiby, who was born in 1893. Beatrice studied at the Royal Academy Schools.

During the First World War, Beatrice served initially in the British Red Cross as a volunteer worker from 29th October 1915 until 20th July 1917, in their Head Quarters at The Central Work Rooms, Royal Academy of Art, Piccadilly, London. 

She then joined Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps as an Assistant Administrator and served in France.   Realising the importance of keeping a record of events, Beatrice wrote to her superiors suggesting that she be permitted to paint some of the things she witnessed.  In February 1919, she was officially commissioned to paint the WAACs in France.  On 3rd June 1919, Beatrice was promoted to Unit Administrator.

After the death of her father on 14th February 1936, by which time he had been knighted, Beatrice set up a studio in Wantage, Berkshire.  By 1939, she was living at The Dower House, Waltham Cross, Essex.

Beatrice served again as an Army Officer during the Second World War.  She was awarded an M.B.E. and later an O.B.E.

As she grew older, Beatrice concentrated on landscape paintings. She died at The Guildry, Belmont, Wantage, Berkshire on 25th July 1966

Sources: Find my Past and;&source=bl&ots=4iVqW-vBj2&sig=9n2yT4qL3CTf84Pw0NJzTFGnqY4&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj75NDCo_TcAhWLCMAKHfXqAMYQ6AEwC3oECAMQAQ#v=onepage&q=Beatrice%20Lithiby%20(OBE)%3B&f=false

WW1 Painting by Beatrice:
Steam Laundry Abbeville
The Administrators Quarters QMAAC Queen Mary’s Camp, Calais

Photo from the Collection at the Imperial War Museum, London, UK

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Joseph Franklin Kershaw (1884 - 1917) - British Artist

Joseph Franklin Kershaw was born on 2nd May 1884 in Oldham, Lancashire, UK. His parents were Joseph Kershaw, an ironmonger, and his wife, Hannah. Educated at Oldham Hulme Grammar School, Joseph then studied at Stockport School of Art and the Royal College of Art, gaining his ARCA Diploma in 1912. In 1907, he married Effie Gregory, an art teacher and daughter of a sculptor.

On 6th June 1916, Joseph joined the British Army as a Private, serving initially with the Border Regiment. During August he transferred to 126th Company of the Machine Gun Corps (MGC). Joseph was posted to the Western Front and was wounded in the shoulder in May 1917. He recovered, returned to the fighting and was killed on 14th October 1917 during the First Battle of Passchendaele.

Joseph was buried in Coxyde Military Cemetery, West Flanders, Belgium, with the wording on his headstone specified by Effie – ‘Artist, Oldham, Lancashire’. He is also commemorated on the war memorial at Storth, Morecambe Bay, where Effie was living at the time of her husband’s death.


Thursday, September 6, 2018

Stanhope Alexander Forbes (1857 – 1947) – British (Newlyn) artist

A founding member of the Newlyn (Cornwall, UK) School of Art: 'the father of the Newlyn School'

Stanhope was born in Dublin, Ireland on 18th November 1857.  His parents were William Forbes and Juliette de Guise Forbes, who was French. Stanhope’s father was British and he worked as a railway manager in Dublin before being transferred to London. Stanhope had an older brother, William, b. 1857, who became railway manager for the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway.

Educated at Dulwich College in South London, where he was a boarder, Stanhope studied art under John Sparkes. At that time, Alexander’s father was working for the Luxembourg Railway and, as his son was not well, he took him away from Dulwich College and allowed him to study with private teachers in Brussels. When the Franco-Prussian War ended in 1871, the Forbes family returned to London. John Sparkes helped influence William Forbes to recognise his son's artistic talent and Stanhope was sent to study at the Lambeth School of Art (now called The City and Guilds of London Art School). By 1878 he was at the Royal Academy, studying under Sir Frederic Leighton and Sir John Millais. Fellow students at the academy at that time included Arthur Hacker, Henry Herbert La Thangue and Solomon J. Solomon.

In 1889, Stanhope married a fellow artist - Elizabeth Adèla Armstrong, who was born in Canada - in St. Peter's Church in Newlyn, Cornwall. The couple lived in the "Cliffs Castle" cottage, Newlyn, which overlooked the sea. They had a son named Alexander, who was born in 1894 and was known as Alec. They had a house built in Higher Faughan, Penzance. The Newlyn Art School was founded in 1899.

Elizabeth Forbes died in 1912.   In 1915, Stanhope married a family friend – artist Maudie Palmer.

During the First World War, Stanhope's son Alec served in the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry and was killed during The Somme Offensive in 1916.  He was buried in Guillemont Road Cemetery, where his headstone bears an inscription composed by his father: “HE SAW BEYOND THE FILTH OF BATTLE, AND THOUGHT DEATH A FAIR PRICE TO PAY TO BELONG TO THE COMPANY OF THESE FELLOWS”. Stanhope sculpted and erected a memorial to his son in their local parish church with the inscription: "I will get me out of my COUNTRY & from my KINDRED & from my FATHER'S house unto a LAND that GOD will shew me".

Stanhope Forbes died on 2nd March 1947.

WW1 painting “Munitions Girls, 1918”

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Rev. Canon Cyril Lomax - artist and WW1 Chaplain

Anglican Church Minister, the Reverend Canon Cyril Lomax, Rector of Holy Trinity Church in Washington, Tyne and Wear, UK from 1899 to 1946, volunteered to serve as a Chaplain with the Royal Army Chaplain's Department during the First World War.

The Rev. Lomax was posted to the 8th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry and went with them to the Western Front from July 1916 until April 1917. Cyril, who was a talented artist, saw first-hand the devastation during the Somme Offensive from July to November 1916, describing and sketching the reality of life in the trenches.  His letters are about the physical and mental strains of trench warfare. During his time on the Western Front, The Rev. Lomax witnessed one of the first tank battles.

Cyril Lomax was born on 8th June 1871 in Eaton, near Congleton, Cheshire, UK.  His father was John Lomax, an Anglican Church Minister and his mother was Ellen Margaret Lomax. Cyril had the following siblings:  John A., b. 1862, Margaret, b. 1863, Jessy, b. 1865 and Bernard, b. 1866.

Historian Debbie Cameron has researched the Reverend Canon Lomax from the Imperial War Museum's Archives where his diaries are kept.   With many thanks to Debbie for these amazing drawings.

Donald Graeme MacLaren (1886- 1917) – British soldier artist

Donald Graeme MacLaren was born on 23rd January 1886 in Kensington, London, UK.  His parents were James Marjoribanks MacLaren (1853 – 1890), an architect, and Margaret  Mathieson MacLaren, nee McColl (1858 -1908).  Graeme had the following siblings:  John Leslie MacLaren and James Ewing MacLaren, twins born in September 1884, emigrated to South Carolina where John Leslie - always known as Leslie -  Janet S., b. 1888, Dorothy, b. 1890.

Donald’s parents met when James MacLaren was working in London and attended St John's Presbyterian Church in Allen Street, Kensington. The minister there was the Rev. Dugald MacColl from Glasgow. James became friendly with MacColl's son, Dugald Sutherland MacColl and on 28 February 1883 James MacLaren married Dugald's sister Margaret Mathieson MacColl.

Donald studied at the Slade School of Art, 1903-08, winning several prizes for figure compositions.

In 1913 he married Violet A Thomson in Liverpool.  When war broke out, Donald joined the 10th Battalion (Liverpool Scottish) of the King’s (Liverpool) Regiment as a Private.   At the time of his death on the Western Front on 29th June 1917, Donald was a Second Lieutenant.  He has no known grave but is commemorated on the Ploegstreert Memorial in Belgium on Panel 3.

Donald’s uncle, Dugald Sutherland MacColl (1859-1948), became Keeper of the Wallace Collection (1911 – 1924) and then of the Tate Gallery. He was an artist, art critic, poet and founder of the National Art Collections Fund. He was friendly with many of the literary figures of the day - W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Lady Gregory, Max Beerbohm, H.G. Wells, Charles Ricketts, Augustus John, Auguste Rodin, Roger Fry and Walter Crane.  Donald painted his uncle's portrait in 1905.

I am trying to find a photograph or self portrait of Donald Graeme MacLaren and examples of some of his work.  If anyone can help please get in touch.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Brian Hatton (1887 – 1916) British soldier artist

Brian Hatton was born in Broomy Hill, Herefordshire on 12th August 1887.  His parents were Alfred Hatton, b. 1857, a boot and shoe manufacturer, and his wife, Amelia Roberta Hatton, nee Keay, b.1865. Brian had the following siblings - Ailsa Marr, b. 1894 and Marjorie, b. 1896.

Brian demonstrated a talent for drawing and painting at a young age.  When he was eleven years old, he was awarded the ‘Gold Star’ by the Royal Drawing Society. After spending a year at Oxford University, Brian travelled in Europe and then went to study at Hospitalfields Art School in Arbroath, Scotland. In 1908 Brian went to live in London and attended an art school in South Kensington. He also spent time at the National Gallery copying paintings.  During 1908, Brian was invited to join an archaeological expedition to Egypt, which was led by the English Egyptologist Professor William Flinders Petrie.

WW1 poet Gerald Siordet and Brian Hatton met when they were studying at Oxford University – Siordet at Balliol Colleg and Hatton at Trinity College.  They set up a studio together in London in 1912 - The Bronze Door studio in South Kensington.  Hatton received many commissions and soon he was so busy he found it difficult to spare time to return to Hereford and visit his father and siblings.  In 1913 he received a royal commission from Windsor Castle to make drawings of Princess Alice’s children, Prince Rupert and Princess May.   Princess Alice was the longest surviving grandchild of Queen Victoria.  The success of that particular commission led to many more commissions from wealthy people

When war broke out, Brian enlisted in September 1914 as a Tooper with the 1/1 Worcestershire Yeomanry, a cavalry regiment.  Brian married Lydia May Bidmead, known as Biddy, by special licence before leaving for France with his Regiment.  Their daughter, Mary Amelia, was born on 21st September 1915.  Brian obtained leave to visit his wife and daughter before being posted to Egypt.

Brian Hatton was killed on 23rd April 1916 during the Battle of Katia, which took place about 25 miles east of the Suez Canal. Fifty Royal Engineers, together with a detachment of The Queen’s Own Worcestershire Hussars, which was sent to guard them, were sinking a well when they were attacked by more than two thousand Turkish infantry troops.  At the time of his death, Brian was a Second Lieutenant.

The art critic, Walter Shaw Sparrow described Brian Hatton as ‘possessing the rarest of all things - true genius’, and the watercolour painter Adrian Bury described him as ‘a genius unique in the history of British art’.

Brian Hatton's work has been shown at the Victoria and Albert Museum and The British Museum. Examples of his work are to be found in the Brian Hatton Gallery at Churchill Gardens, Hereford.

Gerald Siordet was in France when he heard the news of his friend’s death. He wrote to his cousin Val Burkhardt to ask for information, since Burkhardt was then serving in Egypt.  Captain Burkhardt replied on 27th September 1916 stating that he 'was having a better memorial made than the few sticks and the bottom of a biscuit tin bearing an illegible inscription that he found'.  A footnote to that letter stated that, after the war, those Worcester Yeomen were reburied in Kantara War Memorial Cemetery in Egypt. Brian’s Grave Reference in that Cemetery is A. 9.

Gerald Caldwell Siordet, artist, poet and critic who taught Aldous Huxley, joined the Rifle Brigade was wounded and awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry during The Somme Offensive in 1916, when he took over command when his Commanding Officer was killed. Once recovered, Gerald was posted to Mesopamia and was killed on 9th February 1917, leading an attack on a Turkish position. He has no known grave but is commemorated on the Basra Memorial in Iraq.

Photo:  Brian in his studio photographer unknown
Sketch:  "Civilisation" by Brian Hatton

Find my Past and Free BMD and
Celia Davies,  “Brian Hatton, A Biography of the Artist (1887-1916)”, (Terence Dalton, Lavenham 1978)

An excellent book about Egypt during WW1 “Tracing your Great War Ancestors: The Egypt and Palestine Campaigns – A Guide for family historians” by Stuart Hadaway, Pen & Sword Family History, Barnsley, Yorkshire, 2017.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Reginald Grange Brundrit (1883 - 1960) – British

With thanks to Sergio Sbalchiero for his help in discovering Brundrit, his war-time service on the Italian Front and some of his WW1 paintings.

Born in Toxteth Park, Liverpool on 13th May 1883, Reginald’s parents were Joseph Brundrit and his wife, Mary Ellenor Brundrit, nee Lacock.  After the death of his Father, Reginald and his mother went to live in Skipton in Yorkshire, where Mary was born.

Educated in Skipton, then at Bradford Grammar School, Reginald went on to study art at Bradford School of Art, before moving to London to study at the Slade School. Reginald also studied as a private pupil with John Swan, RA.   Reginald was predominantly a landscape and portrait painter. He exhibited around two hundred of his paintings between 1906 and 1961 both at Royal Academy art exhibitions and at international exhibitions in Pittsburgh, USA, Rome and Venice in Italy and Paris in France.

During the First World War, Reginald volunteered with the Red Cross and served as an ambulance driver on the Italian Front with the Third Red Cross Ambulance Unit of The British Red Cross Society and Order Of St John Of Jerusalem.

Reginald was the founder member of the Wharfedale Group and was Vice President of The Yorkshire Union of Artists.  He was a successful artist during the 1920’s, establishing a reputation as one of the leading landscape artists of North Yorkshire.  The National Gallery of New South Wales purchased his painting of ‘A Northern Winter.’

In 1933, Reginald married Lena F. Worthington, who was also an artist. Lena deferred to her husband as an artist and instead began to decorate porcelain - the tea sets, plates and bowls she embellished were beautiful.

Reginald died on 27th November 1960 at his home in Masham, Yorkshire.


Annie kindly gave me permission to share the photograph of Reginald from her website.

Painting: "Doberdo Village on the Carso"

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Gilbert Rogers (1881 – 1956) – British artist

With thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron for finding some of the information about Gilbert and to War Art on Twitter for providing the inspiration -

Gilbert was born in Freshfield, Lancashire (near Liverpool) on 9th November 1881. His parents were William Rogers, a watch and clock maker, and his wife, Sarah Jane Rogers, nee Searle. Gilbert had the following siblings: Harry, b. 1879, Wlliam, b.1881, Gladys N., b. 1884 and Guy, b. 1888.

Educated at the Liverpool Institute, Gilbert went on to study art at the Liverpool City School of Art.

During the First World War, Gilbert enlisted in the Royal Armyu Medical Corps of the British Army. After training in Eastbourne he became an instructor at the RAMC Officer Training School in Blackpool, ending his service with the rank of Temporary Lieutenant, No. 78529.

Among the paintings Gilbert did during WW1 were:  “Ypres 1915”, “RAMC at Messines”, “VAD Ambulance Driver” and “The Dead Stretcher Bearer”.

In 1918, Gilbert was appointed by the Committee for the Medical History of the War to lead a team of artists who were asked to depict the medical consequences of warfare.  He headed a group of artists commissioned to produce works for the medical section of the newly-created Imperial War Museum in London.

One of his works was more than 11 feet high and 15 feet wide, it was one of several large canvases displayed in Imperial War Museum’s first home at the Crystal Palace in Penge Peak, Sydenham Hill, south London.  From 1922 – 1923, Gilbert was President of the Artists’ Club in Liverpool.

After leaving the Army, Gilbert returned to Liverpool and became a Director of his younger brother's furniture manufacturing and upholstery business - Guy Rogers, Limited.

Gilbert married Gertrude Jane Iceton in 1924.  The couple lived in Beresford Road, Oxton, a suburb of Birkenhead, on the Wirral Peninsula during the Second World War. Gilbert died in Birkenhead in 1956.

The portrait of Gilbert Roger as President of the Artists' Club, Liverpool, 1922-23 was painted by Frank Copnall (1870 – 1949).

Sources: Find my Past and

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Guy Lipscombe (1881 – 1952) – British artist

With thanks to Sergio Sbalchiero for telling me about Guy Lipscombe and inspiring
me to research the lesser-known artists of the First World War

Guy was born on 22nd August 1881 in Kingston, Surrey, UK. His parents were Henry Rogers Lipscombe, a water filter maker, and Alice Emma S. Lipscombe, nee Rogers.  Guy had the following siblings: Warren, b. 1879, Lionel, b. 1880, Hugh, b. 1883, Doris, b. 1887, Ethel, b. 1889 and Basil, b. 1891.   The family lived in Marylebone, London, UK.

Guy studied art at The Royal Academy School of Art in London.

In 1903, Guy Lipscombe was commisioned by the London Temple Press to illustrate motor sport for “The Motor” magazine which was founded in January 1903. In 1906, Guy painted the famous British Rail Recruitment Office Posters Britishers enlist to-day with the Union Jack, which was used again in WW1.

In 1907, Guy painted an oil painting that is on display on the staircase of the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) in London. It depicts a scene from the French Grand Prix held in Dieppe on 2nd July 1907 and shows Felice Nazzaro ( Fiat 130 HP Corsa) and Claude Richez ( Renault AK ).

From 1908, Guy Lipscombe held exhibitions of his work at the Royal Academy of Arts and the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, the Dudley Museum and Art Gallery and the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.

During the First World War, Guy volunteered as a driver with the Britsh Red Cross and served with No. 3 British Red Cross Ambulance Unit on the Italian Front in Italy, where he painted several pictures:

The Arrival of the First Guns on the Carso Front, Italy 1916
A First- Line of Line Dressing Station, Doberdo, Isonzo Front, Italy (1917) British Red Cross Ambulance, Italian Front, 1916 (1918),
Castelfranco: Italian Troops resting on Route to the Piave Front (1918)
A Group of Casualities in a Room under a Gas Lamp (1919).

After the war, Guy married Effie L. Mozley-Stark in Kensington, London in 1919.   In 1934 he painted the official portrait of Lady Emily Roney, who was the first woman Mayor of Wimbledon from       1933 to 1935 .

By 1939, Guy was divorced and living in Saffron Waldon, Essex.  He painted ‘Invasion Training in Cornwall’ which is now in the Welcome Trust collection.

Guy died in Kent in 1952.

Sources:  Find my Past and Free BMD.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Elliott Seabrooke (1886 – 1950) – British Actor and Artist; Red Cross volunteer and official war artist Italy WW1

With grateful thanks to Sergio Sbalchiero for finding and posting this painting by Seabrooke and for telling me about Seabrooke’s WW1 service with the Red Cross in Italy.

Ransome Elliott Seabrooke was born on 31st May 1886 in Upton Park, London, UK and was baptised on 3rd July 1886.  His parents were Robert Elliott Seabrooke, a warehouse Superintendent, and his wife Harriet Elizabeth, nee Ransom. The Seabrookes also had a daughter, Winifred Elliott Seabrooke, who was born in 1889.   Elliott studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London from 1906-1911. Among his teachers was Henry Tonks.  Elliott then rented a shack in England’s Lake District and adapted it for use as a studio.

During the First World War, Elliott, who was a pacifist, volunteered to join the British Red Cross and served on the Italian Front.  While in Italy, he became an official war artist.

Elliot was tall and handsome and had a fine singing voice.  He became an actor and performed in films and in plays on stage and on the wireless with other contemporary actors and actresses - John Gielgud, Lewis Casson, Sybil Thorndike, Wendy Hiller, Charles Laughton and Ralph Richardson. 

In 1930, Elliott married Adolphine C. Joosten in Hampstead, London.

Elliott travelled extensively and died in Nice, France on 6th March 1950.

Find my Past and Free BMD

Painting:  Elliott Seabrooke "The Bombardment of Gorizia 21 August 1917".  The view was from the building that housed the First British Red Cross Unit in Gorizia, Italy on the Italian Front in The First World War.

Photograph of Eilliott in the play "The Lion Tamer or English as she is Eaten", an English version by Charles N. Spencer of Alfred Savior's play "Le Dompteur" at the Gate Theatre Studio, London.

Photograph of Elliott and Adolphine seated on the sofa at a reception in London given by Lady Latham (seated on the left) in honour of Elliott's exhibition at Tooth's Galleries in London.  Madame Alanova is on the right of the photograph.   Photo from "The Tatler" magazine, 9th June 1932.