Albert Wainwright

The Artwork of Albert Wainwright

Born in the historic market town of Castleford, West Yorkshire in 1898, Albert Wainwright was painter, illustrator, and designer of theatrical costume and sets. A prolific artist, his body of work includes thousands of watercolors, drawings, painted ceramics, costume and theatre designs and book illustrations, which reveal him to be an artist of powerful inventiveness and ability.

The youngest of three children, Albert Wainwright had a Methodist upbringing and an early interest in art. He attended Castleford’s Secondary School where he met classmate Henry Moore and began a friendship secured by their mutual interest in art. Until 1920, Wainwright and Moore would correspond to each other through illustrated letters, even as soldiers in the first World War. Although encouraged by his father to seek a profession as an engineer, Wainwright was given permission to train in the arts through the persuasive efforts of his secondary school’s art teacher.  

In 1914, Wainwright entered Leeds Arts University in West Yorkshire. Through his studies, he was influenced by the works of illustrator Aubrey Beardsley and Russian painter and theatrical designer Léon Bakat, as well as, the new works created by the Viennese Secessionist artists. Wainwright was also drawn to the fluid use of line, exaggerated forms, and dynamic use of pattern and color in the works of painters Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. 

After his service in the Royal Flying Corps, Albert Wainwright rejoined his family who now lived in Pontefract, West Yorkshire. He transformed a room in the family home for use as a studio where he continue his work as artist and designer. In 1920 at the age of twenty-two, Wainwright had his first solo exhibition at Leeds City Art Gallery which, well received, gained him the support of Leeds University’s Vice Chancellor Sir Michael Sadler and influential art critic Frank Rutter. He also gained representation by London’s Goupil Gallery which held solo exhibitions of his work in 1921 and 1922.

In 1927, Wainwright was appointed temporary art master at Castleford’s Secondary School for two years. During this period, he went on a school excursion to Germany, the first of his many journeys to Europe, both alone and with his partner. This was a time of great social and political change in Europe, particularly in Austria and Germany with the rise of fascist movement. Beginning with this trip to Germany, Wainwright began a regular practice of illustrating sketchbooks with people he contacted and landscapes he admired. After his family bought a cottage in 1930 at Robin Hood’s Bay, he would spend every summer there to paint watercolors of people on holiday, beach scenes, and depictions of the town’s red roofs. 

As a gay man, Albert Wainwright exercised discretion in his life, a necessity felt by many during that era due to the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885 which had made homosexuality illegal; often a letter of affection was sufficient to bring prosecution. He did have a life-long lover, George Collins, who was a schoolmaster and friend of the Wainwright family. Wainwright often refers to his sexual identity as a gay man in his work. His sketchbooks contain not only landscapes but also studies of men in uniforms at rest or play. Although generally clothed, Wainwright’s portraits of men were sensitively painted with alluring expressions. He considered these sketchbooks as personal and private documents and not intended for public view. 

Wainwright received many commissions to design costumes and sets for local theaters including the Leeds Art Theater and the Leeds Civic Playhouse. He designed for plays ranging from Greek tragedies to modern dramas by Henrik Ibsen, Anton Chekov and Bernard Shaw. Wainwright designed sets and costumes for over one-hundred productions which included seven-hundred costumes for a single play in 1927, the “Miracle Play” held at Kirkstall Abbey on the north bank of the River Aire. 

Wainwright never achieved the same level of commercial success and recognition as his school friend, sculptor and lithographer Henry Moore, and had to supplement his art with teaching. In March of 1943, he applied for and was offered a teaching post for the duration of the war as an art teacher at the historic Bridlington School in Yorkshire. After teaching for only three months, Albert Wainwright was stricken with meningitis and died on a bus on his way to his Harrogate home in September of 1943. His work is in many private collections; the largest public collection of his work is housed at the Hepwotth Wakefield Gallery in West Yorkshire, England.

Notes: An extensive online collection of Albert Wainwright’s work can be found at “Albert Wainwright: The Unseen Archive” located at:

A short video on his life is available at the Hepworth Wakefield Gallery site located at:

Top Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Albert Wainwright”, circa 1912, Vintage Print on Card Stock, Hepworth Wakefield Collection, West Yorkshire, England

Second Insert Image: Albert Wainwright, “Portrait Study of George Collins”, Date Unknown, Watercolor on Paper, Private Collection

Third Insert Image: Albert Wainwright, “The Dragon Slayer”, circa 1927-1938, Gouache on Paper, 39 x 54.3 cm, Wolfsonian-FIU, Miami Beach, Florida

Bottom Insert Image: Albert Wainwright, “Boy Sleeping”, Date Unknown, Watercolor on Paper, 23 x 27.5 cm, Private Collection

Montague Glover

The Photography of Montague Glover

Born in May of 1898 in Leamington Spa, a spa town known for its medicinal waters, Montague Charles Glover was a British freelance architect and private photographer. He is best known for his photographs depicting homosexual life in London during the early and mid-twentieth century when homosexuality was illegal. The majority of his oeuvre, shot during a period of increasing persecutions against homosexuals, documented members of the military forces and the working class, whose social class divisions are depicted through their dress.

The youngest of five siblings and the only male child, Montague Glover entered the British Army in 1916 for service in the first World War. He was a member of the Artist Rifles Regiment, a regiment of the Territorial Force which saw active service during the war. Glover was promoted to Second Lieutenant in 1917 and was awarded the Military Cross for Bravery in 1918.

Glover is notable for his photographs depicting the partnership with his long-time lover, Ralph Edward Hall, who was born in December of 1913 in Bermondsey, a district in the South End of London. Hall was one of nine children from a poor working-class family whose father worked as a wharf laborer. After meeting his lover in 1930, Glover employed him as his manservant, most likely to provide a social alibi for their residing together. Their relationship lasted for more than fifty years and survived Hall’s four-year service in the Royal Air Force during the second World War. Hall, absolutely devoted to Glover, sent during his years of military service hundreds of love letters to his partner.

Glover’s photographs of his domestic life with Hall are a rare documented example of a long-term relationship before the passage of the Sexual Offenses Act of 1967. Given royal assent in July of 1967 after intense debate in the House of Commons, this act essentially legalized homosexual acts in England and Wales, on the condition that they were consensual, in private and between two men who had attained the age of twenty-one. The Sexual Offenses Act of 1967 did not, however, apply to the Merchant Navy or the Armed Forces, nor to Northern Ireland or Scotland.

The Sexual Offenses Act did not condone homosexuality but argued that it was not within the responsibility of the criminal law to penalize homosexual men, who already were the object of derision and ridicule. One particular important consequence of the law was the increased freedom of assembly for gay rights groups which led to an increase in gay rights activism during the 1970s. However, as the terms of the law were within strict guidelines, activities judged as gross indecency were still prosecuted in the decade that followed its passage.

Change began when the law was extended to Scotland in February of 1981 and, as a result of an European Court of Human Rights case, extended to Northern Ireland in 1982. The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994 lowered the age of consent for homosexual males to eighteen; it also extended the definition of rape to include male rape which had been prosecuted as buggery. In 2000, the Sexual Offenses Act of 2000 passed and equalized the age of consent to sixteen for both homosexual and heterosexual behaviors through the entire United Kingdom.

The Sexual Offenses Act of 2003, through compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights, omitted the privacy requirements in England and Wales law relating to same-sex male sexual activity, thus permitting a third party to be present. It also overhauled the way sexual offenses were dealt with by the police and courts, as it replaced previous provisions in both the 1967 Act and the original 1956 Criminal Law Act. Gross indecency and buggery were repealed from statutory law; as a result, the vast majority of the Sexual Offense Act of 1967 was repealed.

Montague Glover and Ralph Hall spent most of the latter years at “Little Windovers”, Glover’s country house in the village of Balsall Heath, a area of Birmingham and home of the Moseley School of Art. Glover’s eldest sister, Ellen, lived with them until her death in 1954 at the age of seventy-two. In his later years, Glover was described by their friends as a reserved, charming man, while Hall was known to be an outgoing, cheerful man with a distinctive cockney accent.

Montague Glover died at the age of eighty-five in 1983; he left Ralph Hall as his sole heir. After suffering a gradual decline in health, Ralph Hall died four years later at the age of seventy-four. Hall’s next of kin put their country house and Glover’s possessions up for auction. Included in the auction was a box which contained Glover’s wartime negatives from the first World War, journals, Glover’s many letters from his lovers during the decades, and the preserved collection of love letters that Hall had sent to Glover during the second World War. Many elements of Glover’s effects are contained in James Gardiner’s 1992 book, “A Class Apart: The Private Pictures of Montague Glover”.

Note: A collection of Ralph Hall’s war service love letters to Montague Glover, excerpted from Rictor Norton’s “My Dear Boy: Gay Love Letters Through the Centuries”, can be found at the Gay History and Literature site located at:

Top Insert Photo: Photographer Unknown, “Montague Glover”, 1916-1918, Territorial Force of the British Army

Second Insert Image: Montague Glover, Model Unknown, The Young Valet Series, Date Unknown

Third Insert Image: Montague Glover, “Three Boys at Victoria Park, East End, London”, circa 1930s

Bottom Insert Image: Montague Glover, “ Ralph Edward Hall”, Date Unknown

Wayne Howarth

The Artwork of Wayne Howarth

Based in North West England, Wayne Howarth is a British artist, the son of illustrator Walt Howarth who was known for his interior and cover art of such British serial comics as Doctor Who, The Avengers, and Tarzan .After graduating from Liverpool Polytechnic in 1979, Wayne Howarth became a successful interior designer for many high profile clients throughout Great Britain. In 2009, Howarth changed the focus of his career to drawing, a passion he has had since childhood.

Howarth’s portraiture work is most often done in a combination of mediums. Harris’s figurative images, mainly done in pencil, are combined with surface pattern designs taken from textiles and wall coverings, which are then rendered by Howarth in acrylics and watercolors. Gold and copper leaf are also occasionally applied to the background patterns for embellishment.

Wayne Howarth’s work and contacts, including image purchases and  commissions for portraits, can be found at the artist’s site located at:

Mary Fraser Tytler-Watts

Mary Fraser Tytler-Watts, The Watts Mortuary Chapel, Compton, Surrey, England

Born in November of 1849 in India, Mary Seton Fraser Tytler was a Symbolist craftswoman, designer, and social reformer. She spent her early years in Scotland, being raised by her grandparents, before moving to England in the 1860s. In 1870 Tytler studied at the South Kensington School of Art, and later studied sculpture at the Slade School of Art in 1872 and 1873. Initially a portrait painter, she associated with the Freshwater art community on the Isle of Wight, becoming friends with Julia Margaret Cameron, a British photographer known for her soft-focus portraits of Victorian men.

Mary Tytler met painter George Frederic Watts, who was thirty-three years her senior, and married him in November of 1886 in Epsom, Surrey. After her marriage, Mary Watts worked in the fields of Celtic and Art Nouveau, producing pottery, bas-reliefs, metalwork, and textiles. Watts exhibited her work in The Woman’s Building at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago, Illinois. Through the Home Arts and Industries Association, she created employment in the rural communities; she also trained workers in clay modeling, which led to the establishment of the Compton Potters’ Guild in 1899.

Mary Watts designed, built, and maintained the Watts Mortuary Chapel in Compton from 1895 to 1904. It is a chapel in an Art Nouveau version of the Celtic Revival style. The main structure is inspired by the 11th and 12th-century Romanesque architecture; but the terracotta relief carving and painting is Celtic Revival. Virtually every village resident was involved in the chapel’s construction, with local villagers, under Watt’s guidance decorating the interior with a fusion of art nouveau and Celtic influences. George Watts, Mary’s husband, paid for the entire project and painted the allegorical “The All-Prevading” for the altar just three months before he died in July of 1904. 

Mary Watts strongly supported the revival of the Celtic style, the indigenous artistic expression of Scotland and Ireland. In 1899, she began designing rugs in this style for the carpet company Alexander Morton & Company, which was Liberty & Company’s, the luxury department store, main producer of fabrics. Watts pioneered the department store’s Celtic style with designs for the Celtic Revival textiles, carpets, book-bindings, and metal work.

Mary Watts was President of the Godalming and District National Union of Women’s Suffrage Society and convened at least one women’s suffrage meeting in Compton, Surrey. A firm believer that everyone should have a craft with which they could express themselves, Mary Watts died at Limnerslease, her home in Compton, on the sixth of September in 1938. Her remains are buried in the Watts Mortuary Chapel.

Note: The Watts Mortuary Chapel at Compton, Surrey, is managed by the nearby Watts Gallery, dedicated to the paintings and sculptures of George Frederic Watts. The chapel is open Monday to Friday (8AM to 5PM) and Saturday to Sunday (10AM to 5:30PM). There is no entrance charge.

Alan Turing


Photographer Unknown, Alan Turing at Bosham, 1939

This image shows mathematician and computer pioneer Alan Turing at Bosham, a coastal village and civil parish in Chichester, England.. He is seated with several figures including two Jewish refugee boys he rescued from Nazi Germany.

Alan Turing’s central contribution to science and philosophy came through his treating the subject of symbolic logic as a new branch of applied mathematics, giving it a physical and engineering content. Though a shy man, he had a pivotal role in world history through his role in Second World War cryptology. From 1939 to 1945 Turing was almost totally engaged in the mastery of the German enciphering machine, Enigma, and other cryptological investigations at now-famous Bletchley Park, the British government’s wartime communications headquarters. Turing made a unique logical contribution to the decryption of the Enigma and became the chief scientific figure, with a particular responsibility for reading the U-boat communications.

In 1948 Alan Turing moved to Manchester University, where he partly fulfilled the expectations placed upon him to plan software for the pioneer computer development there, but still remained a free-ranging thinker. It was here that his famous 1950 paper, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” was written. In 1951 Turing was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society for his 1936 achievement, yet at the same time he was striking into entirely new territory with a mathematical theory of biological morphogenesis.

This work was interrupted by Alan Turing’s arrest in February 1952 for his sexual affair with a young Manchester man, and he was obliged, to escape imprisonment, to undergo the injection of oestrogen intended to negate his sexual drive. He was disqualified from continuing secret cryptological work. Turing’s general libertarian attitude was enhanced rather than suppressed by the criminal trial, and his intellectual individuality also remained as lively as ever. While remaining formally a Reader in the Theory of Computing, he not only embarked on more ambitious applications of his biological theory, but advanced new ideas for fundamental physics.

For this reason Alan Turing’s death, on 7 June 1954, at his home in Wilmslow, Cheshire, came as a general surprise. In hindsight it is obvious that Turing’s unique status in Anglo-American secret communication work meant that there were pressures on him of which his contemporaries were unaware. Turing had previously spoken of suicide; and his death by cyanide poisoning was most likely by his own hand. The symbolism of his death’s dramatic element—a partly eaten apple—has continued to haunt the intellectual Eden from which Alan Turing was expelled.

In 1967, the British government took its first steps toward decriminalizing homosexuality. It was not until 2009 that the government officially apologized for its treatment of Alan Turing and thousand of other gay men who were convicted under the existing Victorian laws. In 2013, Queen Elizabeth II granted Alan Turing a royal pardon, 59 years after a housekeeper found his body at his home at Wilmslow, near Manchester, in northwest England.

James Stroudley


Leonard James Stroudley, “The Oarsmen”, Date Unknown, Oil on Canvas, 224 x 178 cm, Private Collection

Born in London in June of 1906, Leonard James Stroudley was a painter, printmaker, and educator. He studied at the Clapham School of Art from 1923 to 1927, and continued his studies at the Royal College of Art from 1927 to 1930, where he studied under painters William Rothenstein and Alan Gwynne-Jones. As a recipient of the first Abbey Scholarship in 1930, Stroudley was able to study for three years in Italy, where he was influenced by the paintings of Giotto and Piero della Francesca, and produced one of the last decorative cycles by a Rome Scholar prior to World War II.

On his return to London in 1933, Leonard Stroudley became a visiting lecturer at the Royal Academy School and exhibited at the Royal Academy and the Royal Society of British Artists, of which he was elected a member in 1934. Working through a series of influences, including cubism in the late 1930s, he achieved the incisive draftsmanship that is the core of his work. Stroudley’s drawings, both figurative and landscapes, from this period are technically brilliant and bear comparison with illustrative work of British sculptor Eric Kennington.

After the Second World War, in which he worked with the Camouflage Unit, Stroudley taught at St. Martin’s School of Art and continued his lectures at the Royal Academy Schools. Though he continued to live in London, Stroudley’s later work, exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1955, indicated regular painting trips to the coastal areas of Kent and Sussex. Initially a figurative artist, his later works, starting in the 1950s, moved increasingly towards abstraction. 

Leonard James Stroudley, in addition to exhibitions at the Royal Schools, had numerous gallery shows, among which were the Walker Art Gallery in 1956-1957, the Apollinaire Gallery, the Arthur Tooth and Son Gallery, and London’s Reid Gallery in 1960. His former student, realist painter Peter Coker, paid homage to his teacher by including Stroudley’s work in the 1971 exhibition “Pupil & Masters” which was held at Westgate House in Long Melford, Suffolk.

Leonard James Stroudley died in May of 1985 at Wandsworth, London. His works are in the public collections of Bradford, Brighton, Coventry, and Rochdale, as well as many private collections. 

Top Insert Image: Leonard James Stroudley, “Undercliff Walk, Looking West from Rottingdean”, Watercolor and Penccil, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: Leonard James Stroudley, “First Floor Front”, 1959, Oil on Canvas, The Esplanade, Rochdale, Greater Manchester, England


The Tempest

Benjamin Smith, “Act One, Scene One of the Tempest by William Shakespeare”, Untinted Engraving based on the Original Painting by George Romney, September 29, 1797, Published by J & J Boydell at the Shakespeare Gallery, Pall Mall, London

This engraving depicts the destruction of King Alonso’s ship caused by the tempest conjured by Prospero, seen on the right, who sent spirits to create the storm. Prospero caused the tempest in an act of revenge against his brother Antonio, one of the ship’s passengers, who had ursurped Propero’s position as Duke of Milan. Prospero’s daughter Miranda clings to him, begging for the lives of those on the ship. Prospero assured his daughter that he used his magic to prevent anyone from dying.

Benjamin Smith was a British engraver, publisher and print seller who was born in 1754 in London. He studied the art of stippling engraving under Francesco Bartolozzi,  one of the most famous engravers of the 1700s. During his career from 1786 to 1833, Smith engraved many plates from designs by William Hogarth, William Beechley, and George Romney. He also created portraits of the aristocracy such as the Marquis Cornwallis and King George III.

Employed for many years by J & J Boydell Publishing, Benjamin Smith was commissioned to engrave many plates for the Shakespeare Gallery and for the poetical works of John Milton in the years between 1794  and 1797. These are considered his best works and included the image above based on the painting by George Romney. Smith continued his engraving work until five years before his death in 1833, producing many works now in the collections of the British Museum and National Portrait Gallery.

Edward Julius Detmold

Wasps by Edward Julius Detmold

Edward Julius Detmold, “Common Wasps”, From “Fabre’s Book of Insects”, 1935, Tudor Publishing Company

Painter, printmaker and illustrator Edward Julius Detmold was born in London in 1883 along with his twin brother Charles Maurice Detmold. Provided patronage by their uncle Edward Shuldhan, the two brothers studied painting and printmaking under the tutelage of their uncle Henry Detmold, also an artist. In 1898, at the age of 13, the twins exhibited watercolors at the Royal Academy, and issued a portfolio of color etchings that same year that quickly sold out and brought them notoriety. In 1899 Edward and Charles began illustrating books jointly, begining with “Pictures from Birdland”, which was commissioned and published by J.M. Dent. This was followed by a portfolio of watercolors inspired by Kipling’s “The Jungle Book”.

The brothers’ tandem success, however, was ended with the sudden death by suicide of Charles in 1908. Edward Detmold threw himself into his work, beginning with an illustrated ” Aesop’s Fables” that included 23 color plates and numerous pen and ink drawings. This began a decade of intense productivity, in which the Detmold’s execptional eye for the detail and complexities of nature allowed him to achieve his place among the best illustrators of the Victorian era.

Edward Detmold continued to illustrate numerous books, including Maurice Maeterlinck’s “The Life of the Bee”, Camille Lemonnier’s “Birds and Beasts”, his own “Twenty Four Nature Pieces”, and Jean-Henri Fabre’s “Book of Insects”. However by 1921, after witnessing the horrific results of World War I and feeling a disillusionment with his own art, he had reached the end of his zenith. Though Edward Detmold went on to illustrate one last edition of “The Arabian Nights” in 1924, he had effectively ended his career with the publishing of a literary book of aphorisms entitled “Life”. He retired to Montgomeryshire, England, and died in 1957, also from suicide.

Nigel Cooke

Nigel Cooke, “In Da Club- Volume One”, 2018, Oil on Linen Backed with Sailcloth, 220 x 195 cm, Private Collection

Nigel Cooke is an English painter, born in Manchester, who currently lives and works in Kent. He received his BA in Fine Art from Nottingham Trent University and an MA in Painting from the Royal College of Art. Cooke went on to receive a PHD in Fine Art from Goldsmith’s College located in London.

Cooke is known for his unique and complex paintings which thematically explore the meeting point between creative labour, individual consciousness, art history, consumer culture and the natural world.

Reblogged with thanks to

Victoria Crowe


Victoria Crowe, “Ferragosta: Fireworks and Crocosmia Lucifer”, 2017, Oil on Linen, 55.9 x 60.1 cm

Born in London, Victoria Crowe trained at the Kingston School of Art and the Royal College of Art. She moved to Scotland in 1968 and began teaching at Edinburgh College of Art. Crowe is a painter of still life, interiors, landscapes and portraits, and works in oil and in watercolour.

Crowe’s  work is often autobiographical and visits to Italy, Madeira, Egypt and India have influenced her work. She has several portraits in the National Galleries of Scotland’s collection, the National Portrait Gallery of London, and the Royal Scottish Academy..

David Hockney

David Hockney, “Jungle Boy”, 1964, Etching and Aquatint Printed in Colors, Printed on Mould-Made Paper, Published by Associated American Artists

This etching is from a formative part of David Hockney’s life: the years from 1961 to 1964, That period spans part of his time at the Royal College of Art, where he was a student form 1959 to 1962; his first years as an independent London artist; and a period in which his printmaking focused entirely on etching. During this time, Hockney had his first visit to the United States, funded by an art prize for one of his prints. It was also during this period that Hockney created his renowned “A Rake’s Progress” series of etchings after his return to London.

David Hockney’s early print work are examples of his raw talent and ability to transform the artistic medium he works with. He began making prints as a student in 1961 because he could not afford paint supplies. He mastered the medium and made prints with abandon, using the medium to reflect upon his life as a young art student in London at that time, creating a portrait of the artist as a young man.

“I started doing graphic work in 1961 because I’d run out of money and I couldn’t buy any paint, and in the graphic department they gave you the materials for free. So I started etching, and the first I did was Myself and My Heroes. My heroes were Walt Whitman and Gandhi. There was a little quote from each of them, but for myself I couldn’t find anything – I hadn’t made any quotes – so it just said, ‘I am twenty-three years old and wear glasses,’ the only interesting thing I could think to say about myself.” -David Hockney, 1976

Martin Copertari

Martin Copertari, “As Lovers Went By”, 2013, Lithograph Composed of Collage of Etchings with Gouache, Dimensions Unknown

A Briton who lived in Barcelona, Martin Copertari made collages using images from the Victorian era. He often used a gravure printing technique, which he did by hand. The collages are all hand made with original etchings from 19th century publications, lithographic prints from the early 20th century and retouched with gouache.

Reblogged with many thanks to

Cecil Beaton

Photography of Cecil Beaton

Cecil Beaton was a British photographer and designer best known for his elegant photographs of high society. Working within a cinematic approach, his black-and-white images are characterized by their staged poses and imaginative sets. Beaton’s costume and stage designs won him three Academy Awards, including one for the 1964 film “My Fair Lady”.

Born on January 14, 1904 in London, United Kingdom to a wealthy family, Beaton went on to study at St. John’s College in Cambridge, but he left before finishing his degree. He was mostly self-taught as a photographer, though he did study in the studio of photographer Paul Tanqueray. During World War II, Beaton’s focus shifted to documenting the realities of war throughout the United Kingdom and Europe, forging a prolific and varied career.

“Be daring, be different, be impractical. Be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.”- Cecil Beaton

Note: Cecil Beaton’s self-portraits shown: Overhead shot with Mick Jagger; self-portrait standing on stepladder

See April 2, 2022 article in the archive for a more complete biography.

Insert Image: Cecil Beaton, “Self Portrait”, 1930, Silver Gelatin Print


A Year: Day to Day Men: 19th of September, Solar Year 2018

Morning’s Early Light

September 19, 1867 was the birthdate of English book illustrator Arthur Rackham.

Arthur Rackham, at the age of eighteen, worked as a clerk at the Westminster Fire Office and began studying part-time at the Lambeth School of Art in central London. In 1892, he left his job and started working for the Westminster Budget, a national newspaper, as a reporter and illustrator.  His first serious commission were a collection of sketches of Anthony Hope, the English novelist who later wrote “The Prisoner of Zenda”.

By the early 1900s, Arthur Rackham had developed a reputation for pen and ink fantasy illustration with richly illustrated gift books such as the 1898 “The Ingoldsby Legends”, “Gulliver’s Travels”, and “Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm” published in 1900. Although acknowledged as an accomplished black-and-white book illustrator for some years, it was the publication of his full color plates to Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle” in 1905 that particularly brought him into public attention.

Arthur Rackham’s reputation was confirmed in 1906 with his illustrations for J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens”. His income from the book illustrations was augmented by the annual exhibitions of his artwork at the Leicester Galleries located in London. Rackham won a gold medal at the 1906 Milan International Exhibition and another at the 1912 Barcelona International Exposition. His work was also included in an exhibition at the Louvre in Paris in 1914.

Arthur Rackham’s work is often described as a fusion of a northern European ‘Nordic’ style strongly influenced by the Japanese woodblock tradition of the early 19th century. He is widely regarded as one of the leading illustrators from the ‘Golden Age’ of British book illustration which roughly encompassed the years from 1890 until the end of the First World War.

During that period, there was a strong market for high quality illustrated books which typically were given as Christmas gifts. Many of Rackham’s books were produced in a de luxe limited edition, often vellum bound and usually signed, as well as a smaller, less ornately bound quarto ‘trade’ edition. This was sometimes followed by a more modestly presented octavo edition in subsequent years for particularly popular books.

Arthur Rackham never lost his sense of wonderment and never gave in to the baser styles that fell in and out of favor over the years. From Queen Victoria’s death in 1901 to the start of World War I, Rackham’s illustrations preserved a lifestyle and a sensibility that kept the frighteningly modern future at bay. His beautiful drawings were the antithesis of the industrial advances that allowed them to be printed at affordable prices.


A Year: Day to Day Men: 6th of September, Solar Year 2018

Crates of Lathe

September 6, 1642 was the day that theater experienced both a major closing and a major reopening 277 years apart.

The major closing was the banning of all theater at the start of the English Civil War. On September 6, 1642, by an act of Parliament, all theaters in England were closed. This meant specifically that the great playhouses and theatrical companies of London, many from the Elizabethan age, ceased operations for good. The reason given for the ordinance was that attending theater was “unseemly” during such turbulent times.

The real reason was that the playhouses had become meeting places for the Royalist opposition, a group against the Parliament.   Their Puritan rivals, who controlled Parliament, understood this and closed the theaters.  Within a few years most of the grand old structures, now abandoned, had decayed beyond use or were dismantled altogether, leaving no visible trace of the playhouses of Shakespeare’s day.

Theatre would remain illegal until the end of the Interregnum in 1660, when the Puritans lost power and the monarchy was restored. Almost immediately, playhouses reopened and theatrical entertainments resumed. Theatre returned full force with the Restoration of the English monarchy under Charles II, leading to a revival of English drama and performance that paved the way for the great age of acting and wit during the eighteenth century.

it was also on this day, September 6th, that theaters reopened. On September 6, 1919, the great Equity Strike in New York and Chicago by theater actors came to an end. Broadway producers had finally reached an agreement with the upstart actors’ union, the Actors’ Equity Association. The only exception was Broadway’s biggest star and largest employer George M, Cohen who was granted a singular exception to continue as before without unionization.

The strike lasted a month and had closed nearly 40 major productions across the city, with revenue loses in excess of three million dollars.  The two sides reached a five-year deal that finally recognized Equity as the professional actors’ union.  Over the next few years working conditions improved and Broadway flourished for nine years until the 1928 season. The advent of “talkies” caused a decline in the theater with a noticeable lack of attendance and thus profits. The stock market crash of 1929 reset the commercial theatre’s entire economic picture for the next several decades.

James Mortimer

James Mortimer: Paintings, Oil on Linen

James Mortimer, a painter and a sculptor, was born in Swindon, Wiltshire in 1989. He was educated at a Catholic School and studied sculpture at the Bath School of Art, receiving the Kenneth Armitage Prize for Sculpture. Mortimer now devotes himself to painting imagined scenes of immoral excess, mythical creatures and larger than life characters. He is represented by the Catto Gallery on Heath Street in London.

James Mortimer’s fey boys inhabit a world of uncomplicated decadence, a surreal Renaissance landscape where man and beast exist together on increasingly equal terms. Inhibitions go out the window; each is a slave to their own nature. The ensuing relationships provide fertile ground for myriad little dramas as the companions look to get along. Animals become mischievous, even vicious at times. Their masters try to rise above it, retaining an almost Imperial sense of composure, but in the process find themselves somehow detached, lost even, gazing wistfully into the opium haze of their peculiar adopted land.

Whilst seemingly simple, there is wealth of drama playing out behind the scenes. Visual puns and innuendoes pepper his paintings like Freudian slips of the brush. Every fruit and every plant is pregnant with suggestion. Exoticism and the thrill of travel also permeate every scene, like Victorian Boy’s Own adventures that have turned slightly spicy and risqué. And underneath it all, there is a simmering sexuality. These characters are vain, vice-loving and beautiful.

Note: an Extensive collection of James Mortimer’s work can be found at:

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “How They Met Themselves”, 1864, Watercolor and Bodycolor on Paper, 11 x 10 Inches, Leicester Galleries

There are three versions of this watercolor “How They Met Themselves”. One exists  in a private collection and the other two at the Fitzwilliam Museum. The first version of this doppelganger theme was made with pen and ink and brush and is dated 1851 1860. It was painted for George Price Boyce, Rossetti’s friend and fellow Pre-Raphaelite artist, during Rossetti’s honeymoon in Paris in 1860, to replace the earlier pen and ink drawing of the same subject which was either lost or destroyed.

In a letter to George Price Boyce dated February 4th of 1861, Dante Rossetti expressed, his intentions to undertaking a watercolour version: “I was much wishing to execute the Bogie pen and ink drawing which you have as a watercolour and would be greatly obliged to you for the loan of it…”

Dante Rossetti, by calling it the `Bogie drawing’, expressed his continuing fascination with the legend of the ‘Doppleganger’, the vision of which is a presentiment of death. To illustrate this strange theme, Rossetti chose the subject of two medieval lovers in a wood meeting their doubles who glow supernaturally. Doppelgänger imagery occurs in poems he admired such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “ The Romaunt of Margaret” and Poe’s “Silence” and also frequently in his own more autobiographical poems such as “Sudden Light”, “Even So”, and “Willowwood”.


A Year: Day to Day Men: 5th of August, Solar Year 2018

Searching for Socks

August 5, 1887 was the birthdate of John Reginald Owen, the English character actor.

Reginald Owen studied at Sir Herbert Tree’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and made his professional debut on stage in 1905. When he was still a young actor, he met the author Mrs. Clifford Mills. Upon hearing her idea of a children’s play to be called a Rainbow Story, Owen persuaded her to turn it into a play. This became the play “Where the Rainbow Ends” which opened on December 21st of 1911 starring Owen as Saint George. It received good reviews.

John Reginald traveled to the United States in 1920, originally working on Broadway in New York. He later moved to Hollywood and began a lengthy career in many Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer productions.  Owen is perhaps best known today for his role as Ebenezer Scrooge in the 1938 film version of “A Christmas Carol” , a role he inherited from Lionel Barrymore who suffered a broken hip.

Owen was one of only five actors to play both Sherlock Holmes and his companion Dr. Watson. He first played Watson in the 1932 film “Sherlock Holmes” opposite Clive Brooks. In the 1933 film “A Study in Scarlet”, Owen played Sherlock Holmes opposite Warburton Gamble in the character of Doctor Watson. Owen also has the odd distinction of playing three classical characters of Victorian fiction- Scrooge, Holmes, and Watson- only to have those characters taken over and personified by other actors, namely Alastair Sim as Scrooge, Basil Rathbone as Holmes, and Nigel Bruce as Watson.

Owen appeared, later in his career, on the television series “Maverick” in two episodes and also guest starred in episodes of the series “One Step Beyond” and “Bewitched”. He was featured in the 1964 film “Mary Poppins” and had a small role in the 1962 film production of the Jules Verne novel “Five Weeks in a Balloon”. John Reginald Owen died from a heart attack at age 85 at his home in Boise, Idaho in 1972, after a film career totaling over one hundred films, many of which are today listed as classics- “Of Human Bondage”, “Anna Karenina”, “A Tale of Two Cities”, “The Great Ziegfeld” and “The Call of the Wild”.