Forward British 20th C, except portraits, Dress and Textiles 37 Can you tell us more about Charles Freegrove Winzer and the subject of this painting?

Music for Ganesha
Topic: Subject or sitter

This painting was gifted to Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales about a year after Charles Freegrove Winzer had completed it. We know that in 1920 in the British colony of Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, Winzer was Inspector of Art and Education. He also founded the Ceylon Art Club a few years later and is recognised by some as a key figure in the development of the modern art movement there.

We would be interested to know more about the artist and this work. For example, what is the context in which 'Music for Ganesha' is set? What is being depicted and where might it be?
We would be interested to know your thoughts.

Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, Entry reviewed by Art UK

37 comments

Maria Castro,

Ganesha is the most worshipped god in Hinduism and beyond, also popular with some Buddhist and Jains. Because he is the god of obstacles, he is regularly invoked at the beginning of almost any venture, even one as secular as buying a car. There are also specific festivals celebrating Ganesha, and specific Mantras. In other words, the context could be almost anything. Not really much help, I'm afraid!

Jacinto Regalado,

Nepal is a predominantly Hindu country. There is a major annual festival known as Ganesh Chaturthi to celebrate Ganesha's birth, and it lasts for 10 days (it is held in Nepal as well as in India). This scene may be part of its observance.

Kieran Owens,

Attached are some relevant news items that will shed some light on the character and practice of the artist. The first is from the Gloucester Citizen, of Thursday 11th January 1923, the second from The Scotsman, of Tuesday 27th February 1934 and the third from The Sketch, of Wednesday 28th February 1934.

In Sylvia Beach's book on Shakespeare & Company, Winzer is mentioned as having painted the Bard for the first signboard of her famous Paris bookshop.

One source suggests that Winzer was born in Barton Regis, Gloucestershire, on the 1st December 1886, another that he was born in Warsaw, Poland, though he definitely died at the Warneford Hospital, Oxford, on the 19th February 1940. His estate was administered by Mary Emily Valentine Winzer, spinster, and was valued at just £206/10/1.

In the same issue of The Western Mail, of Saturday 2nd November 1918, the following two (slightly contradictory) death notices appeared:

"Winzer - On the 28th October, at Naval Hospital, Gorleston, Yarmouth, John Freegrove Winzer, R.N.R., aged 34, dearly loved husband of Evelyn Winzer, and son-in-law of Mr. & Mrs. T. J. Cound, Mabes-Y-Cwrt, Port Talbot (of pneumonia)."

and

"Winzer - On October 30th, of double pneumonia, at Bloomfield's Naval Hospital, Great Yarmouth, John J. S. F. Freegrove Winzer, R.N.R.T., the devoted husband of Evelyn Marguerite Winzer (née Cound) and son of the late Charles Julius Winzer, of Warsaw and London."

This John, born in 1884, could have been Charles' older brother, and, if so, Charles Julius Winzer was his father.

Winzer's connections to Cylon, where he lived from 1920 until 1931, can be read here:

https://bit.ly/2DHqHHS

The British Museum's biographical entry for Winzer reads thus:

"Painter and lithographer; born and had early education in London, later in Warsaw; worked in Morocco, Spain, India, Nepal, Ceylon as well as in England; an exhibition of his work was held at the Ashnur Gallery in 1914; his lithographs illustrated 'Poems by James Elroy Fletker' and 'Chinese Drama', published in 1921. (His sister, Alice, married his friend, a German artist from Braunschweig, (Baron) Götz von Seckendorff (1889-1914)."

See https://bit.ly/3gVrqU3

A Google search for "Freegrove Winzer" produces many more nuggets of information.

Kieran Owens,

Other short biographical references are here:

https://www.artceylon.com/artist63.html

https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C174345

https://defonseka.com/front-page/the-articles/articles/winzer-art-of-the-de-fonseka-family/

An extract from "Records of the Department of State Relating to World War I and its Termination, 1914-1929 Prisoners of War", from 1915, is attached and is of interest.

Jacinto Regalado,

In Ceylon/Sri Lanka, Hinduism is a minority religion; the country is about 70% Buddhist.

Louis Musgrove,

The people depicted do not look to me to be Nepalese. I can see what look to be tusks on the image centre at the rear- so probably depicts Hinudus from Tamil Nadu who had settled in Sri Lanka.
I wonder - did Winzer ever work or visit Mauritius- because the people look slightly more African than Indian to me ???? This just a vague guess on my part.

Kieran Owens,

This Discussion's painting, though titled "Hymne a Ganesha", along with Winzer's "Femmes du Nepál", appeared on page 309 of the July 1930 edition of the French journal "L'Amour de L'Art". See attached.

The works were exhibited through the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, one of the oldest art galleries in Paris. Records might still be held there regarding this painting.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernheim-Jeune

Andy Mabbett,

He seems to be regarded as having been very influential on the introduction of modern art into Sri Lanka, and on the '43 Group' in particular.

I've written this up, along with information from this discussion, in a new Wikipedia biography of Winzer [1].

As always, suggestions for improvement are welcome.


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Freegrove_Winzer

Kieran Owens,

Andy, from material that I have so far read, almost all suggest that Winzer's roots are Polish, from Warsaw, and not German.

Kieran Owens,

As an update on the artist, the suggestion that he was born in Barton Regis, Gloucestershire, on the 1st December 1886, can be discounted. That child died before he reached the age of one year.

Andy Mabbett,

Keiran: Thank you. Can you suggest a source for that, please?

And could I trouble you for more details on "the-sketch-wednesday-28th-february-1934-1", such as author (if given), page number and title?

Osmund Bullock,

Andy, I would caution against rushing to get a Wikipedia article like that out, based on a fairly arbitrary selection of published sources, some of which - even the BM - may not always be accurate.

We are still trying to establish the correct details of the artist's life here, and there are many things still unresolved. That requires research into many sources, some of them primary, and takes time to do properly, let alone to discuss and assess the results - this thread has only been running for 48 hours, and I don't understand your rush. Surely it is better to wait a while rather than running the risk of repeating things online that turn out to be wrong, however unintentionally?

Kieran Owens,

I echo your unease, Osmund, and must state that all of my own research is intended for use on ArtUK, especially as they plan to shortly include extended artist biographies on the site. The Winzer story is unfolding slowly and additions and corrections are being made carefully. It is not unreasonable to request that patience be applied until the fullest and most accurate picture available is completed. This is specifically important in the light of the multitude of carelessly inaccurate and sometime purposely misleading details that litter Wikipedia entries.

E Jones,


On September 3, 1855 Julius Ernst Winzer married Eliza Jane Freegrove in Covent Garden, London. Julius was from Staffordshire and was listed as a ‘Professor of music’ and ‘Dealer of musical instruments’ in the Staffordshire trade directory of 1860. This is the source of the link between the Freegrove and Winzer names. These were Charles Freegrove Winzer’s Grandparents.

Their son Julius Charles Winzer was born in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire. From the 1880s he was working in the British consulate in Warsaw and became the vice-consul.

His marriage in Warsaw to Leonie Mary Lesser (also a British citizen), is recorded in the 1881 to 1885 register of the:
‘British Armed Forces and overseas Banns and Marriages’.
Vol 7, page 862
(Att1) - ‘British Armed Forces and overseas Banns and Marriages’.

Leonie Mary Lesser’s separate entry of her marriage is also listed as:
Vol 7, page 862.
(Att2) - ‘British Armed Forces and overseas Banns and Marriages’.


Julius and his wife proceeded to have four children all recorded in the
‘British Armed Forces and Overseas Births and Baptism Register’;

Julius John F. S. F. Winzer,
Mary Emily V. Winzer,
(Att3) - ‘British Armed Forces and Overseas Births and Baptism Register’


Charles Henry D. F. Winzer,
Alice Jane B. Winzer,

Charles Winzer’s record can be found in the
Records year range – 1886-1890
Page 2043
(Att4) - ‘British Armed Forces and Overseas Births and Baptism Register’


According to the 1911 census, Julius Charles Winzer, his wife Leonie and two daughters are living at 19/20 Lancaster Gate, Paddington, (which was a private hotel). Leonie and the two girls were all born in Warsaw and have recorded their place of birth as being of Russia, Poland, Warsaw. It also notes that the couple have been married for 28 years (approx 1883) and they had four children born, four still living. At this time, Julius John was away serving in the Merchant Service.

In his WWI service record of 1916 Julius John Francis Stanislas Freegrove Winzer listed his next of kin as being Mary Winzer living in 56 Lancaster Gate (also a private hotel on the same road as the 1911 census), before being changed to his new wife’s details of
Evelyn Margaritte Winzer (Cound), Maes-y-Cwrt Terrace, Port Talbot.
He also describes himself as being born in Russia, Warsaw.
(In the ‘Civil Service directory’ within the ‘Thom’s directory of 1894’, the Consulate in Warsaw is also listed under Russia.)


Charles Freegrove Winzer appears to have experienced artistic success at a fairly young age as he represented Poland in the Venice Biennale of 1907, exhibiting alongside such individuals as John Sargent, Frank Brangwyn and Auguste Rodin. His exhibit was a water colour painting called ‘Il Pavane’ (The Peacock).
(Att5) - Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte Della Citta di Venezia. 1907
Catalogo Illustrato.



There is a fairly detailed article in the ‘Western Mail and South Wales News’ on Friday, August 1st 1930, with some explaination as to the circumstances as to how the painting entered the collection. Unusually, It appears that both Viscount Tredegar and Charles Freegrove Winzer attended the National Museum of Wales on Thursday, 31st of July 1930, together, and in person for the presentation of the painting to the establishment. It’s mentioned that the painting was a very unexpected gift to the museum:


“....Mr Morgan asked Capt. Lee to receive, on behalf of the museum authorities, a personal gift from himself, of an oil painting by Mr Charles Windsor, of a wonderful scene outside the temple at Nepal, in the Himalayas.

“We were all taken by surprise as a little group of privileged spectators writes a Western Mail correspondent) when the picture, in the presence of the painter, was produced for presentation.”

The picture measuring about two feet six inches by two feet, is a wonderful depiction of a group of worshippers outside the Indian Temple.

Mr Winzer stated, in the course of an interview, that he was privileged to paint this particular picture about two years ago on the occasion of his first visit to Nepal.”
(Att6) - ‘Western Mail and South Wales News’, Friday, August 1st, 1930


Once this article had been published in the ‘Western Mail and South Wales News’ on August 1st 1930, Viscount Tredegar wrote a letter from the Angel Hotel in Cardiff, to the paper. This letter gave a little more information with regards to the painting, artist, as well as offering a little more context:

“Sir, perhaps I might be permitted to add a footnote to your mention concerning the picture by my friend, Mr Charles Winzer inspector art in Ceylon, presented by me to the National Museum of Wales, entitled “A scene outside the temple in Nepaul. “

Over and above the technical value of the work to me the most important point of interest concerning this painting is that Nepal is a closed state to foreigners, and in many ways it is difficult to enter as is Lhasa, but owing to the personal friendship of Mr Winzer with the reigning prince, he was entertained by him in that state, and moreover given facilities to paint wheresoever he wished. Hence the portrayal of the subject in question is probably unique.”
(Att7) - ‘Western Mail and South Wales News’ on Saturday, August 2nd, 1930

Kieran Owens,

Excellent work, E. Jones.

I stand corrected regarding the assertion that Winzer's roots were Polish, and not German. That he and his siblings were born in Warsaw (whose history can be seen here, explaining its being cited as being in Russia and not Poland - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Warsaw ) was purely down to his father's posting there.

Julius had been born in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, on the 2nd October 1856 and died in 1912. His father (Charles' grandfather), Julius Ernest Wizner, was born in Oldenburg, Germany, c.1830 and died in Hamburg on the 27th November 1899. At the time of his marriage to Eliza Jane Freegrove at St. Martin-in-the Fields in 1855, Julius was the Band Master of the 3rd King's Own Staffordshire Rifles. In that role and for many associated concert performances, he can be found in newspapers of that and subsequent years referred to as "Herr Winzer". On leaving the regiment he set up the successful musical instrument business referred to above. For several years, Staffordshire newspapers carried advertisements for his services.

Julius' first wife, Eliza Jane Freegrove, was born c. 1825 and died in London in 1860. Following this, Julius remarried, to Catherine Sarah Graham, in London, on the 23rd November 1861 and the couple had five children:

Auguste Annie (1863)
Laura Ermentina (1864)
Kate Georgina (1865)
Arthur (1870 - 1872)
Hope Caroline (1879)

The first four children were all born in Newcastle-under-Lyme, in Staffordshire, and the fifth was born in Hamburg.

Following on from his being Band Master and running his musical instrument business, Julius had a career as a "china and glass merchant".

Of Charles Freegrove Wizner's siblings, John died in 1918 (as referenced above), his next sister was Mary Elizabeth Valentine, and his youngest sister, Alice, also as mentioned above, married the artist Baron Götz Von Sechendorff in 1914. He died later that year, and in 1920 Alice was remarried in Italy to Camillo Borgia.

Kieran Owens,

Regarding the posting in Warsaw, in an issue of the The British Trade Journal & Export World, Volume 24. of 1886, Julius Charles Winzer states that he was the Pro-Consul, and not Vice-Consul. "I am not Her Britannic Majesty's Vice-Consul, but was nominated Pro-Consul, to replace the Consul-General"

Osmund Bullock,

That's wonderfully complete, E Jones (and Kieran): well done. The only thing I have to add is that his place of birth is also given as Warsaw in the Red Cross list of those still held at Ruhleben Internment Camp in June 1918 (he appears twice). See attached. Bar the very sick, and exchanges of older internees with Germans held in the UK, the Ruhleben prisoners were not freed until the armistice in November. Thus Winzer was in captivity for four years, as stated in one of the newspaper reports above, rather than three as given elsewhere.

He is mentioned in several of the books written later by Ruhleben internees**, and was at first an active participant in the camp’s activities (https://bit.ly/3aKCl0J); but his involvement seems to have faded away as the years passed, unlike some of the other artists held – notably Charles Horsfall (who drew and painted around 400 portraits of the inmates, getting on for 10% of them) and later on Nico Jungmann, whose fine paintings of the camp life and its men are well-known. The Spring 1916 edition of the main Ruhleben magazine much regretted Winzer’s non-participation in the camp’s third art exhibition, and it may be that he suffered mentally from his long incarceration. Officially around 100 of the 4-5,000 internees are thought to have lost their minds (https://bit.ly/3iQGjra), but other accounts imply it was commoner than that (https://bit.ly/3kVENGg). Certainly many found themselves psychologically much-changed after their release, including Jungmann (whose marriage broke up as a result) and Horfall, who apparently became obsessed with mystical spirits (https://bit.ly/3h1jQHv).

I only mention this because Warneford Hospital, Oxford, where Winzer died aged 53 in 1940, was, is and always has been a mental hospital.

[**The Ruhleben story is extraordinary, and worth reading if you’re unaware of it. Several of the accounts are online at Archive.org – just put ‘Ruhleben’ into the search box.]

E Jones,

Julius Charles probably held a variety of posts during his time in the Consulate. There are definitely a few references of him being Pro-Consul in the British Consulate in Warsaw. Although, It also appears that just a little bit later in his career, he is listed on the Civil Service directory for the Foreign Office from 1894 (as mentioned above) as being a V.-C.(As well as the 1890 directory)

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E Jones,

In 1932, The artist Nina Hamnett published her well-known autobiography, ‘Laughing Torso’.

It describes her life, experiences and relationships within the artistic community, that include many well known names of early twentieth century Paris. In this book, she mentions Charles Freegrove Winzer:

“...There was a very amusing and clever painter called Charles Winzer and every evening we three would meet at the rotund. We wrote poems. I wrote the last words of the poems, four of which had to rhyme and a fifth that did not, and they wrote in the poems. They were very funny and we spent the whole evening laughing at them.”

“...I met Gertrude Stein at his house*. I had been taken to her studio once in 1914 by Charles Winzer to see her pictures. She was one of the first people to discover Picasso and had a fine collection of his early blue and pink pictures. She had a magnificent portrait of herself by him.”

*(Ford Maddox Ford’s house)

Coincidentally, just last month (July 2020), there was a really interesting piece written on ArtUK, by Alicia Foster on the artist Nina Hamnett and her autobiographies.

https://artuk.org/discover/stories/nina-hamnett-portraying-the-spirit-of-her-age

Kieran Owens,

Many thanks, E. Jones, for that update on Winzer's Civil Service ranking. I (happily) stand corrected.

Kieran Owens,

Has any or all of the above satisfied the initial question posed by Amgueddfa Cymru / The National Museum Wales? Would they like more?

Andy Mabbett,

"I would caution against rushing to get a Wikipedia article like that out" I wasn't aware of rushing, but thank you for the advice; I'll be sure to bear it in mind and apply it appropriately.


"the multitude of carelessly inaccurate and sometime purposely misleading details that litter Wikipedia entries"

Independent academic analysis generally rates Wikipedia as highly, or higher, than other sources for accuracy and reliability - none of which, of curse, are infallible. Most, unlike Wikipedia, are not easily corrected.

Wikipedia is tertiary source; everything in it should be cited to a reliable source (as indeed, is everything in the article I wrote about Vizner. That's why I asked - fruitlessly, it seems - for more details on "the-sketch-wednesday-28th-february-1934-1"; and why I did not include the unsourced claim of Polish origin). If you see something on Wikipedia that is not reliably sourced, feel free to remove it; or if it wrongly represents the source, or you have a better source, feel free to fix it.

Kieran Owens,

....corrected to "For what it's worth...."

Many thanks for all your contributions. However please do not post further discussions on the reliability of Wikipedia here as this is not relevant to the subject of this discussion.

Many thanks for your research and contributions to this discussion; all your comments on Winzer and ‘Music for Ganesha’ are much appreciated and enlightening. Thanks to the contributions of E. Jones, Kieran Owens and Osmund Bullock, we now have a detailed account of Winzer’s life and his connections to Wales. This information will be noted in our records. We are happy with the outcome, however if anyone can add anything more on the subject of the painting or why the title changed from 'A scene outside a temple in Napal' to 'Music for Ganesha' (this may be documented in our paper records and will be checked once lockdown is lifted), we would be interested to hear from you.

Thanks again for the generosity of your time and sharing your knowledge.

With warmest wishes,

Melanie Polledri
Curator, Art Collections Management and Access
Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales

Louis Musgrove,

Just to add- I remember seeing last year a documentary on a german film crew who entered Nepal in the 1930's equiped with the New Agfa colour film. What was remarkable in the original films were the vibrant primary colours of the peoples clothes. People there still seem to like colourful clothes. I can understand why it would be so nice if the Music for Ganesha were in Nepal, but the people seem to be wearing the mainly white clothes of the much hotter India/ Sri Lanka.

Osmund Bullock,

I'm baffled, Louis. Are you saying that both the donor and the artist himself were mistaken in stating (in 1930) that it was painted in Nepal? Or could it be that you haven't read E Jones's full and hugely informative post above (17/08/2020 13:45)?

Louis Musgrove,

I get the feeling , perhaps mistakenly- that the collection might be still a bit curious about this picture. I wonder how " Music for Ganesha " can be in the Hands of the Gallerie Bernheim ( Kieran 14/08 ) and at the same time as being given to the Museum- July 1930 ??? And the title of the painting donated was called "Worshipers outside the Temple in Nepaul" And it was already in the ownership of Mr Morgan !
And I stand by my comment about the Nepalese wearing colourful clothes.
Things in Museums can get misslabeled- or lost or stolen or forgotten or put on display somewhere else-or just disapear-- as we have seen in many discussions here- and I still don't think it looks right for Nepal ( though I admit I could be wrong ) . Was there a picture in the Western Mail of the Painting that was donated in July 1930????

Kieran Owens,

Surely that the painting itself and its frame, as mentioned in the first response by Marion, above, is inscribed 'Kathmandu Nepal', is proof enough of its location.

Also, as can be seen in my attachment above, of the other painting by Winzer that was exhibited at the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, in the summer of 1930, the two main characters, as well as some of the minor ones, all appear to be wearing very light coloured clothing, whereas strong bright reds, blues or greens would be reproduced as tones of darker grey or black in the art journal's picture.

And finally, there is ample evidence to attach Evan Morgan to the Paris art scene, as he had several of his works exhibited at the Paris Salon.As a close friend, it could well have been the case that he attended Winzer's exhibition at Bernhein-Jeune in July, purchased the work there, and brought it to Wales in August to present it to the Museum. The chronology certainly works.

Osmund Bullock,

Kieran is quite right to say the chronology works, though the timings he gives are slightly wrong. The unexpected presentation to the Museum took place on 31st July 1930 - see attached for the newspaper report and subsequent letter. The illustration of the paintings and accompanying review (see https://bit.ly/32j4oQK & following page) were in the July issue of the monthly magazine L'Amour de l'Art, which probably went to press in mid-June at the latest - in fact other reviews in the same issue may well relate to exhibitions seen in April or May, e.g. one for the XVIIth Venice Biennale, which opened on May 4th. Reviewers generally visit events at the beginning for obvious reasons.

Thus to me it is not just a possible, but an eminently likely sequence of events for a gift made with apparently no pre-planning or notice. Morgan could have and probably did buy it in Paris at the show's private view in, say, May or early June, and passed it on to the museum 6-12 weeks later.

As to the apparent title change, I would guess that Morgan referred to it in his letter as 'A Scene outside a Temple in Nepaul' because that's almost exactly how the reporter described it in the previous day's news report on which he was commenting: "... a wonderful scene outside the Temple at Nepal ... ". If Morgan had called it 'Hymn to (or Music for) Ganesha', I doubt more than one in a hundred of his readers would have had a clue what he was talking about.

I think you're looking for problems where none exist, Louis - and to do so on such slight primary evidence as the colour of the Nepalese clothes you saw in a 1930s film is...well, surprising.

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Jacinto Regalado,

There are many ethnic groups and especially caste differences in Nepal, which are bound to affect mode of dress.

Mark Wilson 01,

I think Louis is worrying too much about the dress thing. People often don't wear the same sort of thing when going to a religious service as they do in everyday life. (Something a Welsh chapel-goer in the 1930s would understand). In this case white overgarments seem to be expected. Add to that the fact that this is clearly taking place at night, where colours are going to be subdued anyway and the colour scheme becomes explicable.

With regards to the Collection's question, as Kieran and Osmund's links show, it looks like this has always been titled "Music for Ganesha" or equivalent, and anything else it has been called is simply a gloss to explain what is happening to viewers less acquainted with the Hindu pantheon than we might be nowadays.

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