British 19th C, except portraits, Continental European after 1800, Wales: Artists and Subjects 44 Further information is sought on the artist J. L. Vychan

ERY_FG_2005_6234
Topic: Artist

Could anyone provide further details of the life and work of this nineteenth-century artist?

The collection comments: ‘The Ferens Art Gallery holds one work by J. L. Vychan, an undated oil painting 'Drachenfels on the Rhine'. However, like Art UK, we have very little information about the artist. From our permanent collection catalogue ‘From Victorian to Edwardian: The Ferens Art Gallery Collection of Victorian and Edwardian Art’ (published 2009), we know that Vychan was recorded at 29 Bolsover Street, Portland Place, London between 1873 and 1877, and exhibited at the Royal Society of British Artists. His subjects included landscapes from Ireland to Derbyshire, and this one Rhine subject. Christopher Wright, the catalogue author, suggests that “given the general style of the Ferens' painting it is possible that the artist was of continental origin”.’

There is another example of Vychan's work attached: 'Venice' (private collection).

Kenny Smith, Entry reviewed by Art UK

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44 comments

Art UK has no information on the artist and a quick internet search turns up next to nothing, except a Christie's sale (1998) 'Figures Fishing on a Continental Lake'. We know only that in 1886 he exhibited one work at the Royal Society of Artists, Birmingham (Dictionary of British Artists 1880–1940).

Incidentally, from at least Medieval times, according to Wikipedia, Vychan appears as a variant of the Welsh name Fychan. For a more recent example, see this link to the Welsh Dictionary of National Biography. https://bit.ly/2R6DndF

Kieran Owens,

In 1874, J. L. Vychan exhibited two works at that year's Royal Academy exhibition, the first, catalogue No. 205, being "Showery Weather, Lake Geneva", and the second, No. 272, being "The Castle Crag of Drachenfels" (this discussion's painting?). His address was, as reported above, 29, Bolsover Street, Portland Place, London. He appears in no other year at the RA.

The same catalogue records that the landscape painter Alfred De Bylandt exhibited a painting (No. 153) entitled "The Ferry Market, Morning", from his address at 29, Bolsover Street, Fitzroy Square. The two address are, presumably, the same. Alfred Eduard Agenor de Bylandt was a Belgian painter who was born in Brussels in 1829. He spent some years travelling in Switzerland and Italy and died in 1890.

In 1877, The Art Journal records that Vychan exhibited "Bordeaux from La Bastide" at the Society of British Artists exhibition.

At the Yorkshire Fine Art & Industrial Exhibition, held at York in 1879, Vychan exhibited "Village Pilgrims, Crossing the Bridge at Lourdes, Pyrenees". His address was still at Bolsover Street.

In March 1880, at the Atkinson Art Gallery, Southport, he exhibited "the grand sweep of mountains around Lourdes, Pyrenees" and in July of that same year, at York, he exhibited "St. Sauvier, Pyrenees" (possibly the same work).

"The Artist" journal, of 1893, reported that he exhibited a piece called "Moving Tinber (sic)" in that year.

Jacinto Regalado,

There is no Vychan listed in Artnet. He was evidently a painter of views, and his style recalls line engravings for travel books.

E Jones,

With regards to the name, Marion was right in the post earlier. The name of Vychan is an old Welsh name.

The word ‘Bychan’ is used in Welsh to mean something small. When used in conversation the word quite often naturally mutates to be ‘Fychan’.

“Fychan” and ‘Vychan’’ are pronounced exactly the same way.
One F sounds like an English V
The Y like an English U
The CH is pronounced the same as the CH in Loch

By the middle Welsh period V’s sometimes replaced F’s especially at the beginning of a word.
The name also continued to develop into the name Vaughan.

It’s a name more often used in the Welsh speaking community especially when replacing the surname of Vaughan. It’s not unusual to hear the name Fychan being used in an Eisteddfod as a competing name (as in the example above) or as a nom de plume.

Kieran Owens,

Kenny Smith, would you have a list of Vychan's works that were exhibited at the Royal Society of British Artists, and the dates of their showing?

Osmund Bullock,

Kieran, here is the Vychan entry from the RBA & NEAC book (to 1893 & 1917, respectively) by Jane Johnson (1975), showing 10 works exhibited by him or her at the SBA 1873-77.

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Kieran Owens,

Thank you, Osmund. That is most kind and is deeply appreciated.

Regarding Thomas & Co, Bolsover Street. I am pretty sure Vychan (and others, inc Bylandt) were using this as an exhibiting address only, and perhaps with Thomas as an agent for enquiries and sales. It was a common practice, frame makers often also being sales-agents and dealers. In the late teens/ early 1820s W.J. Huggins initially used the frame maker Thomas Merle in Leadenhall Street this way, before setting up on his own further along, and Merle had also been agent for Thomas Luny,

RBSA Gallery,

The RBSA (Royal Birmingham Society of Artists) archive team did some digging and found L J Vychan of 29 Bolsover-street exhibited in an autumn exhibition of 1875. He is marked up as number 32 in the catalogue, for the work titled: From the Wood to the River-A Rhine Scene which is marked up for £20.

Vychan is also listed in the list of exhibitors for 1876 under the name F L Vychan. Perhaps a mistake or something pertaining to the name spelling differences. The work is titled The Isle of San Giorgio and is also priced at £20.

Maria Castro,

I did a quick search through census records, 1871 and 1881. There is not a single person with the name Vychan listed anywhere either in England or Wales. That probably indicates that the artist was using that name as a pseudonym of some sort.

The Thomas in charge of the framemakers Thomas and Co. at the time was a Robert Thomas, who had inherited the company from his parents William and Ann. In the 1851 census William, already 58, was living at Berner St. in Marylebone with his wife, Ann, sons WC, Henry, Alfred, Albert, Robert, and daughter Emily. Given his age, it is likely that there were more older kids already out of the house. William's occupation is listed as "carver and gilder", as is his son Robert's, then 20 years old. WC's occupation is listed as "artist". The other sons are an engineer, an auctioneer and a clerk.

Kieran Owens,

Marion, can you please post an image of the signature from this painting?

Mark Wilson 01,

Maria - I'm not sure that Thomas family are the same as the ones running Thomas & Co. The NPG site gives a number of addresses for William Thomas, his wife and son from 1822 to 1884:

https://www.npg.org.uk/research/conservation/directory-of-british-framemakers/t#TH

and they never seem to have been in Bolsover Street, usually based elsewhere in central London: "11 Wigmore St 1869-1872, 60 George St, Portman Square 1873-1884" in the 1870s period being discussed. William in particular did a lot of work for the Royal family, so they're fairly well documented.

It's possible the company operated from more than one address, they didn't just provide framing but other decorating services, but I would have though any picture dealing would have been done from the framing address. A directory from 1884 gives "Thomas C & Co carvers & gilders", though this was the year Robert died so it could be another family member was the 'C'. But at first glance they look like different companies. (It must have cause confusion at the time).

As for Vychan, I wonder if Jacinto has got something when he said "his style recalls line engravings for travel books". For a painter with such a small corpus Vychan certainly gets around a lot: Geneva, the Rhine, the Pyrenees, Venice. It could be the pseudonym of a gifted amateur, but it could also be someone producing high-end decorative pieces from illustrations, either someone in Thomas & Co (the assumed name might suggest a Welsh-speaker) or an established artist using it as a cash sideline.

Jacinto Regalado,

Is this actually a view of Drachenfels? I cannot find a matching image. The presumed castle seen at upper left is definitely not the relatively small ruined castle on top of Drachenfels.

Jacinto Regalado,

I'm fairly certain it's Heidelberg, and it is definitely not Drachenfels. It is also very much the sort of view that would have been (and was) published as an engraving.

Maria Castro,

Jacinto, you are right. It is definitely not Drachenfels. At the time of the painting, there was only the old medieval ruin right on top of the hill. The neo-gothic castle that is there now was built between 1882 and 1884. And I agree, it does look like Heidelberg.

Well spotted!

Maria Castro,

Mark, you are probably right about it being a different framemaker called Thomas and Co. I'll go back to the census records and see if I can locate them. The reason I looked at census records in the first place was to find out whether they might either have had lodgers who were artists, or possibly a family member with the right initials who might be using "ap Vychan" as a by-name. I realize that this is mostly dotting i's and crossing t's as most likely Thomas and Co were acting as an agent and the artist had no connection to the location otherwise.

Jacinto Regalado,

Maria, I was just trying to find a comparable 19th century engraving of Drachenfels, but none matched our image, so then I searched for something less site-specific and more focused on the main elements in the image, which led me to the Heidelberg engraving.

Kieran Owens,

I am hopeful that the information provided below will convince that J. L. Vychan was the "nom de pinceau" of the English amateur artist John Lloyd-Elsegood (c.1830 - 1912). I am using the word amateur in the sense that he did not have to paint to provide himself with a living. I also hope that you will all bear with the long chronological history that surrounds the kernel of proof, as I believe that it importantly contextualises the artist’s social standing.

John Lloyd was born in St. George, Middlesex, in c.1830, the son of John Lloyd, gentleman.

John’s first wife, Sophia Read, was the daughter of Richard Read, a London coal merchant, of Bryanstone Street, and his wife Sophia. Sophia (the daughter) was born in Marylebone, London, on the 30th November 1815. At the age of 25 she was married, in the parish church of St. George, Hanover Square, London, on the 25th January 1840, to Francis Charles Elsegood, a surgeon, also 25. He was the second son of Henry Charles Elsegood (1786 - 1846), surgeon and apothecary, and his wife Martha.

Francis’ marriage to Sophia was very short-lived, as he died the following year, on the 18th December 1841. His death notice, in the Hampshire Telegraph of Monday 20th December 1841, reported that he was 27 and that his address was Upper Brooke Street, Grosvenor Square, London. From the marriage, however, there was one child, Frances Sophia Elsegood, who was born at the close of 1840.

By the time of the 1861 UK Census, Sophia Elsegood, now claiming to be aged 37 (b. 1824, contradicting her 1815 baptismal record), was living, as a widow, at 6, Baker Street, parish of Marylebone, London, along with her 59-year-old widowed mother, Sophia J. Read, and her now-18-year-old daughter, Frances Sophia Elsegood, as well as a cook and a house maid.

The Pall Mall Gazette, of Friday 28th July 1865, carried the following marriage announcement:

“Lloyd - Elsegood - At St. Marylebone Church, John Lloyd to Sophia Elsegood, 22nd inst.”

Four days after the wedding, the Illustrated London News, of Saturday 29th July 1865, carried this announcement:

“I, John Lloyd, of 6, Oriental Place, Brighton, in the county of Sussex, gentleman, do hereby announce and give notice that from and after this twenty-sixth day of July instant, I shall assume the surname of Elsegood, in addition to that of Lloyd, and that for the future and on all occasions, and for all purposes whatsoever, I shall be described, known and called as John Lloyd-Elsegood, which name I shall use and no other. - John Lloyd-Elsegood. Witness, Bowen May, Solicitor, 67, Russell Square.”

By the end of December 1865, certain newspapers were listing John Lloyd-Elsegood as living at 6B, Baker Street. Irish records show him as having dealings in 1886 in Longford and Dublin. On the 8th August of that same year, John was one of the two witnesses to the marriage of his step-daughter Frances Sophia Elsegood, of 6, Baker Street, London, to Henry Owen Lewis, Esq., the son of Lt. Col. Arthur G. Lewis. The ceremony took place at the parish church in Monkstown, a salubrious suburb to the south of Dublin city (see attached).

On Friday 10th August 1866 the Belfast Newsletter carried the following notice:

“Lewis and Elsegood - August 8th, at Monkstown Church, near Dublin, by the Rev. W. Lake Onslow, M.A., Rector of Sandringham, King’s Lynn, and Domestic Chaplin to H.R.H. the Price of Wales, Henry Owen Lewis, Esq., of Raconnell, County Monaghan, only child of Lieut.-Colonel and the late Hon. Mrs. A. G. Lewis, of Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin, to Frances Sophia, only child of the late F. C. Elsegood, Esq., of Upper Brook Street, Grosvenor Square, London, and Mrs. Lloyd-Elsegood, of Baker Street, Portman Square, London.”

The Irish Times, of Tuesday 8th October 1867, announced that “J. Lloyd-Elsegood, Esq., and Mrs. Lloyd-Elsegood, have taken their departure from Trimlestown House, Old Merrion, for London.” Saunders's Newsletter, of Wednesday 24th March 1869, noticed the departure, on the Royal Mail steamer from the port of Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin), of “Lloyd Elsegood”.

The 1871 UK Census listed John Lloyd-Elsegood (aged 41, b. 1830) and his wife Sophia Lloyd-Elsegood (45; b. 1826 (she is getting younger as she is getting older!) as living at 30, Oriental Place, Brighton. Both their professions were described as “Annuitants - Houses - Dividends”. Boyle's Court & County Guide of 1872 lists him at 6, Baker Street (long since demolished).

In 1873, at the British Society of Artists, the artist J. L. Vychan exhibited ‘Morning - Dublin Bay from Sandymount Strand’ and ‘On the Wye, near Tintern’. In 1874, he showed ‘Brighton, Early Morning’, ‘Chee Tor, Miller’s Dale, Derbyshire’, and ‘Killiney and Bray Head, from Dalkey’. It is worth noting that Old Merrion, Monkstown, Dalkey and Killiney are all coastal villages close together, no further than nine miles to the south of Dublin.

In 1874, J. L. Vychan exhibited two works at that year's Royal Academy exhibition, the first, ‘Showery Weather, Lake Geneva’ (205), and the second ‘The Castle Crag of Drachenfels’ (272).

In 1875, again at the Society of British Artists, Vychan exhibited ‘St. Goar on the Rhine’, ‘The Promenade des Petits Arbres, Boulogne’, and ‘Near the Old Castle, Baden’ and in 1876/7 he showed ‘On the Quay at Bordeaux’ .

In 1877, Vychan exhibited 'Bordeaux from La Bastide' at the Society of British Artists exhibition, and in 1879 he showed 'Village Pilgrims, Crossing the Bridge at Lourdes, Pyrenees' at the Yorkshire Fine Art & Industrial Exhibition.

The Manchester Courier, of Monday 8th March 1880, reviewed Vychan in the following way:

“The grand sweep of mountains around Lourdes, Pyrenees, is well represented by J. L. Vychan, but a better point of view might have been chosen for the church itself.”

Four months later, the Yorkshire Gazette, of Saturday 31st July 1880, reviewed Vychan’s 'St. Sauveir (sic), Pyrenees', describing it thus:

“‘St. Sauveir, Pyrenees’, is a good representation of wild scenery by J. L. Vychan, the artist and exhibitor.”

In the 1881 UK Census, John Lloyd-Elsegood (51, b. 1830) and his wife Sophia (50; b. 1831 (she is getting younger and younger)) were listed at 41 Inverness Terrace, London, together with five servants and two of their servants’ children. As with previous census returns, he was living off income from house property.

The London Daily News, of Wednesday 16th February 1887, carried the following death notice:

“Lloyd-Elsegood - February 5th, at Inverness Terrace, Sophia, wife of J. Lloyd-Elsegood, and mother of Mrs. Owen Lewis, Lancaster Gate.”

Her probate records that she was formerly of 6, Baker Street, but then of Inverness Terrace, and that her estate was valued at £6,543/7/10 (worth about £430,000 today).

On the 29th April 1889, John Lloyd-Elsegood remarried at Holy Trinity Church, Paddington. His new bride was Sara Louisa Braham (who was born in c.1841), of 44, Gloucester Gardens, the daughter of the Jewish attorney-at-law Henry Lewis (aka Lewis Henry) Braham (1808 - 13th November 1883) (deceased), gentleman. The latter was buried at the Brompton Jewish Cemetery and left an estate worth £63,479 (about four million pounds today).

Crucially to this Discussion’s proposal, The Derby Mercury, of Wednesday 24th September 1890, cited the following inclusion in a local exhibition:

“Mr. J. Lloyd Vychan’s ‘The Rhine at Cologne’.

In the first half of the 1890s, John and Sara Louisa were listed in the holiday season arrivals at Hastings, Folkestone and the Isle of Wight.

In 1893, a reviewer for The Artist (Volume 14, page 90), wrote the following:

“I was forcibly struck with the power of Mr. Vychan’s ‘Moving Timber’ (66), the wonderfully naturalistic presentment of the hoar frost and the ferns, the haze of the frozen air, and...” (citation to be completed on seeing the full article - KO).

In the Bournemouth Guardian, of Saturday 15th April 1899, an exhibition review included the mention of “J. Lloyd-Elsegood’s ‘View in the High Pyrenees (47).”

In the Christchurch Times, of Saturday 26th May 1900, the following death notice appeared:

“Lloyd-Elsegood - May 14th, at ‘Fontenay’, Cavendish Road, Bournemouth, Mrs. Sara Louisa Lloyd-Elsewood.” The next year, the 1901 UK Census listed John as living at ‘Fontenay’ as a widow, with his butler and his cook.

An exhibition review in the Bournemouth Guardian, of Saturday 11th May 1901, mentioned three works by Lloyd-Elsegood: ‘An Approaching Storm’, The Devil’s Bridge, St. Gothard’, and ‘A View on the Rhine’.

In 1902, John Lloyd-Elsegood married for the third time, to Fanny Harriet Speed (née Bond).

The Bournemouth Graphic, of Thursday 13th April 1905, ran a praising, illustrated review of Lloyd-Elsegood’s ‘The Rain is on the River, but the Sun is on the Hill’.

The following year, the Bournemouth Graphic, of Thursday 22nd March 1906, reviewed Lloyd-Elesgood’s ‘The Fair in the Hauteplante, Pau, Pyrenees’, ‘Rouen from St. Catherine’s Hill’ and ‘On the Rhine, near Breisig’. The next day’s Bournemouth Guardian (Saturday 24th) also mentioned these three works.

In its review of the Bournemouth Art Society annual exhibition, the Bournemouth Graphic, Thursday 19th March 1908, referenced Lloyd-Elsegood’s ‘Morning On The Rhine’ (see attached Composite 01), ‘Hope Comes With Morning’ (a shipwreck scene), ‘Moonrise Over Killarney’, and ‘Evening, Heidelberg’.

The following year, again at the Bournemouth Art Society exhibition, there was an illustrated mention in the Bournemouth Graphic, Thursday 11 March 1909 of 'A Summer Morning - Heidelberg' (see attached Composite 02). In the paper’s second notice of the exhibition (25th March), it reviewed ‘Moving Timber - Early Winter’ and illustrated the work (with the title ‘Timber Moving In Early Winter’). The middle painting of the attached Composite 05 clearly depicts the scene described above in J. L. Vychan’s ‘Moving Timber’, with its frost-covered ferns.

For the Bournemouth Art Society’s 1911 exhibition, the Bournemouth Graphic, of Friday 24th March, illustrated (but did not review) two of Lloyd-Elsegood’s paintings: ‘Early Winter’ and ‘The Cirque de Garvarnie, Pyrenees’ (attached).

On the 2nd April 1911, the UK Census listed John Lloyd-Elsegood (aged 74, b. 1837 (not 1830 as before) and Fanny Harriet (aged 65, b. 1846), together with Theodora (30, b. 1881; Fanny’s daughter from her previous marriage to William Speed) as living at ‘Heather Bank’, Richmond Hill, Bournemouth. Also living in the house were five servants and a schoolboy (the butler’s son).

John’s third wife, Fanny Harriet, died on the 3rd August 1911. The Standard, of Tuesday 8th August, wrote: “Lloyd-Elsegood - On the 3rd August, at ‘Heather Bank’, Bournemouth, Fanny Harriet, widow of Wm. Speed, Esq., Q.C., and beloved wife of J. Lloyd-Elsegood. No flowers.”

At the end of that year, the Bournemouth Graphic, of Friday 8th December 1911, in an article on the plight of the arts in the town, referred to John Lloyd-Elsegood as a committee member of the Bournemouth Art Society.

In the issue of the Bournemouth Graphic, of Friday 15th March 1912, it carried an illustration of ‘The Duet’, writing that is was “Probably the most charming of the popular local painter’s four exhibits at the Art Society’s exhibition. (See attached).

The Standard, of Saturday 20th July 1912, carried the following death notice:

“Lloyd-Elsegood - On the 17th July, at Bournemouth, John Lloyd-Elsegood. No flowers, by request.” His official death registration gives his age as 78, and therefore born in 1834, but on the evidence of the Census returns, this is open yo question. His probate record reads thus:

“Lloyd-Elsegood, John, of St. Mary’s, Derby Road, Bournemouth, died 17th July 1812. Probate London, 7th August, to Percy James Duncan, M.D. Effects £2,115/19/5.”

Conclusion

• John Lloyd-Elsegood was in Dublin in the mid-1860s, with every opportunity to frequent Sandymount Strand and Dalkey, after which two of J. L. Vychan’s SBA paintings were named. He also had a house in Brighton, where the 1874 ‘Brighton - Early Morning’ could have been painted.

• Given his and his various wives’ relative wealth, as well as his propensity to travel to various holiday destinations in England, it is quite conceivable that, in the 1860s, 1870s and 1880s he and his wives travelled widely on the continent, especially to France, Germany and Switzerland.

• The Derby Mercury’s 24th September 1890 citation of “Mr. J. Lloyd Vychan’s ‘The Rhine at Cologne’ is particularly important, not just for the name reference, but also for the subject matter of the painting, which, as in other cases, is very similar to the themes painted by John Lloyd-Elsegood.

The description in the 1893 edition of The Artist (Volume 14, page 90) - “I was forcibly struck with the power of Mr. Vychan’s ‘Moving Timber’ (66), the wonderfully naturalistic presentment of the hoar frost and the ferns, the haze of the frozen air...” matches the middle image in the attached three-part composite of the Timber/Winter themed works.

The similarities of style between Vychan’s and Lloyd-Elsegood’s paintings in Composite 1 and 2 are strong, as is the constant choice of the same locations that have been made - the Pyrennes, Heidleberg, the Rhine, etc. A deeper search for more works bearing both artist’s names might reveal additional evidence of these similarities. Other composites of Vychan’s painting’s are attached.

There is one matter that remains to explore. The attached signature of Lloyd-Elsegood should be compared with that of Vychan, if only to see if the “J. L.” part matches.

Images of the originals of other genealogical material relevant to this proposal can be uploaded as required.

It is quite possible that John Lloyd-Elsegood competently painted for his own pleasure between the 1860s and the 1890s and, towards the end of his days, exhibited, especially at the Bournemouth Art Society, works accumulated by him during those years. His social standing or some personal reason might have lead him to paint, for a while, under the Vychan name. Also, the same works though with titles could have been presented at different times over several years.

As a final thought, as he and his three wives appear to have had no children of their own, if there exist descendants of his step-daughter, Frances Sophia Elsegood, and her husband, Henry Owen Lewis, perhaps more can be learned about the man and his paintings.

Maria Castro,

The University of Leicester has a Post Office Directory of Middlesex, 1874, online. It lists Thomas Charles & Co, carvers and gilders, 29 Bolsover St W.

Osmund Bullock,

Heavens...that's not a post, Kieran, that's a thesis. Certainly the longest ever made on Art UK, and by several country miles. I'm finding it a little daunting, to be honest, but perhaps that makes me a lightweight!

Kieran Owens,

Osmund, as it was not intended to be a case of "never mind the quality, feel the width" I'll stand by the proposal until it is rejected or accepted. If you stick with it, hopefully it will be the latter.

Very intriguing Kieran, even if it remains just a case of probability (in absence of any obvious obituary or other comment nailing it down). One puzzle all along -at least for me - has been the name 'Vychan', which is unusual but an ancient Welsh one meaning 'little':see here

https://www.houseofnames.com/vychan-family-crest

If, in the present case, it is a pseudonym, why would the painter choose it?

The answer might be that Lloyd is also Welsh (Llywd) and, since his father was also 'John Lloyd', it might be a family way of saying 'John Lloyd junior', especially if the paternal family really was closely Welsh, though we have not yet seen evidence to that effect.

The case for the Ferens painting being Heidelburg looks solid. Strictly speaking it therefore shows 'Heidelburg on the Neckar, from the north-east' or ' Heidelburg Palace and the Old Bridge on the Neckar, from the north-east' . The Neckar - which flows due west at the point shown- joins the Rhine to the north-west of Heidelburg , just downstream of Mannheim.

Kieran Owens,

Descendants of Frances Sophia Elsegood, who married Henry Owen Lewis in 1866, might be traceable. Attached is Burke's 1894 record of the Lewis family.

Also, a correction. The line above - "Irish records show him as having dealings in 1886 in Longford and Dublin." - should read "Irish records show him as having dealings in 1866 in Longford and Dublin."

As for the use of the name Vychan, perhaps he was a man of small stature and this was his nickname, which he was happy to adopt.

Jacinto Regalado,

Is it reasonable to consider this a view of the scene at sunset?

Mark Wilson 01,

I have to say that when I started reading Kieran's thesis I was a bit sceptical that anyone could manage to prove such a thing, but he builds up a very convincing case. A well-off but secretive amateur would explain why the pictures were widely exhibited, rather just in London, which would be the case if Thomas & Co were the prime movers. And the extensive travel becomes more plausible.

It's interesting that John Lloyd-Elsegood 'came out' as an artist after the death of his first wife in 1887. From Kieran's timeline she comes across as a very powerful character, very concerned with appearances. Insisting that your second husband hyphenates the name of your first (rather than your maiden name) is most unusual and while her ageing at a different rate is not unknown in Victorian times (especially for those with younger husbands) and seems shared with her mother, she was very persistent with it. You suspect she may also have held the power financially.

At first it looks odd to consider authorship of paintings as something that would need to be concealed by a 'gentleman'. In the Victorian era, artists are knighted even ennobled; indeed Princess Louise is exhibiting at the RA in the same period as 'Vychan' is. There doesn't seem to be any stigma there, quite the opposite. Presumably the real social no-no is to offer works for sale. Maybe that was also a way of asserting his independence.

Certainly after his first wife's death and his second marriage, he seems willing to start to exhibit under his real name and even partake in artistic society. So it looks like the pressure for anonymity came from elsewhere.

Pieter's idea for the origin of the pseudonym seems plausible and points to some Welsh link, perhaps via the large Welsh diaspora in London in the 19th century (there are still Welsh language congregations there today). It highlights that we seem to know little about Lloyd's early life before his marriage at 35. What sort of 'gentleman' was he and was his father? What artistic training, if any, did he have?

Maria Castro,

What I'm finding odd is that there aren't any paintings by him from before he married Sohpia Elsegood. After all, he was already 35 or so at that point - how likely is it that he only started to paint after that? Or maybe there are paintings but just to difficult to identify? John Lloyd was a pretty common name.

Another thought: could Vychan be also used to mean something like "younger"? I.e. to distinguish himself from his father, also called John Lloyd? Maybe there is a Welsh speaker here who could comment.

There is an an entry on Vychan in the Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon, which is avilable online but very restricted access. If anyone has academic access it might be helpful, or may just repeat what we already know.

E Jones,

My first language is Welsh, and I mentioned in the above post (13/1/20) some basic information about the name and it’s use in Wales. Without wanting to sound too negative, this could be a situation where having that knowledge may not help that much. The problem is, there could be any number of reasons why this person chose that to use Vychan as a name. Anything from having knowledge of the origins of the Tudor dynasty to having a Vaughan (or even a Fychan) in the family to having seen it once in a book. I wouldn’t necessarily expect Vychan to be used as ‘Jr’ or ‘small one’, not in that context anyway. ‘Bach’ perhaps, but again that is not really all that formal. Although anything is possible.

Kieran Owens,

E. Jones, with your command of the language, perhaps you would take a look at this Welsh Lloyd genealogy, with its reference to Lloyd vychan. It might hold a clue to the use of the phrase by Lloyd-Elsegood:

https://bit.ly/3m9ouX0

Maria Castro,

Thanks, E. Jones. You are probably right that this will turn out to be a wild goose chase. On the other hand, sometimes following up details like this at least helps to narrow down the search field, or confirm another piece of information. You never know!

Gregory Burgess,

I always read the entry when Osmund's name is attached. Always informative. I've been trawling the net and looking up the art books I have available and I doubt I can offer anything more other than to agree with Marion that Vychan in Welsh can refer to 'younger' (from fychan ).
If J L Vychan was indeed German, his surname isn't . However Vichan is a patronym found in Hungary and Rumania. Have I just pulled a Red Herring from the fish barrel?

Gregory Burgess,

Probate records for John Lloyd Elsegood who died 17th July 1912 in Bournemouth (Christchurch) , Hants record his assets as worth £2115 19s 5d. I estimate that his estate is worth £2.4 million in 2020. If he was J.L. Vychan I doubt that income came from his paintings.

Kieran Owens,

As an annuitant, we know that John Lloyd-Elsegood's income was derived, over a few decades, from property and houses, and it has already been assumed that his was not a professional or money-earning motive for creating his artworks.

Also, the Bank of England's inflation calculator puts the value of his estate at Str£243,395, a substantial amount, but a far cry from £2.4 million.

Additionally, if the works cited above are by Lloyd-Elsegood their quality and style will also be effected by the date upon which they were painted. Are they dated? If they are not signed, it is also important to find out how the auctioneer's attribution to him came about.

Finally, please me forgive for one error above, where I wrote the following: “Lloyd-Elsegood, John, of St. Mary’s, Derby Road, Bournemouth, died 17th July 1812. Probate London, 7th August, to Percy James Duncan, M.D. Effects £2,115/19/5.”. The date of death should, of course, have been 1912, and not 1812.

Kieran Owens,

...or ever "please forgive me"....English is so difficult to master!

Gregory Burgess,

Most informative Keiran - The likelihood is that you are correct but we haven't got the definitive answer - the German connexion (or not) is still running but several furlongs behind you horse i'd say.

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