Portraits: British 19th C, Portraits: British 20th C, Sculpture 54 Is this sitter connected to the history of Trinity College of Music or the Laban Dance Centre?

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Topic: Subject or sitter

It is proposed that this bust is of Henry George Bonavia Hunt, the founder, in 1872, of Trinity College of Music.

Kieran Owens, Entry reviewed by Art UK

54 comments

The Collection commented: 'Following a response from our estates team it appears that there is no indication on the bust who that person is, or how old the bust is. Our research has produced a blank though we do wonder whether it could be either Arnold Bax, British composer, or Wilfrid Greenhouse, who was a Trinity College of Music Chair of the Board in the 40s/50s, but that’s a guess only’.

(From Kieran Owens)

• Sitter

Henry George Bonavia Hunt (1847 - 1917)

Purely based on a comparison of likenesses, I am proposing that this bust is of Henry George Bonavia Hunt, the founder, in 1872, of Trinity College of Music, which, in 2005, merged with the Laban Dance Centre to form the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. Attached is a composite of one of this record's images of the bust beside a known photograph of Hunt:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_George_Bonavia_Hunt

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity_Laban_Conservatoire_of_Music_and_Dance

Perhaps the Conservatoire has other photographs of Hunt that could confirm this suggestion. It certainly would be a logical assumption that there would be a bust of the founder of the Trinity College of Music which might have made its way into the current collection.

• Date

As the sitter was born in 1847 and, if it is him, in the bust looks to be between 45 and 50 years old, the date of the bust's creation fall somewhere between 1892 and 1897

c.1895

Timothy Taylor,

The bust has my uncle's nose but he taught at Laban in late 19thC. Peter Lofthouse.

Jacinto Regalado,

I think the style of the bust and the apparent age of the sitter are probably too late to be of someone born in 1847. Rudolf von Laban would seem to be a better fit, but I am not sure of that, either:

https://bit.ly/3mxPTRm

Kieran Owens,

Andy, you might have missed the attached composite above, featuring the same image.

Kieran Owens,

In 2005, Trinity College of Music merged with the Laban Dance Centre to form the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. If the bust came from the Laban side it could indeed be of him, but if is was in the Trinity House Collection would there have been one of him there prior to that date, and visa versa regarding Hunt.

Kieran Owens,

Well done J. Foster. The match is perfectly convincing.

Osmund Bullock,

Yes, this seems to me to be, beyond reasonable doubt, Mary Morton's 1925 head of Charles Kennedy Scott. See attached comparison.

Very well done, J Foster - in a sense "we" have found our man, Jacinto, but I'm not sure the rest of us were getting very close! Here's a link to the page in the screenshot: https://bit.ly/38oiB1O

The mystery now becomes how an identity that was perfectly well known in 2005 had been lost by 2020. I suppose the merger with Laban and move to Greenwich is the answer, but it's still pretty disappointing; I wonder if any of the others mentioned in the book have lost their labels, too?

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Osmund Bullock,

Sorry, I should really have said "beyond reasonable doubt the same work as the (?)plaster cast apparently photographed in 1925, which in turn is very likely to be the portrait by Mary Morton exhibited as a bronze (this one?) in 1926".

Jacinto Regalado,

Morton has only one other work on Art UK, with no image/s, but it is apparently not a portrait. There was always something vaguely Art Deco-ish about this bust, and c. 1925 fits that very nicely.

The Wiki image of the bust (clay or plaster) with the plinth forming part of the whole, not a separate one, is scanned from a photo in a family album in which its date is given as 1925, 'artist unknown': so it looks like both sitter and artist are now cleearm, and date o modelling. The shape of the lower back cut off of the neck is apparently the same as the Trinity Laban bronze and losing the integral modelled plinth in finishing for casting would not have been a problem, nor that was only sent for exhibition in 1930-31.

As also clear from web entries that 'Charles Kennedy Scott [1876-1965] was a member of staff of Trinity College of Music, Marylebone, London, from 1929 to 1965. He taught singing, conducted the College Choir, and was involved in the governance of the College.'

That explains why the bust is there but not how or when it arrived, or if it is the exhibited / only version. It might have been left to Trinity by the sitter, or given by family on his death: College board minutes should show.

Wellcome Collection,

A "Mary Morton" is listed as a soprano in a Phoebus Singers concert, 14 February 1945, at Trinity College of Music, conducted by Ch. Kennedy Scott. The programme is shown in the Jerwood Library blog post linked to by J. Foster on 23/12/2020.

Just a coincidence that that is also the name of the sculptor?

Wm Schupbach

Kieran Owens,

According to the Western Morning News, of Wednesday 11th April 1928, Miss Mary Morton was elected an Associate of the Royal Society of British Sculptors.

The attached notice, from the Gloucester Citizen, of Friday 2nd April 1937, gives further insights into her artistic abilities.

Her very short Wikipedia entry gives then following detail:

"Mary Morton (Stroud, 1880 – London, 15th June 1965) was a British sculptor. Her work was part of the sculpture event in the art competition at the 1948 Summer Olympics."

She died at Sopworth House, 4, Rosecroft Avenue, London, leaving an estate valued at £22,900.

As for being a soprano, Morton was 65 in 1945. Perhaps the names are just a coincidence, or else she had a good voice in late middle age.

Jacinto Regalado,

I rather doubt the sculptor was also the soprano in question. The name is quite ordinary and it could easily be a coincidence.

Osmund Bullock,

Pieter, although Mary Morton's head of Kennedy Scott was not exhibited at Glasgow until late 1931, it had been shown in the RP's 36th annual exhibition at Burlington House in Nov-Dec 1926 (as per David Saywell's link above).

There are copious details of her life, numerous addresses, memberships, works and prolific exhibiting on the Mapping Sculpture website: https://bit.ly/3ro4WAL. The only things I can see they've missed are her exhibiting twice with the RP in 1924 & 1926 (our bronze head), and her associate membership of the Society of Women Artists.

The last is given in her biog in the 1929 edition of 'Who's Who in Art', together with details of her training and a few other things. I managed to cheat the first part of it from Google Books (attached) - it mentions the illustration in 'The Gentlewoman', along with others. If anyone has easy access to earlier editions of WWiA (the first one on Archive.org is not until 1970), that might complete the picture. Oddly, though, it is rather incomplete as far as the RA is concerned - she actually exhibited at the Summer Exhibition in 1909, 1912-19, 1921-22, 1927-28, and then later on in 1930-35 & 1940-41 as well.

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Osmund Bullock,

Forgive a slight (but not wholly irrelevant) digression. I am nearly 70, and I sing - my breathing is slightly less well-regulated than it was a decade or two ago, but still better than 95% of the population's...and breath control is the important issue in singing, the stream of air needs to be even and supported by strong diaphragm muscles. I entertained a doctor the other day by doing (just!) the whole of Claudio's speech about death from Measure for Measure on one breath - that's almost 15 full lines of iambic pentameters. I was being lectured about my smoking, and told how badly it is affecting my lung capacity and function...

So, 65** is nothing for a singer in decent physical shape, especially in choral work where individual absolute purity of sound matters less - and many choral singers don't have that even when they're younger. Mary Morton could easily have still been a perfectly good singer in Feb 1945, and her name is not *that* common. Given the conductor was Kennedy Scott, I think it's odds-on that it's the same person. Good find, William.

[**Mary Morton was actually born on 21st March 1879 - see her entry in the 1939 Register attached. Note, too, that she was active and fit enough to be an air raid warden and/or first-aider at a hospital half-a-mile from her home...the Princess Beatrice where funnily enough I was born six years later.]

Jacinto Regalado,

You remind me, Osmund, of what a legendary coloratura soprano used to say in her last years, after her glory days were over:

"Sono vecchia, sono grassa, ma sono sempre la Tetrazzini!"

Or as Victor Borge used to put it in his celebrated opera skit
'then on comes the soprano (she's a big lady - she's what you call a messy-soprano').... and she goes off behind the tree' etc. I'll see what I can extract for Mary Morton.

Scott is in ODNB (entry by Michael Pope 2004 and no subsequent amendment) with the following list of 'Liikenesses', including what we now know is the Morton bust. The entry's 'Archive' section does not note that Scott's papers are also apparently at Trinity, as mentioned in the link supplied by J. Foster above (23/12/2020 17:39) with which some or all might have arrived.

I have raised a separate query on who might have painted the oval-format oil of him in later life, also on Art UK: if the 1909 date is correct for the first and third items on the ODNB list, it cannot be either of them.


-H. Bulman, portrait, 1909, Trinity College of Music, London
-H. Lowery, photograph, 1909, Trinity College of Music, London
-portrait, 1909, Trinity College of Music, London
-G. C. Beresford, photograph, repro. in MT (Oct 1920)
-bronze head, Trinity College of Music, London

J Foster,

The oval portrait could possible be by Jack Leslie Fairhurst 1905-89? (see link to his biog below). There's a pencil portrait of Kennedy Scott dated 1961 , lot 41, on online auction sites, for sale July 2011:
"Description: JACK L FAIRHURST (BRITISH 20TH CENTURY), portrait of Charles Kennedy Scott Esq, pencil, signed with monogram dated 1961. 13.25" x 9.5".( Formally the property of Dame M Price) " but the two auction houses mentioned Peter Francis and Gorringes do not? return any details upon searching their sites...
https://www.invaluable.com/artist/fairhurst-jack-leslie-4ppazn7czm/sold-at-auction-prices/

https://suffolkartists.co.uk/index.cgi?choice=painter&pid=2269

Thanks - that's worth adding to Scott's tally - but Alistair Brown has now pointed out that the oval portrait at Trinity is in fact signed at lower right, showing the painter was Henry L. Gates, with whose style it is also consistent: there are five others by him on art UK, though Scott's is the only oval.

I hope this link shows Alistair's detail of the signature

https://d3d00swyhr67nd.cloudfront.net/_source/ad-scott.jpg

Gates has the look of one of those portraitists who may have operated through a commercial gallery 'stable': his life dates are not yet noted but his works on Art UK are 1927-43. The Scott canvas might be just within the end of that but also perhaps later.

https://www.artuk.org/discover/artworks/view_as/grid/search/makers:henry-l-gates-active-19271943

Kieran Owens,

Henry L. Gates, portrait painter, was born Friedrich Wilhelm Geertz on the 19th July 1872 in Düsseldorf, Rheinland, Prussia. He was the son of the German artist Julius Geertz and his wife Flora Schade:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julius_Geertz

His father's wikipedia entry has this to say about him:

"His son Henry Ludwig Geertz.....studied from 1889 at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf with Peter Janssen, and from 1893 in the painting classes of Julius Roeting and Eduard von Gebhardt. He was a member of the Hamburger Künstlerverein ("Hamburg Artists' Society"). Among his major works is the group portrait of the founding members of the Hamburgische Wissenschaftliche Stiftung ("Hamburg Scientific Society").

This latter portrait was executed in 1911, a scan of which is attached and which can be seen here:

https://ct.uhh.de/de/ausstellung/fbl.html

On the 5th December 1895, as Frederick William Ludwig Henry Geertz, at the St. Pancras Registry Office, and later, on the 14th December 1896, aged 24, at the C. of E. parish church of Hampstead, he was married to the 22-year-old Joan Elizabeth Leigh Ward, the daughter of Henry Leigh Douglas Ward (1825 - 1906), of the British Museum, co-author in 1887 of the "Catalogue of Romances in the Department of Manuscripts of the British Museum". Ward had been educated at Winchester School and University College, Oxford, from which he graduated with a BA in 1847.

The couple had at least one child, Heinrich Sydney Lloyd Geertz, who was born in Bad Homburg vor der Höhe, Hesse, Germany, on the 21st January 1904. As none of them appear in the 1911 UK Census, it must be assumed that they were all living in Germany at this time. Also, 1st Class passenger lists, for sailings between Hamburg and Southampton in 1923 and 1924, show that he was living in Hamburg during those years.

That the artist's name was originally Henry Ludwig Geertz can be seen from the attached "application for naturalization" notice, which was printed in the Hendon & Finchley Times of Friday 22nd October 1937, and which gave his address as 220, Hale Lane, Ealing.

In the 1939 Register, as Henry L. Gates, "portrait painter", the artist was living at the above-mentioned 220, Hale Lane, with his wife, Joan (b. 21st June 1875) and possibly one child (record officially closed). As Henry L. Gates, he died in the Lambeth registration district of London in 1943, aged 71.

It is possible that Geertz changed his name to Gates due to the rising threat that Germany posed to the stability of European life during the 1930s.

If all of the above is accepted, the following attribution could be applied to the five works by him that are currently in the Art UK database:

Henry L. Gates (born Friedrich Wilhelm Geertz; aka Frederick William Ludwig Henry Geertz) (1872 - 1943)

Thanks for that rapid resolution Kieran. On the basis of apparent age it would probably put the Scott portrait somewhere round 1940, at least until or unless an occasion for its painting emerges.

I wonder if the Gates oil portrait (if not also the bust) was presented to Scott - assuming it/they arrived at Trinity with his papers (however they arrived). If so there might be some press report: for the oil about 1940 a 'commissioner' might have been the personnel of the Philharmonic Choir, of which he was founder. It disbanded when WWII broke out although said personnel (rather than Scott) reassembled afterwards to become the London Philharmonic Choir. Is there any mileage in that notion?

The German Wiki page on 'Heinrich Ludwig Geertz' (which seems the common German version) adds a little on him and his early German clientele, plus sources: he's clearly a case wherethe German and English names/ signatures haven't so far properly joined up to make one man, with apparently no general German knowledge that he later worked and died in London. A striking 'Salome' (1913?) pops up online ( sold by the Dorotheum in Vienna in 2015) as an example of his more imaginative figurative work but what's on Art UK ('men-of-the-time' likenesses) suggests the quality it didn't last. The Scott oval is among the better, at least in suggesting he was (as reported) a firm musical taskmaster.


Wiki (translated)
'Geertz grew up in Düsseldorf, the son of the genre and portrait painter Julius Geertz. From 1888 to 1894 he studied painting under Heinrich Lauenstein, Hugo Crola, Peter Janssen the Elder, Eduard von Gebhardt, Julius Roeting and Adolf Schill at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf . [2] From 1895 to 1900 he lived in London. Then he moved to Frankfurt am Main, later to Hamburg, where he belonged to the Hamburg Artists' Association of 1832.

Geertz created genre images, later he turned mainly to portrait painting. In Hamburg he received commissions for individual and group portraits, for example for portraits of the supervisory boards and directors of the Hamburg-America line and the board of trustees of the Hamburg Scientific Foundation for the Hamburg Colonial Institute.'

Barry Sterndale-Bennett,

I worked at Trinity from 1999-2004 when it took over what was the Royal Naval College at Greenwich. I recall a large store of numerous artefacts and it occurs to me this bust may be of Lord Mountbatten. Just a thought!

Though this is still waiting formal closure the evidence above that it is C.K. Scott is firm.

The Naval College also had no bust of Mountbatten, only an oil portrait that moved with its other paintings to its new home (the Joint Services Defence College, Shrivenham) when it left Greenwich in 1998. The most memorable thing about that was the story Mountbatten himself told when he formally unveiled its subsequent companion-piece by the same artist of Prince Charles. He claimed that the artist had told him he was once commissioned by a lady to paint her portrait and that, just before starting, she said ' What I haven't yet said Mr X, is that I want you to paint me in the nude'. The painter's response (according to Lord M.) was to think for a moment and then reply: 'Well, alright: but you must let me keep my socks on since I need somewhere to put my brushes!' Original or not, the joke was rather better than the pictures, which I remember (too) well from regularly passing them on the two stairways down from the Painted Hall to the undercroft below.

Kieran Owens,

That's not unlike the Thunderbirds joke about Lady Penelope and her chauffeur Parker, which modesty forbids that I repeat here but which can be supplied on application!

Osmund Bullock,

I've just received from the Probate Service a copy of Charles Kennedy Scott's Will written in July 1963, which I attach**. It is six pages long, and gives extensive details of bequests of musical books, scores, papers and other items to various individuals and to Trinity College of Music.

There is no mention of any artworks left to Trinity, nor of the bronze version of the head at all. But on page 5 he writes "I also wish my Grandaughter [Rosemary] to have the plaster bust which Mary Morton did of me" - this is undoubtedly the one whose photo in the 1925 family photo album we've seen, and I feel removes any possible doubt about our sculptor's identity. Also (though I may be reading too much into this), the wording he uses in describing it suggests to me that it was more of a personal gift by/from someone he knew than a formal portrait commission.

[**It's a public document, and I don't think there's any problem with posting it; but as it's quite recent, to be on the safe side I've partly blanked out some names/details of people who may still be living. If anyone wants to see the unredacted version, let Marion/David know and I'll email it to them to pass on.]

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Diana Wilkins,

Like Pieter, I'm not convinced by the match to Hunt. I agree that the sculpture looks like it's from C20th when Hunt would have been older. The bridge of the nose is different in the sculpture compared with the photograph of Hunt.

Thanks for getting that Osmund. Since it makes no specific dispositions on the bronze and the (apparently) three non-photo portraits held by Trinity, two of 1909 and the later one by Gates, the most likely probability is that they were gifts added to the papers that went there by bequest. Family is the obvious source, though not necessarily for all, either about the time of his death or later.

I agree your reading of his entirely neutral line on the plaster but, if it was a gift to him, Morton is the first obvious source of it, given that the bronze (if the only cast) was originally exhibited for sale: that suggests it either wasn't a commission or was one that broke down in some way. Irrespective of whether Scott ever owned it or not, the lack of mention of any other portraits than the plaster in his will can only mean he either owned none -which is improbable given they exist - or that, since not of the significant financial value of the pictures he does mention, he left their disposition to his immediate heirs (i.e. children). Whether the bronze was among them or not, specific bequest of the plaster to a named granddaughter may have been because he knew she wanted it and to forestall argument on the matter.

Provenance puzzles remain but all the identity questions are now solved, both on the bust and on Gates as painter of the later oil portrait also at Trinity.

Osmund, thank you very much for obtaining the Probate Service copy of Charles Kennedy Scott's Will.

Katharine Eustace will be sending us a summary soon.

Despite having checked our records and spoken with current and ex- staff, it was unfortunate that we have not been able to find any information about how we acquired this bust nor about the identification of the sculpture and subject. It is great to see all the posts and research undertaken and we greatly appreciate all the hard work and effort put in by everyone. We look forward to the formal closure recommendation. Thank you to everyone involved.

As Pieter says, 6 January 2021, 'Though this is still waiting formal closure the evidence above that it is C.K. Scott is firm.' The collection accepts that the discussion should be closed, see just above. As Group leader 19c, I recommend the discussion be closed. But this is a 20c sculpture so the summing up and recommendation of the other group leaders, Catherine Daunt and Katharine Eustace is important.

I think Osmund Bullock has found and asked for a copy of Mary Morton's will, just in case she left the bust to Trinity: when that's resolved I will either post a finalised summary of Morton's career here or (if the discussion has closed) send it to Art UK for the growing biography file.

Kieran Owens,

Having started everyone off in the wrong direction, I am deeply pleased to see that the right sitter has been so certainly identified, and more so that the artist's identity has been confirmed, too. Congratulations, in particular, to J. Foster for his good suggestion last December.

Already done and Trinity has the draft, plus one on Henry L. Gates (Heinrich Ludwig Geertz) whose oil of CKS they also have and we have sorted out without needing to raise publicly. Just waiting resolution re: Morton's will. A bit like Madame Defarge, I sit at the foot of the guillotine counting the heads rolling: we've now knocked off rising 100 of whom there was either no previous record or only very slight.

Kieran Owens,

Should we address you as Citizen van der Merwe from now on?

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