Photo credit: Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum
The collection has kindly provided images of an inscription 'C. E. Devenish Walshe Nice 1891' and a crowned monogram on the socle (see attachments). The bust is an unclaimed loan from 1928 made by a Miss Lautour, with the title 'The Countess' associated with it. The coronet in the monogram is consistent with count/countess in continental usage. The letters below are presumably the lady's initials.
I have found a very intriguing death notice published in 1903 in ‘The Tablet’ (a Catholic weekly journal) for Edward Frederick Devenish Walshe, JP, of La Tour, South Ascot, who died on 14 April of that year in Nice and was apparently buried (or had his funeral) at Saint Francis Church in South Ascot. https://bit.ly/3l3eLkz
This discussion is now closed. ‘C. E. Devenish Walshe’ has been identified as Gertrude Emily Devenish Walshe (1831–1907), née Latour or Lautour. The title has been updated from ‘Female Bust’ to the original French title ‘Lilas Blanc – Portrait de Mme de la baronne L. de N.’. The misread date has been amended from 1897 to 1891 and the acquisition method clarified.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to the discussion. To anyone viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all the comments that led to this conclusion.
Sorry, the images of the inscription and monogram didn't attach at the first attempt.
Edward Devenish Walshe was involved with the building of Westminster Cathedral and sold 37 acres to the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary where St Mary's Ascot and School were built from 1888-89. They were run by French Franciscans.
Regarding the signature, it could be that it is not C. E., but G. E. Devenish Walshe, in which case the could represent Gertrude Emily Devenish Walshe, of "Ballencrieff", South Ascot, Besrshire, who died as a widow at Marseilles, France, on the 11th October 1907.
Edward Frederick Devenish Walshe married Gertrude Emily Mitchell (née Lautour) in Brighton in 1862. As the daughter of Joseph Andrew Lautour, she was born on the 12th June 1831 in Hexton, Hertfordshire, and was baptised there on the 28th August 1831. She married David Williams Mitchell in St. George Southwark, in 1859.
A wealth Catholic, Edward Frederick Devenish Walshe was as director of the Westminster Land Company which was responsible for the building of Westminster Cathedral in 1883. He also donated the land for the building of the new Franciscan Church at South Ascot in Berkshire in 1888.
The Tablet of Saturday 25th April 1903 carried the following death notice:
Walshe - On the 14th inst., at Nice, Edward Frederick Devenish Walshe, J.P., of La Tour, South Ascot. Requiem mass on Thursday, the 23rd inst., at 11.30am at St. Francis, South Ascot. Funeral at 3 o'clock at South Ascot. R.I.P."
The Reading Mercury, of Saturday 25th April 1903, carried the attached death notice.
The connection to Nice is evident form the above notices. In 1891, the date of the bust, Gertrude would have been 61 years old, so it is not of her, but most likely by her, though what evidence there is that Gertrude was a sculptor has yet to be discovered.
.... A wealthy Catholic.....
It could also be that the bust is by one of Edward and Gertrude's children, if they had any. More research in that regard is on the way.
The Devenishes are a Dorset family see Henry Weston Devenish Archives of the Devenish family, Weymouth and Parkstone, 1933
In April 1876 Edward Frederick Devenish Walshe was apparently still the executor to one Caroline Latour, widow, who died in 1869, their names being mentioned in a legal case of 'Walshe v. Young, formerly Latour, and others' started in 1870: see second complet notice down in col. 1 of the London Gazette, here:
It seems to have been a long-running case, originally 'Lautour v. Lautour' in 1862 in which Caroline Young de Lautour is noted as original defendant and 'since deceased' when Edgar Frederick Lautour, Edward Frederick Devenish Walshe and Charles Harrison were added as defendants in 1877.
So there was clearly some long connection between the Walshe family and the 'Miss Latour' who deposited the bust in 1928.
The 1891 date therefore suggests that, if the sculptor of the piece, C.E. Devenish Walshe is likely to be someone in the next generation down from Edward Frederick of that ilk.
Apologies: here is the National Archives Discovery link that supplies the 1877 information above:
London address for Edward as a patentee was close to The Wallace Collection - Manchester Street, Manchester Square
Edgar Frederick Lautour was a codefendant with Edward in Chancery pleadings over the estate of Caroline Young in 1870 - and in the case of Lautour v Lautour in 1862 see National Archives
Gertrude was definitely a sculptor. The European edition of the New York Herald, printed in Paris on Monday 23rd February 1891, in a review of "The Ladies' Salon" art exhibition, reports the following:
"Sculptures - In the sculptures, of those works which deserve special attention, are Mlle. Lina Morin's "Reverie", bust; Mme Gertrude E. Devenish Walshe's "Lilas blanc"........"
Further editions of the newspaper to the end of that decade recount elegant dinners on yachts and elaborate parties either hosted by or attend by the Walshes.
William Francis Joseph Lautour was on the jury list for the Quarter Sessions of Melcombe Regis, Dorset in 1850
The Mapping Sculpture database does not help, but presumably this sculptor was primarily active in France in terms of exhibition. The style of this bust is rather similar to that of a bust in the same collection by Henri Allouard (signed Allouard according to the collection), which again would reflect French influence:
The use of the form Mme. above indicates that the piece is not by a Miss but is by Mrs. Gertrude E. Devenish Walshe.
From the various French newspapers throughout the 1890s, Gertrude and Edward partied with many Counts and Countesses, Princes and Princesses, and other worthies on the Riviera. Their own entertainments were praised as being some of the most elegant.
If Gertrude Devenish Walshe is our sculptor, she could easily have been a wealthy dilettante, so to speak, who had no material need to show or sell her work, or to make sculpture a career. That could explain her obscurity in terms of available art data.
The style of the bust is very society-ish, and the face is much more a pretty mask than a psychological study. It fits the milieu nicely.
The monogram has a very prominent N, but I cannot make out the other letter with certainty, possibly an H. Perhaps a higher resolution image would help.
In the last will and testament of Gertrude's father, Joseph Andrew Lautour, of Hexton and of Harley Street, Middlesex, the probate of which was granted on the 11th June 1845, he mentions the following:
• Caroline (wife)
• Edward (son)
• Edgar Frederick (son)
• Jane Ann (daughter)
• Caroline Georgiana (daughter, the wife of Theophilus John St. George, of Woodsgift, Co. Kilkenny)
• Barbara Maria (daughter)
• Mina Douglas (daughter)
• Emily Gertrude (daughter)
Interestingly, in the will the first thing that Joseph leaves to his wife are "all the pictures painted or drawn by my eldest daughter Jane Ann...". So fine art was obviously in at least two of the children's blood.
On the 19th June 1841, at Marylebone parish church, Jane Ann married Luiz Candido de Tavares Ozorio, the son of Gregorio de Tavares Ferreira Ozorio. The Hampshire Telegraph & Naval Chronicle, of Wednesday 29th July 1868, published the following death notice:
"Ozorio - On Sunday, the 19th inst., at Medford, Hants, aged 58, Jane Ann, widow of the late Colonel Luiz Candido de Tavares Ozorio, of the Quinta de Varzia, Covilha, Portugal, and eldest daughter of the late Joseph Andrew Lautour, Esq., of Harley Street, and Hexton House, Herts."
A sense of the style in which the Lautours lived in Hexton House (now Hexton Manor) can be understood from a reading of this Country Life article from 2018:
The bust's donation in 1928 is likely to have have come from a daughter or granddaughter on the male line of either Edward or Edgar Lautour.
If the bust is by Gertrude Emily Lautour (m.  David Williams Mitchell, 1859 and  presumably as a widow to E.F. Devenish Walshe in 1862) then she carved it whan she was 60. Her second husband died in 1903: do we have a d.o.d. for her and any children by him who might also provide initials C.E. or G.E -unlikely perhaps as one of them also sculpting may be?
As per Kieran above, she died in Marseilles in 1907.
As mentioned above, the "Lilas blanc" sculpture was made by Mme. (Mrs.) Gertrude E. Devenish Walshe. None of her daughters (if ever she had any) could be so named, as they would Mlle. (Miss) or have the name of a husband.
As for the bust being "society-ish", I'm unsure as to what that means. Are not all busts an "-ish" of some society or another? Can this not just be a very good bust of a beautiful sitter by a highly talented sculptor? If it was by George Edward Devenish Walshe would the assessment of its competence be any different? It is a shame that, unlike other busts on the site, there are not images from multiple angles, which might afford a better chance of assessing its overall quality.
A genealogical outline of the Lautour family is attached.
It means the same as a society portrait painter, Kieran, and I would have said the same regardless of who made the bust. We are talking about style and orientation here, not competence or talent--and the question is always competence or talent for what?
Jacinto, clicking on the + feature of the detail of the monogram supplied probably gives as large an image as will be helpful. As well as the N, the middle initial seems to resolve more into an M rather than the H it appears at first sight. But there also seems to be a P (or maybe an R) involved, with the curve of the P looping around the M.
I don't know the conventions of these monograms (would the N be the title/surname as most prominent? Is this meant to be MPN?) but presumably it would be easily recognised at the time and a specialist in the Belle Epoque would have an idea. Those newspaper articles about elegant Riviera parties could well contain some useful suggestions, given the age it might be the daughter of a good friend.
'HN' / 'NH' seems quite likely for the monogram (see attached tweak of the image), but that's far from certain. I'm sorry to be picky, but the image does leave a bit to be desired. The 'N' is clear enough, and seems dominant and likely to be the title; but to read its other constituent letter(s), or at least try, it needs to be in sharper focus. A more oblique light would help, too, though that's difficult with camera flash. I wonder if the Collection might able to do three clear and focused shots - one from the front, and one each from slightly to the left and the right, and all from a very slightly lower angle? Try backing off a little, you may be too close - and if the store is very dark, a bit of torch-light on the area from one side might help the camera find the focus better.
Not that even a successful reading will guarantee identification: counts & countesses were two-a-penny on the French Riviera in the late C19th, as Kieran suggests. A list of those that appear in the French newspapers of the '90s that he mentions might be the only way forward.
Sorry, Mark - pretty much 100% overlap. I should refresh the page more often.
I think you're right about 'M' rather than 'N', but I'm less certain of the other elements.
Aaaaargh, I mean 'M' rather than 'H'; the 'N' is certain.
The collection is going to try to get us some sharper images.
Further details on the Lautour family:
• London Evening Standard, Thursday 24 February 1842:
"Deaths - Feb. 18, at Boulogne-sur-Mer, Caroline Georgiana, the wife of Theophilus John St. George, Esq., of Woodsgift, Kilkenny, and second daughter of Joseph Andrew Lautour, Esq., of Hexton, Herts., and Mudiford (sic), Hants."
• London Evening Standard, Tuesday 15th April 1845:
"Deaths - On the 28th ult., after a long and severe illness, Joseph Andrew de Lautour, Esq., of Hexton, Hertfordshire, and Mudeford (sic) and formerly of the Grenadier Guards, in the 60th year of his age."
• Morning Post, Saturday 21st June 1845:
From a notice regarding his will, the paper notes that Joseph's father was Joseph Francis Louis Lautour.
• Stamford Mercury, Friday 13 February 1846:
"The Rev. A. Martell, B.A., of St. John's College, Cambridge, headmaster of Saffron Walden Grammar School, and Curate of Hitchin, has been presented by the Countess de Lautour to the vicarage of Hexton, Herts."
• The Globe, Tuesday 14th May 1850:
Married - At the British Embassy, Brussels, William Thornhill Tucker, Esq., Hon. E. I. C., Bengal Civil Service, to Miss Mina Douglas de Lautour, daughter of the late Joseph Andrew de Lautour, Esq., of Hexton, Hertfordshire."
• The Globe, Saturday 20th December 1856:
"Married - Dickson-Lautour - At Toddington, Bedfordshire, the Rev. David Dickson, A.M., vicar of Hexton, Hertfordshire, to Barbara Maria, daughter of the late Andrew de Lautour, Esq., of Hexton House, Hertfordshire."
Morning Post, Wednesday 18th November 1857:
In an obituary piece on the late Sir Theophilus John St. George: "He was twice married, first, in 1836, to Caroline Georgiana, 2nd daughter of Mr. Joseph de Lautour, of Hexton House, Herts., and secondly (having been left a widower in 1842)....."
• Morning Post, Wednesday 24th March 1858:
"Deaths - Dickson - On the 21st inst., at Sundon Vicarage, Bedfordshire, Barbara Maria, wife of the Rev. David Dickson, third daughter of the late Joseph Andrew de Lautour, Esq., of Hexton, Hertfordshire."
• Morning Post, Thursday 23rd June 1859:
"Married, on the 21st inst., at the Cathedral of St. George's, Southwark, according to the rites of the Roman Catholic Church, D. W. Mitchell, Esq., of Barton Manor, Beds., to Gertrude Emily, youngest daughter of the late Joseph A. de Lautour, Esq., of Hexton House, Herts., and Windeford House, Hampshire. The ceremony was performed by the Right Rev. Dr. Grant, Catholic bishop of the diocese."
• Morning Post, Friday 3rd January 1862:
"Deaths - De Lautour - On the 30th ult., Albert de Lautour, Esq., formerly Captain in the Rifle Brigade, youngest son of the late Joseph Andrew de Lautour, Esq., of Hexton House, Hertfordshire, aged thirty-five."
• Herts Guardian, Agricultural Journal & General Advertiser - Tuesday 13th May 1862:
" Married - On the 8th inst., at Brighton, Edward Frederick Dwerrish (sic) Walshe., Esq., son of the late Eustace Walshe, Esq., of Spring Gardens, Co. Kildare, to Gertrude Emily, youngest daughter of the late J. A. de Lautour, Esq., of Hexton House, Herts., and widow of D. W. Mitchell, Esq."
More to follow.......
• Herts Guardian, Agricultural Journal, & General Advertiser - Saturday 6th December 1862:
• Deaths - On the 26th Nov., at Cheltenham, England, Edward de Lautour, Esq., Bengal Civil Service, lately officiating as Judge in the High Court of Calcutta, and son of J. A. de Lautour, Esq., of Hexton, Herts."
• (As posted above but here again, for chronological continuity) The Hampshire Telegraph & Naval Chronicle, of Wednesday 29th July 1868:
"Ozorio - On Sunday, the 19th inst., at Mudeford, Hants, aged 58, Jane Ann, widow of the late Colonel Luiz Candido de Tavares Ozorio, of the Quinta de Varzia, Covilha, Portugal, and eldest daughter of the late Joseph Andrew Lautour, Esq., of Harley Street, and Hexton House, Herts."
• Pall Mall Gazette, Tuesday 30th November 1869:
Deaths - Lautour, Caroline, widow of the late Joseph Andrew (Lautour), Esq., and youngest daughter of the late William Young, Esq., of Harley Street, and Gloucester Lodge, Weymouth, at Hexton House, Herts, aged 76, Nov. 26th." (Note - Gloucester Lodge, aka Royal Lodge, was once the summer residence (from 1789 to 1805) and property (bought from his brother in 1801) of King George III)
• Bedfordshire Mercury, Saturday 18 December 1869:
A creditors advertisement was placed regarding that estate of Caroline Young de Lautour.
• Hampshire Telegraph, Saturday 2nd April 1870"
"Married - O'Neil-Ozorio - On the 24th ult., at Spanish place (sic), by the Rev. Father Barry, William Gordon O'Neil, Esq., second son of the late John O'Neil, Esq., to Caroline Lautour, eldest daughter of the late Luiz Candido de Tavares Ozorio, of Quinta da Varzia and Momenta, Portugal, and granddaughter of the late Joseph Andrew de Lautour, of Hexton House, Herts, and Mudeford House, Hampshire."
• Hertfordshire Express and General Advertiser, Saturday 9th April 1870:
An advertisement appears announcing the intention of William Francis Joseph Lautour, of Hexton, Herts, formerly a Captain in Her Majesty's Grenadier Guards, and grandson of William Young, of Gloucester Lodge, Melcombe Regis, to change his name to William Francis Joseph Young, in pursuance of the the provisions and directions contained in his grandfather's will.
• York Herald, Monday 2nd March 1874:
An article appeared regarding the election to Parliament of Sir Dudley Coutts Marjoribanks, the younger son of the late Mr. Edward Marjoribanks, of Greelands, Bucks, and of Harley Street, London, by Georgiana, daughter of Mr. Joseph Francis Lautour, of Hexton House, Herts. (She was the sister of Joseph Andrew Lautour, and therefore Gertrude's aunt).
• Bedfordshire Mercury, Saturday 10th March 1894:
"Deaths - March 4th, at Bath, Lord Tweedmouth, father of the Countess of Aberdeen, and grandson of L. F. J. Lautour, Esq., of Hexton House, J. P. for Beds., aged 73."
• Luton Times and Advertiser, Friday 17 November 1899:
See the attached obituary for William Francis Joseph Young (née Lautour).
Yes, Osmund, I think the letters are M and N, but I cannot see a definite third letter at this point.
Osmund - Great minds and all that.
Monograms usually have three letters and it looks to me to be something 'behind' the 'M', probably P but R or B would possible. More images, especially with raking light should help.
Kieran's New York Herald quote identifies Gertrude as a sculptor exhibiting in the same year as this piece and must mean she is the maker, so the only thing to be discovered is the sitter. The only surprise, given that this is accomplished and clearly signed and she's clearly doing other works at the same time, is that no other works are to be found. Even if she only made for friends you'd have though something would have leaked onto the market by now.
I have managed to take some images of the monogram with various different angles of light. See attached.
Plus this one.
A more detailed history of the de Lautour family can be read here, from which an extract referencing Gertrude Emily is attached
Thanks to those at the collection for those excellent pictures. They tend to confirm my view that there is a third letter there and it is most likely a 'P', but it needs fresh eyes to judge that one.
What the images do make be wonder about though is whether the title (in both senses of the word) is right. The coronet above the monogram has seven balls on spikes (technically these are known as 'pearls'). But in France (and Spain etc) the coronet of a count/ess has nine of these:
Seven pearls do however indicate a baron/ess in those parts of Europe that were once part of the Holy Roman Empire, such as Germany and Austria and it could be that the sitter is from that area and rank.
The monogram and coronet are carved so precisely and these sort of differences mattered so much at that time, that I doubt that this could be just a mistake. Of course the sculptor's niece (or grandniece) might not be aware of the subtleties and might even be unaware of the exact identity of the sitter and so bestowed a slightly incorrect origin on it.
So assuming there are three letters in the monogram, what is the convention as to which letter stands for what part of the name?
According to Peter Nahum, in the pocket guide 'Victorian Painters' Monograms' (1977): 'When letters are arranged vertically, read the monogram from top to bottom. All other monograms should be read from left to right. In the case of an interlaced monogram, cover it completely with a ruler and, sliding the ruler from left to right, read each letter, or part of a letter, in order of appearance. Reversed letters should be read as they actually appear: thus D reversed becomes C I; and B reversed becomes E I.'
There's a negative image of the monogram attached in case that helps. The only clear letter is 'N'.
Mark, it could also be possible that the sitter became a duchess only later in life, through marriage. In which case we would be looking for a baroness "N" who married a duke after 1891.
No, Maria, she was never called a duchess but a countess.
Marion, have Russell-Cotes Art Gallery accepted that the bust is by Gertrude Emily Devenish Walshe?
Yes of course, my mistake, Jacinto. Countess - German "Graefin". (Typing on our teen's Chromebook - can't work out "Umlaute" on it....)
I am attempting the very tedious process of working from a Wiki list of German nobility starting with the letter N. ("German" in this case being used very loosely to include anyone anywhere with any connection to German speaking people, so from Russia to the Benelux countries, Sweden to Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Bohemia etc etc and everything in between.) The list is several pages long. :-) But eliminating all those whose lines became extinguished before the dates relevant to us, and then eliminating those with the wrong rank (i.e. not baron) I should end up with a much smaller list. Maybe then we can narrow it down further to possible female family members of the right age at the right time. I'll keep you posted.
Hi Kieran - yes we have.
OK, I've narrowed the list down to 12 "more likely" possibilities, bearing in mind that the original list was almost certainly not exhaustive and there were quite a few judgement calls involved. Does anyone know if it is possible to access something like "society papers" of that era for Nice to see if any of them were there at the right time? The candidates are:
Nordeck zur Rabenau
Notthafft von Weißenstein
Er - may I make a slightly tangential suggestion? To me the monogram looks like a Napoleonic "N" . And the bust looks like a young Eugene, who was a Countess when she married Napoleon III .And became a prominent Catholic when she came to live in England in 1873 ish. James Tissot did a nice painting of her in the garden at Chiselhurst. Not sure how that would fit in with being done by Devenish Walshe.Perhaps she owned it ???? Jut my odd way of looking at things.which is probably wrong :-) .
María Eugenia Ignacia Agustina de Palafox y Kirkpatrick (Eugénie de Montijo) was born in 1826 and in 1897, when this bust was made, was 71 years old, so it is highly unlikely to be of her. As her only child was a son, it is not a daughter of hers either. Also, as she was wed to Napoleon III in 1853, she would have been an Empress in 1897, which does not fit in with the donor's description of the sitter as being a countess. Her own monogram in 1897 would have looked something like this:
A few biographical points so far missing above would be useful:
- a date of death for Joseph Francois de Lautour (b. 1730), Gertrude's grandfather (which would show when her father inherited Hexton House, her birthplace, and presumably left the Grenadier Guards to become a landed proprietor)
- an exact death date for her first husband David Williams (or William?) MItchell between 1859 and 1862
- an exact birth date for her second, Edward Frederick Devenish Walshe, c. 1825 given that he died aged 78 in 1903. (Note, to clarify ambiguity, that while he may have been a director of the Westminster Land Company by 1883 - as stated by Kieran on 25/08/ 20 at 13.00 - that is not when it was involved in building Westminster Cathedral, constructed 1895-1903)
- and are we sure that the absence of any mention of children means there were none?
And one more: do we know whether Gertrude's remains, like her second husband's, were repatriated for burial at South Ascot after her death in 1907?
Barring identification of the sitter, which seems unlikely, I suggest this bust be titled "Portrait of a Lady (Baroness N)"
Pieter, regarding Walshe and the Westminster Land Company, see the following:
addressing two of you queries above:
• Joseph Francois de Lautour (b. 1730) was more commonly known as Francis Lautour. The Bath Chronicle & Weekly Gazette, of Thursday 7th April 1808, recorded his passing: “In Devonshire Place, Fran. Lautour, Esq., late of Madras".
The Caledonian Mercury, of the following Monday 10th October 1808, carried this marriage notice: “At London, on the 8th inst., Edward Marjoribanks, Esq., to Miss Georgiana Lautour, third daughter of the late Francis Lautour, Esq., late of Madras.”
Burke’s “Heraldic Illustrations (Volume 3, 1846) gives a detailed presentation of the pedigree of the Lautour family:
• David William Mitchell (1803 - 1859) was a well-known zoologist and illustration artist. For twelve years he was the Secretary to the Zoological Society.
He was the eldest son of Alexander Mitchell, of 7, Cavendish Crescent, Walcot, Bath, and was born in 1803. In 1837 he married Prudence Philips Willes, and the couple had one daughter, Lilian Mary Mitchell (1847 - 1893). A detailed chronology of Mitchell’s life can be found here:
According to the Bath Chronicle, of Thursday 10th November 1859, on the previous 1st November, just four months after marrying Gertrude Emily Lautour, he died at Neuilly-sur-Seine, near Paris, aged 46. His obituary in The Field, of the 7th January 1860, revealed that he had shot himself to death.
The National Portrait Gallery holds a lithographic portrait of him, by Charles Baugniet, printed by M & N Hanhart in 1850:
The shortness of the four month 1859 marriage between David William Mitchell and Gertrude Emily Lautour would explain the absence of any known children.
P.S. Mitchell's first wife, Prudence Philips Willes (b.1810), died in London on the 3rd January 1853.
Kieran, you meant Mitchell died aged 56, not 46.
By way of final confirmation that Mitchell of Barton Manor is Mitchell of the Zoological Society, the Evening Mail, of Monday 27th June 1859, though using an incorrect christian name for the groom, carried this marriage notice:
"On the 21st inst., at the Roman Catholic Church, St. George's Southwark, Daniel (sic) William Mitchell, Esq., late Secretary of the London Zoological Society, to Gertrude Emily, youngest daughter of the late Joseph De Lautour, Esq."
The incorrect name usage also appeared in various other newspaper reports.
An acknowledgement of Mitchell's suicide appeared in The Globe, of Tuesday 08 November 1859 (see attached).
Thanks for those: this is turning from art-history enquiry into a mix between Trollope, 'Les Mis' and 'Little Dorrit: fortunes made by property development, suits in Chancery, French connections and high society, sudden death of recently marrieds by suicide. Someone must have taught the ex-Mrs Mitchell how to carve marble so well and she must have done more so who and where is it I wonder....
Having backtracked I see the Westminster Land Company was, in effect, formed in 1883 to build Westminster Cathedral on the Tothill Fields prison site that had ben acquired for it by Catholic benefactors. Devenish Walshe was clearly brought in by them as a 'do-er director' albeit construction began much later.
A final presentation of melancholy news is attached.
See attached for a summary so far: stronger on background than what has so far emerged about Gertrude's sculpting and how she got into it.
That is an excellent summary. Just one item to correct - "Her was a successful Catholic...."
Pieter, Thank you for the excellent biography of the sculptor, safely stowed and destined to go online in 2021.
Thanks: I'll email you a copy with one or two technical amends including Russell-Cotes (not Coates), Despite quite a lot of papers in TNA about the case of Latour v. Latour - calling up the old crack about 'where there's a Will there's a war' - there is no obvious sign of either her will or her husband's, which considering their assets seems unusual (unless made under French jurisdiction). At the moment one presumes they had no children and it would still be useful to know if she was buried with him. There seem to be no 'Find a Grave' entries, though it looks as if Edward Frederick was born in 1826 from headline census entries
It would appear that, pending final determination by relevant Art Detective staff, this discussion has been successfully concluded concerning the main question (the sculptor), and it seems unlikely the sitter will be identified except as Portrait of a Lady (Baroness N), although it could also be explained that the bust came into the collection as "The Countess."
Napolionic cypher on Servres plate-- note similaritiy with our N here.
And the crown above!!!!!!!
I think I have identified the sitter. The coronet is that of a baroness (baronne in French). The monogram, despite some uncertainty, can be read as HN, with a very prominent N reminiscent of a Napoleonic one. Here is an 1889 painting of Henriette (née Chevreau), Baronne Gourgaud (1857-1940), with her son Napoleon:
Note the similarity of her face to our bust.
Her husband was also named Napoleon and so was his father. The title of Baron Gourgaud was Napoleonic, created in 1813 for General Gaspard Gourgaud. See genealogical data below:
Everything fits, certainly well enough for me.
The 1st Baron Gourgaud was even with Napoleon in St Helena. There was obviously a very strong Napoleonic affiliation in the family.
Jacinto, if the monogram was supposed to represent Henriette Gourgaud (née Chevreau) as a Baronne, her initials would surely be HG and not HN. And even if it was a bust of her prior to her marriage they would be HC and not HN. From where does the N come in you proposal?
you proposal = your proposal
Jacinto the main problems with that identification are that Henriette Gourgaud didn't have those initials (and I'm fairly sure it's an M not an H anyway); that she would have been 34 in 1891 when this is dated - and this looks like a younger woman; and that the coronets of French barons didn't have any 'points' (ie spikes with balls on) at all, either ancien regime or post-Napoleon.
The form of the coronet suggests Freiherr (Baron) in Germany or Austria. I suspect this is a Freiin - the daughter of a Freiherr
My thought was that the N was an allusion to the Napoleonic pedigree of the family and its title.
As for the coronet (as well as the use of a Napoleonic N in the monogram), that could have been the idea or doing of the sculptor, who was a commoner, which might explain the irregularity or deviation from strictly correct form. However, I realise that is speculative. The age does not bother me, as a 34-year-old aristocrat may look younger either naturally or via artistic flattery.
So did I get carried away in fanciful speculation, or does anyone else find my reasoning (such as it may be) tolerably plausible?
Your reasoning was understandable. However, in most cases the Napoleonic N is usually represented by a very specific "Egyptian" slab serif font. As one website has it:
"Napoleon invaded Egypt, and, in his need to communicate with his military, he used a variety of systems. There was a semaphore system and there was a placard system. The placards that Napoleon’s troops used to send messages used a slab serif font. It was more readable through telescopes. It is also said that the crates sent back to France with the booty of war used similar lettering."
This N can be most clearly seen on the Porte Marengo in the Cour Carrée of the Louvre, Paris:
Yes, Kieran, but would the sculptor in this case have been aware of such a fine point as a specific font, as opposed to simply using a prominent N?
I think it *is* fanciful speculation, Jacinto, sorry. Monograms (and in the UK crests) are personal/family things, and the dominant central initial in a monogram is invariably that of the person's surname - or if accompanied by a coronet, that of their title (except for royal ones which usually show the first name). Its whole purpose is to say "this is me" - I don't think I've ever seen an example of a monogram that alluded in some way to somebody else (except in a husband-and-wife combination), it just wouldn't make sense.
The form of the Napoleonic N is, as Kieran says, very specific and consistent, quite different to this, and extremely well-known and widely-found - or was until the last Emperor, Napoleon III's dethronement, exile and death in 1873. It is also always found with an imperial crown above it, which is radically different to the one found here. I can believe that the sculptor might have mistaken, or could not cope with the correct number of points and balls on the coronet - nine such protrusions are a lot to squash in, and at a glance the seven-balled and nine-balled versions look pretty similar - but the imperial crown is nothing like it in basic shape.
So perhaps she was a countess rather than a baroness, after all.
I believe it is possible, certainly. But counts are very common - Italy created them like confetti in the late C19th - and their coronets are all much the same, whatever the country. The field is so wide that I think a search from the title end would be impossibly challenging. So I still feel the only hope is finding someone socially possible, baroness or countess, from newspapers of the 1890s, and that's also a long, hard search which I can't undertake just now.
Since the artist can now be properly listed, the title can be Portrait of a Lady ("The Countess"), and that should be good enough.
Jacinto, as just a footnote to Osmund's insightful observations, given the French social circles within which Gertrude was moving in Nice, I cannot imagine that she would not have been aware of such nuanced matters as those pertaining to the symbols of aristocratic class and status. Whether the bust was done out of friendship, for some dearly-held though much younger friend, or was a commission, it is not credible to think that she would have attached a Napoleonic monogram to anything that was not directly associated with that family, especially after such a remove in time from the heyday of their power and influence.
Marion has asked me to close this discussion, but before I do, I wonder if colleagues at Russell-Cotes could once again take a detailed photograph ? - this time of the corsage on the decolletage.
It may be that we are in fact looking at Lilas Blanc (White Lilac - of course), in which case the Russell Cotes bust and the piece reported, in the Paris edition of the New York Herald, as exhibited in the Ladies Salon of 1891, are likely to be one and the same.
Yes, the flowers could be lilacs.
An insightful suggestion, Katherine.
That had also crossed my mind Kate but without making your connection to the corsage, I couldn't think how: well worth a closer look. I also find that old (Catholic) friends are -hitherto unbeknown them - living on the former Devenish Walshe estate at Sunningdale. Devenish Road is parallel and Ballencrieff Road (probable site of GDW's house as a widow) also close, so they may -Covid permitting- be able to report back on any DW memorial at St Francis, where at least Gertrude's husband had his funeral. If that produces any clue as to whether she was buried at Marseilles in 1907 or came back to join him, that can be added to her biography later: it's no cause to delay closure.
It is also relevant that the 'Lilas Blanc' sculpture was shown in early 1891 and that this bust is also inscribed with that date. Russell-Cotes and/or ArtUk have wrongly given to the bust the date of 1897.
The inscription on the bust clearly reads 1891.
The flowers and the leaves are consistent with lilacs:
Please find photographs of the corsage attached.
That looks pretty conclusive: leaf shape identical and flowerheads too close to call as anything else given we know a 'White Lilac' was exhibited in 1891, as per date on the back. Amended biographical summary attached.
Excellent summary, Pieter. The title of the bust could be "Lady with a Lilac Corsage (also known as 'The Countess')"
That's up to the collection and Kate may have a suggestion when (finally) closing down.
Of course, Pieter. That was simply my suggestion. The collection will choose the final title.
If it is agreed that this artwork is the same as the one referenced in the European edition of the New York Herald, then it should retain its title of 'Lilas Blanc' as the artist originally called it. Anything else will only serve to confuse or distract future researchers from easily finding that newspaper reference, of from discovering mentions of it in other newspapers or Ladies' Salon or other exhibition catalogues as they become available to search.
Additionally in this regard, it is worth considering the symbolism of the corsage. In the language of flowers, Lilac symbolises youthful beauty and first romantic emotions, and if the flowers are white it represents the notion of innocence, purity and youth. It must have been the artist's intention to convey that sentiment through her naming of the work as she did, one that fits well with the youthful air of the sitter.
Consequently, I would highly recommend that the title be changed from 'Female Bust' to 'Lilas Blanc' or, as a compromise to the need for an English-worded title, 'Lilas Blanc (While Lilac)'
....'Lilas Blanc (White Lilac)'.....damned spellchecker strikes again....
I would agree, Kieran, but there should be a descriptive note with additional information, including the received title of "The Countess," since this is clearly an aristocrat (assuming the socle is original to the bust). I expect Katharine Eustace can suggest a suitable note.
I really don't want to prolong this but the Paris edition of the 'New York Herald' can't have been the only paper to mention the Ladies Salon in February 1891, so if this is 'Lilas Blanc' there may be a French press review (or social column) which names/hints at the sitter's identity....
A search of the two main French newspaper databases has only returned the New York Herald reference.
Also, as to your summary, Pieter, it is excellent. However, I would suggest that, without substantiation, the phrase "possibly partly with her money" might not be fair to Edward Devenish Walshe. The latter was the son of Eustace Walshe, M.D., of Spring Garden(s), Co. Kildare, and the grandson of Dr. Patrick Walshe, surgeon, who, for many years, was the attending physician of Clongowes Wood College, formerly and still one of the best boys schools in Ireland, having been founded by the Jesuits in 1814.
In 1849, in a report on a court case involving the Walshes, father and son, and Clongowes, one newspaper recorded that Dr. Patrick Walshe "was a gentleman of very considerable practice in Naas (Co. Kildare), having the care of various medical institutions." The article also recorded Dr. Patrick Walshe was a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons and that his son, Eustace, had been an assistant surgeon in the Royal Navy, on the 'Flamer' steam-ship based at Malta, as an example of one appointment.
Edward would have come from a very comfortable background, financially, socially and culturally, so could well have had the means to develop his various property interests without necessarily having to call on his new bride's wealth, whatever that might have been at the time of their marriage.
My comment says 'possibly'; i.e. a speculation but not an unreasonable one. EDW seems to have been a capable and trustworthy man. From my brief check, he was not one of the rather bigger Catholic benefactors who bought the old Tothill Prison site on which Westminster Cathedral stands but was then appointed a director of the Westminster Land Company that built it. This suggests he was known to them as a professionally competent executive. After marriage to Gertrude he also became an executor of her deceased mother's affairs, at least in regard to the ongoing family Chancery suit she had been defending: unless that was simply a legalistic necessity, it also suggests he was competent. Even though he and Gertrude married before the Married Womens' Property Act of 1882, one does not have to suppose he axiomatically took a high-handed 'droit-de-seigneur' control of whatever she brought to the marriage without her agreement, and I certainly intend no such implication. She too may have recognised his business competence, as much as whatever other qualifications she saw in him as a good second husband, and invested it on the basis of 'joint enterprise'. 'Possibly' means exactly what its says: nothing more.
That said, many thanks for producing a little more about his background and confirming there is nothing else obvious in the French press about 'Lilas blanc'.
Pieter, I deeply appreciate the explanation regarding your speculative use of the word 'possibly' and fully support that the idea might be worth investigating in this forum or elsewhere. My only concern is that, like the McCarthy-era question of "Are you now or have you ever been a Communist?", the mere raising of the idea suggests in certain people's minds the likelihood that the answer must be "Yes" despite the respondent's statement to the contrary. For it to be included in an objective biographical summary of a person's life, I just felt that, without having certainty, it would be best to leave such a speculative possibility out, however reasonable or unreasonable it may be, until it can be shown to be factually accurate.
I am sure Art UK will make its own decisions since all the biogs will probably get some further editing before being used, though I hope carefully: there are some very careful choices of words, with elephant traps on all sides for the unwary to fall into by second-guessing that I don't say what I mean!
After reviewing all the information I am happy for the title of this sculpture to be 'Lilas Blanc' with an alternative/previous title of 'The Countess'.
Since the collection has given its approval, are we still waiting for something else before concluding?
I've a feeling that a brick is going to be thrown through the window here suggesting its not what it seems, i.e. perhaps a 'ringer' signed with one name but done by a 'ghost-sculptor'....as a form of social climbing. It's certainly a puzzle that there's no trace of anything else.
Jacinto, we are waiting for Katharine Eustace's summary, which will be a thorough and helpful conclusion for new visitors to the site. We would not close without it. I expect to be able to close this very soon.
Contributors can assume that Art UK is watching the discussions. The involvement of specialist group leaders is a necessary part of our agreement with collections to ensure that proposed updates are clear and accurate.
I quite understand, Marion; it's just that sometimes, in long discussions, I fear I've missed some small point or other made by someone else, and I was too lazy to go back and read the fine points in all the comments.
And yes, Pieter, essentially the same thought has been hovering in the back of my mind, especially given the marked stylistic similarity to a bust in the same collection by Henri Allouard, which I commented on some 3 months ago:
Our bust could be thought a bit too accomplished for an upper class amateur, not to say dilettante, with no other evidence that she had artistic training or practice beyond this one example,
For what it may be worth, Allouard taught sculpture at the École Guérin (founded 1881) in Paris.
Jacinto, I sympathise – even with the advantage of the search function it can be hard to retrieve fine points amid a list of 100 comments. Katharine is working on her summary, so we can expect to conclude this soon.
Maybe it is by William L. Couper ( https://bit.ly/2KrRNpj ) or by Ernesto Gazzeri ( https://bit.ly/3kPNRv9 ) or any other male sculptor in the Russell-Cotes collection creating late 19th or early 20th century busts of young ladies in white marble. Or maybe it is just by Gertrude Devenish-Walshe, despite her current non-existent profile in the world of fine sculpting. Given what appears to have been her complete comfort with living in the highest social circles, if social climbing was on her mind, it seems improbable that she would have submitted a work into a Salon exhibition in Paris and at the same time risked social and cultural opprobrium by doing so with a work that was not her own. Until it can be shown that she used the skills of another to create the work, it does her more justice to accept that her signature on the bust indicates that she was its creator.
Kieran, this has nothing to do with Gertrude being a woman. If the bust were signed by her husband, the same reservations could be entertained. You are certainly free to dismiss them, but please allow others to doubt or question based on their own reasoning.
Sorry I started this speculative train of thought which is not going in a productive direction. The exchange has involved well over 100 comments and, though providing much family information on Gertrude, it has not produced more artistic information than that she appears (by its signature and an apparently related 1891 review), to be author of a single known bust made when she was 59/60. Unless someone can add further evidentially based facts let's call a halt and wait for Kate's recommendation.
Jacinto, I am not not allowing anyone from doing anything they like or expressing any opinion that they care to air. In fact I am doing exactly what you are suggesting should be the norm - doubting and questioning based on my own reasoning. Am I not allowed do that?
Of course you are, Kieran, but it sounded to me, perhaps incorrectly, as if you were making a kind of moral judgment as to the motivation of those raising their reservations--that is what bothered me, not that you had no such reservations.
However, I think Pieter is right about this argument not going in a productive direction, and I also agree that we should now wait for Katharine's recommendation--to which I am looking forward, especially after her superb summation of the discussion about the Cupid and Dolphin after the antique bronze from Pompeii.
The first notice of the 1891 exhibition in the previous day's New York Herald makes clear that the work was shown at the Salon of the Union des femmes peintres et sculpteurs – see attached. The UFPS was a serious artistic organisation founded in 1881, and held annual salons in Paris from the following year – see https://bit.ly/3nJrYzd. By the tenth of these in 1891 it was clearly well-regarded and prestigious, both socially and artistically, as well as very popular with the public. In the light of this I tend to agree with Kieran that the hypothesis mooted by Pieter and Jacinto is most unlikely – and as he says, Gertrude certainly had no need of aids to social climbing.
What is perfectly possible, however, is that she received help from a professional sculptor – she may have done a clay under the sculptor's supervision which assistants translated into marble (just as Nollekens' three assistants carved most of the 74 copies of his bust of William Pitt, based on a death mask – all are nevertheless signed 'Nollekens Ft'). But that's not the same as suggesting, without evidence, that she had no hand in it at all, and passed off another artist’s work as her own.
I have been trying for some time to find a copy of the 1891 exhibition catalogue, so far without success. And though some of the ‘Salon des femmes’ catalogues must survive, they’re probably in France. However in 2010 a Dictionary of UFPS members and their exhibited works 1882-1965 was published ( see https://bit.ly/2HkvgcH ); and according to Worldcat there are copies in both the NAL and the BL. The NAL showed no enthusiasm whatever for re-opening when it was possible in the late summer/early autumn, and I fear it’ll be a long time before we get access there again. The BL, however, has been doing its best, and will, I feel sure, open again as soon as it’s at all possible.
Whether the book will tell us anything we don’t know already is another matter...
Thanks Osmund: that is useful context and a more intriguingly plausible option for a well-resourced lady amateur. It might also help explain the absence of other similar work, since something she might have had done only once or twice. If clays was her usual medium it is less surprising examples don't survive.
Osmund, Professor Tamar Garb, Durning Lawrence Professor in the Department of History of Art at University College London, cites the catalogue in her 'Sisters of the Brush: Women's Artistic Culture in Late Nineteenth-Century Paris':
If she is known to any of the ArtUK team, of by any of its contributors, perhaps she could be consulted as to its whereabouts, and also be asked if she knows anything about Gertrude. If she is not know as suggested, I would be happy to contact her and ask.
Damn... know = known...
To speed up matters, I have written to Professor Garb and will post any reply as soon as it is received.
Osmund, neither Pieter nor I ever said that GDV "had no hand in it at all." I cannot speak for Pieter, but what *I* meant--and said--is that the bust strikes me as "a bit too accomplished for an upper class amateur, not to say dilettante, with no other evidence that she had artistic training or practice beyond this one example." That obviously allows for significant supervision and assistance, to whatever degree, from a trained professional sculptor, although admittedly that is unproven speculation. It is not, however, irrational, let alone out of the question.
I'm sorry if I misinterpreted what was being suggested, Jacinto. Let's just say it was a semantic misunderstanding, and let it lie.
Kieran, that's (another) excellent find. Let's hope Prof Garb can help - if we're lucky she might even have images of the catalogue saved.
Gertrude Emily Devenish Walshe (1831–1907); née Latour or Lautour, m.  David Williams Mitchell, 1859,  Edward Frederick Devenish-Walshe, 1862
Carrara marble, height: 64cm
Signed, inscribed and dated: G.E. Devenish Walshe / Nice / 1891
Socle: low relief crowned monogram
On Loan from / Presented by Miss Lautour, 1928
Russell Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, Bournemouth (Acc. No. T22.6.2005.8 BORGM)
Pieter van der Merwe has produced one of his thorough summaries of the many threads that were pulled in seeking out the family connections and history here, for which I, for one, am most grateful.
This leaves four sculptural matters to comment on in conclusion:
1.The sculptor: Gertrude Emily Devenish Walshe, whose name appears in what we have all taken to be a signature on the bust (side proper right), is accepted as the maker. That there was a sculptor of that name was confirmed by Kieran Owens who provided the reference to her work in the European edition of the ‘New York Herald’ (Paris, 23 February 1891). It should, however, be noted that it is remarkable that a woman of sixty should produce a highly finished piece such as this when no other work by her is known. I have consulted Professor Pauline Rose, the author of ‘Working Against the Grain: Women Sculptors in Britain c.1885–1950’ (2020), but she replies that she has not encountered the name. It is to be hoped that other works by her may emerge.
2. The title: the presumption is that in looking at this bust, we are looking at one and the same object exhibited under the title ‘Lilas Blanc’ at the Ladies’ Salon in Paris in 1891, as referred to in the ‘New York Herald’. Photographs of the corsage provided by colleagues in the Russell-Cotes, to whom thanks, support this hypothesis. This then provides a formal title for the work, one, I suggest, which should be accepted. ‘The Countess’, with its slightly Ruritanian/ Anthony Hope connotations may well have been the family name for it over the thirty-seven years it remained in the extended Devenish Walshe/Lautour family, but it was, I would suggest, informal. We might note that the ‘Stamford Mercury’ for Friday 13 February 1846, refers to the Rev. A. Martell being presented to the vicarage at Hexton by ‘the Countess de Lautour’ (ref. provided once again by Kieran Owens). This is probably some provincial misunderstanding, but without foundation, as those of you who have worked so hard to establish the genealogy and status of the various families, will know. Thus it may be an internal family joke, and the bust had a persona within the family - the Canova ‘Ideal Head’, now in the Ashmolean, used to have lipstick and a hat at Christmas in the family to whom Canova presented it.
3. The subject: at the risk of stirring up further discussion, I would propose that this is not a portrait of a particular individual, but rather a genre type, a ‘fancy’ or subject piece (hence the title), an idealised Edwardian ‘Beauty’, of which there are many examples in all media, the influence here being Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (1827–1875). Jacinto Regalado has pointed to a bust of the type by Henri Allouard (1844–1929), also in the Russell-Cotes collection, but with a different provenance. While when I tried searching ‘Lina Morin’, the other name included in that all-important ‘New York Herald’ article, the much younger German sculptor Georges Morin (1874–1950) emerged, and he clearly made a specialty of the genre.
4. The monogram: possibly three letters, of which ‘N’ is the most obvious and accepted one in the discussion, although ‘M’ ‘H’ and ‘P’ were also proposed. There was discussion too about the significance of the type of coronet. The monogram is itself very fancy, sub-Gothic lettering which on close inspection appears to be part of, ‘growing’ out of, a chain made of briar rose. In the initial photograph provided, the bust appears to sit, a not very exact fit, to one side of the socle. Thus the curve which one would expect to be at the front is sideways on, and the monogram is, asymmetrically, the same. It is always possible that the socle and the bust were married at some time since the bust was first exhibited, and that they were not originally intended for each other. If the bust cannot be swiveled 45˚ in relation to the socle, it may be that it is what is known in the trade as a ‘lash-up’.
These conclusions are open-ended, but leaving them so allows for future discoveries and corrections to be made.
Thank you all.
Osmund, a search of the French newspaper archives shows that Linah (sic) Morin exhibited with the Union des Femmes Peintres et Sculpteurs in 1889, 1890, and 1891.
Thanks for the summary Kate: various late points absorbed in updated biography attached
Kieran, I think you probably meant to address Katharine, rather than me!
Katharine, you won't be stirring up any objections in me to your points 3 & 4 (nor indeed to the others - your #2 is wholly persuasive). Over the weekend I also belatedly noticed the mismatch of top & bottom, and concluded that bust & socle were a later marriage, and the coronet & monogram a red herring; in fact I'm quite sure of it, as even if it were rotated to put the boss with the monogram at the back (or arguably, front)**, it looks to me like that would leave the base of the bust itself overhanging the relevant part of its support very awkwardly. I marked up a detail last night to clarify what I thought I'd be suggesting today, and I might as well attach it.
So, thank you, Group Leader: full and fair, informative and insightful...and in satisfyingly good English! At the risk of sounding rather toadying, this is one of those moments when I realise how very lucky we are with those we have on board this fine, if slightly oddball research ship.
[**The scientist in me must make a tiny correction: the swivel required would be 90˚, I think, rather than 45˚.]
One question: is that still an imminent-closure conclusion, or will there be a pause to see if the 1891 catalogue and/or the 2010 book on Union des Femmes exhibitors are forthcoming?
Quite right, Osmund! Apologies all around.
As for the 1891 catalogue, Professor Garb replied that her research was carried out thirty years ago and she could not recollect the library location where she consulted it. All she could offer was that it was in Paris, at the Biolioteque Nationale, the Bibliotheque Historique de la Ville de Paris, or the Archives Nationale.
The Bibliotheque Nationale has a run of the Union..'s exhibition catalogues
Incomplete, alas: They list 1888, 1889, and 1925 to 1965:
I had also searched Gallica and online at the Bodleian. The Sackler has a fine French collection but the 1891 catalogue isn't online. Before closing this there's one more person I'd like to ask, so please bear with me.
Yes, the socle and the bust were no doubt a marriage of convenience. Certainly, the bust makes perfect sense as a type, and the facial features are more generalized than specific, akin to the airbrushed photograph of a fashion model.
She is not, however, an Edwardian beauty, strictly speaking, but certainly a Belle Époque one.
I'm grateful to Dr Linda Whiteley for offering to keep her eyes peeled for a copy of the 1891 catalogue. She also mentioned Pierre Sanchez's 'Dictionnaire' as a possible source of further information, while noting that even if it is listed the work might only appear under the title given at the exhibition.
It's time to close this long and fascinating discussion.