Completed London: Artists and Subjects, Portraits: British 20th C 93 What more can you tell us about the artist S. (Seóirse?) MacAntisonnaigh and who can be identified in this tea party?

Topic: Artist

Dr Andrea Fredericksen, Curator, UCL Art Museum:
'All we know about S. (Seóirse?) MacAntisonnaigh is that he was a Slade student, active 1924-1927. In 1924 he won Second Prize (Equal), Summer Composition, with this painting titled 'Slade Tea Party'. He also won First Prize (Equal), Head Painting in 1924 with 'Portrait of a Girl ( I'm curious to learn more about this unknown Slade artist, but also if anyone can identify any of his fellow Slade students attending the Slade Tea Party, presumably in 1924.'

David Saywell, Head of Digital Assets, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

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Andrew Shore,

There's a death record for a Seoirse Macantsionnaigh (note slightly different spelling from what's recorded here) on Ancestry, who died in Taunton, Somerset in 1997, born on 25 Jan 1902:;=&pid;=&queryId=bcc4826ff5ad3d5acfc8fdc86330c00b&usePUB=true&_phsrc=vlO1110&_phstart=successSource

These dates would fit.

There's also a couple of other references to him on the internet, such as this: although the information here (such as his father being called George Howard Fox?) doesn't seem to be backed up with specific sources.

Andrew Shore,

I've also just found a reference to Fox as a surname in Irish: part translation of Gaelic Mac an tSionnaigh ‘son of the fox’... so possibly this ties in and the artist's name is a kind of nom de plume. Apologies to any actual Irish speakers if this is woefully incorrect!

Andrew Shore,

...and in fact there's another death record for a George Howard Fox for the same location and date, indicating it is the same person:

Again, he died in Taunton, Somerset in 1997, and was born on 25 Jan 1902. This seems to be the same George Howard Fox who was born in Staffordshire in 1902, who is on the 1911 census here: howard&gsln=fox&gsfn_x=1&gsln_x=1&cp=11&qh=a96048aecffb283590a2a70e4545324c&new=1&rank=1&uidh=u02&redir=false&gss=angs-d&pcat=35&fh=0&h=53058828&recoff;=&ml_rpos=1&queryId=9e4962fe0a0b73874847d93dc14ff3e0

Osmund Bullock,

Andrew, the length and complexity of your last link unsurprisingly defeats the very flawed Art Detective software, and takes me somewhere else altogether. In general I advise using a URL shortener like Bitly, which gets round most of these issues...but I suspect that anyone without a subscription cannot in any case view your Ancestry links. I do subscribe, but could someone who doesn't confirm this?

For these reasons I tend to attach images of documents from sites with paywalls, rather than just posting links. I should add, though, that your research findings are brilliant!

Bill Ellson,

MacAntsionnaigh had a painting 'Strawberry Tea' in the New English Art Club's 72nd annual exhibition at the Spring Gardens Gallery in 1925.

'Evelyn' writing in The Tatler (6 May 1925) was unimpressed: "A query, for instance, as to the exact significance of "Strawberry Tea," by S. MacAntsionnaigh. Why, I wonder, should strawberries have such a depressing effect? At first I thought this collection of a dozen or more people, with their white and stricken face and dingy clothes, must be mutually condoling with each other over the death of a near relation."

Wendy Howard,

Primitive Methodist Connexion Baptism Register for Aquila Road Church - entry for Brian Macantsionnaigh, son of Seoirse Macantsionnaigh and Marita Macantsionnaigh

Reference: J/C/H/A/3a/525
Date: June 7th 1936

Wendy Howard,

The marriage for his wife Marie Reeta Patricia BLOUNT (aka Marita) is noted as being a marriage to a George Fox. Presumably the translation of the name of Seoirse Macantsionnaigh

Tim Williams,

What a marvellous picture. Does Dr. Fredericksen have a list of the students for that year group?

Looks like Henry Tonks on the chair in the middle. Serial bow-tie wearer.

Tim Williams,

According to 'The Year's Art' MacAntsionnaigh lived at 128 Thorold Road Ilford between 1933-1938.

The older tash sporting gent far left is either Frederick Brown or Philip Wilson Steer.

If the year 1925 is correct, other artists in this painting could include Eileen Agar, Leon Underwood, William Coldstream, Claude Rogers, Victor Passmore and Nan Youngman.

Wendy Howard,

Just out of interest, Francis Bowen Reynolds Brown the first husband of Marita Macantsionnaigh was a top Special Operations Executive agent in WW2. They married in October 1929, but by 1936 Marita and Seoirse Macantsionnaigh had welcomed their son Brian on the Isle of Jersey.

Tim Williams,

The 'Years Art' address and that 1911 census for the Fox family absolutely confirms Andrew's theory.

Tim Williams,

Sorry, 1925 isn't 1924... ! Obviously the year 1924 is right given the prize awarded for this painting! I'll quit while I'm ahead... or behind.

Wendy Howard,

Tim Williams, would it be possible to identify any of those artists you've mentioned if their photographs are on Google Images? You may be able to recognise them.

Kieran Owens,

Seóirse is the Irish equivalent to George.

Tim Williams,

Actually, Tonks could equally be the figure at the back, far right.

It's not an easy task putting a name to these figures, despite quite a lot of early photographs of the suspects. Really we need to know when the graduation and new student intakes were, universities usually around Sept/Oct, but I've no idea if terms were similar in the 1920s. This was awarded the prize in Summer 1924, which could either be the end of term or the start of term, (one assumes the former, and one assumes it was painted a month or so prior allowing drying time) so we should probably be looking at artists who started at the Slade in 1923 or before...

S. Elin Jones,

I was also wondering whether the gentleman standing on the far right was Henry Tonks as he’s quite distinctive, but is it also possible that he’s stood next to Walter Westley Russell, painter and tutor at the Slade?

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Tim Williams,

Yes, good spot - that's definitely Russell's hair line.

I think that's two down. Next easiest would be Wilson Steer and Frederick Brown. I think the moustached chap far left is more likely Steer than Brown, and Brown could be behind him in the doorway with the red jumper, (or vice-versa).

Kieran Owens,

The 1922 photograph on the Wikipedia page for Henry Tonks (1862 – 1937), taken when he was aged 60, and the 1923 drawing in the NPG by Ernest Heber Thompson, show a man who looks much older than the figure standing back right, holding glasses, in this painting.

I tend to agree with Tim Williams (26/03/2021 22:48) when he suggests that it is Tonks who is sitting on the chair in the middle of the painting. He would have been a centrally dominating character at the Slade at this time, with six years left until his retirement and possibly deserving of such a prominent position in any depiction of this traditional celebration.

Osmund Bullock,

Unless the rear-right man is a sort of figurative representation of the younger Tonks (b.1862), I don't think it can be him. By 1924 he was in his 60s, and as the attached photos from June 1922 show, a much older-looking man with grey-to-white hair; no sign of his famously large nose either, and I'm not sure he's tall enough (Tonks was 6' 4").

The most plausible candidate for Tonks is, as Tim first suggested, the central seated figure, whose dominant position bang in the centre of the composition is entirely appropriate. The hair is not as grey as one would hope, but is at least heading that way; the attenuated shape bespeaks Tonks' lofty, lean-limbed outline; and I wonder if the turned-away head with just the nose peeping out mightn't be a deliberate reference to his huge 'eagle's beak'.**

I rather think Westley Russell (b.1867) is a better candidate for that man at the back, rather than the one standing in front of him. See attached for him in 1922 & a sketch of 1924. Ah yes, look - he's holding the gold-rimmed spectacles he's always seen wearing, at least in later photos. Kieran's suggestion of Adshead looks good to me, too.

I agree that if Dr Fredericksen wants our help with identifications, a list of contemporary students - and importantly staff as well - would (a) make it a less daunting task, and (b) likely lead to a more complete result.

[**It reminds me of how George Hayter, in his monumental 'Trial of Queen Caroline', depicts the face of the central figure of Stephen Lushington in profile as just his giant nose and brow erupting from a full-bottomed wig. Despite its tenuous relevance I can't resist attaching a very poor snap of that, too...with apologies to the NPG, who have been unmoved by my pleas for a proper high-res detail for over 10 years now.]

Osmund Bullock,

And as ever you're there 40 minutes ahead of me, Kieran. I think we need to exchange emails, so we can warn the other when we're doing a night shift on the same subject.

Osmund Bullock,

The moustachioed chap far left looks too bald to be Philip Wilson Steer. See attached images from 1922 & 1928.

Clive Branson certainly looks very possible, Kieran; but perhaps not as definitively so that I can't imagine other candidates might appear in a full student list.

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Osmund Bullock,

I don't think Branson works, I'm afraid. According to the catalogue here , in the Noreen and Clive Branson archive held by the Marx Memorial Library there is a photograph of the Cricket XI at Bedford School (where Branson was educated) in 1925. He was born in India on 8 Sep 1907, and would have been 17 in the summer term of 1925, so it is probably him in the team photo (though just possibly a younger brother). In any case, by the same token he would have been just 16 in the summer of 1924, and unlikely to have been a student at the Slade as early as this - certainly the young man looks to be more than 16.

Kieran Owens,

That is well put and you are most likely correct. It points out again the dangers of making comparisons solely based on images.

Andy Mabbett,

Interesting that his wife and son were known as Macantsionnaigh, and he used the Irish name on his son's baptism registration, which suggests something more formal, and certainly more encompassing, than a mere artist's pen (brush?) name.

The 1911 census shows that his father was born in County Mayo, so he may have reverted to an original Irish family name, rather than adopting it for mere effect. It would be interesting to know when, and why.

As is my wont, I've collated the information to date into an item on Macantsionnaigh on Wikidata:

Andy Mabbett,

Two 1922 letters from Macantsionnaigh (interestingly, attributed as by "Seoirse mac an tSionnaigh") to one William Martin, of 76 Highgate Hill, London, and sent from the Thorold Road, Ilford, address, are in the Irish National Archives, according to this PDF (page 10, items 18 & 21) [1]

The collection appears to relate to the "Dáil loans" [2], "bonds issued in 1919–21 by the Dáil (parliament) of the self-proclaimed Irish Republic to raise the Dáil funds or Republican funds, used to fund the state apparatus the Republic...", although these two letters are described only as "re. best endeavours" and "Making an appointment" respectively.



Kieran Owens,

Although pure speculation, and only proposed so as to stimulate consideration, perhaps the young man leaning over in the left side of the painting is either Rex Whistler (1905 - 1944), who was, according to records, a 19-year old student at the Slade in 1924, or, possibly more likely, Stephen Tennant (1906 – 1987), who had entered the school at the age of 16 in 1922.

As Henry Tonks was running the Slade at this time, the painting surely must represent him and his circle of staff and students. Referring to his retirement in 1930, the following was quoted in the above-mentioned Slade blog:

"The last official appearance of Tonks was an impressive and tragically simple piece of staging. At the end of his remarks he stood up and saying “I do not like saying goodbye, so there will be no official leave taking”, walked quietly with his jerky [?] walk to the door, leaving the long line of the staff, still in their places, whilst we clapped frenziedly, and for once, with real feeling and appreciation. Strawberry tea on the lawn. Tonks and Steer and Daniels from the National Gallery sit on chairs, at the edge of the crowd […] other visitors smiling and joking and drinking tea, and eating strawberries and cream. Tonks in his grey suit, looking a grey and tired, but not unhappy, old man." - Journal of William Townsend, 26 June, 1930. UCL Special Collections

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Kieran Owens,

Other contenders for inclusion:

• Sine McKinnon (1901 - 1996) - Slade: 1918 to 1924
• Frank Barrington Craig (1902 -1951) Slade: 1919 to 1924
• Alison Debenham (1903 - 1967) - Slade: 1923 to 1926
• Robert Fawcett (1903 - 1967); Slade: 1922 - 1924
• Rosemary "Ray" Howard-Jones (1903 –1996); Slade: 1920 - 1924
• Oliver Messel (1904–1978); Slade: c.1922 - c.1924
• Dennis William Dring (1904 – 1990); Slade: 1922 to 1925
• Robert Medley (1905 - 1994); Slade: 1924 & 1925

UCL Culture,

Many thanks to you all! There is a lot for me to research here. Meanwhile I can supply a few more lists to give fuel to your fire. First, Teaching staff at the Slade in 1923-24 included (from UCL Calendars):
• Frederick Brown (Visiting Professor)
• Henry Tonks (Slade Professor)
• Tancred Borenius (History of Art
• W. W. Russell (Assistant Professor)
• P. W. Steer (Assistant Professor)
• G. Elliot (Professor of Anatomy)
• Sidney Mawson (Lecturer on Ornamental Design)
• A.T. Porter (Lecturer on Perspective)
• G. Dixon (Lecturer on Lettering)
• C.K. Child (Senior Assistant)
• G.J. Charlton (Assistant Drawing)
• G. Thomas (Assistant Sculpture)
• F.C. White (Assistant Drawing)
• J. Wheatley (Assistant)
• W.T. Smith (Demonstrator Wood Engraving)
• Ernest A. Gardner (Archaeology)
• H.G. Spearing (Lecturer Comparative Art)
• Cippico (Italian)

UCL Culture,

I can also supply the names of students who also won prizes that year. For the 1924 Summer Composition Prize (then titled Figure Composition), no 1st Prize was awarded; but 5 others were given 2nd Prize (Equal) with ‘MacAntissonnaigh'. Notice Rex Whistler:
• A.H. Gerrard
• F. Hellicar
• A.C. Murray
• R.J. Puttick
• R.J. Whistler

UCL Culture,

Also in 1923-24, the Figure Painting Prize went to:

• William D. Dring (1st Prize Equal) – see PC5331
• R. J. Whistler (1st Prize Equal) – see PC5338
• Mary Buckland (2nd Prize Equal)
• Jean Farquarson (2nd Prize Equal)
• S. MacAntisionnaigh (2nd Prize Equal)
• Marjorie Morris (2nd Prize Equal)
• F. Ormond (2nd Prize Equal)
• C.L. Sclater-Booth (2nd Prize Equal)

In this instance only the 1st prize paintings were retained by the Slade.

UCL Culture,

My last list is the prize winners for Head Painting in 1923-4. In this case the Slade only retained the painting by 'MacAntisionnaigh':

• MacAntisionnaigh (1st Prize Equal) – see PC5101
• R.J. Whistler (1st Prize Equal)
• Eleanor Bartolomew (2nd Prize Equal)
• Marion Douglas (2nd Prize Equal)
• Erica White (2nd Prize Equal)

I'll see what else I can find about the 1923-24 cohort

Osmund Bullock,

Thanks for the wonderful response, UCL, though I may have been wrong to think that more names would make it less daunting! Kieran's deduced list is very helpful, too...but much work lies ahead.

The 1920s admin staff seem to have struggled with George/Seóirse's assumed Irish surname, which is what I think it may have been, rather than the original name of his family - his grandfather in Co. Mayo was one Meredith Fox, farmer, of Coolagagh (c1817-1897), which perhaps hints at Welsh origins...but there were many Foxes in the area of Foxford where he lived, so without much deeper research the matter remains uncertain. I have found two other Fox families in Ireland, of Antrim, Tyrone & Dublin - not closely related, if at all, to that of our artist in Mayo, nor probably to each other - who made a point of completing the 1911 Irish Census not only in Irish but in Gaelic script, and who for their surnames replaced Fox with the same updated variant of the old naming system of Ireland. This was a deliberate Nationalist political statement, as both spoke English as well and had completed the 1901 Census in English.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, Kieran, but my reading (after a crash course in Irish orthography) is that in one family ( - living in Glasnevin) the 'surname' of all the males is 'Mac an tSionnagh' (son of the Fox), the daughters are 'Nic an tSionnagh' (daughter of the son of the Fox), and the wife 'Bean M[h]ic an tSionnagh' (wife of the son of the Fox). In the other ( - living in Carrickmore) the children are the same, but the widowed female head of the family calls herself 'Nic an tSionnagh', perhaps wrongly. If so, it's unsurprising errors were made - this was a language being rediscovered and to an extent reinvented after centuries of suppression.

I think it overwhelmingly likely that George Howard Fox similarly chose to use the name Seóirse Mac an tSionnaigh as a statement of political belief and cultural identity during the rebirth of the nation of his forbears, and to pass it on to his children as the more conventionally inheritable surname of Macantsionnaigh.

Kieran Owens,

Nearly perfect Osmund. Nic an tSionnagh would be daughter of the Fox. In the transliteration from the Irish, the final part family's surname is more commonly spelled tSionnaigh (with an i) so that search might also be worth making if looking for references to our artist.

By the way, the surname derives from the Irish word for a fox, which is Sionnach. Also, for those who are interested, our artist's first name, Seóirse (for George) is pronounced like the combination of the English words Shore and Shah (as in the Shah of Persia) so would be near enough to Shore-Shah.

Between 1857 and his death in 1897 Meredith Fox, George's grandfather, a Roman Catholic, appears many times as a witness or as the plaintiff in the Petty Session Court records in Ireland from his home in Keelogagh/Coolagagh, Foxford Co. Mayo. He died aged 80, leaving an estate worth just £59/10/00. His probate return stated that his demise occurred on the 24th May 1897 but his death certificate states that it was the 10th June of that year.

Meredith Fox married Bridget Durkan sometime before 1870 and had a number of children. One, George Fox, the father of our artist, was born on the 9th May 1870 at Cologagh (sic), Co. Mayo. This latter George, an Inland Revenue Officer, married Agnes Maud Jones in Staffordshire (most likely in Brewood) in 1898.The couple subsequently had a family that consisted of Mary, born in Brewood in late 1899 and Edward, born in c. October 1900.

The 1901 UK Census shows George Fox, Inland Revenue Officer, aged 30, living at 1, Shop Lane, Brewood, Cannock, West Staffordshire. His family consisted of his wife, Agnes Maud, aged 27, and their two children, Mary, aged 1, and Edward, aged six months, both of whom were born in Brewood.

As Andrew posted at the start of this discussion, George Howard Fox was born on the 25th January 1902, most probably also in Brewood. His mother, Agnes Maud Fox, died, aged 30, in the Spring of 1904, when George would have been one and half years old.

As Osmond's attachment above shows, the 1911 UK Census lists George Fox, Customs & Excise Officer, a widower, aged 40, living at 128, Thorold Road, in Ilford, Essex, along with his children Mary (11), Edward (10), George (9) and two additional children, twins Agnes and Annie (7). The births of these two children were registered in Cannock in December 1903, just a few months before the death of their mother in early 1904.

Osmund Bullock,

Yes, Meredith Fox really was extraordinarily litigious – I gave up looking at the listings after about ten, with over 70 more to go (though many are different stages of the same cases). I did find his RC marriage to Bridget Durcan, though – it was on 2nd Feb 1857, at Killasser, about 5 miles from Coolagagh (attached). George had many elder siblings

The missing second 'i' in ‘tSionnaigh’ was entirely my carelessness – it's there in the census return, and indeed in the transcription here

I'm slightly surprised by your translation of 'Nic an' as just 'daughter of'. Though its effective meaning was clear, I searched in vain for a literal translation of ‘Nic’; I finally found a source that states it’s a contraction of ‘Iníon Mhic’ (daughter of the son of), though I can’t vouch for that...not least because I’ve now lost the reference!

UCL Culture,

Going back to the possible attendees to the tea party. I'm especially keen on the identities of the women students. Someone mentioned Mary Adshead (1921-4) who was certainly a student at the time, as was Eileen Agar (Slade 1921-4) and Rosemary 'Ray' Howard Jones (1920-4). Whitechapel is organising an exhibition on Agar so it would be great to see if she or any of her friends (Rex Whistler, Robin Bartlett) might be in the crowd.

Two questions for Kieran or Osmund, who have direct access to the Census: (1) does the 1901 entry specifically say George Fox worked for the Inland Revenue -as Kieran has suggested in passing -, or (like that of 1911) that he was a 'Customs & Excise officer' ?(2) Does it include Elizabeth and/or Agnes Onions as already servants?

It's also worth noting that the two letters that Andy Mabbett (28/03/2021 14:17) has pointed out in the Martin Papers are catalogued as 'Irish' - that is, presumably, written in Gaelic - which our man perhaps partly learnt from his father but not in Ireland unless he spent time there in early adulthood. It's hard to see how he could have done that before joing the Slade, unless somehow in the period between the end of WWI (when he was 16) and going there.

What seems a continuing blank is what he did post-Slade: if he was still at Thorold Road in 1938 is he in the 1939 Register; can we have his exact marriage date, and what about the rest of his long life? 1938-97 is a big gap!

Kieran Owens,

It is the 4th attachment of the 8 that I posted on 30/03/2021 at 01:11

Kieran Owens,

A grandson of Seoirse Macantsionnaigh has supplied the following update on the artist's life.

He did continue painting and when he left the Slade he became assistant to Sir Gerald Kelly, one of his teachers there, with whom he remained friends for life. It is also believed that he assisted Kelly with some of the background work in his art.

He changed his name from George Howard Fox to Seoirse MacAntsionnaigh when he was around 17 years old. His own mother died when he was very young and he was brought up by his father alongside a notorious housekeeper called Mrs. Onions.

He went on to become a carpenter in Jersey during WWII and from there moved into teaching - teaching art and art history at Bishops Wordsworth school in Salisbury and then the same at the William Morris school in Wandsworth until his retirement in 1973. He did continue to paint but he appears not to have ever exhibited after the 1930s. He died in 1997 in Taunton just a few months shy of his 96th birthday.

Kieran Owens,

There appears to be no record in the official UK registers for a marriage between him and Marita, under either name of Fox or Macantsionnaigh nor under hers of Blount or Brown/Reynolds-Brown. As her first husband Francis died in Devon in 1973, there is a possibility that she was separated but not necessarily divorced from him. It the former, it might explain why she and Seóirse could not been married. Alternatively, they could have married in Ireland or abroad. As his daughter is still alive, perhaps more discreet and official enquiries on behalf of UCL by Dr Andrea Fredericksen might provide an answer to this and other delicate questions regarding his life.

On 26.3.2021 22:29 Wendy Howard wrote 'The marriage for his wife Marie Reeta Patricia BLOUNT (aka Marita) is noted as being a marriage to a George Fox' : if she sees this, could she clarify where that came from? Is it the Jersey baptism document (not clearly visible without a subscription to the site)?

Osmund Bullock,

That's brilliant, Kieran. I was going to suggest approaching his descendants, of whom there are quite a number in London & the SE. The use of Macantsionnaigh as a surname by daughters of two of Seoire's granddaughters, even where the child's birth was also registered under the father's name, suggests the Irish Tricolor still flies proudly in the family - one gt-grandchild is even called 'Liberty'! And judging by Twitter, the grandson in Ireland you have contacted (at least I think it's him) is passionate about the Irish language.

However, despite the information coming from the family, one detail may be slightly mistaken: it looks like Seoirse, his wife Marita (Marie Reeta) and their infant son Brian (born in St Helier 2nd May 1936) must have left Jersey before WWII. Their names - either as Fox or as Macantsionnaigh (or similar) - are not among the 30,000 compulsory registration forms and cards issued in Jan 1941, which are held and indexed by Jersey Heritage ( and also And in fact I've finally found them in England on the 1939 Register, of which more in a second.

Osmund Bullock,

They were certainly in Jersey in 1935-36 - Seoirse and Marita were married at St Helier, though (as Wendy touched on) he is there recorded as George Howard Fox. The date is uncertain: availability of Jersey vital records online is patchy, to put it mildly, and you have to pay to see properly the few with images on Jersey Heritage. But I eventually found images of the official marriage indexes here (the relevant images also attached), which show that the marriage registration is on page 71 of the 100-page volume covering Jan 1935 - May 1936. Calculating 71% of that 17-month span implies a date very late in 1935 or early 1936. To get the exact date would require at least a short-form certificate from the Superintendent Registrar's office ( costs £42 incl search fee and postage!?!

So yes, if Wendy has info from another source that would be helpful.

S. Elin Jones,

It appears that George and Marie Reeta were already living back in Salisbury by 1939. They are recorded as living at 87 Cowesfield Green. I haven’t quite been able to work out the last word of his occupation though. Anyone?

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Osmund Bullock,

As Wendy reported, the son Brian's baptism (as Macantsionnaigh) on 7th June 1936 is found in the records of the Aquila Road (Primitive Methodist) Church in St Helier, and the same event is recorded on an index card from 'The Jersey Methodist'. These have both been digitised, but to see clear images you need to subscribe (or pay £5 for the church record). You can neverthess just make out from the pixellated card that the parents are "of St Helier", and that the child was born on 2nd May. See

Brian may have been their only child, though with the shortcomings of Jersey records one cannot be sure. He lived in Tottenham, North London, but died young in 1973 in Somerset, possibly at his grandfather's home. He married in 1958, and had five children - the four daughters stayed in England, while the son seems to have settled in Ireland. I've kept the details vague as they are all still living apart from his wife who died in 2014.

Osmund Bullock,

Back to Seoirse and Marita. I see Elin has slipped in ahead of my promised 1939 Register info - yes, by 29th Sept they were living at Cowesfield Green, Whiteparish (near Salisbury) - the '87' is just the enumerator's schedule no., not part of the address. Seoirse's entry is transcribed by Ancestry as "Louise Macautsiowraight", so a bit tricky to find! The first part of his profession is 'Painter (Fine Art), the last presumably the first half of 'Carpenter' (as Kieran's contact mentioned). Cowesfield Green is only 4 or 5 miles from West Grimstead where Marita's parents lived and she was brought up. Her father was a well-to-do architect, and in fact as 'Marita Blount' she is listed as an architect herself in London in the 1930 PO Directory (attached).

I'm attaching a fuller view of the 1939 Register entry (plus a second one for her), as it shows two redacted entries as part of their household - probably son Brian plus another...possibly another child, but perhaps a servant, friend or relation under 18 (approx). I've a bit more to add on their circumstances after the War - I think it likely they were separated by 1946, and certainly by 1955 - but must leave it for now.

Jersey Heritage,

Just for information, George Howard Fox and Marie Reeta Patricia Blount were married at the St Helier Registry Office on November 30 1935

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Thanks Jersey: that's spliced in: also his residence ( by then separated, since no wife present) at 42 Great North Road, Highgate, in the electoral registers from 1955 to 1965. A long tube commute to teach in Wandsworth but possible.

Louis Musgrove,

S Elin Jones- last word--- I see --- Gardener. ?

Osmund Bullock,

Re 'carpenter', I think I should take that as a hint that my posts are too many, too long and too dense for anyone actually to read. See 06/04/2021 06:48.

Osmund Bullock,

Carrying on regardless, there's another error in the information from Seoirse Macantsionnaigh's grandson. I don't think there's ever been a William Morris School in Wandsworth' - the nearest was in Mitcham, and that's an even longer and less likely commute from Highgate/East Finchley. I suspected the WM Technical School at Walthamstow (Gainsford Road) - a much easier run, especially if he had a car...and I've just found on the Walthamstow Memories website confirmation it was there: (see page 24 and 'Mr Mac'). I struck lucky very quickly; but there are many other 'personal stories', and may be more mentions of him to be found if anyone has the time: There are also school photos scattered around which might produce an image of the man, though I can't see any off-hand.

Johnson & Greutzner (Br Artists 1880-1940) gives exhibiting 1925-27, with one at Manchester as well as two at NEAC. And his exact date of death in 1997 was 24th August. See attached.

Kieran Owens,

Seóirse Macantsionnaigh's grandson has given me the go ahead to post a photo of his grandfather here, showing the artist at a time when he was teaching at the William Morris School, as can be confirmed by the crest on the blazer of the student standing behind him. He also has noted that, when previously responding, he had Wandsworth on his mind but that the school was in Gainsford Road, in Walthamstow, as per Osmund's posting above.

Louis Musgrove,

Osmund -sorry-yes Carpenter. Delayed response as I have had a lot of trouble with Broadband :-( .
Pieter -- spelled it right this time :-) . Sorry-I still can't open those DocX files ??
By the way -what I cannot understand is- Why did this painter not become famous??? ---as I think he is really good.

Jacinto Regalado,

Louis, surely you know that fame, generally speaking, need not be based on merit and is often based on other factors.

Osmund Bullock,

Alternatively Louis might like to search for "How to open DocX files" or something similar on Google, and he will find dozens of free and safe ways to do so even with the long out-of-date version of Word he seems to have on his computer - you can even do it without any version of Word being installed at all! Honestly, Louis, it's not difficult (and I'm a 70 year-old technophobe); if you really can't manage it, just ask anyone under 40 - it'll take them 3 minutes.

Kieran Owens,

Through his grandson, Seóirse Macantsionnaigh's daughter has sent the following details:

He was in Sark, Channel Islands, in the early 1930s, working as a carpenter, where he possibly served his apprenticeship. There was also an artists' colony in Sark at the same time, but whether he was associated with this is not yet known, though his daughter does think he would have continued painting there.

The artist went to Baghdad between 1947 and 1949, teaching art and history of art. On his return he gained a teaching post at the William Morris Technical School in Walthamstow and worked there until his retirement.

In the 1980s, while his son's family lived in London, he moved to Somerset, where his daughter and family were located, and lived in an independent retirement flat until his death in 1997.

Louis Musgrove,

Thanks Pieter. BTW.Osmund- my anti viral won't let me open DocX.

Would our subject's daughter kindly supply her year and place of birth, and first name? If in the UK, these will be in the public record, so it just saves time looking for them.

I can't recall if Baghdad was still under British mandate in 1947-49, which would in part explain a departure there (whether either before or after the apparent marriage separation: and a year of death for Marita would also help)

What we have been told also suggests Brian's sister had married and was living in Somerset before he died there in 1973 (even though his family thereafter remained in London). Could that also be confirmed?

Osmund Bullock,

I don't think it was in the UK, Pieter, at least not as Macantsionnaigh or Fox with a mother's maiden name of Blount. I can understand she might be hesitant to share the information you ask for - as I mentioned previously, I've deliberately avoided naming other living family members, and on the whole I think that should be our default position unless specifically told otherwise.

Marita's death was registered (as Marie Reeta P Macantsionnaigh) in the first quarter of 1978 at Banbury. There does not seem to be an associated Will which would provide an exact date. I have quite a bit more on her and her (half-Irish) family origins, though with other more urgent AD matters (espec. Thirlwall) nagging at me I don't know when I'll get to it.

Kieran Owens,

I believe that the family would currently prefer to withhold any information regarding their living members and any other information that is not directly related to the artist's professional career and his output and that this request be respected.

I had already assumed that was the wish but it is a reasonable inference that the daughter was born between 1936 and September 1939 from the two redacted lines in the National Register and a first name alone identifies no-one.

Kieran Owens,

Until otherwise permitted, I, for one, will respect their wishes. Should they decide to change them, I will happily pass on any relevant updates.

Louis Musgrove,

What I would like is to see some more of his Art- I cannot find any :-(.

UCL Culture,

Hello Art Detectives! Many many thanks for all your hard work. You have given me more than plenty to put together a detailed artist profile for this relatively unknown Slade alumnus. UCL Art Museum is now in contact with the family so I can take it from here to fill in the details. Please do keep him and the possible identities of the sitters in the Slade Tea Party on your back burner. I will be posting other works by unknown artists in near future so please keep a look out. You'll all become experts on Slade artists over next few months.

Kieran Owens,

The attached composite might show that the man at the back right could be Slade staff member Carl Tancred Borenius, who was appointed the first UCL professor of the Edwin Durning-Lawrence chair in art history, which Henry Tonks had established in 1922. He was 39 in 1924.

Kieran Owens,

Although she was based in Rome between 1920 an 1925, I wonder if the female sitter on the bottom right, in the deep red dress, could be a representation of Winifred Knights, who was one of Tonk's most favourite pupils. She was born in 1899, so would have been 25 in 1924. She studied at the Slade from 1915 to 1917, 1918 to 1920 and 1926 to 1927. She could have been visiting the school on a short trip to London from Rome during the time that the painting was been created. She most likely would have visited the school to see Tonks during any such brief return to London:

Louis Musgrove,

Kieran-you're on a roll-- don't stop :-) .


Could we suggest that someone produces a simple numbered outline diagram of the figure group, keyed to a list of those identified as far as we can get, that could be scanned and posted up at the end of the discussion, and added to later if not complete?

Kieran Owens,

Marion, if it helps, and purely speculatively at the moment and subject to alterations based on better identifications, which will undoubtedly be forthcoming, and only posted for general consideration, attached is my own guesstimate, so far, and incorporating others' suggestions, as to who is who in the painting. Better suggestions would, of course, be most welcome.

The artist's grandson has commented that the family always believed that the painter included himself in the work, as the man in the hat, bottom right, looking at (who possibly is) Mary Adshead. As he would have been 22 in 1924, if it is him he seems to have portrayed himself looking a little older than he was, though the hat might be responsible for that ageing effect.

Kieran Owens,

As late as 1932, the painter Frederick Brown had a pretty reasonable head of hair, albeit grey/white. None of the painting's subjects appears to share this physical feature, especially the three with the heavily receding hair lines, that is the one in the doorway, with the red jumper, the one, left, with his right hand in his pocket, and the one sitting on the ground immediately to the right of the man in the hat.

Kieran Owens,

Purely based on the overly-strong chin of the sitter to the right of Tonk's chair back, I wonder could he have returned to the Slade as a teacher, and have appeared in the 1959 class photo, as might be evidenced in the attached composite. Perhaps UCL can identify the teacher and tie him back to an attendance as a student at the Slade in 1924.

Outside of my Art Detective duties, I have used the Art UK Curations tool to create a little year by year listing of Slade students, mainly for myself and my understanding of relationships between artists who went there, and not for this discussion. It only includes a selection of students, gleaned from online sources, and needs a good check and some more filling in, but perhaps worth going to the early 1920s section and seeing if anyone there not mentioned to date as a potential sitter in this portrait. Apologies in advance for any errors I've introduced. My sense is that mostly everyone has been previously suggested, and mine, as a selection, misses out quite a few people very usefully suggested by UCL and contributors.

Terence Allen 01,

For what it is worth, I can confirm that the photograph of Macantsionnaigh is indeed my art teacher at William Morris school, Gainsford Road Walthamstow. — “ Mr Mac” as we knew him, was a very quiet man, who spoke softly. Apart from being an art teacher, he also devoted his lunchtimes and after school hours to teaching “History of Art” and “History of Architecture”

I was his pupil for the academic course for the years 1966/67 for “History of Architecture.” It was part of the Cambridge syllabus for What they called A/O levels. Meaning not part of the usual routine subjects taught in the schools at that time for GCE’s. But if you passed the exam at the end of the term, and if your points were high enough, it counted as an Advanced level pass, or if lower, it was an Ordinary level pass.

That particular academic year 1966/67, I was Mr Mac’s only pupil For History of Architecture. He would give up his lunch hours to teach me, as the subject was not included in the normal school hours allotted. I don’t think Mr Mac ever thought there was a chance that I would pass the GCE. — But somehow I scraped through with a pass.

I always recall on my last day at school in the Summer of 1967, a “delighted” Mr Mac came towards me at the final school assembly for that term, with a big smile on his face ( he rarely ever smiled during class time) saying”I just heard that you passed” ——I think I was as shocked as he was……..

I am now a retired banker of 73 years of age. I live in Dubai. I was also “shocked” to see the photograph on your website of the quiet, timid, art teacher that I knew as Mr Mac. I had no idea that he was a celebrated artist in his own right.

Terence Allen

Kieran Owens,

Many thanks for your contribution, Terence. Would you have any comments to make on the identity of any of the other sitters in the painting?

Douglas Dodds,

The artist Dominic Boreham (1944-2022) was taught by Macantsionnaigh at the William Morris School in Walthamstow, and was heavily influenced by him.

Dominic's wife, Harbajan Chadha-Boreham, says "There are six letters from Mr. MacAntsionnaigh to Dominic from August 1960 to May 1974; the last letter has an invitation to lunch with Mr. MacAntsionnaigh. Dominic admired his art master Mr. MacAntsionnaigh throughout his life; he mentored Dominic as an exceptional student and they spent a lot of time together."

Boreham also went on to study at the Slade in the 1970s, and is best known for his pioneering use of computers, kinetics and light. For more info see