Saturday, March 26, 2011

Old Mrs. Wallen 4

“...A merchant in Dominica and friend of my father’s arrived in London and stopped at my brother’s house (Captain Garraway who traded in Dominica). He got Mrs. Garraway to call on me and invite me there for a few days. They lived at Mile End. He planned a day’s sight-seeing for my benefit, and invited a Portuguese lady, a friend of Mrs. G.’s and we started directly after breakfast. He engaged a coach for the day. We went to Westminster Abbey, the British Museum, the Automatons, Miss Linwood’s exhibition of pictures done in needlework [in Leicester Square]—then we had lunch—and after that we went to the Tower. Had to go there in a boat. We saw the crown jewels, the Armory room, the instruments of torture taken from the Inquisition—figures of Queen Elizabeth, her Page, her horse and her pillion, all with the very dresses they wore—stops and other things, very small, carved by the prisoners from the bones they had with their meals, even the ropes and sail so beautifully done. They are kept in a glass case, there is no charge for seeing these things but you are told that everyone is supposed to give what they like to the caretakers in each room. We went to see a panorama of the Battle of Trafalgar, and then we had tea and went to the theatre and I think it was to see Paul Pry acting [sic, Paul Pry was the title of an opera by John Poole. The first production took place in Haymarket in 1825, and Madame Vestris sang in it—this is presumably the performance Mrs. Wallen recalled here twice]. Next day Mrs. G. got a hackney coach and took me to school. Miss Fellowes took the biggest girls every 6 months to the theatre. Once it was to Covent Garden to see Miss [Maria] Foote as Lady Teazle in “The School for Scandal.” All the principal actors were good but I forget their names. Once we went to see [Charles] Mathews At Home, the old Mathews [at the Adelphi]. He had just returned from America and the performance was something quite new as he personated a number of different characters and so well. We went several times to Sadler’s Wells, saw the Pantomime, and went to [Philip] Astley’s [Royal Amphitheatre of Equestrian Arts, i.e. the circus]. Went with Miss Fellowes to a concert and heard Miss [Mary Anne] Paton (Lady [William] Lennox) sing, also [William] Broadhurst and [Henry] Phillips [bass] and Miss [Katherine] Stephen[s], all good singers. When I was 15 my mother wrote to say she wished Miss Twigg to take my likeness as she had done my cousin Mary Ann and my aunt’s pictures so well, so I went to stay there for part of my holidays while she did my miniature. Soon after it was done I had a visit from my brother Charles. He said a lady from Trinidad was going back there with her two daughters and wd. take me under her care and my mother was to make all arrangements. Before doing so my aunt John arrived from St. Vincent to take my cousin from school. She and my brother thought I had better go with them, so my aunt ordered all my fit-out and I left school and London in the James Cruikshank (Capt. Young). She was a small vessel, only two other lady passengers. We had fine weather all the way and a quick passage. My father and mother had gone to Trinidad to meet me, and were staying at my sister’s house. As soon as my father heard of my arrival he chartered a sloop at once and went to St. Vincent to meet me and take me to Trinidad. He brought a respectable woman accustomed to the sea to attend me—so in a few days I was again on the water, and oh! so sick. We arrived in the evening and being a small vessel entered between 2 very high rocks, and when through it was a lovely moonlight night and the Bay is beautiful, but we did not get up to Port of Spain until next day. There was great rejoicing. Gratton was 6 months old and my sister would not have him christened until I arrived that night to be his godfather [sic]. We had visitors all day and some nice young men in the evenings—the Agonistes (brothers, Corsicans), Goanatti (Italians), O’Connor (an officer), and Wallen, his visits were every evening. The Judge (Johnston) gave a dinner party, a very select one, for me. Bushe and his wife and my father and mother and self went to it. Tony was not invited. The Judge did not approve of his style. He was very handsome and went about with only shirt, white trousers, no waistcoat, turned-down collar. The French and Spanish girls liked his society…[missing pages]…Island of St. Vincent. My father’s sister and she were married the same day. My mother’s own sister married a Mr. Geoffrey. They lived in England. He was drowned in a mail packet coming out to the W. Indies. My mother had other sisters. One answered to Mrs. Bordeaux and lived in France, one to a Mrs. Hopley, a Frenchman who went by the name of “L’Empereur” as he dressed well and did nothing. His children might have starved but for his wife’s industry and cleverness. She had nine children. Her daughter (2nd) Matilda was very handsome, her 1st Catherine, her eldest son married a colored girl and my aunt considered it such a disgrace she could not bear to remain on the island and took the whole family to Canada—having so many sons, thought they wd. do well there—Their sufferings in the winter were great, and she was obliged to return to St. Vincent after losing everything, but commenced a little business with Martinique by which she made a living and was patronized by everyone, especially the Governor, Sir Charles Brisbane, who always got his champagne by the dozen. Both her daughters married gentlemen of moderate means and went to live in England….[missing pages]…to see Netley Abbey, such a beautiful old ruin, the walls all covered with ivy and such a beautiful old ruin and immense beautiful trees and the names of people cut on them with the dates so long ago. We took our lunch and spent the whole day there. As there was only a small church Miss Fellowes went out with her mother but didn’t take us. Her brother was an officer in the customs at the London docks, had come to stay for a few days and did not go to church. Miss Cadell and myself were reading in the little drawing room. There was before the fire-place cut out in a pattern hung before it made of tissue paper. It was white. Mr. Fellowes came into the room with a little book and read for a little while. Then he took a cushion off the sofa and threw it at me, so I picked it up and threw it back. Instead of striking him, however, it went against the fireplace and tore it. I was in such a fright, however directly Miss Fellowes arrived from church. I told her I did it. She said the landlady’s daughter had cut it out, and the mother wd. be very angry. I said I was sorry it happened and wd. pay for it, and I did, about twice its value. Miss F. let me, about twice its value, 10/- I paid. Another summer Miss F. took a house at Hereford, close to the river. Miss Cadell and I took long walks, one to one to Wordsworth we liked best, such a pretty country village and old church, and epitaphs on the old tombstones, very funny, always in rhyme, some written by the blacksmith. It was very neglected, grass and weeds all over the walks.

And that is all that three-times great grandmother Catherine Wallen has left us, from the middle years of the reign of King George IV. We shall assume that with, I suppose, admirable duty, but perhaps not a little regret, she foreswore the attractions of Tony,” with only shirt, white trousers, no waistcoat, turned-down collar, and, resolving not to follow the slightly questionable but deeply interesting paths followed by certain of her Audibert relations, went ahead and married “Wallen,” the candidate apparently preferred by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Gibbons Hobson. Old Mrs. Hobson is a shadow, a mystery: was the striking distance between mother and daughter nothing more complicated than the obstacle of Mrs. Hobson’s very imperfect English? And then there are those twin phenomena in the education of Regency women: (1) inertia: two whole hours spent daily perambulating in Cadogan Square, and such lessons as they got flowed at the dizzying rate of once or twice a week; and (2) that constant, overriding concern about money. Fortunately, thanks to her father and his colleague Mr. Constable, Catherine Anne Hobson had plenty, and ultimately it propelled her and her family (via Northern Ireland) to Australia Felix.

Old Mrs. Wallen 3

“...One of my schoolfellows, a daughter of Dr. Gordon in Jamaica, was a relation of Westmacott the sculptor, and she got him to select and purchase a present for the Babingtons. It was a very solid silver inkstand and an inscription under the candlestick, The night it was presented they gave us a supper. When the Miss Rawlings had been about six months they made the pupils discontented by making a good many changes and there was much grumbling about it and my cousin and many others left. She was placed at Miss Fellowes who only took twelve young ladies, and they were treated as if they were her own family. I was made to sleep with a girl that was sickly and that I did not like. A friend of Uncle John’s, a Mr. Panton, brought his wife and children to England to place his little daughter at school. He had known me at St. Vincent and I had often been at his house. He called to see me and invited me to stay with them on a visit, and my cousin and also with her brother Tony. They were very kind, took us out one day to see the different sights—the British Museum, Panoramas, and in the evenings to Astleys and Sadlers Wells. I told Mrs. Panton how I hated the school since my cousin left and she advised me to write to my father and ask him to let me be at school with my cousin. My letters, of course, were always read by my schoolmistress, so I took Mrs. P.’s advice and wrote to my father about it, and he at once made arrangements with Mr. Constable to place me with Miss Fellowes. So I was invited to his father’s house for a week after leaving Whitelands before I went to Miss Fellowes in Cadogan Place. She had a French mistress who was always with us, French master twice a week, English master for writing and arithmetic and the use of the Globes and reading. A dancing mistress, daughter of Oscar Byrne, an African dancer—a music master, Krailmark, a composer, twice a week, singing mistress once a week. My cousin had lessons on the harp and I on the Guitar. We were sent to walk in the Square for two hours every day with the governess unless it rained heavily. I got a prize from the English master, the only one he gave, and also the French master had never given any but me, two volumes handsomely bound of Fontaine’s plays which I gave Sam Wallen when he left for Trinidad as he was going to study French on the voyage. My aunt John arrived in London to take her 2 eldest boys from school. Charles Fox from Winchester and Tony from school at Chelsea. She had my cousin and myself for a few days before they left for St. Vincent. I was very fond of Anthony. He was such a handsome merry fellow and he came every 2nd Sunday to see us at school. Colonel Jackson (Militia) Tatelle’s godfather (who gave her a present of a little black girl) called at my aunt’s lodgings and insisted on taking us all to one of the theatres. My aunt thought it was not one of the best theatres but did not wish to offend him, so we went and enjoyed ourselves very much. My aunt was shopping all day, taking out beautiful things to my cousins. Miss Fellowes took me to the Isle of Wight for my summer holidays. She went with her mother and sister and a Miss Cadett, whose father was a planter in Trinidad and had been at the school for a great many years. The lodgings were at Ryde. I preferred leaving my allowance andgetting it all when the holidays commenced. Poor Miss C. never got any, alth’ her father was very rich. We two went every morning to the Beach. I wd. buy biscuits or bread and cheese, and we had books from the library. I had engaged a machine to bathe sometimes. I persuaded Miss C. to come to bathe. She did not like me paying for her. She was very proud and so clever. She was white, only her hair a little curly but I was told her mother was black. We sometimes went to the woods we called Apley, such a lovely place. One day Miss Fellowes got a conveyance and took us to see the ruins of Carisbrooke Castle, and we had lunch at a farm near there. Another day we went to Netley Abbey. In the winter holidays Miss Fellowes [went] to her father’s house in Aldergate St. In the city it was anything but pretty and cheerful, but Miss Fellowes allowed us to go to a Library and choose books, but I do not think we selected very desirable ones. We had “The Children of the Abbey,” and I don’t know how many volumes, “The Castle of Otranto,” etc. Old Mrs. F. was very kind and gave us good dinners. Another winter, Miss F. took a house out of London in partnership with her father, mother, and sister. They had purchased everything nice for Xmas dinner and all was left in a larder outside the house. On Christmas morning it was found broken into and everything robbed during the night. It was with much difficulty anything was got for our dinner. One day we were summoned to the drawing room and it was to see my sister and my cousin Clarissa and Scott Busche, about ten months old in the arms of a black nurse called Peggy Fox. She must have been quite six feet in height and very stout. My brother-in-law had brought my sister to introduce her to his family in Ireland. They stopped at Hackett’s Hotel but only remained a fortnight in London. We went to spend a day with them once. My little brother called Robert Busche, died suddenly. I went into mourning. Bushe’s eldest sister was married to Mr. Scott, Dean of Lismore. They had no family so Bushe had been adopted by her when a little child, so they went there when they went to Ireland and then visited all their friends. Clarissa was very much admired. She could have been married to a Mr. Langrush, a wealthy bachelor in Dublin. Mr. Congreve was devoted to her and she liked him very much. He had a splendid property and two sisters lived with him; she was on a visit to them for some weeks. My sister said the sisters wd. not let him marry. So nothing came of it. Dean Scott was suffering from cataract so Mrs. Scott arranged with my sister to go to London with her to consult a celebrated London doctor named Alexander who said an operation wd. have to be performed to remove it, but not ready yet, and he was to go to Bath to drink the waters. So my sister and Mrs. Scott took a large furnished house in South Parade, Bath. Mrs. Scott sent for her housekeepr. They had the Dean’s man servant and they went to Bath and arranged that my cousin Mary Anne and her brother Johnny and my brother Edward and myself shd. All go to Bath and spend the Xmas holidays with them. We were to go for a night to Miss Twiggs and my brother Charles, who was keeping his terms at the Temple, was to see us to the coach. We arrived in the evening. My sister had all the lower part of the house, Peggy Fox and Scott one above that. The Scots housekeeper came every morning to know what we four wd. have for dinner. We were allowed to choose and dined early by ourselves. We all agreed oftenest in having roast pork and apples and dined early by ourselves. Ambrose Power, after Archdeacon, came to Bath for a short time, also his brother Gervase, a Captain in the army, about to go to India. They were with us every evening. We had a piano in my sister’s sitting-room. After dinner they came down and so did Cla and we sang and danced and had games and had such a merry time. We four went off every morning and climbed the hills and after our dinner went off to the Pump Room where the band played and my cousin Mary Anne had weak ankles and the Dr. ordered very hot water to be pumped on them and then cold. The Dean could not see my cousin very well and he always called her his lamb, and Mrs. Scott thought her beautiful, and said she was like Psyche. Maria Burke had taught Peggy Fox to read while they were in Ireland so she could read her Bible. She had always been a great Methodist. She took Scott to the Chapel with her. My sister left him entirely in her care. She came from St. Vincent when she was about 16 years old, in Trinidad to see him—must have cost her a good bit for the passage, but she was comfortably off. You [Robert Wallen] were about seven months old and ill from teething and wouldn’t eat anything. She put down a chicken and boiled it to a jelly, then she danced you about and slipt in a spoonful in your mouth now and again—in fact you got better directly. When our 6 weeks holiday ended we wanted to remain one day more, then to stay that day and go by the night coach. We had a dreadful night. It snowed all the way, but we were inside. When we got off for tea a man was frozen and unconscious, and a poor woman with a baby was nearly so, only the coachman and some gentlemen covered them with their own coats. We arrived at Bedford St., London, where Miss Twigg lived at 6 o’clock in the morning. My brother took us to our various schools but the night before we begged him to take us to the theatre. He said he could not afford it. We suggested that he could if we went to the Pitt. He said that was out of the question. At any rate we gave him no peace, and went to the Haymarket and saw Madame Vestris’ first appearance, and after herself the Beggar’s Opera in which she acted herself. An acquaintance of my sister’s in the Boxes recognized me and my brother and came down to us. We did not feel pleased as he was well off and always dressed in the height of fashion. He was with a party of ladies. He was glad to see us and remained a short time chatting. Next day we all went to school. Shortly after this my brother Edward was sent for to come to Dominica and came to bid me good-bye. I never saw him again after. He was very steady, in fact very religious, and helped my mother to read the Bible in English when able to do so. She [understood] it much better then in French.”

Old Mrs. Wallen 2

“My father spoiled me—he gave a ball always on my birthday and of course I came to it with him. He hired a large room and decorated it himself with cocoa-nut branches and flowers. He also took me to a Ball at Government House. He was fond of dancing and would keep it up all night. My mother never cared for balls. She had four servants and kept her home beautifully clean and neat. She would take a walk in the evenings sometimes. My father went sometimes to play whist with Parson Newman and his two daughters and at other times Mr. Court came to play blackgammon and cribbage with him. Lady Selina, the Governor’s daughter, invited me to spend the day with her. She was only about 16. I dined there with the Governor and his Secretary. The man servant was sent to bring me home. I was very much excited. Lady Selina gave me a smelling bottle. Mr. Court had been teasing me and wanted to see it. I would not let him and spoke very rudely. My mother led me out of the room and into hers and in the dark, which I was always afraid of, said she was much vexed with my behaviour and I must apologise to Mr. Court. I was being obstinate and would not although she locked me in her room until I was sent to bed and she said I was not to be forgiven until I did. I was very miserable and dreaded having to go to Mr. Court’s house to ask forgiveness. I went, however, and when I told Mr. Court what had brought me he said it was all his fault, he had teased me. We kissed and made friends, and I returned happy. My father also had a sugar plantation in partnership with Mr. Burt called the Whatten Whatten, when one was in town the other looked after the Plantation but of course had an overseer. Mr. B. was my god-father. When he died after I returned to England he left his share in the property to his little girl and to me, but my father said would not let me have it. He said it was little enough for his daughter who was left an orphan. A French lady, a great friend of my mother’s, died leaving her as guardian to her only living child, a girl. There was one of the finest sugar estates left for her. My mother took her to our house for some time, but decided the best thing to do was to send her to England to be educated. Her black nurse, a faithful servant of the mother, was sent to attend her and she was placed under Mrs. Aston’s care, to place her at school and to see to all her wants. Having only one son, Mrs. Aston became much attached to the girl—when she was ten died—became very delicate, was so religious she died very happily. I was sent for a few days before her death to see her. I was at Mrs. Fellow’s school at the time. She made her will and left the Estate half to Mrs. Aston and the other half between my mother and her nurse who was living in Martinique. The girl’s uncle and aunt, Jenner, by name, also owned a Plantation, disputed her right to make a will. My father had to employ a lawyer and had a great deal of trouble over it. Mr. Aston shared the expenses, then it was thrown into Chancery which cost a great deal of money but it was eventually decided she had a right to make a will and each one got their share—much less from the expenses. After my sister went to St. Vincent I attended a day school. My lunch was sent on a tray every day, and a jug of Madiera and water. The cake woman called every day at the school for me to choose what I liked and as I passed my grandmother’s she always had sweets of some sort for me, so when we dined at six o’clock my father was quite distressed because I eat scarcely anything and made me have a glass of Madiera, but my mother knew it was my Grandma giving me cakes although she was told not to do so. She spoiled me as much as my father. When I was about 12 we heard that my sister was engaged to be married to Robert Busche and we were requested to go to St. Vincent at once. My Father engaged a sloop to take us, the only way of going among the islands in those days. My mother and I suffered dreadfully. I was so weak when we landed I could not walk—had to be carried to my aunt’s house. As my father could not remain long the marriage took place soon. My aunt and uncle provided everything, and my aunt Margery and Captain Odell were married the same evening. At my aunt’s house there were no strangers. The judge’s daughter, Miss Wylie, was married to Busche’s nephew, John Beresford, so they were at the wedding. George Power was of course there. Busche, when my parents returned to Dominica, wished me to be left with them, and my sister wd. teach me. But there was not much learning, my sister had to visit and entertain, so a good many days I was at my aunt’s and had my little cousins to play with. My cousin Clarissa was so kind, and there were officers and young men at the house every day—but my aunt was very strict. I was called for her, and she thought it her duty to reprove me continually for tearing my dresses etc. On the other hand Busche spoiled me as much as my father. As they were going to a ball he wanted to know what I was going to wear. My sister said I was too young to go, he insisted that I should and that a dress be made for me. Then they gave a ball at Xmas—there was a man-o-war in the Bay and Sir Charles Brisbane was requested to bring some of the officers with him. When he arrived he said to me “I have brought a middy to dance with you,” and he introduced me to a boy about twelve—but I danced with a midshipman of 16, Henry Seagrum and was quite smitten. He admired my hair and asked me to give him a bit so I cut off a piece and gave it. Next day all the officers that called teased me dreadfully. My cousin (Clarissa) had a great many offers, and the Colonel of the 1st proposed to her at a ball. She did not make him understand that she would not have him, and he wrote to ask my uncle’s consent. Cla said she wd. not have him and he pestered her so that she went to Dominica to stay with my mother until the regiment left St. Vincent. I got a letter from my mother to say Tom Court and his sister were going to England, and he sent me a lovely cat-coral necklace and I was to write and thank him, which I did, and enclosed a lock of my hair as a keepsake. Next letter my mother urged me to write to ask my father to let me go to England to school as it was such a good opportunity to go with the Courts. This I did, and my Father came to St. Vincent for me. At once my father got me ready. Besides the Courts, Mrs. Paul was a passenger. Her daughter was married to Captain Best, one of the officers at Dominica. When my father took me on board there were a good many gentlemen. The day we sailed—the ship was called “Eulina Grove,” a new one, and considered a very fine vessel. I heard one of the gentlemen say he didn’t like her, she was too narrow for her length and very little wd. send her right over. Our Capt. Holder was a good seaman, but a vulgar man. We encountered a dreadful gale, the head-lights were put up, and a lamp lit in the cabin. Mrs. Paul and Miss Court were crying and praying. I kept thinking what I heard the gentleman say, however I did not cry but tried to cheer up the others as I had been so often at sea. I was accustomed to the noise on deck, and not sick as they were. By morning the gale was over, and we had good weather until we landed at Dover. Mrs. Paul, Miss Court and myself slept there that night and went by coach next morning to London. Tom Court went on with the ship to London. Arrived there, Miss Court took a hacking coach at once to place me at Miss Babington’s school where my cousin Mary Jane was still at school. Miss Court went in with me to tell Miss B. that I was to learn of all the masters, to sleep with my cousin (or otherwise there is an extra charge)—to give me a shilling a week pocket money and was to remain at the school during the holidays unless I was invited by my friends, and Mr. Constable would settle the bills. Miss Court wished me good-bye and said she would write to me, which she did only once. I was told by Miss Babington that tea wd. be sent to me, as it was over in the schoolroom, and that after I had had it she wd. take me there. I was left then alone. I did not cry but felt so desolate and my cousin was away for her holidays. It was Easter time. A small cup of tea and bread and butter was brought me. When Miss B. came for me she took me to the schoolroom to the governess Miss Harvey, and gave her directions about me. Then as soon as I was finished I was left among the girls (many did not go home, some even came from Scotland). They crowded round me. One said, hoe fair you are, was not your mother black? I felt indignant. Then another, “What lovely hair you have, will you let me paper it tonight?” “No!” said another, “she will be in the room with me, and I am going to do it.” And for several nights it was done for me, and then I was left to do it the best way I could for myself. Another question was, “How much money have you got?” My father had given me four guineas. My cousin returned in about a week, a pretty, sweet-tempered girl, and we were great friends and very happy together. I had a music-master twice a week, English master, a Quaker that taught us writing, arithmetic and astronomy, a French dancing master once a week, and every Friday evening Mr. Jenkins came in his carriage and we went through exercises, taught to walk and dance the minuet and gavotte and some evenings we dressed in evening dress and a tray was handed round with a small glass of negus and one bun for each; that was a treat we looked forward to. I had not long been at the school when the girls informed me the Miss Babingtons were giving up the school and Miss Rawling had purchased it, and they were going to buy a present for the Babingtons and asked me if I would like to join. They said the big girls were giving 10/- each and the little ones 5/-. As I wished to be considered a big girl of course I gave 10/-. A young gentleman I knew in Dominica called to see me, a Mr. Dampier. He said he had received great kindness from my mother and my father had lent him a little money and he would not let him repay it. He brought me a handsome rosewood desk and a seal of amethysts set in gold that had three sides and Catherine on it. His sisters had often sent handsome presents to my mother for her kindness to their brother. All the girls had to examine the desk and the seal, but when I wanted the seal it was gone…”

Old Mrs. Wallen 1

In great old age, our three times great-grandmother Catherine Anne Wallen, a member of the club of thirty-two, lived in quiet retirement with her eldest son, Robert Elias Wallen and his family at Harlech, their large house in Hawthorn. There, in a minuscule, spidery hand, she wrote a brief but meandering memoir of her childhood that carries us all the way to the West Indies right in the middle of the Napoleonic Wars, and to Regency London. Old Mrs. Wallen was the daughter of Charles Gibbons Hobson, of Dominica, and Anne, the daughter of a M. Audibert, who, according to Aunt Jean, fled with his people to their estates in the West Indies during the French Revolution. Inevitably, perhaps, what she wrote must have conflated certain recollections of her parents, siblings, cousins, and friends also, especially the unusual circumstances in which she was born. The frequent repetitions, circular double-back chronology, and recurring points of emphasis are probably due to stopping and starting as the domestic routine at Harlech dictated, and sheer forgetfulness. However, hers is a charming first-hand account of life as the Atlantic-commuting daughter of a reasonably well-to-do planter in the decade following Emancipation:

“I was born on the Island of Dominica on the 6th May 1812 during the time of the eruption of the Volcano in St. Vincent. The noise of it sounded like the firing of cannon and the people were in a state of terror as the French had been there not long before when all the women and children were ordered out of town and their husbands had to fight. Martial Law was proclaimed. My father’s house and furniture were completely destroyed. My Uncle was in bed with gout at my Father’s and would not move until a cannon ball came through the house, then he found the use of his legs and got away to the country. My father lost everything—the soldiers destroyed the furniture. Indeed between hurricanes and this loss his circumstances were much reduced. It was like beginning life anew. And it was necessary to take my brother Charles and sister Eliza to England for their education. My father took my mother also as she was desirous to see the country. Myself and brother Edward were taken also and our black nurse Madelon. We had Neptune on board crossing the line and my father had to give the sailors a jar of rum and some money not to shave our nurse who was in a state of great terror from all she heard would be done to her. We landed in Dover and went direct to the Astons in London. Mr. Aston sold my father’s shipments in London and had a house in Guildford St. I remember nothing but seeing a Punch and Judy. My brother was sent to school at Ramsgate and my sister to [the] Miss[es] Babington’s. They had a school at Chelsea. They were three old maids, sisters of the great Dr. [William] Babington [F.R.S.] of London. My sister and brother were placed under the care of Mrs. Aston who had them at her house during the holidays and saw to everything they required and Mr. A. settled the bills. Mrs. A. was a good religious woman, well educated and very kind. My Aunt John was in England shortly after my mother left and she placed my cousin Clarissa at Miss Babingtons but under the care of the Constables. Mr. C. was in the Commissariat in Dominica and had made a fortune and settled at Battersea—bought a lovely place there and my cousin spent her holidays with them after Aunt John left England. My cousin Mary Anne was born soon after my Aunt arrived in London and she was so pleased with England she remained there until Mary Anne was four years old. She had placed her sons at school and thought it a pity to take Mary Anne to the West Indies, so left her at the Miss Babingtons with her sister. My uncle never saw her until she left school. When my sister was 18 years old my mother went to England to bring her out. She was very clever and could play and sing well, and tune her own piano—no one in the island could do so. My father bought a new piano from London. My sister commenced to teach us and I got on very well, but there was no school for my brother Edward so my father decided to take us both to England as several of his friends were going to take their boys. They settled to go with Captain Faulkiner, a Scotchman and first rate seaman. There were nine children, only one girl besides myself and no stewardess: the captain’s son was cabin boy. (This was probably in 1822.) Each passenger put on board provisions for the voyage, fowls, ducks, guinea fowls, and a goat each—a sheep and all sorts of wines. It was decided my father should order all meals as no one was satisfied when he did not. What a delightful voyage it was. We had such calm lovely weather. The captain put up a swing for us and we had all sorts of games. They even fished and caught dolphins. When we arrived in England my father took my brother and myself to Mrs. Aston’s and Mrs. A. placed me at a school at Islington kept by a clergyman’s widow. It was a finishing school, very few big girls. I learned to sew and mark and made a beautiful sampler but I became ill through the cold winter and not being warmly clad coming from a warm climate. A big girl coaxed me into giving her my nice gold chain and cross to her in exchange for a few scraps of silk and ribbon. She left the school soon after and other girls wished me to complain to Mrs. Hadman, but I didn’t like to. My cough was so bad when my father came to England on business, he consulted a doctor who said the best thing was to take me back to a warm climate. When my father had just landed there was a letter for him announcing the death of my sister Selina, a lovely little girl of three years of age. My brother Edward was at school at Highgate. As my brother Charles was over 16 my father decided to take him back to Dominica. A young man called Soverain, son of a Frenchman who died and left my father his guardian came out with us in Captain Faulkiner’s ship. There were three other gentlemen, one lately married with his wife. We sailed from Gravesend. When we got to Portsmouth the wind was dead against us and we were there a fortnight. My father landed and we had a room at the hotel, but the Captain’s family lived at Portsmouth and they invited me to stay at their house until the ship sailed. We were detained there with contrary wind. My father and other gentlemen went ashore there and left my brother and the young Soverain to look after me. The beach looked so lovely and the green hills. We were wishing we could get to the shore and my brother persuaded the mate to let a boat be lowered and one of the sailors row us to the beach as it looked quite close but was a great distance from the town. I could not be left so I went on shore with them and we picked shells and never thought of the time. They signaled for the boat to come for us but they did not come until so late and we were getting rather alarmed. My father never said anything to me but the captain gave me a lecture next day, told me that if the wind had got up it might not have been possible to get me back in a small boat. We sailed next day and got to the Downs, the weather too stormy to procede—the gentleman’s wife very ill from sea-sickness—the gentlemen joined together in buying a cow at the Downs, also a barrel of oysters. The captain’s son would open for me as many as I liked and being the only child on board I was spoiled. I learned to play whist with my brother and George S.—and Dummy—we played every day—at night the gentlemen required the cards. My father was as good as a mother to me. He mended my clothes when I tore them. Two toothbrushes and my soap, left on a little shelf in my bunk, disappeared. I was near a small window near the companion stairs. My father thought I did not replace them when asked but they were found on a place where the meat was kept. A monkey belonging to one of the sailors had carried them up at a part of the mast called, I think, the Trees. The passage was a very long one. The poor lady was never out of her room all the voyage. When we arrived at Dominica my brother Charles went as articled clerk to Mr. Blanc, the lawyer. My sister commenced to teach me again. She had a nice quiet horse and often went to ride before breakfast. A number of ladies and gentlemen went together. I could always get a pony or donkey. On one occasion the pony belonging to one of the officers ran away with me, on the Parade Ground, and only that he happened to be coming down, Mr. Bana saw me—hurried and got up in time to save me or I would have been thrown. Mr. Court, who lived near us, accompanied my sister on these rides and was at our house every evening. He was widower and well off. He asked my sister in marriage but she would not have him. It was at this time I used to look out of our drawing-room window into Mr. Court’s office, watching Tom Court instead of learning my lessons. A dancing master came to the house to teach me dancing as Tom Court had never learned and wished to do so. My mother begged his uncle to let him come over and have lessons with me, so we learned the minuet. The master was an old coloured man—had been an opera dancer in France. My sister was invited to stay with my aunt in St. Vincent’s on a visit. My cousin Clarissa had arrived and, my sister requiring a change, my father took her over. Mrs. Constable, who had the care of my cousin at school, had a grown-up daughter and 2 sons. The eldest, John, was desperately in love with Clarissa and asked her to marry him but she refused. He did not get over it for a long time and it caused a coolness with my aunt’s family. They did not invite my cousin Mary Anne when I was often invited to spend a few days. They had a lovely residence. Mr. Constable made a fortune in Dominica in the Commissionary [sic] and wisely took his departure and settled his family at Battersea. When my sister left for St. Vincent I was sent to a day school and as Fanny Court had arrived from England for a visit to her Uncle she offered to give me music lessons...”

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Further August Saupé

Two young German sculptors come to Australia, one to South Australia in the late 1870s, the other to Melbourne in September 1879, aboard the Sultan. They were probably students together in Berlin. In 1879–80 they collaborate on modeling and casting in Portland cement one of the costliest and most ambitious public monuments ever to be undertaken in Melbourne, the Exhibition Fountain in the Carlton Gardens. Afterwards the twenty-six or twenty-seven year-old Josef Hochgürtel, evidently senior partner in that enterprise, simply vanishes. Either he dies or, more probably, leaves the colony, though he is absent from any outbound passenger list. There is no trace of him in any published source that deals with nineteenth-century European sculpture, Australian colonial or any other sort of art, nor any other surviving work of art that can be connected with him even remotely, and the same is true of his collaborator, Carl August Lebericht Saupé. However, thanks to the National Library of Australia in Canberra, who have lately made available online huge runs of keyword-searchable colonial newspapers, a surprisingly detailed picture of the career of August Saupé, as he was known, can now be assembled in a matter of minutes, where previously it would have required weeks and months’ study of grainy microfilm, with no guarantee of discovering anything useful. On Monday, August 14, 1882, the South Australian Register reported (under “Sculpture”): “We have had an opportunity of inspecting some specimens of sculpture executed by Mr. August Saupe [sic], who has opened a studio in Pirie-street, and deserves recognition for his skill in modeling and designing. He has modeled a bust of His Worship the Mayor (Mr. E[dwin]. T[homas]. Smith [1830–1919]), preparatory to executing one in marble [untraced], and, judging from the clay study [untraced], has hit off the characteristic expression of Mr. Smith’s features with wonderful fidelity. A small statuette of Sir Redmond Barry [1813–1880] [untraced] has been produced by Mr. Saupe, who intends to compete for the prize offered for the best conception upon which to design a bronze statue of Sir Redmond in Melbourne. The figure is a full-length one, and represents the late Victorian judge in his cap and robes as Chancellor of the University. He stands erect, with one hand resting lightly upon a book placed upon a pedestal, and the right arm is disposed across the chest—a scroll is held in the hand. The left leg is slightly advanced, thrusting aside the robe and breaking the straight folds of the drapery in a very effective way, showing that the artist has studied artistic effect with true judgment. The whole attitude is easy, graceful, and natural, giving the figure an air of quiet dignity. The likeness appears to be a good one, with no harshness in the lines of the face. Mr. Saupe also has a design for the pedestal, which is to be sixteen feet high, and it has many meritorious points about it.” The posthumous Barry commission actually went to James Gilbert (1830–1885), who died before the work was completed. The statue was finished by Percival Ball (1845–1900), and still stands in front of the State Library of Victoria in Swanston Street. It bears a striking similarity to this detailed description of Saupé’s model. The Register resumed: “Amongst other specimens of his skill are several small figures [untraced] and a kind of tablet with thirteen niches—the central one occupied by a small figure of the Savior and the others by the twelve Apostles [untraced].” Two months later, on Saturday, October 28, the Advertiser reported: “We have been favored with a view of a bust [untraced] of His Excellency the Governor [Sir William Jervois, 1821–1897], nearly executed by Herr August Saupe [sic], who has within the past four months opened a studio in Pirie-street, opposite the Union Bank. The bust, which is life-size, pourtrays [sic] His Excellency in his full orders and decorations, and without exaggeration it may be said to be a life-like representation of the original. For fidelity and likeness the model excels even that executed by Herr Saupe of Mr. E[dwin]. T[homas]. Smith, M.P., the Mayor of Adelaide, which has recently been admired by so many. We understand that His Excellency, who only sat three times, is highly satisfied with the result of the sculptor’s labors, and all who have seen the bust testify to the merit of the work. It may be mentioned that Herr Saupe, who studied at Dresden and Berlin, and took a prize at the Copenhagen [Pan-Nordic] Exhibition [of 1872], unlike some artists who have visited Adelaide, is staying in the city, where it is to be hoped his talents may receive such approbation and support as will induce him not to leave.” On April 28, 1884, the Adelaide Advertiser reported: “In Mr. Winckler’s wine saloon, opposite the Adelaide Town Hall, may be seen a splendid specimen in miniature of the sculptor’s art, representing John the Baptist preaching in the Wilderness [untraced]. The artist is Herr August Saupé, a German sculptor, evidently of considerable skill in his profession.” This may be the same “Hoh-relief copy [untraced] of [Bertil] Thorwaldsen’s ‘John the Baptist Preaching in the Wilderness [i.e. pediment of the Frue Kirke, now Copenhagen cathedral],’” that was listed among Saupé’s other contributions to the Class III section (“Sculpture, Statuary, and Artistic Modelling”) of the South Australian Court at the Colonial and Indian Exhibition which took place in London in 1886 (Official Catalogue of Exhibits in South Australian Court, Adelaide: Government Printer, 1886). In a lengthy letter to the editor of the South Australian Register, dated “Port Vincent, March 14, 1885,” and printed on the nineteenth under the heading “Dr. Haacke on Science in South Australia,” Dr. J[ohann]. W[ilhelm]. Haacke [1855–1912], formerly director of the South Australian Museum, complained: “The Australian sponges are being described by Dr. [Robert] von Lendenfeld [1858–1913], of Sydney. He has identified most of the species represented in the Adelaide Museum, but since the museum has been left to the care of nobody a confusion of the sponges has taken place, and a new collection will have to be formed, and to be sent to Dr. von Lendenfeld. Then I would suggest the advisability of forming a collection of painted plaster casts of fresh sponges. The dried skeletons give a very inadequate idea of living sponges, which in some cases are very beautiful; and in Mr. Saupe [sic], the sculptor, the colony possesses an artist who would be able to execute the painted plaster-casts. But I am afraid that Mr. Saupe, like other professional men, finds it very hard to make use of his talents in this colony.” One possible inference here is that Saupé had already undertaken work of this nature for the South Australian Museum, as is also suggested by what we know about the life-sized wax models of Aborigines [untraced] that he created for the Indian and Colonial Exhibition in London in 1886. The following year, the Register reported (under “Miscellaneous,” Monday, September 6, 1886, p. 2): “On view at Wivell’s Art Gallery is a well-executed bust of Sir William Robinson, in plaster of paris [untraced], by M. Saupé, who has skillfully caught the expression of the Governor’s face and produced an excellent likeness. He intends to copy it in marble [untraced] for display at the Jubilee Exhibition. The originals of the two models of natives in the South Australian Court of the Indian and Colonial Exhibition are to be seen at Wivell’s, and are well worth inspection. They are modeled and coloured to the life. The artist, M. Saupé, has evidently spared no pains in working out every trifling detail of the physical characteristics. These faithful representations of South Australian aborigines are valuable from a scientific point of view, as the native type is fast disappearing, and these are really excellent.” Those models formed part of a remarkable installation that was described in great detail by the special correspondent of the Advertiser on Monday, May 10, 1886, and provides a vivid record of the prominent place allotted to Saupé’s work, and the remarkable context in which it was seen by thousands of visitors.
THE COLONIAL AND INDIAN EXHIBITION THE SOUTH AUSTRALIAN COURT The court allotted to South Australia occupies nearly 12,00 feet, and is in the form of an obtuse T square, bounded on the north by the Canadian Court, on the east by Queensland, on the south by Victoria, and on the west by Fiji, having passages from all four points. Dividing these principal entrances are open spaces, furnished with seats made out of colonial timbers sent by your Adelaide commissioners. These seats are very plainly constructed, but show off the beautiful grain and polish of the ironbark, blackwood, and red gum. The main entrance is through a triumphal arch of rustic design, gaily decorated with flags and banners of Australian design, having emblematic devices upon them. In the centre of the arch appears the word “Adelaide;” on the right hand of this upon the lower column the mining district of Burra Burra is shown, and upon the opposite column “Mount Barker.” These are intended to be representative names of places in South Australia typical of the industries carried on. The “Burra” refers to mining, and following its arch are all the mineral specimens of Mr. Cloud and the Government Geologist, the stones and fossils of the colony; and an immense Gothic archway resting upon solidly built piers carries our exhibit of Wallaroo copper weighing upwards of 25 tons of the real article. That of the E. & A. Copper Company is enclosed in a handsome show-case, and is mostly composed of refined copper beaten out. On the other side Mount Barker leads to the display from the grain and wheat producing districts, the beautiful specimens of wax fruit models, all the implements used in agriculture, and generally the exhibits representative of our staple produce. Throughout the whole of the designs for decorative purposes a clear and distinct plan can be traced. Although Sir Arthur Blyth has been appointed the Executive Commissioner, yet his multifarious duties as Agent-General prevent him giving to those of an Executive Commissioner that attention the importance of them demands, so that the whole of the labor falls upon Sir Samuel Davenport. There is no man better qualified than Sir Samuel to fulfil the duties connected with the due representation of the colony here, and to conduct it to a successful issue. In deciding upon the names to be painted upon the panels of the walls it was a study with him to give prominence to places which every colonist would know, and that no district with any claim whatever to be that of a representative one should have its name left out of the 40 panels. The north is represented by Palmerston, Beltana, Port Augusta, Quorn, and other places; the south has Gambierton, Penola, and Beachport; the Murray district, Mannum, Goolwa, and Palmer; the Peninsula, Wallaroo, Moonta, and Kadina; whilst vineyards such as Tintara, Seppeltsfield, Magill, Auldana, and Pewsey Vale, together with fruit districts such as Highercombe, Angaston, Clare, and Craiglee, have been made, are celebrated by their names being placed in a niche in this temple of fame. The visitor entering our court by the archway on the right will find the walls divided into panels of about 10 feet each. The lower parts are painted a maroon color, against which are placed photographs frames in black-and-gold, and in this contrast they are well displayed, having the advantage of a good light upon them, so that visitors having rather hazy notions of Australia will see from our buildings that we are a little further advanced than many of them may be inclined to imagine, especially when they see the real bushman’s hut erected in part of our court. Above the photographs is a panel painted with a clear bluish tint, upon which a floral wreath is bent in semicircle shape. Each panel shows a distinctive fruit or flower, such as the orange, citron, cherry, apple, peach, &c., and these are not mere fancy sketches, but are absolutely faithful representations of our South Australian fruits. As the artist completed his work the fruits were each one by one compared with the models of wax fruits sent by your commission, and if any alteration was required either in form or color it was made there and then. As there are 40 panels it was felt by your commissioners that a few of them might be filled with drawings of Brown’s “Forest Flora,” and this has been done with a grand effect, these celebrated drawings being faithfully reproduced upon the walls on an enlarged scale. Above each of these floral wreaths appear the different names of towns in South Australia, and upon the roof reaching from the eaves to the glass frames, so as to cover the rafters, is suspended a valance, which is stenciled with wreaths of vines emblematic of the colony. From the entrance archway up to the point where the natural history scene commences this description of your decorations applies, but here a totally different design appears. The roof is covered over with light muslin, through which an Australian sky is represented by the aid of the painter, whose efforts have been successful in giving that tone to it which none but an Australian can understand. Underneath the sky is one grand representation of the flora and fauna of South Australia, views of our country and its natural features occupying a total floor space of about 2,00 feet and a wall space of upwards of 4,000 feet. Such a space could not have been available under the first application made by the Colton Government, who evidently did not know the requirements of the colony. We are even now cramped for room with a total space of over 12,000 feet. The scene representative of the colony opens on the sea-shore in the south-east. A sandy beach leads up to rocky cliffs, where a number of seals are disporting themselves on the rocks below.. One big fellow is fixed with his flippers to the green sea moss-covered rocks; another is just emerging out of the sea, his head and shoulders being above water,whilst a number of smaller ones are placed here and there picturesquely, realizing the sealing grounds of Kangaroo Island. Passing round the point we come to open country. Here real grass and trees are growing, and on the walls are depicted the flora of the island from drawings made by Mrs. Strawbridge. In a sheltered nook is seated the life-sized model by Saupe [sic] of an aboriginal kindling a fire by friction of the fire-sticks used by the blacks in their native state [see illustration above]. The termination of this point is abruptly broken by an entrance passage into the Canadian Court, over which rocks have been piled and grasses indigenous to the colony are shown growing. In his rocky eyrie the white-tailed eagle has built himself a nest, sea birds are perched here and there, and out of a cranny peeps a rock wallaby. Here and there birds of beautiful plumage are suspended in a really lifelike manner, whilst a little further on the scene becomes more mountainous in its character—more closely remembling Mount Barker and theMount Lofty Ranges. At the foot of a hill a mia-mia has been erected, and the models from the Adelaide Museum are fixed. The man coming in from hunting, and the lubra with the picanniny on her back, kneeling down lighting a fire to cook the opossum he has just brought in, present a realistic picture of Australian life such as few people in Australia have seen, and which will recall to the old pioneers of the colony incidents daily seen by them when the Adelaide tribe of blacks were camped near the now populous city. The whole of the background, covering a space of 1,500 feet, is occupied with a river scene. The Murray embouches [sic] from between precipitous high cliffs on the one side and a more decidedly pastoral country upon its left bank. Winding its way along, a sand-spit bars its passage, and a few snags and billabongs obstruct its flow until it nears the vicinity of Lake Alexandrina. A miniature copy of the lake has been made, and a bark canoe placed thereon, in which is a model of a fine black-fellow, whom Saupe vivifies by his art, stands, spear in hand, in the act of fishing. The scenery is principally drawn from pictures sent by Adelaide artists, but to give proper effect a little liberty has been taken with some of the views, though sufficient is shown to enable any one knowing the district to recognize the scenery of the place. Lake Alexandrina flows onward in its course until it reaches the termination of the upper portion of our court, where a descent of several feet is utilized to create a waterfall, which splashes and dashes along its rocky way past the back of the bush hut, and disappears towards the sea. Grouped in natural order are seen specimens of the kangaroo, emu, and most of our birds with beautiful plumage. Wombats burrow underground, rock wallabies peep forth from holes in the cliffs, and opossums clamber from branch to branch of the gumtrees. Upon the branches of a eucalyptus, a snake is stretched out at full length, his head slightly erect in the act of darting upon a little bird, which seems as if paralysed with fear. Suspended overhead with invisible wires are a number of other birds. One near the entrance deserves special mention. It is a laughing jackass holding a snake by the neck ready to dash it upon the ground. These, as I have already pointed out, are not mere fanciful sketches made by artists who have no data upon which to work, but as nearly as possible are taken from the drawings of Miss Fiveash, Mrs. Strawbridge, Miss Wehl, and others who have sent beautiful sketches of the flora of South Australia. The fauna of our country are shown with truthful vigor in al the stuffed specimens sent by Mr. Beazley of the Museum, and arranged here in order by Mr. Gerrard. Few of our own people have seen two kangaroos in the act of fighting. The combat, as represented in our court, is lifelike, and will, judging from the artists who have seen it, soon be as popular as Landseer’s picture of the combat between two stags. There is a general idea that the emu does not sit upon her eggs, but leaves them to be hatched in the sun. This idea will be dispelled for ever in the minds of the youngsters viewing the groups here, for in one corner of the scene an emu is sitting upon real eggs after the manner known by those who have seen these birds in the bush. An eagle is flying over the Mount Lofty ranges with a young kangaroo in its claws. The whole grouping of the scene is a lesson in Australian natural history, which will be of incalculable value to the rising generation in this—the old country. Prominent in the foreground is a pillar of black Kapunda marble, upon which is placed a bust of Sturt. It is almost pathetic to see the loving way in which Sir Samuel Davenport treats the bust of his old friend. Traits of Sturt’s character are mentioned to willing listeners who cannot help comparing the two men together. There is a great similarity between their characters, and the power each possessed of attracting loyal service from all with whom they come into contact is a particularly striking point of agreement between them.
In the late autumn of 1886, Saupé made a death mask (untraced) of the Reverend Alexander Rutherford Russell, Dean of Adelaide, “with the view of executing any bust, medallion, or other similar memento that it might be desirable to have” (Advertiser, Tuesday, May 25, 1886, p. 4). At the Adelaide Jubilee Exhibition of 1887, Saupé (of “Stepney”) received an award in the second order of merit for “medallions in plaster of Paris” (untraced, South Australian Register, Thursday, October 6, 1887, p. 7), which were presumably the same medallions that were sent to the Colonial and Indian Exhibition in London in 1886, viz. “(2) Medallion of the Hon. Sir Henry Ayers, K.C.M.G., President Legislative Council [untraced]. (3) Medallion of late Rev. James Way, Bible Christian Minister [untraced]. (4) Medallion of Dr. Way [untraced]. (5) Medallion of the late Dr. Cha[rle]s. Gosse [untraced].” Earlier in the year Saupé was involved in an effort to form a South Australian Association of Artists, the better “to secure a local Art Court at the Jubilee Exhibition” (South Australian Register, Wednesday, April 20, 1887, p. 6), and to use that event as a foundation for a more permanent institutional framework for professional artists in Adelaide. Two years later, in 1888, Saupé had moved to Victoria, and exhibited “busts in plaster of Paris” in the Victorian court at the Centennial International Exhibition. He appears in the catalogue misspelled as “Souipe, A.” of 15 Flinders Lane (Centennial International Exhibition: The Official Catalogue of Exhibits, under Class 11, “General Application of the Arts of Drawing and Modelling,” Vol. 1, p. 45, no. 69.) By 1890 Saupé appears to have settled in Richmond, where he turned his hand to inventing. In March he applied for letters patent for a method of burning gypsum by heated air (Victoria Government Gazette, No. 25, Friday, March 14, 1890, p. 1017) and a hearing was scheduled for April 15 at the Patent Office in Lonsdale Street. The following year he was prospecting for gold and other minerals. On Wednesday, November 18, the South Australian Register reported: “Mr. Saupe [sic], a miner, who for some time past has been searching in the Hundred of Myponga for quicksilver has brought some promising-looking specimens to the city. He says he has spent £600 in prospecting, and claims now to have made a favorable discovery. A few weeks ago the Government Geologist reported unfavorably as to the prospects of finding quicksilver [see “Alleged Discovery of Mercury,” South Australian Register, Friday, April 10, 1891, p. 7], but Mr. Saupé has now driven 100 ft. into a hill in another place about seven miles from Willunga. In the stuff he has in town quicksilver can be seen with the naked eye. A Syndicate is being formed to take over the claims. Mr. Saupe says that he also has hopes of finding payable gold and coal, assays having given 4 oz. to the ton of the former precious metal.” Two years later year Saupé (now “of Melbourne”) took out another provisional patent for “improvements in gold-extracting machinery,” viz. “a machine for treating tailings and alluvial soil and to extract fine gold from crushed quartz” (South Australian Register, Wednesday, June 21, 1893, p. 3, and Wednesday, May 17, p. 7), and reappeared nine years later, back in Richmond (at 85 Coppin Street) in connection with “improvements in the methods and apparatus for vertical rock drilling.” Presumably his work on this invention led him to discoverof small but apparently viable quantities of gold at Myponga, south of Yankalilla (July 1903), and at Wonna, near Terowie (March 1904). Through all this he evidently held onto his profession as an artist, because on Wednesday, April 10, 1901, the Adelaide Advertiser reported under “Personal” (p. 5): Mr. A. Saupe [sic], R.A., [sic] sculptor, of Melbourne, has now on view at his studio a beautiful bust of the Duke of Cornwall and York [untraced], and also one of [Field Marshal] Lord Roberts [V.C., K.G., K.P., G.C.B., O.M., G.C.S.I., G.C.I.E., P.C.] [untraced], both of which have just been completed by him. Mr. Saupe, who is a gold medallist, and won first prize [sic] at the Indian and Colonial Exhibition for his [two] life size figures of Australian blacks, is now, says the Melbourne “Age,” engaged in modeling a bust of King Edward VII [untraced]. In his earlier days he was a fellow student with the Princess Royal, Dowager-Empress of Germany, and had the honour of receiving a commission from the late Queen Victoria for a bust in marble of the late Prince Alice [untraced]. He also executed a bust of the King of Saxony [untraced]. Amongst his local works are busts of Sir William Robinson, Sir William Jervois, Sir Samuel Davenport [untraced], Sir Henry Ayers [untraced], and Sir E[dwin]. T[homas]. Smith, of Adelaide.” The bust of Lord Roberts lingered for several years, because on Tuesday, October 2, 1906 (p. 4), the South Australian Register reported: “The well-known sculptor, Herr Saupe [sic], R.A., [sic] has executed a striking bust of Lord Roberts in full military orders and decorations, which is being exhibited for the first time in Adelaide at Fruhling’s studios, [62] Rundle street. This is the original model, is life-size, and should be valuable to any one interested in artistic work and military matters.” The same morning, the Advertiser (p. 8) printed exactly the same advertorial, but added: “Herr Saupe was specially complimented by the Prince of Wales when in Melbourne on a bust of His Royal Highness, and has also exceuted busts of Sir W[illiam]. [Francis] D[rummond]. Jervois, Sir William Robinson, and Sir Samuel Davenport, &c.” On Tuesday, June 18, 1912 (p. 7), the Sydney Morning Herald reported under “General Notes”: Mr. August Saupe [sic], a sculptor, of Balaclava (Vic.) draws the attention of the building trade and architectural profession to the fact that in Australia there are large deposits of gypsum, but these, he says, are sadly heglected. Mr. Saupe claims that this gypsum is a natural cement and could be easily converted into such a material as waterproof mortar, a kind of carbonate of magnesia lime, at half the cost of the imported plaster of Paris. Mr. Saupe states that millions of tons of this material are lying unobserved in all the States, and that it has been proven by experts that Australian gypsum has all the virtues of the imported material. He thinks that if the public could be convinced of its good qualities by an exhibition of the different kinds of plasters, in the shape of casts of ornaments, figures, and architectural models, then architects and builders might be encouraged to use it in preference to the imported article, and to the advantage of the public.”

Here, then, is a considerable body of work. If we take these shreds of press comment at face value, beyond his involvement with the Exhibition Fountain by Josef Hochgürtel, between 1880 and 1901 August Saupé produced in Adelaide and Melbourne eight, maybe nine portrait busts, four of incumbent governors and public gentlemen; at least five plaster medallions, possibly more; two life-sized polychrome wax figures; the Barry modello; some sort of screen or retable housing Christ and the twelve Apostles; a replica of Thorvaldsen’s St. John the Baptist Preaching in the Wilderness, or else his own interpretation of the same subject, and at least one death mask. He occupied at least two full-scale studios in Adelaide, so there must have been more works in clay and/or plaster, and at least a few of them surely survive somewhere, gathering dust. Yet despite Saupé’s flair for self-promotion—the claims about student days in Berlin with the Empress Frederick, that portrait bust of King Albert of Saxony and an almost certainly unverifiable posthumous portrait bust of the Grand Duchess of Hesse are decidedly shrill, and presumably reflect the artist’s desire carefully to differentiate himself from Kennedy, that ostler with the rude tools, as well as the artistic but amateur Mesdames Gray, Strawbridge, Fiveash, and Wehl. Meanwhile such projects as the portrait busts of Lord Roberts and the future King George V were obviously strategic. Yet Saupé’s ambitious sculptural practice ultimately through the mid-1890s gave way to prospecting for quicksilver and gold. His effort in 1912 to talk up local gypsum, with which his first patent application dealt more than twenty years earlier, is infinitely sad. It was, after all, sixty years since Thomas Woolner reached the same conclusions, and, in the absence of any imported plaster of paris, used local gypsum to make the plaster for his own portrait medallions. Perhaps if August Saupé had arrived in the Australian colonies ten, twenty, thirty years earlier, he might have been remembered. Instead, like Josef Hochgürtel, he and most of his work have simply vanished.

Carl August Lebericht Saupé died in Melbourne in 1913.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

More August Saupé

A letter to the editor of the South Australian Register, published on Thursday, February 25, 1886 (p. 7), sheds a little more light on the shadowy sculptor August Saupé. It seems to have been prompted by plans either to dispatch various items from Adelaide to the Royal Jubilee Exhibition at Old Trafford in Manchester in May 1887, or to gather them for the Adelaide Jubilee Exhibition, perhaps both. These events were organized to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the accession of Queen Victoria. The correspondent, who signed himself “PLASTIC,” was evidently involved with drawing up one or both of those plans, although his letter is strangely ambiguous in several other respects—for example appearing to suggest, first, that existing “masterly models of the aborigines” by Saupé (in polychrome wax) were certainly destined for display in England, and, later, that such works were not yet executed but merely awaited a commission. Whichever it was, these sculptures appear to have been very similar to polychrome wax replicas (above) of the busts of Tasmanian Aborigines that were cast in 1835 by Benjamin Law (1807–1882). At least two of the works by Saupé were completed six weeks earlier, when on January 12, 1886, the Adelaide Advertiser reported that “Herr A. Saupé, the sculptor, has just completed two life-size figures of male aboriginals, one standing and spearing a fish from his canoe, the other in a sitting posture, with a fire-stick between his hands. They are modelled from life, the subject being a man of the Point Macleay tribe [i.e. the Ngarrindjeri people; Point Macleay on Lake Alexandrina in South Australia has since 1982 been known by the Indigenous name of Raukkan].”


Sir—As my suggestions met unrestricted approval wherever I advanced them, the insertion of my lines may be welcome to those who are specially interested in the success of the Exhibition. I was singularly struck with the masterly models of the aborigines by Herr Saupé, and, indeed, deplore their going to London without having exhibited them here to the public under proper arrangements. I saw in Berlin the very best in the art of wax modeling, and found these equal, if not superior. The secret of our talented sculptor is his rare gift of discerning colours, combined with excellence in copying figures from life. As a rule the predominance of either natural gift for colours or shape decides the choice of the student whether to be sculptor or artist. In Herr Saupé both gifts are remarkably developed, and might be profitably put to task in working out a group of specimens of all different races existing in the Australian Colonies. If Herr Saupé would be commissioned to take copies from well-selected specimens, such a collection would certainly prove highly valuable, not only for the Exhibition but for all times, and I believe the required investment of money a safe, if not profitable one. I hope some practical gentlemen in connection with the Exhibition schemes will consider these suggestions.

I am, Sir, &c.,


Captain Bracegirdle

The name of Josef Hochgürtel, literally “Highgirdles,” reminds me of a good story about the late Admiral Sir Brian Murray, who, when serving as Governor of Victoria, was taking some foreign dignitary along a receiving line at Government House in Melbourne, and, for no apparent reason, presented his honorary naval aide-de-camp not correctly as Lieutenant-Commander Warwick Teasdale (above), but as “Captain Bracegirdle” instead. These things happen, I suppose, and usually because of the sudden firing of stray synapses in the brain, but for the subject of the misidentification it can be difficult to repress laughter, or keep a straight face. I am sure Warwick’s demeanour was impeccable, though even now I cannot think of him without wondering who Captain Bracegirdle was, and by what roundabout way His Excellency alighted upon that particularly memorable and unusual name substitution. Presumably he was not thinking of the young German artist who with August Saupé in 1880 conceived the Exhibition Fountain in the Carlton Gardens.

Josef Hochgürtel and August Saupé

There is a tendency in Australian heritage circles to set aside detached assessments of aesthetic quality in respect of the colonial built environment, and fill that void with bright jingo. A perfect example is Stonnington, which for the first few decades after Federation served as State Government House. It is generally described as a mansion, but Lady Talbot, who lived there, thought it was “a nasty little villa,” which is without question more accurate—Stonnington is old, comparatively large, and obviously “historic,” but it is not great architecture, nor probably even good.

In a similar vein, last week I was intrigued by the large fountain that stands in front of the south façade of the Royal Exhibition Building, and is actually an indispensible fulcrum for the principal arch, the forecourt, and the axial arrangement of the entire design of the Carlton Gardens on the Victoria Street side. According to the plaque, that fountain was designed and modeled in Portland cement by a man who rejoiced in the name of Josef Hochgürtel, and this is evidently the only work by him that was ever built in colonial Australia. Here is what the emelbourne website says about him, and it:

Josef Hochgurtel was born in Cologne and trained under Herr Fuels, who modeled the Cologne Cathedral. In creating the Exhibition Fountain, he was assisted by August Saupe, who had worked on similar pieces in Berlin, Dresden and Copenhagen. The colossal fountain stands some ten meters high on the south side of the Royal Exhibition Building, outside the Great Hall. It was constructed for the first of Melbourne’s two grand international world fairs. The fountain’s visual elements were designed to display the young colony’s confidence and advancement, simultaneously signaling the purpose of world fairs to display the produce and industry of nations. At the central level of the fountain, four youths (representing a young and vibrant colony) dance below symbols of the arts, science, commerce and industry; for example, musical instruments, a telescope, sailing ship, steam engine and globe of the world. Above this are images of Victoria’s indigenous flora and fauna, and a boy with a clamshell. Holding all of this aloft are four merpeople rising up from the waters of the lower pool. Built during Victoria’s boom years, the fountain’s spouting water, it was thought, would demonstrate the power and success of the recently established Yan Yean project, which brought potable water to the city. On opening day, however, the pressure was too poor to affect much more than a spurt from atop of the grand edifice. In 1994, Hochgurtel’s fountain underwent major restoration. It remains a great reminder of the glorious days of Marvelous Melbourne.

Hmmm, yes. Time for a little fact-checking.
The names of Josef Hochgurtel and August Saupe and Fuels do not appear in Saur (Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon Bio-Bibliographischer Index), nor in the revised Bénézit, nor in Thieme–Becker, which is very suspicious, but it turns out that whoever drafted this text gleaned most if not all of the pertinent facts from an article entitled “The Exhibition Fountain” that appeared in the Argus on Tuesday, May 18, 1880 (p. 7). There it is made clear that Messrs. Hochgürtel and Saupé were present in the colony, which partly explains why they flew under the radar screen of Thieme–Becker, and almost everybody else since then. Mr. Saupé may have come overland from Adelaide, where he is documented living slightly later. His name appears nowhere in the shipping lists. Mr. Hochgürtel, meanwhile, “a young German artist, who has recently arrived here with the intention of settling in Melbourne should sufficient inducement be offered,” in fact sailed into Hobson’s Bay aboard the Sultan in September 1879, aged 25. According to the Argus, “Mr. Hochgürtel, who is a native of Cologne, has enjoyed a wide continental experience, having received his preliminary training at the hands of Herr Fuels, of that city, modeler for the Cologne cathedral, the noblest Gothic structure in Germany…” I have used Australian colonial newspapers for so long that by now I can not only spot a misspelled name, but can usually correct it. Now, the Kolner Dom was begun on August 15, 1248. Construction ground to a halt in 1560 and did not recommence until 1842, when the work was directed by the Gothic Revival architect Ernst Friedrich Zwirner (1802–1861), liberally financed by the King of Prussia and the Zentral-Dombau-Verein. So Herr Fuels must have been a sculptor working on the site, and, sure enough, there he is, popping up in the records as Peter Fuchs (1829–1889), a churner out of hundreds of life- and over life-sized figures for the interior and exterior of the cathedral. Mr. Hochgürtel, the Argus went on, “was also associated with Professor Hasenphlug [sic], of Cassel [sic], and Professor Franz, of Berlin, and studied anatomy under Professor de la Halette St. George [sic], at Bonn, and Professor Lucea [sic], at Frankfort-on-Maine [sic]. Mr. Hochgürtel has with him another European artist of considerable experience—M. August Saupé, who has been engaged upon similar works at Berlin, Dresden, and Copenhagen.” Karl Hassenpflug (1824–1890) was from 1868 professor of sculpture at the Kasseler Akademie. Julius Franz (1824–1887), of the Berliner Akademie, specialized in portrait busts and rather wan genre groups in marble. Adolf Johann Hubert, Baron de la Valette St. George (1831–1910), director of the Anatomisches Institut at Bonn, was actually an ichthyologist, and alas I cannot trace Professor Lucea (obviously misspelled). M. Saupé may have belonged to a family of artists in Dresden, meanwhile, because Saur and Thieme–Becker record Johann Gottlob Sauppe, sculptor of capitals for the Church of the Holy Cross in that city (active 1764–1792), and also Louis Saupe, “Genremaler u[nd]. Lithograph um 1845/47, tätig in Cassel u[nd]. Dresden,” in other words just maybe our sculptor’s father, or else an uncle or cousin. August Saupé definitely crops up in the Class III (“Sculpture, Statuary, and Artistic Modelling”) section of the Official Catalogue of Exhibits in South Australian Court at the Colonial and Indian Exhibition which took place in London in 1886. The entry gives an excellent impression of the gentleman’s range, and also the general artistic company he kept in colonial Adelaide: “1. Commissioners for South Australia.—(1) Plaster cast of Mullaway fish. (2) Plaster cast of South Australian fish (painted, natural tints, by A. Saupe [sic]). (3) Wax models of Fruits grown in South Australia (made by Mrs. Gray, Melbourne-street, North Adelaide). (4) Plaster casts of Merino Ram, and one double cast of the same. 2. Kennedy, William, Noarlunga.—Carving on slate by a self-taught workman, “Old England and the New.” The exhibitor is an ostler [i.e. a stable-man, usually at an inn], and has executed this work with rude tools. 3. Saupe, August, Adelaide.—(1) Bust of Sir W. F. D. Jervois, G.C.M.G., C.B., ex-Governor of South Australia. (2) Medallion of the Hon. Sir Henry Ayers, K.C.M.G., President Legislative Council. (3) Medallion of late Rev. James Way, Bible Christian Minister. (4) Medallion of Dr. Way. (5) Medallion of the late Dr. Chas. Gosse. (6) Hoh-relief copy of [Bertil] Thorwaldsen’s ‘John the Baptist Preaching in the Wilderness [i.e. pediment of the Frue Kirke, now Copenhagen cathedral].’” Mr. Saupé is also mentioned in connection with an intriguing proposal to create an ambitious group of polychrome wax models of Australian Aborigines, and much later as a prospector for quicksilver and gold. Finally, in 1900 the Queensland branch of the Royal Geographical Society acquired a medallion of Ferdinand von Mueller by August Saupé, to whose name at least several papers (the Queenslander, the South Australian Register and the Advertiser) added the fictitious postnominals “R.A.” The Exhibition Fountain itself belongs to the so-called Renaissance Revival type, usually with various personifications, that was pioneered in France by Louis-Tullius-Joachim Visconti (1791–1853), and proliferated as a model for the modern city, to some extent imitated but also given a distinctly stodgy cast for German squares and terraces by the building inspector of Karlsruhe, Friedrich Weinbrenner (1766–1826). The Argus gives the best and most comprehensive reading of the artist’s scale model for the projected fountain, which was displayed in the window of Messrs. Nicholson and Ascherberg, music publishers, “importers of fortepianos, cabinet organs, and harmoniums,” along with a corresponding scale model of the Royal Exhibition Building (also made by Hochgürtel) :
The design, which is to be carried out by the artist himself, is for a fountain 34 ft. high, rising out of a basin 60 ft. in diameter. The material used in its construction will be the best Portland cement, on a strong framework of stone and iron, and when finished the fountain is expected to be the handsomest structure of its kind in the Australian colonies. The base of the fountain is an irregularly-shaped mass of rock, rising 2 ft. or 3 ft. above the level of the water, on which there are three colossal figures, half human and half fish, supporting the first ledge or basin, 48 ft. in diameter. The figures are each 9 ft. high, and in the bays formed by their tails are placed three boys, one deeply intent on fishing, another stooping down to dip up some water in a shell, while a third is represented in the ludicrous position of affright at the appearance of a turtle which is crawling up out of the water towards him. Above the first basin the central column is continued in the form of a hemisphere, around which four boys are dancing hand-in-hand. These figures will represent Commerce, Industry, Science, and Art, symbolical devices being shown over the heads of the dancers. The second basin has a circumference of 30 ft., and above this the fountain is continued in another form, the supporting pillar being fancifully embellished with birds and flowers, all of which are taken from species indigenous to Victoria. Twenty-nine feet above the level of the water, the third ledge or basin supports the figure of a boy bearing on his head a basket with four fishes, from the mouths of which streams of water will flow and from the basket itself will rise a strong jet, which may be forced up to a height of 70 ft., should the pressure be available. In addition to the figures described, 12 young crocodiles are shown in the act of crawling up from the water below, and simultaneously invading the first basin of the fountain. Their forepaws and heads are level with the water in the basin, and from the mouth of each a jet of water ascends, which, curling outwards, falls into the huge basin below—a clear descent of 22 ft. The upper basins are imperceptibly filled with water, which falls downward in sheets, and in addition to the crocodiles some 29 heads of marine animals spout water in all directions higher up the fountain. The closest attention has been paid by the artist to detail, and the fountain in play will be supplied with water from every tier or basin. The supply-pipe will be 4 in. in diameter, drawn direct from a 22 in. main, so that on special occasions the fountain may be worked up to 100 ft., though 70 ft. is likely to be the ordinary height attained…The total cost will be £800, the commissioners at their last monthly meeting having accepted this estimate.
The finished work differs only in minor details from this plan, although it is interesting to note how completely degenerated the action and effects of the water have become in recent times, presumably in an effort to save water. Goannas appear to have taken the place of crocodiles, and platypuses were introduced in amusing dialogue with them from a corresponding vantage point at the lip of the middle basin. The 29 marine animals seem to have been conflated, perhaps in the interests of increasing water pressure, and an engaging upper fretwork of ferns is the only feature that the Argus did not mention, possibly a refinement introduced during the process of construction. It is delightful, symphonically vulgar, and fabricated out of deeply unpromising materials, although I suppose we must be grateful that they did not carve it out of bluestone. It is hardly surprising that nothing else remains of the sculpture of Josef Hochgürtel and August Saupé, although given the impressive scale and ambition of the Exhibition Fountain it seems strange that neither artist has ever made it into McCulloch, or any other printed record other than Ken Scarlett, the Victoria Government Gazette, and the daily newspapers. Hochgürtel simply evaporated.