Cleeve Lodge, Hyde Park Gate,[almost opposite the Albert Memorial] is one of the houses, diminishing each year in number, within easy reach of Piccadilly, yet standing in a large garden, with trees far older than any building near, at hand. The Lord Chief Justice and Lady Russell, [Lord Russell of Killowen, Adah Russell’s parents-in-law] Lord and Lady Davey [Horace Davey was a Law Lord (Lord of Appeal in Ordinary) ], and half the ” silk ” of the English Bar, with much other silk, gathered on the lawn on Saturday afternoon at the first garden party given by Mrs. Charles Russell [Adah Russell is one of Sir Joshua Walmsley’s granddaughters. Charles Russell was a solicitor, and acted for the Marquess of Queeensberry in the Oscar Wilde libel case.].—The Daily Chronicle. [Reprinted in the Tablet.]
The above text was found on p.29, 20th June 1896 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at http://www.thetablet.co.uk .
This painting is an autograph copy of the original painting entitled “The Honorable Mrs Charles Russell”, painted by Sargentin 1900, and is now in a Californian private collection. This copy was painted in 1908, and is in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid.
The main reason for starting to work out who she was, came from Frank Purssell and Lily Kuyper’s wedding in June 1896. In the guests listed are Mr and Mrs Charles Russell, sandwiched between ” Mr. Everard Green,…. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Russell,…. Mr. Bradshaw Isherwood,”.
Everard Green was the Rouge Dragon Pursuivant in the College of Heralds 1893; and the Vice-President of the Society of Antiquaries 1897. A convert to the Church, and one of the Catholic great and the good. Mr Bradshaw Isherwood was the uncle of Christopher Isherwood, the novelist and playwright. He was the elder brother and inherited the family estate at Marple Hall, near Stockport, eventually leaving the estate to Christopher. Henry Bradshaw-Isherwood married into the Bagshawes in about 1910 becoming the rather absurd Henry Bradshaw-Isherwood-Bradshawe on marriage.
So who were Mr and Mrs Charles Russell? They were guests at a grand society wedding, and a grand Catholic wedding at that. So working on that basis, and using our old friend the Catholic Who’s Who, the only realistic candidates are the Hon. Charles Russell (8 July 1863 – 27 March 1928) and his wife Adah Adeline Walmsley Russell, neé Adah Adeline Walmsley Williams (1867–1959). Charles Russell was a solicitor and local politician, and the second son of Charles Russell, Baron Russell of Killowen. His father received his peerage shortly before becoming Lord Chief Justice in 1894.
In 1896, Charles was still Mr Charles Russell, even if he was the Hon. Charles Russell from 1894, once his father had received his peerage. He was the second son, and third child of ten brothers and sisters. Rather neatly, five boys and five girls; at least three of the boys were lawyers, and Charles’s younger brother Frank became a Law Lord following in the footsteps of their father who was Lord Chief Justice, and he, in turn, was followed by his (Frank’s) son Charles who was made a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary in 1975. All three took the same title of Baron Russell of Killowen.
So, Charles Russell was a successful lawyer in 1896, eventually receiving a baronetcy in 1916 when he became Sir Charles Russell. We’ll come back to him in another post
The next paragraph from the description of the picture on the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection website was slightly startling “Adah Adeline Russell, neé Adah Williams, was the granddaughter of Sir Joshua Walmsley, one of the founders of the London Daily News. In 1889 she married Sir Charles Russell, a union that produced a single daughter. Her husband was a solicitor, best known today as instructor for Lord Carson during the trial in which Carson successfully defended the marquis of Queensbury against the charges of libel brought by Oscar Wilde. The acquittal led to the writer’s own criminal prosecution, imprisonment, and early death in 1900, the year Mrs. Russell was painted.”
The Oscar Wilde bit’s interesting, but from my point of view the Joshua Walmsley bit was one of those weird coincidences that explode every so often. Is this the same Sir Joshua Walmsley we’ve come across before?
It is the same person, so we have, rather bizarrely, stumbled across a portrait of a first cousin [five times removed] whilst trying to work out who’s who at a great, great uncle’s wedding. Even better, and in an attempt to discover more about a one hundred and twenty year old wedding, we have the pleasing symmetry of this only being made possible by another wedding, sixty years later.
It worthwhile leaving the rest of the description from the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection regarding the portrait, though I’m not entirely sure that I agree with all the phrasing………….
“John Singer Sargent first painted Mrs Charles Russell in 1900, exhibiting the portrait (San Francisco, California, Private Collection), among his eight entries at the Royal Academy the following year. He was at the apex of his career as a portrait painter, but would soon turn away from the profession, tiring of painting images of the fatuous elite. His portrait of Mrs. Russell, however, the critics quickly noticed, was a singularly haunting, introspective image, a portrait that provoke a number of unanswered questions. “What he tells us of this pathetic face is very interesting and very sad,” wrote one reviewer, while another observed that “the face is of extraordinary character, infinite pathos, and a masterpiece of painting […] the face haunts us, with its sad eyes and intellectual distress. Who shall read the secret so surely set there?” “
Little is known of the enigmatic sitter. Mrs. Russell, neé Adah Williams, was the granddaughter of Sir Joshua Walmsley, one of the founders of the London Daily News. In 1889 she married Sir Charles Russell, a union that produced a single daughter. Her husband was a solicitor, best known today as instructor for Lord Carson during the trial in which Carson successfully defended the marquis of Queensbury against the charges of libel brought by Oscar Wilde. The acquittal led to the writer’s own criminal prosecution, imprisonment, and early death in 1900, the year Mrs. Russell was painted.
Describing the painting in 1925, William Howe Downs wrote of the “nervous face, the long, slim neck, and the sensitive hands” as well as the sad eyes and mouth. The tense, nervous quality found in Mrs. Russell, recent scholarship has pointed out, is a salient feature in many of Sargent’s portraits. The perceptive critic, Royal Cortissoz, writing in 1924, considered it the very aspect that made Sargent “modern” and that it identified him with the spirit of his time. Each century, Cortissoz felt, had a prevailing impulse. While the mood of the 18th was “cerebral,” “nervous” was the quality of the 19th. “What Sargent has had to portray has been a restless race,” he wrote, “the conclusively representative Sargent in this matter of modernity is the alert ‘Mrs. Boit’ or the tense ‘Mrs. Charles Russell.”
Two drawings are known to exist which relate to the painting, one in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the other, in The Harvard University Art Museums. They capture the gesture of the sitter, but in each, the poignancy of Mrs. Russell’s features is only suggested. In the drawings, however, most noticeably in the Boston version, the hands assume a greater importance and reveal in a nervous fluttering of fingers, the apprehensive tenseness of Mrs. Russell.
The Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza 1908 replica of Mrs Charles Russell, painted at the very time Sargent abandoned his career as a portraitist, remains as puzzling as the sitter. No mention of it seem to have appeared in the Sargent literature. More vivaciously executed than the 1900 portrait, it nevertheless duplicates, almost stroke by stroke, Sargent’s handling in the earlier version. Only the lamp, which still remains in the artist’s family, is indicated in a more cursory manner. The signature, which has been questioned as unusual for the artist, is now placed below the ledge of the table rather than at the bottom left of the canvas-hardly typical in the work of a copyist. While few replicas of Sargent’s portraits exist, the artist twice painted Baron Russell of Killowen, Mrs. Russell’s father-in-law, in 1899 and a replica in 1900. The one clue to the painting’s significance, the inscription “Alice Copley, Boston” on the back of the canvas, has so far proven unproductive. “
This wedding has entertained me for a while, partly because it is so ludicrously grand, and also for the guest list, and the wedding presents . It has some members of the wider family at it, though some of the relationships are wildly complicated. Mrs Herman Lescher, for example, was at this point newly widowed, and is the aunt of [Thomas] Edward, Frank Graham, Carmela , and Adela Lescher, and the wife of Celia O’Bryen’s step-mother’s nephew. Mrs. Kuypers, is Frank Purssell’s mother in law. Mrs. Charles Cassella, is Edward Lescher’s wife’s aunt, and then up crop the Roper Parkingtons, though in this incarnation as plain Mrs RP because the knighthood didn’t come until five years later in 1902.
The bride’s parents Judge, and Mrs Bagshawe also crop up at a number of the other weddings, most interestingly Alfred O’Bryen’s wedding in 1900, as does his brother Bishop Bagshawe. Also at some of the other weddings are the Macfarlanes, and the Stanfields,
The other intriguing thing was the almost throwaway line at the end ” the newly married couple left for Milford Haven en-route for Rostellan Castle, County Cork, kindly lent for the honeymoon by Mr. and Mrs Thackwell.” We’ve come across the Thackwells before; Kitty Pope-Hennessy married Edward Thackwell early in 1894 at Rostellan Castle in Cork. She was a forty-four year old widow, and he was twenty six. He was a year older than her eldest son who died young, and three, and seven, years older than his step-sons.
Rostellan Castle had been the seat of the Marquis of Thomond for over two hundred years, and was bought by Kitty’s first husband on his retirement. It’s about five miles from Aghada House, which Edward Thackwell’s grandfather bought in 1853, about forty five years after John Roche had built it. It’s all a very small world…………
It all looks so promising, they were both twenty two. He was born in the spring of 1875, and she was born a little later , in the summer of the same year. But it all appears to go wrong quite fast, and culminates in a spectacular divorce in 1908.
The Tablet, Page 15, 23rd October 1897
The marriage of MR. HERMAN KENTIGERN BICKNELL and Miss HARRIET BAGSHAWE was solemnized at the Pro-Cathedral on Tuesday. The Bishop of Nottingham, uncle of the bride, performed the ceremony, assisted by the Abbot of St. Augustine’s Monastery, and the Very Rev. Canon Bagshawe. The bride, who was given away by her father, Judge Bagshawe, wore a white satin dress with jewelled embroidered front draped with chiffon and Honiton lace. The Bridesmaids were Miss Teresa, Miss Gertrude, and Miss Nelly Bagshawe, sisters of the bride; Miss Henrietta Stanfield, cousin of the bride; Miss H. Bicknell, Miss Muriel Crook, and Miss Frost, cousins of the bridegroom. They wore rose-coloured satin dresses and white felt hats with feathers. Each carried a bouquet of Parma violets and wore a gold bangle set with diamonds, the gift of the bridegroom. The bridegroom was attended by his cousin, Mr. E. Bicknell, as best man. Owing to the large number of wedding guests the reception after the ceremony was held by Judge and Mrs. Bagshawe in the Empress Assembly-room at the Palace Hotel. In the course of the afternoon the newly married couple left for Milford Haven en-route for Rostellan Castle, County Cork, kindly lent for the honeymoon by Mr. and Mrs Thackwell.
Among the many presents were: From the Bridegroom, diamond tiara, two large diamond rings, one large diamond and sapphire ring, gold curb bracelet, gold watch bracelet. From Mrs. Bicknell, diamond crescent brooch, diamond marquise ring; Mrs. Bagshawe, gold and turquoise bracelet ; Judge Bagshawe, silver headed walking stick; Mrs. Hermann Lescher, silver dish and spoon; Mrs. Ullathorne, -silver dish and spoon; Mrs. Mort and Miss Bethell, silver dish; Mrs. Green, silver book marker; Mrs. Danvers Clarke, ivory tusk paper knife; Mrs. Pfachler, photo frame; Miss Roskell, silver frame; Miss N. Roskell, cameo chain bracelet; Miss Pickford, night dress sachet; Lady Parker, large vase; Mr. and Mrs. C. Payne, glass vases; Miss Kerwin, white china vase; Mrs. Shearman, ivory and silver paper knife; Mrs. Fuller, ostrich feather fan; Mrs. Bolton, knife and fork sets; Judge Stonor, silver mounted scent bottle; Mrs. Herbert, turquoise ring; Mr. Morton, Dresden china inkstand; Miss Fortescue, silver mounted purse; Miss N. Fortescue, tortoiseshell carriage clock; Miss Robins, screen; Miss Teresa Bagshawe, gold chain; Mrs. Roper Parkington, books; Miss Gunning, jewel case; Mrs. Cobbold, Nankin vases; Mrs. Noble, blotter; Mrs. Steward, blotter; Lady Macfarlane, antique miniature set with pearls and brilliants; Mrs. Clare, silver mounted scent bottles; Lady Knill, gold lined spoons; Mrs. Hewett, small spoons in case; Mrs. Bagshawe, of Oakes Norton, tortoiseshell and silver paper knife; Miss Eyre, Worcester china vase; Miss Hooper, large flower pot; Mr. and Mrs. Stanfield, dressing case, silver fittings; Mrs. Nettlefold, silver basket; Miss C. Shearman, cushion; Mrs. Troup, silver frame; Lady Austin, hand-painted d’oyleys; Mrs. E. Perry, silver card case; Mrs. Charles Hayes, silver bonbonniere; Mrs. Norman Uniacke, table cloth and d’oyleys; Miss Hall, sacred photos in frame; Count and Countess delle Rochetta, gold and tortoiseshell writing case; Mr. Burton, marble clock; Mrs. Fox, paper knife; Mrs. Payne, silver baskets; Mrs. Kuypers, blotter and paper case; Mrs. Sydney Peters, toast rack; General Sir Frederick Maunsell, tortoiseshell and silver frame; Mrs. D. O’Leary, ivory and silver paper knife; Miss de Freitas Bianco, silver scent bottle; Mr. Bruce, ivory mounted silver bottles; Miss Leeming, antique salt cellars; Mrs. Stafford, silver scent bottle; Mrs. de Colyar, silver bonbonniere; Mrs. Rymer, double silver frame; Miss Henrietta C. Stanfield, silver smelling salts bottle; Mrs. Dunn, frame; Mrs. Bullen, cushion; Miss M. L. Shee, antique casket; Mr. Read, silver pen and pencil; Mr. Fleming, silver frame; Mrs. Mansfield, silver mirror; Miss Allitsen, glove basket; Mademoiselle Delaware, little card case; Miss Gertrude Bagshawe, glove and handkerchief case; Miss Mary Bagshawe, rosary bracelet; Mrs. Le Begue, set of Sevres china plate; Mr. Eland, gold chain bracelet; Mrs. Pridiaux, silver-mounted bottle; Miss Nelly Bagshawe, handkerchief sachet; Miss Lowry, antique gold and silver spoons; Mrs. Semper, Imitation of Christ; Eva and Maurice Stammers, silver and glass sugar basin; Dr. and Mrs. Ball, silver-handled paper knife; Mrs. Chilton, large silver spoons; Misses Chilton, silver preserve jar; Mrs. Jenkins, silver dish; Mrs. Bicknell, cushion, embroidered Indian work; Dr. and Mrs. Bagshawe, large vase; Mrs. O’Brian, silver spoons; Lady de Gee, French clock; Mrs. Clement Bagshawe, casket; Mrs. Charles Goldie, fan; Mr. Waldron, silver tray; Mrs. Henry Slattery, silver frame; Dr. O’Connor, gold and pearl swallow brooch; Mrs. Stephens, vase lamp; Mrs. Anson Yeld, silver salt cellars; Mr. Percy Rogers, ivory and -silver paper knife; Mrs. Lane, silver scent bottle; Mrs. Charles Mathew, antique silver crucifix; Mr. J. Tomlinson, silver napkin rings; Miss Quintor,, menu cards; Miss Graham, silver sugar jar; Mr. James Macarthy, gold bangle set with pearls, emerald shirt pin; Mr. and Mrs. Snead Cox, gold sovereign-purse; Mr. and Mrs. Jessop, silver vases; Mrs. Margetts, handbag fitted; Mr. and Mrs. Pugin, glove and handkerchief bag; Mr. and Mrs. Brown, silver dish for nuts, with cracker; Miss Brown, silver fruit fork; Dr. and Mrs. Ford Anderson, fan; Mr. and Mrs. Jennings, scent bottle; Father Dewar, golden manual; Mr. Owen Lewis, large china vase; Miss C. Bagshawe, necklace of seed pearls; Mr. Nettleship, silver salt cellars; Canon Bagshawe, books; the Bishop of Nottingham, photograph book; Mr. and Mrs. Hubert Stanfield, large silver sugar sifter; Mrs. Charles Cassella, china vase; Mr. Charles Roskell, antique silver dish; Mrs. Charles Russell, silver clock; Miss Henrietta Bicknell, silver purse; Mr. and Mrs. Wood Wilson, inkstand; Mr. Charles Weld, silver horn scent bottle; Father Cox, silver hat brush; Rev. Father Stanfield, work-case; Mrs. Lamb, glass and silver sugar basin. Many other presents were given to the bride and bridegroom, including massive silver salver, silver candlesticks, &c.