Clarence’s health trip in the mountains 1888

Clarence Bicknell left a record of places, flowers and events in hundreds of pencil or ink drawings in pocket-size sketch books, most with the location and date added. Many are in the Bicknell collection and some in the “Lotto 2017” collection of the Museo Bicknell in Bordighera. Some of the sketches can be linked to events in diary entries or letters. This drawing of Terme d’Acqui of 20th June 1888 is given its context in MARVELS: The LIfe of Clarence Bicknell by Valerie Lester (2018)…

“By June, Clarence was still suffering from sciatica, perhaps as a result of hauling his various collections from the Villa Rosa over to the New Museum, as the Museo Bicknell was then called. Hoping to improve matters, he took himself off to Terme d’Acqui where he wallowed in the mud baths and complained to Burnat that he was suffering a great deal of pain, pain that was exacerbated, rather than assuaged, by the treatment. However, a few days later he wrote that he felt much better and had just arrived in San Bartolomeo di Pesio.”

The spa town Clarence visited is now called Acqui Terme, in the province of Alessandria in Piedmont. Getting around must have been a challenge… Acqui Terme is 175km from Bordighera but Clarence does not say whether he went by train to Savona or Genova and then over the mountains by public charabanc. Travelling on to San Bartolomeo di Pesio was another 130km over mountain roads.

St. Bartolemo di Pesio ladies and hens, another watercolour by Clarence Bicknell, loose leaf on cartridge paper, also shown here, was drawn on 7th August 1888. That is 6 weeks after the drawing in Terme d’Acqui, so his mountain sejourn for health reasons might have taken a couple of months.

No.53 in our series of posts of images from our Clarence Bicknell collection.

My thanks to Elisabetta Massardo for the motivation and for some of the background information.