NEWS - Clarence and his father's eminent and artistic guests

Written by Marcus Bicknell on .

I often wonder what impression was made on the young Clarence Bicknell by the presence in his father Elhanan's house of Turner, Landseer, Roberts, Stanfield, Etty, Callcott, Landseer, De Wint, Muller, Phiz and Ruskin. Elhanan died in 1861 when Clarence was 9 so the image retained is one of Clarence peeping round a half-open door to see what was going on.

mr turnerThe Dulwich Society published in December 2014 an interesting piece by Brian Green pointing out that "a central figure - Elhanan Bicknell, has been excised in Mike Leigh’s award winning film Mr Turner (image right). As indeed has the subject of this article, the artist Stephen Poynzt Denning, a prominent member of the Herne Hill art set and friend of the Bicknell family." The article is available here to download and read at your leisure. It has the additional merit of mentioning Clarence... peeping round a half-open door. But bear in mind when reading this excerpt, below, that Clarence was 3 in 1845 so he would have reported on this or on another Count d'Orsay/Landseer event many years after they happened...

"According to Clarence, one of Bicknell’s sons, Turner, frequently dined at his father’s house, and objected to having his portrait taken. At one such dinner around Christmas 1845, “Count D’Orsay and Sir Edwin Landseer, devised a little plot to defeat the result of this antipathy. Whilst Turner unsuspiciously chatted with a guest over a cup of tea in the drawing-room, D’Orsay placed himself as a screen beside him to hide, when necessary, Landseer, sketching him at full length in pencil on the back of an envelope. Landseer gave what he had done to D’Orsay, who after re-drawing it at home and enlarged the figure to eight inches in height, sold it to J Hogarth, printseller in the Haymarket, for twenty guineas”. Sixteen copies of this print were included in the Bicknell sale at Christie’s in 1863 after Bicknell’s death."

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