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Artists Walk 3rd June

Monday 4th June 2018

A glorious day set the scene for our new and eagerly-awaited 'Artists' walk at the Old Cemetery. It was led by well-known Southampton artist and FoSOC Vice President, Bernard Lavell and attracted an audience of 26 visitors, including some FoSOC members, to hear about individuals from the Victorian art world connected with the Cemetery.
Not all the people discussed are buried at the Cemetery, and that includes the one Bernard first introduced us to, Phillip Brannon, a man of many skills across engineering and the arts. Among other things Brannon painted a series of imagined historic scenes of Southampton. We then moved on to the Pearce Monument to hear about its three figures of Faith, Hope and Charity, and of its sculptor, Richard Cockle Lucas, before continuing to the grave of James Henry Hurdis, an engraver and etcher, friend of satirist George Cruikshank and member of the Southampton Archaeological Society. Nearby lies George Guillaume, the City Architect in Southampton over the 1850s and 1860s, and who is thought to be responsible for the park layout within the city, and also wrote a book on Netley Abbey now in the Royal Collection.
Moving on to the weeping beech tree on the Main Carriageway, Bernard showed us a fallen memorial opposite which, among others, bears the name of Major-General William Lacy. After a military career across the Empire, Lacy settled in Southampton as a staff officer for 33 years and practised both as a pioneer photographer and as a water-colourist – some of his works are held in the City archives and also at the Victoria & Albert Museum. He also co-founded the Southampton Arts School, and founded the Southampton Arts Society, an institution whose name came up several times in today's talk and which is still active. Then, adding some spice to the proceedings, Bernard described the scandal around 'Flora', a work once (wrongly) supposed by Leonardo da Vinci and its connection with R C Lucas; sadly, this rather overshadowed the subsequent memory of his son, Albert Durer Lucas, who is buried in the Cemetery, and was himself a painter of ability – some of his flower paintings are in the Southampton Art Gallery. We then stood at the monument for W J Baker, first head of the Southampton Art School, and some of the school's better-known scholars, including Edward Gregory and Hubert Herkomer, the latter going on to become a Royal Academician and receive a knighthood. Robert Charles Leslie was another painter who lived in Southampton and is now buried in the Old Cemetery. He painted scenes of American locations and exhibited at the Royal Academy.
Among the most important individuals in the history of Southampton's artistic life is another resident of the Cemetery, Robert Chipperfield, founder of the Art Gallery. In fact, he had a much broader involvement with the City's life, and held offices including being a JP, a Councillor and being active with local commerce and schools.
As the tour neared its end, Bernard informed us about the landscape painter Frederick Bridell, best known for his large canvas depicting the Coliseum in Rome which now resides in the Southampton Art Gallery. Finally, we saw the large memorial and grave to Henry Buchan (pronounced Beu-can) the High Street art dealer and early gallery owner, and thankfully, in the comfort of a shady spot, Bernard introduced us to the artists who exhibited there. Amongst these was William Shayer, a painter of bucolic landscapes who is buried in St. James' churchyard, Shirley.
It was indeed an informative and entertaining talk, and we thank Bernard for the effort he so clearly put in. Thanks also go to all those attending and donating generously towards FoSOC's work, and to Julia Weatherall and Val for assisting Bernard as we went on the tour.