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The Maybrick story in art?

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  • The Maybrick story in art?

    "It is a melancholy fact that more nonsense can be talked about art
    than about any other subject, and writers of treatises on painting,
    from the great Leonardo downwards, have not been slow to avail
    themselves of this privilege." ~ John Collier 1850-1934

    It seems lately that it has become all the rage to accuse famous artists of
    having some involvement in the JTR case. Here's a slightly different take
    on these theories, entirely speculative, but may be of interest to some.

    In the late Victorian to mid-Edwardian period, a particular genre
    of painting became popular, called the problem picture. These
    paintings were created with a deliberately ambiguous narrative
    which allowed the viewer to speculate on the circumstances
    depicted in the painting. One of the most prolific artists in this
    genre was the Honourable John M Collier.

    He was the son of the first Baron Monkswell, Robert Collier and brother
    to the second Baron, Robert Porrett Collier (husband to Mary
    Josephine (Hardcastle) Collier, Lady Monkswell, author of
    "A Victorian Diarist 1873-1895" volume 1, edited by her son
    Eric Collier and published in 1944). The first baron had a
    brother, John Francis Collier of Liverpool, who was a county
    magistrate for Lancashire for many years. His daughter, Maud
    Elizabeth Collier married Douglas Quintin Steel in 1883, a solicitor
    and later QC for the Supreme Court. From at least 1889
    through 1897, the Steels lived at 6 Riversdale Road in
    Aigburth. The Steels were first cousins to John M Collier,
    and Lord and Lady Monkswell.

    On the night of James Maybrick's death, May 11, 1889, Michael Maybrick
    sent his brother Edwin next door to fetch D Q Steel to consult him in
    regard to the various poisons found by the servants. Steel advised him
    to wrap these items (the chocolate box that contained a packet marked
    "Poison for Cats", a bottle of vanilla essence, a stained handkerchief
    bearing Florence's initials, and several other items found in Florence's
    trunk), put his seal on the package and lock it in the cellar until the
    police arrived. Over the next three years, the Steel brothers (Douglas
    Quintin and Allan Gibson Steel) and their firm, Layton, Steel & Springman,
    would represent the Maybrick brothers during the inquest, Florence's trial,
    at the probate of Maybrick's will and in litigation with the NY Mutual
    Assurance Company in the suit brought over who could claim the money
    due from Maybrick's life insurance.

    For the first thirty years of his career, John Collier painted portraits,
    landscapes, and allegorical scenes in the pre-Raphaelite manner, over
    four hundred paintings over his lifetime. It was at about the turn of the
    century he began to paint his problem pictures (a term he loathed) which
    were exhibited every year at the Royal Academy drawing huge crowds and
    which were the subject of much commentary both in the UK and the States.

    Collier was a self described feminist, an agnostic, an advocate of
    divorce law reform, and a staunch supporter of Charles Darwin's
    theories of evolution.

    He was the son in law of Dr Thomas Henry Huxley, friend of Darwin
    who was known as "Darwin's Bulldog." He married Marian Huxley,
    daughter of Thomas Henry, in 1879. Marian was also a talented
    painter, but died a few years after the birth of their daughter
    Joyce. Joyce later married into the Crawshay family, as did Matilda
    Briggs' daughter Constance. After Marian's death, Collier married
    his sister in law, Ethel Huxley in Norway in 1889, as it was illegal
    to marry one's sister in law until 1907, when the law was
    changed.

    The Collier and Huxley family's connections in Victorian society were
    varied and far reaching. Lady Mary's step mother's sister, Aunt Ena
    Duckworth, had a sister in law, Mrs Herbert Duckworth (the former Julia
    Prinsep Jackson), a widow, married Leslie Stephen, brother of Sir James
    Fitzjames Stephen (the judge at Florence's trial) and father of
    Vanessa (Stephen) Bell and Virginia (Stephen) Woolf of the Bloomsbury
    set.

    To return to the heart of the matter, John Collier's problem pictures,
    what follows are reproductions of these paintings, which I believe
    in a subtle, cleverly disguised way, might tell the story of the Maybricks.

    Or is this bit of speculation just more dead dogs and doorknockers?

  • #2


    "Trouble" painted c. 1897

    Comment


    • #3


      "The Garden of Armida" painted c. 1898

      The garden of Armida is featured in Tasso's poem,
      "Jerusalem Liberated".

      Comment


      • #4


        "A Confession" painted c. 1902

        Comment


        • #5


          "The Sinner" painted 1904





          "Indeed indeed Repetance Oft I Swore" painted in 1906.

          The title is a paraphrase from the Rubyiat of Omar Khayyam, quatrain 70.

          There doesn't seem to be a color reproduction of this painting available online.
          Last edited by Livia Trivia; December 23, 2012, 02:18 PM. Reason: ommission

          Comment


          • #6


            "The Fallen Idol" painted 1913

            Comment


            • #7
              Liv:

              Thanks for the thread....
              To Join JTR Forums :
              Contact Howard@jtrforums.com

              Comment


              • #8
                Here is an extract from Lady Monkwell's Diary discussing Florence.

                It would be difficult to argue that Collier was unaware of the Maybrick case, probably on a fairly detailed basis.

                Douglas Quintin Steel lived at 6 Riversdale (the other half of the duplex) at the time of Maybrick's death. He's almost certainly the next door solicitor that Edwin fetched at midnight to advise the brothers after Maybrick's death on May 11th and they'd searched the house and found arsenic and other medications. They may have found something of an even more sinister nature but of course that is pure conjecture.

                D.Q.'s firm Layton, Steel & Springman represented the Maybrick brothers at the inquest, at probate and during the prolonged law suit with Maybrick's NY insurers. (He took out two large life insurance policies not that long before his death.)




                Comment


                • #9
                  This is the thread I suggested at Liverpool that people read. The Steels were next door neighbors to the Maybricks.

                  Originally posted by Livia Trivia View Post
                  "It is a melancholy fact that more nonsense can be talked about art
                  than about any other subject, and writers of treatises on painting,
                  from the great Leonardo downwards, have not been slow to avail
                  themselves of this privilege." ~ John Collier 1850-1934

                  It seems lately that it has become all the rage to accuse famous artists of
                  having some involvement in the JTR case. Here's a slightly different take
                  on these theories, entirely speculative, but may be of interest to some.

                  In the late Victorian to mid-Edwardian period, a particular genre
                  of painting became popular, called the problem picture. These
                  paintings were created with a deliberately ambiguous narrative
                  which allowed the viewer to speculate on the circumstances
                  depicted in the painting. One of the most prolific artists in this
                  genre was the Honourable John M Collier.

                  He was the son of the first Baron Monkswell, Robert Collier and brother
                  to the second Baron, Robert Porrett Collier (husband to Mary
                  Josephine (Hardcastle) Collier, Lady Monkswell, author of
                  "A Victorian Diarist 1873-1895" volume 1, edited by her son
                  Eric Collier and published in 1944). The first baron had a
                  brother, John Francis Collier of Liverpool, who was a county
                  magistrate for Lancashire for many years. His daughter, Maud
                  Elizabeth Collier married Douglas Quintin Steel in 1883, a solicitor
                  and later QC for the Supreme Court. From at least 1889
                  through 1897, the Steels lived at 6 Riversdale Road in
                  Aigburth. The Steels were first cousins to John M Collier,
                  and Lord and Lady Monkswell.

                  On the night of James Maybrick's death, May 11, 1889, Michael Maybrick
                  sent his brother Edwin next door to fetch D Q Steel to consult him in
                  regard to the various poisons found by the servants. Steel advised him
                  to wrap these items (the chocolate box that contained a packet marked
                  "Poison for Cats", a bottle of vanilla essence, a stained handkerchief
                  bearing Florence's initials, and several other items found in Florence's
                  trunk), put his seal on the package and lock it in the cellar until the
                  police arrived. Over the next three years, the Steel brothers (Douglas
                  Quintin and Allan Gibson Steel) and their firm, Layton, Steel & Springman,
                  would represent the Maybrick brothers during the inquest, Florence's trial,
                  at the probate of Maybrick's will and in litigation with the NY Mutual
                  Assurance Company in the suit brought over who could claim the money
                  due from Maybrick's life insurance.

                  For the first thirty years of his career, John Collier painted portraits,
                  landscapes, and allegorical scenes in the pre-Raphaelite manner, over
                  four hundred paintings over his lifetime. It was at about the turn of the
                  century he began to paint his problem pictures (a term he loathed) which
                  were exhibited every year at the Royal Academy drawing huge crowds and
                  which were the subject of much commentary both in the UK and the States.

                  Collier was a self described feminist, an agnostic, an advocate of
                  divorce law reform, and a staunch supporter of Charles Darwin's
                  theories of evolution.

                  He was the son in law of Dr Thomas Henry Huxley, friend of Darwin
                  who was known as "Darwin's Bulldog." He married Marian Huxley,
                  daughter of Thomas Henry, in 1879. Marian was also a talented
                  painter, but died a few years after the birth of their daughter
                  Joyce. Joyce later married into the Crawshay family, as did Matilda
                  Briggs' daughter Constance. After Marian's death, Collier married
                  his sister in law, Ethel Huxley in Norway in 1889, as it was illegal
                  to marry one's sister in law until 1907, when the law was
                  changed.

                  The Collier and Huxley family's connections in Victorian society were
                  varied and far reaching. Lady Mary's step mother's sister, Aunt Ena
                  Duckworth, had a sister in law, Mrs Herbert Duckworth (the former Julia
                  Prinsep Jackson), a widow, married Leslie Stephen, brother of Sir James
                  Fitzjames Stephen (the judge at Florence's trial) and father of
                  Vanessa (Stephen) Bell and Virginia (Stephen) Woolf of the Bloomsbury
                  set.

                  To return to the heart of the matter, John Collier's problem pictures,
                  what follows are reproductions of these paintings, which I believe
                  in a subtle, cleverly disguised way, might tell the story of the Maybricks.

                  Or is this bit of speculation just more dead dogs and doorknockers?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    This is Lady Monkswell writing, not DQ or Maud Steel. But I think it is reasonable to infer her opinion of Flo was colored by discussions with her cousin living right next door to the Maybricks.
                    Attached Files

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