New Holland’s position upon the globe

One of the thought-provoking themes included in the latest exhibition in the Noel Shaw Gallery, Plotting the island: dreams, discovery and disaster, is the Dutch encounter with Australia in the 17th century. The Dutch are viewed as having added the coastline of Australia to the world’s map through their landings on the continent from 1606 until 1644 and their subsequent issuing of printed maps. For example, the world map reissued by Daniel Stopendael shows New Holland’s position on the globe, yet its outline is incomplete and inaccurate and there was and is still much to learn about its bounds and character.

It was the lucrative spice trade that brought the Dutch to establish their (VOC) trading port in Batavia (now Jakarta) and on to Australia, sometimes purposefully, other times by fateful accident. Early landings encountered inhospitable shores and then in 1629 the ship Batavia lost course and was wrecked on the Houtman Abrolhos islands off the coast of Western Australia. The astounding mutiny and massacre that transpired amongst the survivors is a grisly chapter of Australian history. [1.] Melchisédech Thévenot’s book, Relations de divers voyages curieux … (Account of diverse and curious voyages) (1663-1672), compiles many travel stories, including the harrowing shipwreck of Batavia. It also features an important map of New Holland showing its outline as it was understood in 1644. Sections of this coastline, which incorporates Tasmania and New Zealand, were charted by Abel Tasman (1603-1659) during two separate voyages in 1642 and 1644. This map was published in three states (versions) and the Baillieu’s copy has the addition of a wind rose at right. [2.] As Martin Woods notes in the exhibition catalogue, this map has dual Dutch and French labels, with the unexplored section headed Terra Australis suggesting the way forward for French navigational ambitions. [3.] Yet to the French of the 17th century the South Land was also ‘Gonneville Land’, a utopia of gold.

Tasman was commissioned by Anthony Van Diemen, Governor-General of the Dutch East India Company, to explore the Great South Land. The combination of Van Diemen’s death in 1645, savage coasts and unpromising trade prospects saw the Dutch abandon New Holland, and it was not until the 18th century that exploration to the South Land was again continued by the English and the French. Thévenot’s book was a model which inspired Enlightenment writers who followed in the 18th century.

The set of Dutch books De mensch, zoo als hij voorkomt op den bekenden aardbol (Man as he appears on the familiar globe) (1802) is an example produced from Enlightenment ideals. It brings together information from many published sources, with order and classification. It is a book of anthropological geography based on voyages of exploration, locating its subjects in the paradigm of the Noble Savage. Its illustrator Jacques Kuyper (1761–1808) was a director of Amsterdam’s drawing academy and his artistic style was Neoclassical, a hallmark of the Enlightenment. The images are regarded by scholars as derivative to the voyages as they were made in response to them rather than from direct experience, nevertheless they offer rich waters for researchers, particularly so as the Baillieu Library holds the majority of the preparatory drawings for the book, in which can be seen additional information such as inscriptions and differences between the planned images and the printed versions.

The image Niew-Hollanders [3.] is featured in volume three; this text and image draws heavily from the published accounts of Cook and Sydney Parkinson. The position of the image in the third volume is rather unusual as the preceding volume contains South Sea Islanders and includes New Zealanders and Van Diemen Landers (Tasmanians). A result is that Tasmania and mainland Australia have been separated; additionally New Hollanders have been grouped with first-nation peoples of North America including such distant locales as Alaska. It calls to mind those early Dutch experiences with the South Land and the three distinct landmasses and peoples they briefly encountered; at that moment in history Europeans could not have had a well-developed understanding of the relationships and individual complexities of these lands and peoples.

Australia straddles two oceans: the Indian and the Pacific. Each of these regions has quite distinctive environments and customs. So, does it belong with the islands of the East Indies, or the Pacific, or, as it has sometimes been perceived, as an extension of the Americas? While Australia’s coastlines became more defined, its identity is not so readily classified and its position on the globe more than merely its longitude and latitude. For its Indigenous people, and for different citizens of the world, Australia each has different meaning.

Kerrianne Stone (Curator, Prints)

References and further reading

[1.] See the full account in Mike Dash, Batavia’s graveyard, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2002
[2.] Robert Clancy, The mapping of Terra Australis, Macquarie Park, N.S.W.: Universal Press, 1995 p. 82
[3.] Martin Woods, ‘New Holland dreams and misgivings’ in Plotting the island: dreams, discovery and disaster, University of Melbourne, 2017, p. 28
[4.] The much needed conservation of this drawing was funded by Miegunyah.


Delius Buys a Gauguin

Delius, Jelka (1868-1935), Nevermore, Object 1, painting,(n.d),Grainger Museum Collection, University of Melbourne.

Here at the Grainger Museum we have a copy of Paul Gauguin’s Nevermore currently on show painted by Jelka Delius (nee Rosen), the wife of composer Frederick Delius. Following my curiosity at the provenance of this painting, I conducted a quick Google search and discovered an article that opened the horizon for just how peculiar this painting is. In his article, “Delius Buys A Gauguin” Stephen J. Bury, Chief Librarian at the Frick Collection in New York, succinctly outlines the narrative of a succession of paintings that reproduce Gauguin’s Nevermore and their place in the social life of Frederick and Jelka Delius. In doing so, Bury asks two questions that I was happy to realise that the Grainger Museum’s collection can help to resolve. After emailing Bury and providing him with some more details—although still partially incomplete—I decided to write some additional comments here.

In the portion of the article below, Bury gives the account of his inquiry into a painting closely related to Nevermore; a late-impressionist portrait of Frederick Delius believed to be painted by Jelka Delius. The portrait that Bury recalled from memory pictures Nevermore (or a copy) as a part of its domestic mise-en-scene—it frames Delius’ right shoulder, creating an oblique harmony of perspectives that gives the slight impression that Nevermore could be a window to a distant room; it aligns Pahura—Gauguin’s vahiné (Tahitian wife) as languidly resting within the nape of Delius’ neck (in an ease possibly in contest with the moody tension of Gauguin’s original). As discovered by Bury, the painting that he recalled was not in-fact the original presumed to be painted by Jelka, but a reproduction now held in the public collection of the United Kingdom. In his words:

“So it’s 1948 copy after Jelka Rosen, by Alexander Akerbladh (1886–1958). Jelka Rosen studied art from 1892 at the Académie Colarossi. I looked her up in the Library’s Paris Salons catalogues, where she appears in the 1894 and 1895 volume:  in 1894 she is described as a pupil of Gustave Courtois, with a contact address at Rue Campagne-Premiere, 9 and exhibiting (at?what?) Au bord de l’eau; in 1895 she has the address, Avenue du Maine, 23 and she exhibited De grand matin and En plein été. Both addresses were in Montparnasse, a fertile meeting ground of artists and musicians. Delius and Rosen met at a dinner party on January 16, 1896, and a few years later they moved to Grez-sur-Loing, and married in September 1903.”[1]

My next question was whether in the background of the Delius portrait it was an actual Gauguin or a copy — perhaps, by Jelka. The painting is easily identifiable as Nevermore (1897), which is in the Courtauld Collection in London. The online catalogue reveals that, indeed, Delius was the first owner. I could also have found this out using the Frick Art Reference Library Photoarchive provenance information that sits alongside the photographs of the painting, or the 1954 printed Courtauld Collection catalogue by Douglas Cooper. The printed catalogue gives more details than the online one on how Delius might have become interested in Gauguin’s work. Delius knew the composer William Molard, who had lived in the same house as Gauguin, Rue Vercingéterix, 4, 1893–94 and Gauguin had painted a portrait of Molard (it’s on the back of a self-portrait in the Musée d’Orsay, dated 1893–94). And Gauguin was involved with Molard’s adolescent stepdaughter, Judith Gérard/Molard, the daughter of Ida Ericson, the Swedish sculptress. So Delius would have definitely have met Gauguin.

Nevermore was bought by Delius for 500 Francs (another 50 was spent on a frame) from Gauguin’s friend, correspondent and dealer, the painter Daniel de Monfreid (1856–1929) in 1898. In a letter dated 12 January 1899 from Papeete, Gauguin wrote to de Monfreid that he had done well to sell the painting to Delius: “Do you recall that you reproached me for giving this painting a title: don’t you believe that this title Nevermore was the reason for the purchase…Maybe!…I’m delighted Delius is the owner, meaning that it’s a purchase not for speculation and resale, but for pleasure…” [my translation from Lettres de Gauguin a Daniel Monfreid (Paris, 1950)]

It hung in Delius’ music room in Grez-sur-Loing, where we see it in the Rosen/Akerbladh portrait. The subsequent history is uncertain: the catalogue to the 1906 Gauguin section of the Salon d’Automne has Delius as the lender. This was the show that both Picasso and Matisse saw. It was probably sold during financial problems that plagued Delius in the 1910s. It went through the hands of three dealers – Alfred Wolff (Munich), Alex Reid (Glasgow) and Agnew (London and Manchester) before entering Herbert Coleman’s collection in Manchester. It was in Samuel Courtauld’s Collection by 1926, becoming part of the Courtauld Gift in 1932.

What effect Nevermore, with its overtones of Edgar Allan Poe, had on the work of Delius during the period he owned it is a tantalizing subject to explore. Meanwhile I need to track down where the original Jelka Rosen portrait is.

To respond to Bury’s Questions: firstly, here at the Grainger museum we have the original portrait Frederick Delius (1925) that was subsequently reproduced by Akerbladh, and as mentioned, we also have the copy of Gauguin’s Nevermore (Nevermore, no date) painted by Jelka Delius. Knowing that Jelka did indeed paint her reproduction of Nevermore, we can propose that the Nevermore pictured in the background of the Delius portrait may well be the copy that Bury guessed to be painted by Jelka, making it dubious to whether the portrait can be considered stable evidence the Delius’ ownership of Nevermore at the time of the portrait. To speculate on the effect of Nevermore on Delius—and therefore its continued presence in these paintings—we might look to Grainger’s account:

“Delius had sold the original painting [Nevermore] in 1898… We should remember how many of Delius’s greatest creations were inspired by thoughts of primitive nature:… It was this urge to express in art the mood of virgin nature, the spirit of wild races, that drew Delius and me so closely together.”

Such remarks are indicative of Grainger’s tone and style—an autodidact abundant with candour. They denote his ideal for an art comparative with nature (a Romantic Modernism, sketchily reminiscent of Rousseau), coexistent with a flimsy theory of racial identity not uncommon in certain intellectual circles at the time. One presumes that the appearance of Pahura in all of these paintings serve an iconographic purpose, expressing the quasi-Romantic ideals shared by these two composers. Whether or not we argue that Gauguin’s relationship to Tahitian culture was authentic, the reception of the painting by Grainger and Delius is indicative of the type of fetishism du jour for Western modernists (and very much in accord with Grainger’s broader interests). Without going into the deeper analysis needed for this theme, I might add that engaging with these subjects is very much a part of the complexities faced when engaging Grainger’s collection today. Some may have the reservation that this is in contest with Grainger’s aims for the museum, yet one duty of the collection is to be interpreted and to help bring history into dialogue with the present. This is the challenge that anachronism presents to the relevance of any museum.

By looking to Percy Grainger’s aims for his museum[2, it is certain that there is a desire to build an educational institution for students of music and composition expressly on his own terms. In the service of this cause, he collected items in aid of rewriting and revaluing the history of the Western tradition in an idiosyncratic and frankly personal manner; paintings such as Nevermore and the portrait of Delius, clothing, correspondence, instruments, photographs, and all nature of ephemera illustrate and support Grainger’s ideas about history. More interestingly, in an example rare for any museum, Grainger originally wrote, composed, and built all of the information panels by hand. The institutional acknowledgement of mentors and friends provide much of the contour for Grainger’s narration of history, and it is within these crafted accounts that Grainger wished to canonise Frederick Delius. Adjacent to this, we might observe that part of the cadence of autobiography is bias such as this, and although the ethics of Grainger’s history is by no means sound by most standards, the earnestness of his example provides a clear image of how museums institute value on historical narratives, social relations, and certain effects of private property. As a most basic fact, these paintings give shape to the outward appearance of an amicable relationship between the Delius and Grainger families, now public, historical, institutionalised and in the broadest sense of the term, preserved. But they have more to say than biography, and this is where we must depart on our own interpretations.

[1] Bury S. Delius Buys A Gauguin. Chief Librarian’s Blog, The Frick Collection. Retrieved from http://www.frick.org/blogs/chief_librarian/delius_buys_gauguin

[2] For instance, in these aims Grainger explicitly references the privileging of his social circle:

“I have tried in this Museum to trace as best I can the aesthetic indebtedness of composers to each other (the borrowing of musical themes or novel compositional techniques) and to the culturizing influence of parents, relatives, wives, husbands and friends (for instance, Cyril Scott’s inspiring encouragement of several British composers of his generation; Jelka Delius’s contributions to her husband’s artistic life; Balfour Gardiner’s championship of 20th century British music).”

Grainger Museum display legend: The aims of the Grainger Museum

 

Nicholas Tammens,

Client Services Officer

Grainger Museum


Unexpected romance in the Baillieu Library: Dulcie Hollyock, librarian by day, writer of love stories by night

Next time you attend one of the talks or displays regularly hosted in the Dulcie Hollyock Room in the University of Melbourne Library, you may be intrigued to muse upon an unexpected link to the world of romance.

This conference room, located on the ground floor of the Baillieu Library, is named in honour of admired librarian, educator and writer, Dulcie Iona Hollyock (an English surname with unusual spelling, historically associated with Leicestershire).

Dulcie Hollyock (1914-2004)

Born in Essendon in June 1914, Hollyock graduated from the University of Melbourne in the 1940s with degrees in arts and education.  After quickly advancing within the library profession, she combined a long and respected career as Chief Librarian of the Victorian Teaching Training Colleges (1950-1974) with a natural flair for writing.

Hollyock’s compact but impressive body of published work ranged over several genres – education, history and fiction – her talents receiving recognition as winner of the Society of Women Writers’ annual short story prize in 1972.  Her stories and articles – such as ‘Fish at Fergus’s’, ‘Cathy and Lizzie’, ‘Flight’ and ‘Mary Curley at Sullivan Bay’ – appeared in a variety of periodicals, including the The Australian newspaper, popular weekly women’s magazine, New Idea, and the Society of Women Writers’ occasional anthology, Ink.

A writer of Gothic romance

Perhaps the  pinnacle of Hollyock’s writing success was attained in her 70s, when two novels – both set in 19th century Ireland – were published in the Harlequin Books Gothic Romance series.

The first, An innocent madness (issued July 1984) tells the story of the inexperienced Charlotte Bolton who arrives at the ancient manor of the Chivers family to marry the heir, Richard.  She is startled to find that he protests no knowledge of the betrothal, and that their courtship is hindered by the ethereally beautiful apparition, Nell Dillon.

This tale of impeded love was followed in the next year by Double masquerade (issued September 1985).  This time Hollyock’s heroine is Hannah, foster daughter of a poor family who are evicted from their land during the Irish Famine.  The girl seems to be rescued from her deprived situation by the wealthy Richard Ralston, who installs her in his romantically named Gothic mansion, Balaleigh.  The tantalising secret to their fate is contained within a golden locket which had been given to Hannah by her birth mother long before.

It is interesting to reflect on St Valentine’s Day if it is mere coincidence that both male protagonists in Hollyock’s novels are named Richard, and whether the name had an association with Hollyock’s own family, or perhaps an admired acquaintance.  Such musings are, however, speculative, and to find out whether the Richards in her stories prove dastardly or honourable, you will need to devour the suspenseful endings in the Baillieu Library.  The books can be reserved for viewing in the Reading Room by placing an order via the Library catalogue, though you may need to be quick to be at the head of the queue!

The University Library’s Romantic Fiction Collection

Should your romantic appetite be whetted by Dulcie Hollyock’s imaginative legacy, there are some 3,000 further titles to choose from in the Baillieu’s Romance Fiction Collection.  Read more about these stories by Australian, New Zealand and overseas writers, published by Mills & Boon, Silhouette and other specialist publishing houses in our explanatory guide.

Who would have supposed that so much romance was waiting to be found in the Baillieu Library!

Susan Thomas, Rare Books Curator

Bibliography & further reading

‘Dulcie Hollyock’ in Austlit: the Australian literature resource http://www.austlit.edu.au.ezp.lib.unimelb.edu.au/austlit/page/A46591

Flesch, Juliet (compiler).  Love brought to book: a bio-bibliography of 20th-century Australian romance novels.  Melbourne: National Centre for Australian Studies, 1995.

Hollyock, Dulcie.  Double masquerade.   Toronto : Harlequin Books, 1985.

Hollyock, Dulcie.  An innocent madness.  Toronto; New York: Harlequin Books, 1984.

Lindsay, Hilarie (editor).  Ink no. 2: 50th anniversary edition.  Sydney: Society of Women Writers, 1977.

 

 


Flemish baroque engravings donated to the Print Collection

A group of 14 Flemish baroque engravings by Scelte Adams Bolswert (1586–1659) was gifted to the Baillieu Library Print Collection by Dr Colin Holden in 2016. Bolswert was employed by the eminent artist, Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) and several of these prints are after Rubens’ paintings.

The Flemish Region, or Flanders, a Dutch-speaking area of Belgium, furnished a tumultuous political and social backdrop to its flourishing baroque art of the 17th century.  Rubens was the foremost painter in Antwerp, its capital, and he relied on pupils and studio assistants to help produce his extensive and influential body of work. He was not a printmaker, but recognised the medium’s importance to his career and actively commissioned engravings after his designs. [1]

Many of Rubens exuberant subjects are biblical, such as Moses and the Brazen Serpent (1640-60). This engraving illustrates the episode in which the discontented Israelites, who were left to trudge through the lands of Edom, spoke against God and Moses. In punishment, God sent a plague of poisonous serpents to attack them, which is vividly depicted by the roiling bodies. The Israelites sought Moses’ help, who in turn received the remedy from God. Moses, seen at left with a staff, made a snake out of brass and set it on a pole: the brazen serpent. All the people that were stricken were healed by gazing upon it.

The New Testament subject, Salome Receiving the Head of St John from the Executioner (1638-59) depicts the notorious story of Herodias’ daughter Salome, holding the head of the preacher on a charger. The expressions of the figures portrayed evoke a range of emotions.

Pan, Playing the Flute (1638-59) engraved after Flemish artist Jacob Jordaens, in contrast, is a mirthful scene from classical mythology. The gift included four impressions of this image, in three states. A ‘state’ in printmaking is created when a change is made to the engraving plate, for example further details are added to the inscriptions, or details in the image are adjusted. Students studying prints will benefit from seeing, in these prints, the execution of different states.

Also after Jordaens, The family concert (1630-59) includes another title in the cartouche at the top of the image which translates: ‘As the old sing, so the young pipe.’ This and other moralising Dutch sayings and proverbs were popular in the 17th century as this engraving illustrates. Likewise the compositional motif of a family gathered around a table appears in several works of art of this period. The engaging dog seen at left of the image is intent not on the nourishing mores offered by the picture, but instead longs to devour the feast!

The late Dr Colin Holden (1951-2016) was a great friend of the Print Collection. He was print scholar, collector and a senior fellow of the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne.

Kerrianne Stone (Curator, Prints)

Reference

[1]. Art Gallery of South Australia, The age of Rubens & Rembrandt: Old Master prints from the Art Gallery of South Australia: Dutch and Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by Julie Robinson, Adelaide: Art Gallery Board of South Australia, 1993, p. 33


A not-so-familiar Father Christmas: A Merry Christmas Polka from 1847

Library catalogue permalink: http://cat.lib.unimelb.edu.au/record=b3196976

Looking at Christmas music in the Rare Music collection from Victorian-era Britain, I was surprised to see an unfamiliar Father Christmas-figure—a grinning giant—at the head of a very worn copy of the sheet music of a Merry Christmas Polka from 1847. I had expected to find a Santa in a fur-edged coat and hat, with a stout pair of boots and, perhaps, a fir tree over one shoulder; what I found (here rendered in green for festive effect!) was rather different.

Just ten years into Queen Victoria’s reign is a little soon for that particular Santa to be ubiquitous. After some general reading, I discovered that other illustrators depicting Father Christmas in the 1840s use graphic elements similar to those employed by the illustrator for this piece of festive sheet music, Alfred Ashley (1820-1897). 1) The holly wreath (instead of the hat) was common then as was the raised goblet. And Ashley’s Santa has “companions” from folklore, something not unknown in the 1840s. Here a goblin-like figure pulls himself over the top of the chair and what must surely be a leprechaun dances on his outstretched hand. The element of fantasy is something often found in Victorian-era illustration in, for example, the well-established genre of fairy painting. 2) Ashley’s Father Christmas is remarkably plainly dressed, in a non-descript smock, barelegged and with no apparent footwear, but he is toasting himself by a roaring fire: a yule log perhaps? The suspended mistletoe and profusion of food and drink (here just visible on the table) are other Christmas traditions in the illustration that have stood the test of time.

Engraved illustrations were increasingly common on sheet music in the 1840s and no doubt a significant incentive to purchase. Pianos, including compact cottage (upright) pianos for home use, were luxury goods, but were owned by the well-heeled middle and upper classes in increasing numbers. 3) It is these people—particular the fashionably dressed family in the foreground—who are depicted in the illustration, dancing at home, as was then a custom. And this polka, a couples dance distinguished by a hopping step, coincides with the early years of “polkamania” in Britain. 4) With its regular repeated 8 bar phrases, this is definitely a polka written for dancing rather than listening to. To hear the distinctive polka rhythm, and to get a sense of what these simple piano dances written for domestic use were like, please listen to short excerpts from the Merry Christmas Polka Finale below—the “big finish” is a very clear signal to the dancers that the music, and the dance, is nearing its end.

 

With best wishes for the Festive Season from all at Special Collections.

Jennifer Hill, Rare Music Curator

  1. This is no. 113 of the Musical Bouquet series; the composer is not named. The publisher, active from 1845 to 1917, went on to issue at least 8106 numbers, producing one, then two per week. The website http://www.musicalbouquet.co.uk/  is an excellent source of information and devotes a page to Alfred Ashley, with many examples of his work.
  2. David Wootton, The illustrators: the British art of illustration, 1800-1999 (London: Chris Beetles, 1999), p. 21-28.
  3. Derek Scott, The singing bourgeois: songs of the Victorian drawing room and parlour (Milton Keynes: Open University Press, 1989), p. 45-49, 54.
  4. See Gracian Černušák, Andrew Lamb and John Tyrrell, “Polka” in Grove Music Online.

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