painting

Artwork

Accession Number
2009.027a-b
Description
a - a wood and gesso gilded picture frame with decorative corners in a shell and leaf design; b - an oil painting on canvas, unsigned and untitled, the subject Roman ruins with itinerant figures.
Narrative
This painting depicting columned Roman ruins was completed circa 1800 by a follower of artist Hubert Robert (French, 1733 - 1808). It was once paired with the similar painting of matching dimensions and identical frame that The Castle Society owns (see: 983.558).

The painting bears a paper label on the verso for Walter P. Jeune, a Victoria BC art restorer.  It is believed that the pair of paintings were separated when they were sold by Jessie Muriel Dunsmuir. 

The vendor’s son wrote in 2009 that his mother’s father owned “the large house across from the castle”. He stated that his grandmother “bought some articles at an auction at the Castle where this picture was purchased (1940’s)”.  Craigdarroch Curator Bruce Davies believes that this story, while not intended to mislead, has only elements of truth. The vendor's agent is referring to Craigdarroch, but in the 1940’s Craigdarroch was a college and office building. No auctions are known to have taken place there during this period. But there was an auction held at Hatley Castle in 1939, and so this is probably the Dunsmuir “Castle” that Mr. Henderson is referring to.  
 
The vendor's agent also refers to a photograph he saw at Craigdarroch many years previous which he describes as an image of “one of the original rooms”. He mentions that it in this photograph there was a wall surface shown where his mother’s painting was hanging. Davies’ view is that the photograph that he saw was taken in Craigdarroch’s drawing room after The Castle Society acquired and hung the mate to his mother’s painting – namely, 983.558. The two paintings are so similar that it would not be difficult to confuse the two when viewed separately - especially if many years passed between the viewings.
 
The Society’s painting 983.558 bears an ink pen inscription on the stretcher written by  L.J. Phillips stating that he purchased it from Muriel Dunsmuir (a.k.a. Mrs. Edward Molyneux, Mrs. Maurice Wingfield, Mrs. Frederick Graham St.Clair-Keith) in about 1960. He adds, “I think it came over in the Dunsmuir yacht, Delora (his spelling)”. Davies’ view is that Mr. Phillips bought 983.558 in the 1950's directly from Muriel Dunsmuir or at the auction held at her home, Hadleigh. There is no record in the document file stating how The Castle Society came to own 983.558. The 983 prefix number indicates that it was received by Society President James K. Nesbitt at a time when gift forms were not used and purchase receipts were not always kept secure.
 
One can only speculate on what caused 983.558 and this Henderson painting 2009.027 to be separated.
 
Here are some theories:
 
1. Both paintings were sold at the 1939 Hatley Park sale. Muriel Dunsmuir bought one of them, and the other was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Webb. Muriel sold her painting (983.558) to L.J. Phillips in 1960. The Webbs bequeathed their painting (2007.027) to their daughter, who sold it to The Castle Society.
 
2. Both paintings were sold to Muriel Dunsmuir at the 1939 Hatley Park sale. One of them was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Webb at the auction held at Muriel’s house, Hadleigh. The other painting (983.558) was sold to L.J. Phillips.
 
3. Both paintings were sold to Muriel Dunsmuir at the 1939 Hatley Park sale. One of them was later sold by Muriel directly to Mr. and Mrs. Webb. She told them that the painting had once hung in her parent’s home known as Dunsmuir Castle. The Webbs then confused the two Castles (Craigdarroch was known locally as Dunsmuir Castle until Hatley Castle was finished at which time it gradually became known as Dunsmuir Castle and Craigdarroch gradually became known as Craigdarroch Castle).

Although the explanations for how the paintings came to be separated and how they came to leave Dunsmuir hands are speculative, it is reasonable to conclude that both pictures were owned by the Dunsmuir family – and probably the James Dunsmuir family at Hatley Park as opposed to the Joan Dunsmuir family at Craigdarroch. 

The pair of paintings were probably displayed on board the Dunsmuir yacht TSSY Dolaura and moved into the Hatley Park residence when the Dunsmuirs sold the yacht. 
History of Use
The early history of this circa 1800 picture is unknown, but it was probably created for display in a private house or art gallery. It was purchased by the James Dunsmuir family in about 1908 and displayed first on the TSSY Dolaura and subsequently inside their residence at Hatley Park, Colwood, B.C. It was likley acquired by the vendor's father at the 1939 Hatley Park auction (see theory #1 in the narrative field).
Date
circa 1800
Dimensions
75 cm x 83 cm
Material
Wood; Gesso; Metal, gold
Subject/Image
Roman ruins with itinerant figures
Medium
Oil
Support
Canvas
Technique
Painted
School/Style
European School
Inscription
Verso, printed and hand-written on a paper label:
Walter P. Jeune 3256 Rutkedge Street Victoria, B.C. 1035 Fort Street REGILDING IN ALL ITS BRANCHES Ornamental ????s [lettering indistinct] or Picture Frames Repaired, Regilded with genuine Gold Leaf or Gold Paint. Don't neglect these OIL PAINTINGS if new. Have them varnished 1 year after completion. Old Paintings should be Cleaned and Varnished. Needle Point Tapestry and Silk Samplers cleaned. LET JEUNE DO IT - HE KNOWS HOW PHONE G-3360 BUSINESS 2-4915

Related people/businesses/organizations
James Dunsmuir (owner)
Muriel Dunsmuir (owner)
Related Associations
Hatley Park (was used in)
Dolaura (Twin Screw Steam Yacht) (was used in)
Related Objects

painting, 983.558a (is related to)