Tag Archives: Sydney Milner-Gibson

James Tissot’s “Miss Sydney Milner-Gibson” (c. 1872)

The memory of an English gentlewoman painted by James Tissot survives in the large portrait he was commissioned to paint of her by his young friend, Thomas Gibson Bowles (1841 – 1922).

After the horrors of the Franco-Prussian War and its bloody aftermath, the Paris Commune, Tissot arrived in London in May or June, 1871 with less than one hundred francs but with numerous British friends including Tommy Bowles.

Bowles had founded a new Society magazine, Vanity Fair, which débuted on November 14, 1868.  By September 1869, Tommy Bowles was paying Tissot to provide caricatures for his magazine.  He initially paid Tissot ten guineas for four drawings, but when circulation skyrocketed within a few weeks, he increased Tissot’s compensation to eight pounds for each drawing.

When Tissot moved to London in 1871, Bowles, who was living at Cleeve Lodge, Queen’s Gate, near Hyde Park, let his friend use his rented apartment in Palace Chambers at 88 St. James’s Street.  Tissot sold caricatures to Vanity Fair and painted on commission.

Tommy Bowles was the illegitimate son of Thomas Milner Gibson (1806 – 1884), a Liberal MP for Manchester and President of the Board of Trade from 1859 to 1866, and Susannah Bowles, a servant.  Tommy was an adorable little boy, and his stepmother, Arethusa Susannah (1814 – 1885), a Society hostess who was the only child of Sir Thomas Gery Cullum (1777 – 1855) of Hardwick House, Suffolk, insisted that he be raised with his father’s family of four sons and two daughters.

Miss Sydney Milner-Gibson (September 28, 1849 – September 30, 1880), c. 1872, by James Tissot. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Tommy’s favorite half-sister was Sydney Milner-Gibson, nearly eight years younger, and in 1871, when Sydney was 22, he commissioned Tissot to paint her portrait.  Some scholars deduce it was a late 21st-birthday gift, and that milestone may well have been the reason for the commission.  It may also have provided the perfect opportunity for Bowles to help Tissot establish himself in the London art world.

Portrait 2, best one to use on blogAt 50 by 39.02 in. (127.0 by 99.1 cm), the portrait of Sydney is much larger than the 1870 portrait that Bowles commissioned Tissot to paint of his dashing friend Gus Burnaby (Frederick Gustavus Burnaby, 1842 – 1885), a captain in the privileged Royal Horse Guards, the cavalry regiment that protected the monarch.  [Burnaby’s portrait, at the National Portrait Gallery, London, measures just 19.5 by 23.5 in./49.5 by 59.7 cm).]

Since Sydney Milner-Gibson was the granddaughter of a baronet, the portrait commission would have been a real coup for a French artist little known in London.

 

Two short letters written by James Tissot about this portrait were discovered in the library of Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1992.  The first, to Susannah Milner-Gibson during the winter of 1871-72, reveals that Tissot arranged the initial sittings with Miss Milner-Gibson through her mother, who had been educated in a French convent and spent much time in Paris.  The second, written on March 13, 1872, is to the young lady herself, as the frustrated artist attempted to arrange time to finish the London living room setting in time for the portrait to be displayed at the imminent Royal Academy Exhibition.  But the picture was not exhibited then, or ever during Tissot’s lifetime.  [It was, however, included in a Tissot exhibition which toured five cities in Japan from March to September, 1988.]

In 1880, the unmarried Sydney died of enteric fever* – typhoid – at Hawstead, in Suffolk outside Bury St. Edmunds, two days after her thirty-first birthday.

Tommy Bowles named his first daughter after her:  Sydney (1880 – 1963), later Lady Redesdale, who was the mother of the famous Mitford sisters.

Moyses Hall Museum.

Moyses Hall Museum. (Photo: R. Zuercher)

Sydney Milner-Gibson’s younger brother, George Gery Milner Gibson, died unmarried in 1921 and bequeathed most of the family portraits to the Borough of St. Edmundsbury.

From 1923 to 1959, Sydney’s portrait was displayed in the town library, and later at the Art Gallery.

It was displayed at the Clock Museum, Angel Corner, in Bury St. Edmunds from 1989 to 1992, and then at the Manor House Museum until it was closed in 2006.

Since 2012, the painting, which was valued at £1.8 million and cannot be sold, has been displayed at Moyse’s Hall Museum.

James Tissot’s portrait of Sydney Milner-Gibson currently is displayed in the Edwardson Room first floor gallery, where I recently saw it after a quick train ride from Cambridge.

Tissot captured the sweet, reticent personality and awkwardness of Tommy Bowles’ beloved little sister.  Every detail of her portrait is beautifully painted, from the reflection of her hairstyle in the mirror behind her to the gown and its ruffles, and the vase of flowers on the right.

Portrait of Mlle. L.L. (Young Lady in a Red Jacket), February 1864, by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 48 13/16 by 39 3/8 in. (124 by 99.5 cm). Museé d’Orsay, Paris. (Photo: Wikiart.org)

At the very least, the display of Sydney Milner-Gibson’s portrait at the Royal Academy exhibition would have been Tissot’s entrée into the lucrative world of aristocratic British portraiture dominated by his friend John Everett Millais.

But had Miss Milner-Gibson been a more attractive, confident and stylish young woman – and had Tissot had time to finish her portrait in time for the Royal Academy exhibition that year – no doubt this picture would be more well-known.

Perhaps it might have created a sensation, as did Portrait of Mlle. L.L. (Young Lady in a Red Jacket), which Tissot painted in Paris in February 1864 and exhibited at the Salon that year.

You can view a photograph of Sydney by cutting and pasting this link into your browser:  http://www.burypastandpresent.org.uk/bg/BRO_K505_2992.jpg.

Sydney Milner-Gibson appears in my novel, The Hammock, with Tommy Bowles as James Tissot paints her portrait in 1872.  Click the Amazon link below to immerse yourself in their world!

Note:*  Previously, scholars reported that Sydney Milner-Gibson died of tuberculosis.  However, a copy of Sydney’s death certificate was sent to me by reader Adam Mead of Bristol, U.K.  Adam blogs on the Milner-Gibson family at https://milnergibson.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/the-milner-gibsons/.  Thank you, Adam!

 

Related posts:

1869: Tissot meets “the irresistible” Tommy Bowles, founder of British Vanity Fair

James Tissot & Tommy Bowles Brave the Siege Together: October 1870

Paris, June 1871

London, June 1871

Tissot in the U.K.: Cambridgeshire, Oxford & Bury St. Edmunds

©  2014 by Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

The articles published on this blog are copyrighted by Lucy Paquette.  An article or any portion of it may not be reproduced in any medium or transmitted in any form, electronic or mechanical, without the author’s permission.  You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement to the author. 

CH377762

If you do not have a Kindle e-reader, you may download free Kindle reading apps for PCs, Smartphones, tablets, and the Kindle Cloud Reader to read The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot.  Read reviews.

The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot, brings Tissot’s world from 1870 to 1879 alive in a story of war, art, Society glamour, love, scandal, and tragedy.

Illustrated with 17 stunning, high-resolution fine art images in full color

Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library

(295 pages; ISBN (ePub):  978-0-615-68267-9).    See http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009P5RYVE.

 

 

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James Tissot in the Roaring ‘20s

At the time of James Tissot’s death in 1902, four of his oil paintings already had entered public art collections, and thirteen more were acquired in the following two decades.  In the 1920s, twelve additional Tissot paintings entered museums around the world.

Portrait du Révérend Père Bichet (sometimes referred to as Portrait of a Priest, 1885), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 34.25 by 46.06 in. (87 by 117 cm). Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nantes, France.

In 1920, Albert Bichet bequeathed Tissot’s Portrait du Révérend Père Bichet (sometimes referred to as Portrait of a Priest, 1885) to the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nantes, France.  Father Bichet was a missionary in Africa and the brother of Tissot’s sister-in-law, Claire Bichet (1844 – 1909).

Le Petit Nemrod (A Little Nimrod), c. 1882, by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 34 ½ by 55 3/5 in. (110.5 by 141.3 cm). Musée des Beaux-Arts et d’archéologie, Besançon, France. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

The same year, Albert Bichet made a bequest of Tissot’s Le Petit Nemrod (A Little Nimrod, c. 1882).  It is in the collection of the Musée des Beaux-Arts et d’archéologie (Museum of Fine Arts and Archeology) in Besançon, France.  The canvas depicts the children of Tissot’s mistress and muse, Kathleen Newton (1854 – 1882), and her older, married sister Mary Hervey, playing in a London park.  Nimrod, according to the Book of Genesis, was a great-grandson of Noah, and he is depicted in the Hebrew Bible as a mighty hunter.

[Incidentally, Albert Bichet also owned Tissot’s The Two Sisters, which he gave to the Luxembourg Museum in 1904; it now is on view in Room 11 at the Musée d’Orsay.]

Sydney Isabella Milner-Gibson (c. 1872), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 51.18 by 37.01 in. (130 by 94 cm). (Bury St Edmunds Museum Service) (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

In 1921, antiquarian and author George Gery Milner Gibson Cullum of Hardwick House (now demolished), in Suffolk outside Bury St. Edmunds, died unmarried.  The last surviving member of the Cullum baronetcy, he bequeathed most of the family portraits to the Borough of St. Edmundsbury, including a portrait of his older sister by James Tissot.  The woman, Sydney Milner-Gibson (1850 – 80), also was the half-sister of Tissot’s British friend Tommy Bowles (Thomas Gibson Bowles, 1842 – 1922), and Tommy had commissioned Tissot to paint the portrait in 1872, when Sydney was in her early twenties.  She died at Hardwick House, unmarried, of enteric fever* – typhoid, two days before her thirty-first birthday.  Her portrait, which was valued at £1.8 million in 2012, is on display at Moyse’s Hall Museum in Bury St Edmunds, in the Edwardson Room first floor gallery as part of an exhibit on Victorian costume.

Note:*  Previously, scholars reported that Sydney Milner-Gibson died of tuberculosis.  However, a copy of Sydney’s death certificate was sent to me by reader Adam Mead of Bristol, U.K.  Adam blogs on the Milner-Gibson family at https://milnergibson.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/the-milner-gibsons/.  Thank you, Adam!

Still on Top (c. 1874), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 34.65 by 20.87 in. (88 by 53 cm). Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, New Zealand. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

Also in 1921, but on the other side of the globe, British industrialist and politician Viscount Leverhulme (1851 – 1925) gifted Tissot’s Still on Top (c. 1874), to the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki in New Zealand, when it was worth approximately £ 500.  In 1998, it was worth $3.5 million USD; click here to learn about the robbery of the painting that year, and the remarkable story of its recovery and restoration.  Still on Top remains on display for Gallery visitors.

Waiting for the Train (Willesden Junction) (c. 1871-73) was purchased in 1921, with £89 5s from the Thomas Brown Fund, for the Dunedin Public Art Gallery in New Zealand.

Willesden Junction is in northwest London, and was brand-new when Tissot painted it.  The West Coast Main Line station was opened at Willesden Junction by the London & North Western Railway in 1866, with trains traveling to Birmingham and Scotland.  The upper level station on the North London Line was opened in 1869 by the North London Railway, which ran trains east-west across Northern London.  The modern woman portrayed in this ultra-modern setting looks at us with a direct, confidence gaze amid her baggage.  Measuring just 23.46 by 13.58 in. (59.6 by 34.5 cm), it’s a small but fascinating painting.

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Vive la République! (Un souper sous le Directoire), c. 1870, by James Tissot

Tissot’s Vive la République! (Un souper sous le Directoire), c. 1870, is possibly a sly reference to the new republican government declared in France on September 4, 1870, after Napoléon III’s surrender to the Prussians.  This celebratory scene made its way to India, where it is now in the collection of the Baroda Museum and Picture Gallery in Vadodara, Gujarat.

The museum – which resembles London’s Victoria and Albert Museum – was founded in 1887 by the Maharaja of what was then Baroda State (Sayajirao Gaekwad III, 1863 – 1939), for the education of his subjects.  Construction of the picture gallery, a separate building, began in 1908, but it was opened in 1921 because of delays bringing art from Europe during World War I.

La Japonaise au bain (The Bather, 1864), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 81.89 by 48.82 in. (208 by 124 cm). Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon, France. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

La Japonaise au bain (The Bather, 1864) entered the collection of the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dijon, France in 1923 through a bequest by Dijon-born collector Gaston Joliet (1842-1921).  Joliet was prefect [chief administrator] of Ain in 1890, then prefect of Poitiers in 1904 and governor of Mayotte, an archipelago off the coast of southeast Africa, between 1905 and 1906.  He served as curator at the Dijon Musée des Beaux-Arts from 1916 to his death in 1921.  La Japonaise au bain is on display.

The Warrior’s Daughter (A Convalescent), c. 1878, by James Tissot. Oil on panel; 14 ¼ by 8 11/16 in. (36.2 by 21.8 cm). Manchester Art Gallery, U.K. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org).

In 1879, the asking price for The Warrior’s Daughter (A Convalescent), c. 1878, at the Dudley Gallery, London was £ 125.  The Manchester Art Gallery purchased it from the Leicester Galleries, London, in 1925.  It is not on display.  This is the fourth image of Kathleen Newton to enter a public collection, but her existence and name would remain unknown for another two decades.

Sur La Tamise (Return from Henley), c. 1874, by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 57.48 by 40.04 in. (146.00 by 101.70 cm). Private Collection. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

Sur La Tamise (Return from Henley), c. 1874, was sold as On the Thames by one private American collector to another, in 1916.  It was acquired by physician, art collector and philanthropist Dr. J. Ackerman Coles (1843 –1925), of Scotch Plains, New Jersey and was donated to The Newark Museum, in Newark, New Jersey in 1926, the year after his death.  Dr. Coles was a direct descendant of James Cole, a Puritan who arrived at Plymouth, Massachusetts, between 1620 and 1630, and his collection forms the cornerstone of the Newark Museum’s renowned holdings of nineteenth-century American art.  However, The Newark Museum deaccessioned Tissot’s painting in 1985, when it was sold at Sotheby’s, New York, to a private collector for $ 370,000 USD/£ 293,860 GBP (Hammer price).  In 2011, it was estimated to sell for $ 1,500,000 – 2,500,000 USD at Sotheby’s, New York, but it did not find a buyer.

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A Portrait (1876), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 36 by 20 in. (91.4 by 50.8 cm). Tate Britain. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

A Portrait (1876), was exhibited by Tissot at the new Grosvenor Gallery, London, from May to June 1877.  It was owned by John Polson, Thornley and Tranent, whose executors sold it at Christie’s, London, in 1911, as An Afternoon Call.  It was purchased by the Dutch art dealer Elbert Jan van Wisselingh (1848 – 1912), London, for £44.2.0, and in 1927, the Tate purchased it from Mrs. Isa van Wisselingh (1858-1931) with the Clarke Fund.  [Mrs. van Wisselingh, née Isabella Murray Mowat Angus, was the daughter of Scottish art dealer William Craibe Angus (1830 – 1899).]  A Portrait is not on display.

Octobre (October, 1877), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 85 by 42.8 in. (216 by 108.7 cm). Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

October (1877) was given to the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal in Québec in 1927 by Scottish-born Canadian philanthropist Lord Strathcona (1820-1914) and his family, and it remains on display.  I have seen this monumental painting – over 7 feet tall and 3 ½ feet wide – and it is much more charming and intimate than its size suggests.  Though it was not known at the time, the canvas depicts Kathleen Newton, at age 23.

Holyday (c. 1876), by James Tissot. Oil on canvas, 30 by 39 1/8 in. (76.5 by 99.5 cm). Tate Britain. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Oscar Wilde, then a 23-year-old student at Magdalen College, Oxford famously skewered the subject matter of Holyday (c. 1876) as “Mr. Tissot’s over-dressed, common-looking people, and ugly, painfully accurate representation of modern soda water bottles.”  In 1928, the painting was purchased by the Tate from Thos. McLean Ltd., a London art gallery, with the Clarke Fund.  Holyday is on display at Tate Britain in room 1840; click here for an interactive look at it.

The Treachery of Images (1928-29), by René Magritte. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Just think how outmoded James Tissot’s images looked amid art movements during the 1920s, such as Surrealism and Art Deco.

And how disconnected his women were from the flappers of the Jazz Age!

But the bequests, donations and museum purchases of his paintings are a testament to their enduring beauty and an indication of their cultural value.

Josephine Baker in Banana Skirt from the Folies Bergère production “Un Vent de Folie” (1927). (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Related blog posts:

From Princess to Plutocrat: Tissot’s Patrons

Artistic intimates:  Tissot’s patrons among his friends & colleagues

James Tissot Goes to the Museum

 

©  2014 by Lucy Paquette.  All rights reserved.

The articles published on this blog are copyrighted by Lucy Paquette.  An article or any portion of it may not be reproduced in any medium or transmitted in any form, electronic or mechanical, without the author’s permission.  You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement to the author. 

CH377762

If you do not have a Kindle e-reader, you may download free Kindle reading apps for PCs, Smartphones, tablets, and the Kindle Cloud Reader to read The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot.  Read reviews.

The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot, brings Tissot’s world from 1870 to 1879 alive in a story of war, art, Society glamour, love, scandal, and tragedy.

Illustrated with 17 stunning, high-resolution fine art images in full color

Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library

(295 pages; ISBN (ePub):  978-0-615-68267-9).    See http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009P5RYVE.

 

 

 

 

 

Tissot in the U.K.: Cambridgeshire, Oxford & Bury St. Edmunds

Tucked away in public collections outside London are a few oil paintings by James Tissot that illuminate his career in the years between 1869 and 1872.  From a pretty scene he painted during his immense success in Paris to commissions he executed in his struggle to rebuild his career in London after the Franco-Prussian War and its bloody aftermath, the Commune, these paintings in combination reveal a great deal about Tissot’s most eventful years.

At the Rifle Range (1869), by James Tissot. 26 ½ by 18 ¾ in. (67.3 by 47.6). Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire, U.K. (Photo: Wikipaintings.org)

By 1865, James Tissot was earning 70,000 francs a year, and in 1866 he built himself a splendid mansion in the avenue de l’Impératrice (now avenue Foch), Baron Haussmann’s magnificent new street linking the place de l’Etoile and the Bois de Boulogne.

Some scholars believe that Tissot painted At the Rifle Range (also known as The Crack Shot, 1869) in the garden of the home of his friend, Tommy Bowles (Thomas Gibson Bowles, 1841 – 1922), at Cleeve Lodge in Hyde Park, London, and that the man in the background may be Tommy, a young journalist who founded the weekly Society magazine Vanity Fair in 1868.  The man does not, however, bear a resemblance to Bowles, then 28 years old, and the painting could well have been set in Tissot’s own garden at his villa in Paris before the Franco-Prussian War began in 1870.

At the Rifle Range was offered for sale by the London banker Murrieta at Christie’s, London in 1883 as The Crack Shot, for £220.10s but failed to find a buyer at that price.  In 1934, it again was offered for sale at Christie’s, sold as The Rifle Range to prominent art dealer Arthur Tooth for £52.10s.  By 1936, it was at the Leicester Galleries in London, where it was purchased by Captain Bambridge the following year.

Captain George Bambridge (1892 – 1943), a British diplomat, was married to Rudyard Kipling’s daughter, Elsie (1896 – 1976).  Between 1933 and 1937, George and Elsie lived at Burgh House in Hampstead.  From 1938, the childless couple resided at Wimpole Hall, about 8½  miles (14 kilometres) southwest of Cambridge.  Since Elsie Bambridge’s death in 1976, the estate has been owned by the National Trust and is open to the public; click here for more information.  Can’t visit?  Click here to see At the Rifle Range in this virtual tour of Mrs. Bambridge’s study  – and if you look closely, you’ll also see a Tissot oil painting of his mistress and muse Kathleen Newton (1854-1882) on the wall to the left of At the Rifle Range.  It’s A Study for “By Water”: Kathleen Kelly, Mrs.  Isaac Newton, c. 1880 (oil on panel, 12 ¼ by 10 in. /31.1 by 25.4 cm).

English: Chichester Parkinson-Fortescue, 1st B...

Chichester Parkinson-Fortescue, 1st Baron Carlingford (1823-1898), 1871, by James Tissot  (Photo: Wikipedia)

Chichester Fortescue, later Baron Carlingford (1823 – 1898), was a politically ambitious, pedantic Irishman and Liberal MP for County Louth from 1847 to 1868.  He became a junior lord of the treasury in 1854, and in 1863, he married the beautiful, virtuous and politically influential Society hostess Frances, Countess Waldegrave (1821-1879), previously the wife of the 7th Earl Waldegrave.  According to her biographer, Fortescue had been in love with her for a decade before her elderly third husband died, and she chose him out of the three or so men who wished to marry her.  Fortescue held minor offices in the Liberal administrations until he was made Chief Secretary for Ireland under Lord Russell from 1865 through 1866, and again under Gladstone from 1868 to 1870.

James Tissot was friendly with Countess Waldegrave, who shared his interest in spiritualism; at some point, he painted her portrait in her boudoir.  Frequent guests at her fabulous salons in London and at Strawberry Hill in Twickenham included Gladstone, Disraeli, and the Prince and Princess of Wales.  In 1871 – shortly after Tissot had fled Paris – the charming and “irresistible” Countess Waldegrave pulled strings to get Tissot a lucrative commission to paint a full-length portrait of her fourth husband, which was funded by a group of eighty-one Irishmen including forty-nine MPs, five Roman Catholic bishops and twenty-seven peers to commemorate his term as Chief Secretary for Ireland under Gladstone – as a present to his wife.

Vanity Fair, August 14, 1869, Statesmen No. 28: Caricature of The Rt. Hon. Chichester Parkinson-Fortescue. Caption reads: “He married Lady Waldegrave and governed Ireland.” By Carlo Pellegrini. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

From 1871 to 1874, Chichester Fortescue was President of the Board of Trade.  His full-length portrait by Tissot, which measures 74 ½ by 47 ½ in. (189.2 by 120.7 cm), was given to the University of Oxford by sitter’s nephew, Francis Fortescue Urquhart (1868-1934), Fellow of Balliol College, about 1904.  It was re-hung in the North School in 1957.  You can glimpse the painting at minute 2:46, left of center, in a video of the University of Oxford Examination Schools Conference Centre.  Just cut and paste this link into your Internet browser:  youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dN2ou1LyEE4.

James Tissot arrived in London in May or June, 1871 with less than one hundred francs but with numerous British friends including Tommy Bowles.  [To read more about their friendship, click here and here.]  Bowles, who was living at Cleeve Lodge, Queen’s Gate, near Hyde Park, let Tissot use his rented apartment in Palace Chambers at 88 St. James’s Street.  Tissot sold caricatures to Vanity Fair and painted on commission, and soon he moved into a rented house at 73 Springfield Road, St. John’s Wood.

Miss Sydney Milner-Gibson (September 28, 1849 — September 30, 1880), c. 1872, by James Tissot. (Photo: Wikimedia.org)

Tommy Bowles was the illegitimate son of Thomas Milner Gibson (1806 – 1884), a Liberal MP for Manchester and President of the Board of Trade from 1859 to 1866, and Susannah Bowles, a servant.  Tommy was an adorable little boy, and his stepmother, Arethusa Susannah (1814 – 1885), a Society hostess who was the only child of Sir Thomas Gery Cullum (1777 –1855) of Hardwick House, Suffolk, insisted that he be raised with his father’s family of four sons and two daughters.  Tommy’s favorite half-sister was Sydney Milner-Gibson, nearly eight years younger, and in 1871, when Sydney was 22, he commissioned Tissot to paint her portrait.

At  50 by 39.02 in. (127.0 by 99.1 cm), the portrait of Sydney is much larger than the 1870 portrait that Bowles commissioned Tissot to paint of his dashing friend Gus Burnaby (Frederick Gustavus Burnaby, 1842 – 1885), a captain in the privileged Royal Horse Guards, the cavalry regiment that protected the monarch.  [Burnaby’s portrait, usually in the National Portrait Gallery, London but at the Art Institute of Chicago through Sunday, September 22, 2013 for the blockbuster exhibition, “Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity,” measures just 19.5 by 23.5 in./49.5 by 59.7 cm).]

In 1880, the unmarried Sydney died of enteric fever* – typhoid – at Hawstead, in Suffolk outside Bury St. Edmunds, two days after her thirty-first birthday.  Her younger brother, George Gery Milner Gibson, died unmarried in 1921 and bequeathed most of the family portraits to the Borough of St. Edmundsbury.  From 1923 to 1959, Sydney’s portrait was displayed in the town library, and later at the Art Gallery.  The painting was displayed at the Clock Museum, Angel Corner, in Bury St. Edmunds from 1989 to 1992, and then at the Manor House Museum until it was closed in 2006.

By September 2012, of the £6 million of art and artifacts in the collection of St. Edmundsbury Borough Council, the most valuable item was the portrait of Miss Sydney Milner-Gibson by James Tissot, which was valued at £1.8 million.  As of 2012, the painting, which cannot be sold, was to go on display at Moyse’s Hall Museum.  Local administrators tell me that this small museum is being reconfigured, and that there have been various delays.  Tissot’s portrait of Sydney Milner-Gibson is intended to form part of a display in the Edwardson Room first floor gallery, as part of an exhibit on Victorian costume, beginning in September 2013.

See James Tissot’s “Miss Sydney Milner-Gibson” (c. 1872).

I am grateful to the following individuals for providing information from which I compiled this article:

Alan Baxter, Heritage Manager and Dr. Keith Cunliffe, Collections Manager, West Suffolk Councils, U.K.

* Adam Mead, Bristol, U.K.  Previously, scholars reported that Sydney Milner-Gibson died of tuberculosis.  However, Adam, who blogs on the Milner-Gibson family at https://milnergibson.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/the-milner-gibsons/, sent me a copy of Sydney’s death certificate showing the official cause of her death was enteric fever.

© Copyright Lucy Paquette 2013.  All rights reserved.

The articles published on this blog are copyrighted by Lucy Paquette.  An article or any portion of it may not be reproduced in any medium or transmitted in any form, electronic or mechanical, without the author’s permission.  You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement to the author. 

CH377762

The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot, brings Tissot’s world from 1870 to 1879 alive in a story of war, art, Society glamour, love, scandal, and tragedy.

Illustrated with 17 stunning, high-resolution fine art images in full color

Courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library  

(295 pages; ISBN (ePub):  978-0-615-68267-9).

  See http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009P5RYVE.

If you do not have a Kindle e-reader, you may download free Kindle reading apps for PCs, Smartphones, tablets, and the Kindle Cloud Reader to read The Hammock:  A novel based on the true story of French painter James Tissot.  Read reviews.