Scottish Male Figurehead representing the MARQUESS OF LORNE
III STYLIST FORM OF FIGUREHEAD
This is a full length standing style male merchant figurehead in the form of a young Scottish highlander, resting on a small traditional styled scroll base, his right arm and hand is held across his chest with his index finger pointing outwards, the left arm is held down his side holding on to side of his sword cover, his left leg stands forward on the scrolled base with the right leg leaving backwards, indicating he is stepping forward away from the bow, it would appear that this carving has been carved from one solid piece of timber and not made up of several laminated planks, this would suggest that from the onset this was always intended to be a quality commission.
The carving style of this figurehead is exceptional in both style and execution, he was carved by an extremely skilled and gifted craftsman, he is wearing a typical inspired costume of a native Scottish highlander, from the second half of the nineteenth century, the attitude of the head is held slightly upwards and looking towards the right, the hair is short with long sideburns on the top of his head he is wearing a simple stylised hat or traditional bonnet, known as the Balmoral bonnet, formerly known as the Kilmarnock bonnet, a traditional Scottish hat that can be worn as part of formal or informal highland dress, dating back to at least the 16th century, and takes in form of a knitted soft wool cap, the face has a strong and youthful feel to it, and would suggest that the subject was a relatively young man in his mid twenties, as we look down the figurehead he is wearing a full traditional highlander costume, with a red fitted jacket, under shirt, a loose kilt with a tartan design together with a sash held to the left hand shoulder by a large badge/buckle, with sporran is in a traditional form with a metal cantles trimming the top of the pouch with three fur or hair tassels, he has a leather strap over his right should with a sword strap, knee length stockings and black shoes with a large buckle.
He stands on a traditional forward scroll billet.
At the back of the carving can be seen towards the centre of the figure the remains of a wooden plug which carried the bolt hole on to the front of the figurehead, this is known as the Bung plug, to cover the threaded bolts or drift pins, one or two metal rods that are driven from the front of the Figurehead, through the abutting vessel timber and fastened to the ship, the back area of the Figurehead is called the lacing piece a section on the back or base of the carving which was left flat or cut out to butt against the stem of the vessel, a hole should run through the Figurehead at this point and be visible at the back of the carving, once a Figurehead was attached to the vessel, this bung plug would be fixed and painted over, to removed the Figurehead, this plug would be cut out, and the threaded bolts removed allowing the figurehead to be prized our, leaving the drift pin in place, it was not uncommon for the lacing piece to be removed first leaving the surviving area of the drift pin still held within the body of the Figurehead, it was an established fact that throughout the nineteenth century a number of carvers in the United Kingdom, used several recurring design elements to identify their work, ( or workshop ) this signature in wood, could be seen in a number of areas, notably the attitude and arrangement of the fingers on both hands, the attitude of the head and the direction the Figurehead was looking in. Others used elements within the costume of the Figurehead, I feel that in the case of this Figurehead he has a number of areas that could constitute such a signature, one area of interested are the carved style of the scrolls on both sides of the billet head again this could be considered as part of the individual carvers carving technique.
Interpreting the date for any object one has to take into account a number of significant factors such as the overall style of the particular Figurehead in question, the way that it has been carved and the materials used, also the kind of wood used, with that in mind I would suggest that this particular figurehead was carved for a British Merchant vessel, dating from the last half of the nineteenth century, (1850-1900), without obtaining a sample of the wood used, looking at the patination and surface grain visible in the close up views of the head and neck of the Figurehead, I would suggest that this was carved in a white pine variety, commonly used for Figureheads and other decorative maritime woodcarvings throughout the hole of the nineteenth century, it would be interesting to have a none intrusive sample of wood taken from say the back of this Figureheads to establish if this is the case.
This Figurehead was carved for a British vessel of as of yet an unknown name, the quality of the carving would suggest a carver of exceptional skill and talent, one that had been established for many years, with a successful business and workshop, producing Figureheads and other decorative carved work for a number of years. With any craftsman of this kind it is possible to see evidence of his skills and craft in a number of other surviving Figureheads, with that in mind I have made a full investigation of ALL the Figurehead related images within the "Hunter Figurehead Archives" and have been able to find at least two other surviving Figureheads that may have been carved by the same hand.
The size of this Figurehead would suggest that he came from a relatively small vessel, suggesting a yacht of some kind.
V HISTORY OF VESSEL/FIGUREHEAD
The first known details of this particular Figureheads existence appear in the British Antiques magazine "The Antiques Dealers & Collectors Guide" Volume 18 Number 2 September 1962, in a half page advertisement for Michael Brett of Picton House, Broadway, Worcestershire, with the following information under a black and white full length view of the Figurehead.
"Fine carved Wooden Figure, representing the Marquess of Lorne, from a yacht wrecked off Anglesey in the middle of the nineteenth century, Figure from Cemmaes Bay, Anglesey, Height 4ft 2in."
Under this is the address of Michael Brett at Broadway and a telephone number, no indication of price is given in the advertisement, Michael Brett is also descried as being a member of the British Antique Dealers Association, with a copy of it's logo in the ad, during my research into this Figurehead my first port of call was to find out if "Michael Brett" as a company or individual was still in business at the address given in the advertisement, I was unable to find this name in any local or national listings for Antiques Dealers in the United Kingdom, however Picton House is a well know historic building in Broadway, and I was able to find out that a number of Antiques companies operated from this address, I rang the most prominent, and was told that Michael Brett had died a number of years ago, and that the business had closed, however his daughter was still in business as a dealer under a separate name, and was given her number, I rang her to see if any of her late fathers business records and accounts had survived, only to be told that this was not the case and all this material had been lost, she did however tell me that Mr Brett was a very meticulous, dealer and that ANY information he placed on an item was as far as he could make it 100% accurate, and this particularly so with regards to the advertisements the placed in the Antiques magazines, as he was very proud of his membership to the British Antiques Dealers Association, and would not have sold anything that would in any way jeopardise this membership, she was sure that as well as the information given in the advertisement he would have had other information on hand to substantiate this attribution, and would have given this to the person buying the Figurehead in the 1960s, ( she did say that as a young girl in the 1950's and 60's she remembered that her father had a small number of Figureheads for sale, from his shop in Broadway, and that most if not all would have been bought by American tourists, as a high class dealer he only sold items of quality, and had a very good reputation in the trade.
It would be safe with this information, to say that A) the information in the above advertisement was correct and B) This figurehead was sold after 1962 to an American buyer, and shipped over to the USA.
My next step was to research the name of the vessel, in the advertisement is says "representing the Marquess of Lorne", but does not give this as the name of the vessel or could the vessel be also called the"MARQUESS OF LORNE" and that the size of the vessel was a Yacht from the middle of the nineteenth century, I have found one vessel that has the right name size and date, "MARQUIS OF LORNE" (* Note the spelling of Marquess) this vessel was a Yacht built in 1874 (official number C71173) built in Kingston Ontario Canada length 54.6 feet beam 10.1 feet depth 5.3 feet tonnage gross 20 tonnage net 11 in 1878 she was owned by J Fisher of Portsmouth Ontario, in 1879 she had been moved up to 25 ton with screw prop, an imagine of this vessel can be found on the Great Lakes Maritime Database under the name MARQUIS OF LORNE C71173, record number 86024.86043 Filename 0086024-001-F-MARQUISOFLORNE. I have had a good look at this image and feel that this vessel is too small for the size of Figurehead or the quality of carving.
Next in the advertisement it mentions two locations in Wales.
A) Wrecked off Anglesey in the middle of the nineteenth century.
B) From Cemmaes Bay.
I have been in contact with the CEMAES MARITIME HERITAGE COLLECTION (again note the spelling of Cemaes Bay) with over 2,000 records of vessel lost in and around the area of Anglesey and North Wales they have no records of a yacht of that name being lost in that area during the middle of the nineteenth century, and suggest that if the Figurehead was representing the Marquess of Lorne it could well have had quite a different name, this being most sensible.
My next avenue of research is the man himself the "Marquess of Lorne" of this date the middle of the nineteenth century, the only person this could have been was. John George Edward Henry Douglas Sutherland Campbell, 9th Duke of Argyll.
Born on the 6th August 1845 in London, Died 2nd May 1914 Cowes,
Known as the Marquess of Lorne from 1847 and 1900 when he became the 9th Duke of Argyll.
Looking at the age of the Figurehead being say 20 to 25, this would very much fit in with the dates of the Marquess in 1865, he would have been 20, the style of the carving would suggest it being created in the 1860-70, and that this Figurehead could have been taken from a vessel owned by his father the 8th Duke of Argyll George John Douglas Campbell 8th Duke of Argyll was born on the 30th April 1823 and died on the 24th April 1900, with his first wife he had six sons and seven daughters, John Campbell was the first son of the 8th Duke when he was 21 months old he assumed the courtesy title Marquess of Lorne, which he bore until he was 54, when his father died and he in turn became the 9th Duke of Argyll.
During the Nineteenth Century a number of the vastly wealthy Scottish aristocracy owned large sailing and early steam yachts, one or two figureheads have survived from this time and can still be found in the families' possession notable being:
SY CATRINA 1895 for the Dukes of Sutherland Dunrobin Castle Scotland surviving female Figurehead in the Castles Museum.
S Y MIRANDA 1885 for Lord Leith's Fyvie Castle, Aberdeenshire Scotland.
The present Duke of Argyll is the 13th, Torquhil Ian Campbell also known as the Earl of Campbell, was born in 1968, he was the Marquess of Lorne between 1973 to 2001 and lives with his family at Inveraray Castle, in Argyll Scotland, I have written a number of times to the Castle factor and have been told that the family archivist is a part time member of staff and due to pressure of work within the Castle Archives, is unable to do any research within the family archives for requests from individuals such as myself, however if I would care to make an appointment it would be possible to research in the Castle library.
With regards to John Campbell the 9th Duke of Argyll the subject of the said Figurehead, in 1878 he became the 4th Governor General of Canada by that time he had become a major member of the British establishment by marring the daughter of Queen Victoria, Princess Louise in 1871 it's interesting to note that during his time in Canada a Sailing Yacht was named after him, with the following details appearing in the local Canadian press.
DAILY NEWES (KINGSTON ONTARIO) 26th August 1874.
"The Marquis of Lorne This pretty little Steam-Yacht the property of James Fisher and Edward Law, made her really first good trial of speed on Monday on the occasion of the excursion to Alexandra Bay, In speed we can feel satisfied that there is no yacht in Canadian waters which can surpass her, - the machinery was made by David Kinghorn of Glasgow"
If that was the case and the machinery for the vessel was made in Scotland, and shipped over to Canada so could the Figurehead have been carved in Scotland and sent over at the same time.
DAILY NEWES (KINGSTON ONTARIO) 31 July 1878
"The Marquis of Lorne" Messrs John Smith & Co of Kingston owners of the steam yacht Marquis of Lorne which was modelled and the engines built in Glasgow Scotland have written to the Premier offering her for the Marquis use on his arrival – The Marquis of Lorne was at one time one of the prettiest steam yachts in the harbour". She was also written about in the London Press.
LONDON STANDARD Thursday 15th June 1882
"THE MARQUESS OF LORNE"
(Through Reuter's Agency) QUEBEC, June 13
"The Marquess of Lorne's yacht on approaching the wharf to day, came into collision with a schooner, in consequence of which the flagstaff on the bow of the former broke and fell on the deck. It was only prevented from striking the Princess Louise by the Marquess who put up his arm in time to ward off the blow"
VI CARVERS NAME
This information is not known at the time of this report; however should ANY information be found with regards to the subject, in future or subsequent research this information will be given to Mr Vallejo, as part of the original report information. Looking at the quality of this carving, I would suggest that this particular Figurehead was carved in the United Kingdom, by an extremely good carver.
VII COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
This information is not known at the time of this report; however should ANY information be found with regards to the subject, in future or subsequent research this information will be given to Mr Vallejo, as part of the original report information. Looking at the quality of this carving, I would suggest that this particular Figurehead was carved in the United Kingdom, possibly Scotland.
It has not been possible to advance the research into the history of this figurehead within the private archives of the Dukes of Argyll ay Inveraray Castle in Scotland, I am sure details of the vessels owned by the family would hold vital information, as this report stands I am confident that this particular Figurehead is a representation of the "MARQUESS OF LORNE" carved in the last half of the nineteenth century in Scotland, the style of tartan used on the carving has a number of close elements to the Ancient Campbell of Argyle tartan, but is not a precise rendition, and has a number of elements related to the Hunting Stewart tartan, this could have been a common design used by the carver, rather than a pure rendition of a particular tartan, a number of surviving figureheads of this age and style have tartans that have no obvious clan names, viewed from a distance the name generic could be given to this painted use of the tartan motif.
At the moment we have three options to follow
A) That this Figurehead came from the named vessel "MARQUIS OF LORNE" built in 1874 in Canada, the only living person this could have been named after was. John George Edward Henry Douglas Sutherland Campbell, 9th Duke of Argyll Born on the 6th August 1845, however he was not made Governor General of Canada until 1878 four years after the above Yacht was built ? And the naming of the yacht was a coincidence
B) That this figurehead as a representation of the Marquess of Lore was caved for a Yacht in the ownership of his father the 8th Duke of Argyll and that the vessel had a name with no obvious attachment to the family, such as Skylark, or Sunbeam. Or any of a 1,000 other names given to Yachts in the nineteenth century, and that when the yacht was wrecked or broken up the Figurehead found it's way in to private hands.
C) That once the 9th Duke had been made Governor General of Canada in 1878 the owners of the yacht "Marquis of Lorne" commissioned a new Figurehead in keeping with the named person, and that as they offered this vessel to the Governor General it was seen as fitting, additional research needs to be done in to the history and fate of this vessel, to see how and when it was broken up, and if the Figurehead was removed at this time.
Of the three options for the survival of this figurehead, due to the fact that he was originally found in the United Kingdom, I think that option B is the more feasible.
21st March 2014, Richard Hunter
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