THOMAS M. M. HEMY (1852-1937) - PAGE 1
For any visitor who knows the name of a specific Thomas Hemy work, & wishes to see if there is data about it on this site, may I suggest you navigate via the Hemy artwork index on page 05.
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Elsewhere in this total site, specifically here, I featured a 'Slider Puzzle Image' of an engraving by a British artist named Thomas M. M. Hemy (Marie Madawaska). It was entitled 'Every Soul Was Saved' & was created from an 1889 photogravure (you can see it here) for sale on E-bay by 'martin2001' of Virginia in Jan. 2002. I try not to overload the applet pages of this total site. So here, in this & now many more pages, is more about the artist & his works. (01, 02 & 03. Plus all of the other image pages, accessible though the index on page 05.
I should state at the outset, that I could not have foreseen the wealth of material that, with the assistance of many many people from around the world, I have been able to assemble. Page 1 once contained everything I was able to find about the artist. Today, this page, while still evolving, is becoming primarily biographical in nature but with highlights of his most famous works. With all of his works that I have on site, now indexed & available through page 05.
Thomas Hemy was an artist who specialised in marine paintings. The only image that I had of him for a very long time is at left, courtesy of Norma Mae Hemy of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. That image accompanied the 1890 article which appears on page 2. Now, however, we have (here) a small image dating from 1893. An enlarged version of it is next below.
Thomas was born into a very large family & was, it would seem, one of thirteen children, ten boys & three girls. He had at least three artist brothers - an older brother (Charles Napier Hemy, (his image) links here & here, of Newcastle, England, (1841-1917) who would seem to have been rather more recognised as an artist. Another older artist brother was named Bernard Benedict Hemy (1844-1910). And Oswin Bede Hemy (1856/1913). Webmaster Note: I do not have any pages on site re Bernard Benedict Hemy, but I do have a photograph of him & his family, believed to date from 1897. It is available here, courtesy of Annette Sands of New Zealand & via Marcus Hemy of the U.K. We sincerely thank them both!
Thomas was born while the family was in the course of emigrating to Australia.
He also was an author ('Deep Sea Days', published by H. F. & G. Witherby in London, England, in 1926) & actually specialized in the painting of shipwrecks.
His most famous painting would seem to have been of the 'Wreck of the Birkenhead', (a page about that work is available here & a thumbnail of the work is below), a troopship which sank off the coast of Africa on Feb. 26, 1852. The expression 'women and children first' originated with that sinking.
It would seem that there were approximately 638 passengers aboard the Birkenhead when she hit a rock off Cape Danger (how appropriate that name!) about 100 miles south east of Cape Town. 113 people would seem to have survived the wreck.
My search for data on the artist continues. Anthony Hemy, of Southampton, England, whose great grandfather was Dr. Christopher Hemy (Henri Christopher Hemy, 1854-1934), another of Thomas Hemy's brothers, so I understand, tells me that he believes that Thomas Hemy was buried on the Isle of Wight, U.K. So we now know of at least three brothers to Thomas & where the artist was probably buried. But, & I am learning there is always a 'but' ....
..... Michael E. Leek in his book entitled 'The Art of Nautical Illustration' (Quantum Books, originally published in 1991) says that Thomas lived in the Newcastle area & died there in 1937. And I now have learned that Thomas Hemy married & that the couple had seven children, four boys & three girls. But I do not know the name of his wife.
In response to that last comment, I received, in Nov. 2006, a kind message from Jennifer Longstaff of Brisbane, Australia. Jennifer refers to Thomas Hemy's wife as being Marie Dixon. But also provides some 1901 census data re Castel, Jersey, Channel Islands, that records Thomas (born 1851) & also Annie (born 1852), presumably his wife. We are not sure how the names of Annie & Marie Dixon jive. Jennifer's data originates, I understand with Doreen Oates, Jennifer's grandmother & a Hemy family member, (descended from Alfred Hemy, one of Thomas Hemy's brothers) who lives in the U.K., I believe. The rest of the 1901 census data is also a 'puzzle' to me, since it records only three children's names (Henry 1883, Eve 1882 & Gweneth 1885) names which do not agree with the data recorded on the Hemy genealogy site. And Jennifer believes there were eight children in all & not seven. Perhaps, with time, the puzzle will be solved & fully accurate data will become available. For now, I assume that Thomas must have married twice? And a matter of further difference, Jennifer understands that Thomas was born en route from Australia to the U.K. - while Thomas himself states (lower on this page) that he was born on a voyage from the U.K. to Australia. If we had his exact date of birth, it might be possible to somewhere find data on the voyages of the Madawaska & resolve that particular issue with some certainty.
But, we have a little more! Thanks to Tom Moore, of Newcastle, who is a relative of Jennifer Longstaff, I understand. In 1861, Tom advises me, Thomas was living with his family at No. 70 Northumberland St. in Newcastle, a major shopping street in Newcastle, today. And in 1878, Thomas married Annie Dixon at Darlington (as per the Oct-Nov-Dec Marriage Directory for that year). In 1911, the artist was listed as being at '4 Belsize Studios, Glenilla-road, N.W.', presumably in London.
And we have yet more! A site visitor from the Isle of Wight, kindly advises (thanks!) that her grandmother, Alice Ayres, (Alice Grimble before her marriage), used to be a nanny at the Hemy household in Hampstead, North London. There she looked after his younger and 'adopted children', as distinct from other children in the family, looked after by other nannies. That was before Alice married & her service (though not her association with the family) came to an end. While Alice did not accompany them, the Hemy family spent many summers at Seaview (images 1 & 2) on the Isle of Wight. It would seem that Thomas must have married twice. He possibly divorced and/or married a woman who had children by a previous marriage, matters that would not, I am advised, have been talked about in the Victorian England of the time. So there were, it would appear adopted or step children in the large Hemy family.
I do not believe that I know the exact date of birth of Thomas M. M. Hemy. Does anybody have that data? I learn that he died, on the Isle of Wight, on Mar. 30, 1937, less than two weeks after his wife had died.
Now the second link above to Charles Napier Hemy takes you to the wonderful website of www.artprice.com. They have hundreds of records of his works on site. Historically that link was to gabriusdatabank.com who had 32 Charles Napier images on their site. Re our artist, Thomas M. M. Hemy, which Gabrius used to state meant Thomas Marie Modawaska Hemy, they had but a single image, a watercolour entitled 'Boats at dock on the river'. You can see it on site page 53. I now know that all references to his third name being Modawaska are quite wrong, & there are many such references it would appear. His name was Madawaska & he tells us so in his book in words both loud & clear. In fact he does so in some most amusing words in the introduction to his book - words which I provide below. The Hemy family genealogy site, has it correctly of course, but many sources including Dorothy E. R. Brewington's brief listing for the artist in her 'Dictionary of Marine Artists', published in 1982 by Mystic Seaport Museum, have that word in his name incorrectly. Dorothy states that Thomas exhibited at the Royal Academy & also at the Suffolk Street Galleries. It would seem that the name Hemy was once Hemmi. Johannes Hemmi (1740-?) came from Germany to the United Kingdom. And Henry Hemy, Johannes' son, was Thomas's grandfather.
One mournful day, when the good ship Madawaska was making her way in the Atlantic bound for Australia, there appeared a small addition to the passenger list who might, or might not be termed a stowaway. His advent caused some little excitement amongst the other passengers, but no resentment was shown by the genial Captain Pascoe at this attempt to avoid paying the fare. There was no clergyman on board, so, as with funerals, marriages, trials, and the award of punishments, christenings were amongst the captain's unpaid duties. In this case, however, as my father was a member of the Church of Rome, and partly responsible for the addition to the passenger list, he thought himself justified in taking the matter of the christening into his own hands.
The results showed what amateurs can be capable of when they butt in - I, the unfortunate victim, was first deluged with water - salt, presumably, as fresh water in those days, on long voyage passenger ships, was a valuable commodity; and then the cruel parent, taking advantage of the helplessness of his child, tacked the name of the ship on to the others with which he had adorned him. It could hardly be called a Christian name - though it was not, as might be thought, a Russian or Polish one; it was the name of a river in Canada. The remonstrances of my mother prevented him from adding the name of the captain also.
And here, I am now able to give you, in a composite image below, a glimpse of two of Thomas Hemy's most famous works - the 'Wreck of the Birkenhead' (left) & 'Every Soul Was Saved' (right). The data I have learned about both those works can be seen here & here.
Other major works include 'The Shannon and the Chesapeake at close quarters'. The thumbnail of that work that is on site can be viewed here. And a giant 1895 painting, 12 x 8 1/2 feet in size, of the Sunderland v Aston Villa football match of Jan. 2, 1895. The earliest painting of soccer in the world it would seem. And published as a print entitled 'A Corner Kick' & available today as a print entitled 'Sunderland v Aston Villa'. Such data as I have re that work is available on site page 62.
A couple of listings - the first a list of items that probably would, if available, add to my limited body of knowledge of the artist. I do not really want the following, per se. Just whatever new data that they might prove to contain. If you could help in any way, drop me a line. The second list is a 'Thank You' list, to the people who have helped me along the way in creating these pages. Thank you all.
1 'Charles Napier Hemy R.A. 1841-1917' A 1984 or 1985 64 page Paperback by Andrew Greg. ISBN 083900348X. No longer in print or available it would seem. 2 'Boy's Own Paper' Jan 25 1908 A fold out illustration 'The Last Rocket' by Thomas M. Hemy. What I have is here but it could be improved. 3 'Boy's Own Paper' Aug 08 1908 A colour plate 'The Crabbers' by Thomas M. Hemy. 4 'Ward Lock & Co's Wonder Book' of 1917 An article entitled 'The Ordeal by Fire' by Sidney Rodney was illustrated by Thomas M. Hemy.
Only rarely do copies of 'Deep Sea Days' come up on e-Bay. A copy was available in mid Aug. 2004 from Australia. But did not sell at an initial bid of AU $19.99 (about U.S. $13.90). The vendor used these words to describe the item: This copy lacks the frontispiece and the lower right hand corner of the boards is a bit discoloured. A nice pleasing copy nonetheless. The vendor was 'mazelbooks' of Sydney, Australia. Another copy was sold in Jan. 2006 for U.S. $36.77 by 'bookbiz' of Falmouth, Massachusetts. And another copy sold in Mar. 2006 for GBP 12.99 or approximately U.S. $22.71. The webmaster has not searched for the book in a very long time, but did so in late May 2012. A copy was available, again from Australia, via e-Bay. Offered by 'cornstalk-bookshop' at AU $100 or U.S. $97.71. In early Nov. 2019. two copies are e-Bay available. Here from the U.K., (at GBP 10.00 or U.S. $12.92) and here from South Africa (at GBP 38.96 or U.S. $50.33).
Ali Arlow of Peterborough, Lincolnshire, in the United Kingdom
Neil ____, of Wiltshire, England
Geoffrey Barber, of Griffith, New South Wales, Australia
William Bellerby, of Middlesbrough, U.K.
John R. Bird, of Brixworth, Northampton, Northamptonshire, England
Ton and John Brinkel, of The Netherlands
William Burbridge, of Colorado, U.S.A.
Ian Cameron, of Alberta, Canada
Jenny Campbell, of Scotland
Windsor Chorlton, of Dorset, U.K.
Gavin Clackworthy, of Cape Town, South Africa
Paul Days, historian of the Sunderland Association Football Club, of Sunderland, U.K.
Gordon de Gruchy, of Jersey, Channel Islands, whose e-Bay site is here
Bernard De Neumann, of The City University, London, England
Andy Dennis, of Sunderland, U.K., who alas has passed away now.
Brien Doran, of Dublin, California, U.S.A.
Keith M. English, of Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.A.
Peter Gilbertson, of Greta Bridge, County Durham, U.K.
Anthony Hemy, of Southampton, Hampshire, England
Marcus Hemy, of Macclesfield, Cheshire, England
Norma Mae Hemy, of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada
Ron Hemy, of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada
Ted Hiland, of the Toronto Public Library, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Liz Hillary, of Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, England
Don Hutchinson, of Sudbury, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
Peter Jefferies, of Durham City, Durham, U.K., whose e-mail address is email@example.com
Alexandra Keens, of France
Di Kilpert, of Cape Town, South Africa
Raquel King, of Florida, U.S.A.
Jonathan Kinghorn of Lexington, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
Deana Knowles, of Washington D.C., U.S.A., whose e-Bay store is here
Rick Krist, of Guelph, Ontario, Canada
John Ling, of the County of Norfolk, U.K.
Sally Lloyd, of Wales, U.K.
Jennifer Longstaff, of Brisbane, Australia
Iain MacFarlaine, of London, U.K., who has taken a quite extraordinary number of grave site photos.
martin2001, a superb Vendor on e-Bay, who probably does not know that one of his prints started all of this
William (Billy) McAlpine, of Newry, County Down, Northern Ireland
Heinz Nederkorn, of Germany, whose 'Cunard' website 'www.schiffspost.com'. is here. But that link seems now to be incorrect & I have been unable to find a replacement.
Donna O'Sullivan, of Ontario, Canada
Rosemary Pearson, of 'Lincoln Joyce Fine Art' of Great Bookham, Surrey, England
Martin Pegrum, watercolour artist, of the Philippines
Tas Richardson, of Linden, near Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Dave Scaife, of the United Kingdom
Clive Scoular, who lives near Downpatrick, County Down, Northern Ireland
David Sloan, of Sunderland, U.K.
Ken Spooner, of Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A. Ken's vast website is here. Go visit!
Randall Trass, of Clatskanie, near Portland, Oregon, U.S.A.
Charles Turner, of Penicuik, Midlothian (south of Edinburgh), Scotland
Brian Wharmby, of Leicestershire, U.K.
Peter W. Wood, of Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
e-Bay, which is becoming a quite irreplaceable research tool
I thank you all!
Thomas M. M. Hemy datapages 01, 02 & 03 are now on site. Plus all of the other image pages, accessible though the index on page 05. NEXT PAGE
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