THOMAS M. M. HEMY (1852-1937) - PAGE 8
WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST (1887)
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WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST - 1887
And next, thanks to both Ken Spooner of Nashville, Tennessee, & Neil ____ of Wiltshire, England, we have 'Women and Children First'. The work appeared on Page 9 of the Jan. 1904 edition of 'Woman's Home Companion Magazine'. Ken has kindly mailed to me the actual page which is in fact a giant page - 16 x 11 inches in size. The black & white image itself, which takes up the full page, is about 14 1/4 x 9 1/4 inches in size. My scan of that page is the large image below.
And the work is signed & dated 1887, as you can see, at left above.
Now it is possible that the original of the work is in Neil ____'s hands in Wiltshire, England. That work, on canvas & 82 x 50 cm. in size (33 x 20 inches) (image at left) is in sober black & white tones. It was purchased, Neil tells me, at an antique shop in Totnes, Devon, in 1989.
The name of the lifeboat is, I understand, clearly visible on the painting itself - but not on the image below or the 'Woman's Home Companion Magazine' page from which it was scanned. The lifeboat is named 'THE GOOD SAMARITAN'. Thank you, Neil.
And we also have the short but most interesting article, again thanks to Ken Spooner. Now I do not pretend to be an expert on Thomas Hemy, but this is the very first mention I have seen that the artist's mother was lost at sea.
Lower on the page is the article that accompanied the work in the Jan. 1904 edition of 'Woman's Home Companion Magazine' (cover at left) and makes that statement. You can read every word quite clearly. Thank you Ken. (The article was in one tall column, I believe, but I rearranged the text for better display here).
A different print of this very same work was sold in Nov. 2004 via eBay. For U.S. $14.99. It would seem that the print which was for sale was extracted from an 1894 art journal and it listed the artist, at bottom left under the print, as being H. M. Hemy. The listing did not name the art journal but did say 'There is text below the image describing the print & another image & text on the reverse of the page.'
And in early Feb. 2005 a print of what is clearly the identical work was sold on e-Bay. It clearly was without doubt this very work. The listing had this descriptive text which set out the vendor's understanding - that the shipwreck depicted took place on the Great Lakes in 1879. And involved a vessel named Leviathan. All most interesting!
The vendor of that item, whose web store is here, has kindly mailed to me the text which appeared on the back of the print. Deana, I thank you! It reads as follows:
Amidst the sad records of human life there are few incidents which present higher examples of heroism and of tenderness than those terrible ocean disasters which now and then startle the people of both continents. They present also evidences of shameless cowardice, as well as lofty self-sacrifice.
There are certainly no dangers like those which surround "them that go down to the sea in ships," for winds that wreck and waves that drown vie with each other in setting at naught man's strength and skill, whilst they yearn in fierce rivalry for excess of victims. The terror is not lessened if the vessel is stress of weather is shattered upon the rough shores of even friendly lands; where old ocean bids defiance to the strongest arms and bravest hearts which would send aid to the drowning crews and passengers.
There is something pathetic in the sight of a monster ship groaning and wrestling with the angry waves in whose rough embrace it becomes a mere cockle shell to be ground to atoms upon the rocks.
In the picture which we present the artist has caught the terrible spirit of the occasion, and shows us the stranded Leviathan being slowly reduced to indistinguishable drift, but the terror is mitigated by the sight of the friendly life-boat with its valiant crew, to whose care the women and children are first consigned.
It is one of these occasions which increase our confidence in the nobility of human character. The shout of the intrepid captain, "Women and Children First," is heard above the thunder of the waves and the seething hiss of recoiling seas as the life-boat swings along side the fated vessel.
"Women and Children First" is the thought which Hemy has so vividly portrayed in the painting which we here reproduce. Of the artist, F. M. M. Hemy, we learn but little, except that in the year 1887 he gave to the world one of the most stirring scenes of shipwreck and succor which the present generation has received.
It is to be regretted that American artists have done so little for the development of a fine school of marine painting. With a sea-coast extending from the frigid to the torrid zones on either side of the continent, with any phase of changing light and color both of sea and land, with opportunities to study the craft and sailors of any foreign clime, nothing of importance has yet been accomplished apart from a few individual instances.
A few have manifested the instinct for this great branch of pictorial art, but they have evidently been depressed or circumscribed by circumstances which hinder the finest exercise of their powers, and consequently robs American art of what should be one of its most prominent and delightful features.
Having read the above text, the webmaster wonders whether the use of the word Leviathan in the 4th paragraph of the above text is intended to name the vessel concerned or perhaps & instead refers to the widespread use of the term to mean anything of giant size - with the term often applied to a ship or a man. My inclination is to think that the word was used in that broader usage. And that Leviathan was not the name of the vessel depicted. That is however, just the webmaster's opinion. The webmaster is not aware of the name of the art journal in which the print appeared in 1897.
Also first listed in Mar. 2005, & relisted, a print of the above work, said to be by Coggeshall, (the engraver), was sold on e-Bay in early Aug. 2005 for U.S. $150.00. The print, in its antique frame, looked quite magnificent. I lowered the colour temperature of the print image (below) & trimmed it for better presentation on this page.
A 'Portfolio of Masterpieces' print of the work did not sell in Nov. 2006 for the most modest price of U.S. $3.50, was relisted in early December by vendor stuff741 at U.S. $2.50, & still did not sell. Most strange.
And a little bit more data! An e-Bay item in May 2005 from a French vendor shows that the work was published in France in 1892 with the title 'FEMMES ET ENFANTS D'ABORD'. It also uses the words 'ESTAMPE MINIATURE N°408, EDITEUR Boussod, Valadon & Cie with an approx size of 25 X 17 cm. overall & 16.5 X 11.5 cm. for just the print.
On most site pages I state that I will provide more about that particular page's work or works when I have more to say. Well now, thanks to Marcus Hemy, I can do just that re this work! It would seem that in early 1887, Thomas Hemy issued invitations to attend at 42 Grove End Road, St. Johns Wood, on Saturday/Sunday, March 26/27, to inspect his pictures intended for display at the Royal Academy. (St. Johns Wood is in Central London where Lord's, the famous cricket ground of Marylebone Cricket Club, is located). Marcus has provided, in fact, two such invitations, both of which are blank & unused cards of 6 by 7 inches in size. One card specifically names 'Women and Children First'. The other clearly is of that work but it is not named. On the rear of the cards, but Marcus thinks recently added, is the date 1887. That year is surely correct as you can read at the top of this page with the artist's signature & date on the finished work. Here then, thanks to Marcus, are both of those unique invitations.
If you can add anything to this page, do please contact the webmaster.
I learn, from an e-Bay item in Jun. 2006, that the print was also published by the San Francisco Sunday Morning Bulletin on May 17, 1903. The print, 9 1/2 x 11 inches in size, refers to it being reproduced with the permission of Goupil & Co. of Paris & refers also to The Buffalo Pictorial Company of Buffalo, New York. Later, I learn from an e-Bay item in Jul. 2008 that the print was also published in the Buffalo Sunday Courier, of Dec. 14, 1902.
Another puzzle. The dating of the work. I saw, via an e-Bay item in Sep. 2009, that a work entitled 'Women and Children First' was illustrated in 'Famous paintings', by Fred H. Allen, Vol. II, published by Haskell and Post, at New York, I believe, in 1882. Note the date. 5 years before the date signed in the artist's hand we can read at the top of the page. BUT... the work was not illustrated as part of the e-Bay listing, so it could possibly have been another Hemy work of the identical name. Hopefully someone can solve this little mystery.
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