Christmas card painted by John Chaplin, with Edgar Osborne, sent from Palestine in 1917, during World War One (Ref: D5063/3/3)
Inside the card reads:
Two campaigners send you Greetings, dear Lill
Born in Bournemouth in 1890, Edgar Osborne was County Librarian for Derbyshire for 31 years (1923-1954). During World War One Edgar served on the Bulgarian Front and in Palestine, from where he sent this card to Lill, possibly his future wife Mabel Jacobson, whom he married in 1918, not long before the end of the war. Other papers of Edgar’s from this time are available to view online via our catalogue, as part of our WW1 digitisation project. Although not available to read online, this series of papers contains a very moving story about Edgar’s experience in Palestine, including how he spent Christmas Day 1917 (ref: D5063/3/2).
After the war, Edgar resumed his career in librarianship, becoming County Librarian of Derbyshire at the age of just 33. During this time, he introduced new services, such as mobile libraries, and developed his own interests in literature, especially in children’s books – an interest featuring heavily in his archive collection, which also includes Edgar’s diaries written during World War Two and papers relating to his retirement in 1954.
One of the things that have become quite noticeable from cataloguing the Harpur Crewe collection has been the artistic inclinations of quite a few members of the family. It first became apparent in the number of sketchbooks and individual examples of drawing that kept cropping up, so I decided to look into what other arty material was to be found among the records.
Sir George Crewe, the 8th baronet (1795-1844), in particular, revealed himself to be an enthusiastic amateur when it came to sketching. Though a busy and conscientious public administrator, he evidently took the opportunity in his moments of leisure to indulge himself in his drawing or painting of the natural world. The love of this type of activity passed down to his grandchildren, including Richard Fynderne Harpur Crewe (1880-1921) who continued to sketch ships, man and boy, and who also experimented in photographing images of the natural and man-made world, whether it be stupendous mountain scenery or the latest technological breakthroughs (cars, planes, airships).
The family also showed a distinct love of music, with several manuscript copy books of scores of pieces they liked. The most conspicuous example of this love was the commission given by Sir Henry Harpur, the 7th baronet (1763-1819), to Joseph Haydn, the most famous composer of the day, to compose a couple of marches for the Derbyshire Yeomanry in 1794.
To give you a taste of what can be seen, here are some of the images which didn’t make into the exhibition.
This treasure (collection reference D3562) was nominated by our erstwhile Artist in Residence, Paula Moss. She writes:
John R Biggs (1909-1988) was a distinguished wood engraver, typographer, graphic designer and writer, born in Derby, who early in his career established a much admired private printing press. The archive, from which this book and printing blocks are taken, covers his life’s work – from his student days in Derby to the final years of his retirement from teaching – and is a wonderfully inspiring collection, a real treasure.
Regarding my last post – well, it seems Fridays bring questions and Mondays bring answers. Lisa has pointed out to me that you can see details of the images on Peakland Heritage by hovering the mouse over the little preview. D’oh! Still, that gives us an opportunity to give credit where it is due – specifically, it is due to James Walker Tucker (1898–1972). The original hangs at the Laing Art Gallery in Tyne and Wear. Full details can be seen on the BBC Your Paintings website.
It’s a very handy website for this kind of caper. You can search by gallery as well as by artist. I have checked the Derbyshire Record Office entry, and find that we have one solitary image to our credit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/galleries/locations/derbyshire-record-office-3153 . It would be more if George Woodward’s cartoons and John R. Biggs‘ woodcuts counted as paintings, perhaps? Of course, within Derbyshire County Council, works of art are properly the bailiwick of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, who are credited with stacks of them: http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/galleries/locations/buxton-museum-art-gallery-3501
Our colleague Anna Rhodes, Assistant Collections Officer at Buxton Museum, is currently undertaking a 4 week research fellowship at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut. The fellowship was open to curators working in regional museums in the UK who work with British art collections, and as the successful candidate Anna has been looking at 18th and early 19th century topographical views of Derbyshire, at amateur sketchbooks and travel journals. This research will add context to the collections at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery and provide a better insight into artists and tourists that visited the County during the Enlightenment period.
Keep up to date with Anna’s work via the Enlightenment! project blog.
Enlightenment! is part of the Heritage Lottery Fund ‘Collecting Cultures’ initiative, and is a partnership between three museums: Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, Belper North Mill and Derby Museums and Art Gallery.
The crane, as photographed by Paula from Oak Road
Our Artist in Residence, Paula Moss, has been working with staff and focus groups to help re-shape our new building in a creative and insipiring way… and she’s been blogging about her experiences!
Check out her blog ‘Cataloguing Change’ which she describes as;
‘…a visual journal mapping my Residency with the Derbyshire Record Office over the next one and a half years. My role is to work alongside the staff to ‘design’ the interior and create artworks for the public facing side of the new Service building, Wyvern House.’
Reflections and view from the Search Room window, photographed by Paula