George Edgar Campbell (1899 – 1976)

On 16 October 1950 an oil painting Mimosa (2863) by F. J. Conway was donated to Glasgow Corporation by Mr George Campbell, per Dr. Honeyman. 1

Figure 1. Mimosa © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (http://www.artuk.org)

In 1952, the same donor gave a second painting, Amintas Revived by Sylvia (2959), by François Boucher, (after). 2

Figure 2. Amintas Revived by Sylvia © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (http://www.artuk.org)

This painting has labels on the reverse, ‘19219’; ‘Pictures with Care Dr T. J. Honeyman Glasgow’; ‘G E Campbell’ ‘no. 2/’; ‘5GA’; ‘6013-2’S’. At one time it was in the possession of Asher Ezra Wertheimer a London art dealer. It was sold at Christie’s, London in 1923. 3

                Also in 1952, a companion piece to the above was purchased from George Campbell by Glasgow Corporation. This is Sylvia Saved by Amintas also by François Boucher  (after) (2958)

Figure 3.  Sylvia Saved by Amintas © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (http://www.artuk.org).

            The artist F. J. Conway (Ferdinand Joseph Conway) 4 was born on 19 January 1888 in Paddington, London. 5 He was the son of the British art dealer Asher Ezra Wertheimer and his wife Flora. Asher had inherited premises in London from his father Samson. Ferdinand  and his older brother changed their name to Conway ‘perhaps to avoid anti-German sentiment during the First World War’. 6 He became known as Bob Conway, artist, and writer. John Singer Sargent was commissioned by Asher to paint twelve portraits of his family between 1898 and 1908. Nine of these portraits are now in the Tate Britain Gallery in London.

Figure 4, Essie, Ruby, and Ferdinand, Children of Asher and Mrs Wertheimer,John Singer Sargent, 1902. © Tate Gallery. (http://www.artuk.org)

When Conway died on 1 April 1950, he left his house, Tarras, Crawley Drive, Camberley, ten thousand pounds, ‘and all my personal chattels’ to his friend George Edgar Campbell. He also instructed his trustees to pay George Edgar Campbell during his lifetime, the income from his estate. 7 Although not specifically mentioned in his will, it is likely that the two donated paintings were among his ‘personal chattels’ since Conway and Campbell shared the same house for many years.

            George Edgar Campbell was born on 9 December 1899 in Liverpool. 8 His parents, Thomas Campbell and Margaret Farrell were Scottish. He was christened at Edge Hill on 10 January 1900. 9 In 1911 he was living at 85 White Rock Street, Liverpool, the youngest of the family of four sisters and four brothers. His eldest brother Thomas Matthew Campbell aged 33, a railway van man, was head of the family his mother having been widowed. An uncle, Robert Edmond Farrell was also living with them. 10

            On 20 August 1917, George, aged seventeen, joined the White Star Line shipping company as a steward and sailed to New York aboard the RMS Adriatic. He is described on the ship’s manifest as ‘Scotch’. 11 The following year from 1 to 25 June he served as an ordinary seaman in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) on HMS Vivid 3 based at Devonport. From 26 June to 20 October, he was based at HMS Victory 6. Like H.M..S Vivid, this was a land-based establishment and not an actual ship. (At this time, Crystal Palace was used as a Royal Navy training establishment and was given the name HMS Victory 6). He returned to HMS Vivid on 21 October 1918 and remained there until discharged with a disability on 6 February 1919 and was paid a war gratuity.12 The RNVR records describe him as being 5’10”, 38” chest with light brown hair, grey eyes and a fair complexion. His character was VG and his ability Satisfactory.

            After his war service, George enrolled in the Regent Street Polytechnic to study sculpture. After five years he passed the exams of the Royal College of Art and won the Whitechapel Prize for sculpture. On completing his studies, he travelled in Italy, Switzerland and the USA and lived for a time in France. 13 He continued to sculpt and between 1934 and 1937 he completed at least three works, Virginia (1935), Helen (1936) and A Youth (1937) which were shown at the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture exhibitions between 1935 and 1937. His address at that time was 26 Holland Villas Road, London, W14. Between 1934 and 1966 he exhibited one or two works per year (twenty-two times in all) at the Royal Academy of Arts summer exhibitions. 14

            ‘Bob’ Conway commissioned a house to be built at 32 Newton Road, Paddington from the architect Denys (later Sir Denys) Lasdun. The house was completed in 1938 and was occupied by Conway and Campbell till at least 1943.15

Figure 5. The house at 32 Newton Road, Paddington, London. © Copyright Jim Osley, licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons  Licence.

The house was bought in the 1950s by the cartoonist Ronald Searle and his wife Kaye Webb. It was remarked that the house was,

‘built for a pair of bachelor artists, (unknown artistically, but extremely wealthy) it was topped by a splendid studio favoured by north light, as the estate agents say, and a fine terrace overlooking half of Paddington. As Searle remarked to his friend David Arkell, ‘If one had to overlook half of Paddington, this was the way to do it.’ 16

The Searles found that ‘the cellar was full of stuff left by the previous owners (including several Lucian Freuds, which they returned)’.17

It is not clear that the ‘previous owners’ were Conway and Campbell since in 1943 they were in residence at Tarras, Crawley Drive, Camberley. In that year George Campbell exhibited Archangel Gabriel at the RSA. 18

            George Campbell again saw service in WW2. He was promoted to lieutenant on 23 June 1941 and, as part of the Royal Naval Reserve, was stationed at the shore base HMS Lucifer in Swansea. 19 This was the base for a mine sweeping trawler fleet tasked with ensuring the Bristol Channel was kept free of mines. 20

            When Conway died in 1950, he left an estate valued at £83,690 with George Campbell one of his trustees and main beneficiary, He was buried in St. Peter’s Churchyard, Frimley, Surrey. 21 George Campbell had two nephews and a godson living in Sydney 22 and on 22 November 1951, he travelled first class to Australia aboard the P&O steamship Strathnaver. His London address was now 37 Holland Park Road, W.14. 23

On his return he continued to exhibit at the Royal Academy summer exhibitions, and he also executed a large amount of religious works. He became an Associate Member of the Royal Society of British Sculptors (RSBS) in 1941 and organized Children in Sculpture for the society in 1947. Two years later he served as a Member of Council. He was elected a Fellow of the RSBS in 1951. 24 In the same year, Glasgow Corporation bought one of his sculptures, Torso from the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts Exhibition. 25

Figure 6. Torso – Sculpture in Wood by George Edgar Campbell, 1944 (S.265). © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection. (http://www.artuk.org)

George Edgar Campbell died on 11 May 1976 at 71 Marsham Court, Marsham Street, London, SW1. He was seventy-six.26                                              

            On 10 March 2021, a 44.5 inch, bronzed, plaster maquette by Campbell, of Judith at the Well was put up for auction with an estimate of £1500 – £2000. It was unsold. 27

Figure 7. Judith at the Well

References

  1. Catalogue of Donors to Glasgow Museums, Glasgow Museums Resource Centre
  2. Ibid
  3. Toutziari, Dr. Georgia, National Inventory of Continental European Paintings, Culture and Sport Glasgow (Museums): Kelvingrove Museum
  4. Information from his will published 15 June 1950
  5. “Find A Grave Index,” database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:7JW8-TWZM : 3 August 2020), Wertheimer, ; Burial, Frimley, Surrey Heath Borough, Surrey, England, St. Peter’s Churchyard; citing record ID 197025066, Find a Grave, http://www.findagrave.com.
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wertheimer_portraits
  7. Information from his will published 15 June 1950
  8. ancestry.co.uk, Royal Naval Reserve Service Records Index, 1860-1955, http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk
  9. FamilySearch.org., England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975
  10. ancestry.co.uk, Census 1911, England
  11. ancestry.co.uk, New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957
  12. https//www.forces-war-records.co.uk
  13. Stevenson, Hugh, Catalogue of Sculpture Collections, Glasgow Museums Resource Centre, August 2008
  14. ‘George Edgar Campbell’, Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database 2011 [http://sculpture.gla.ac.uk/view/person.php?id=msib6_1204564125, accessed 12 Nov 2021]
  15. http://architectuul.com/architecture/house-in-newton-road
  16. Russell Davies in http://ronaldsearle.blogspot.com/
  17. Ibid
  18. ‘George Edgar Campbell’, Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database 2011 [http://sculpture.gla.ac.uk/view/person.php?id=msib6_1204564125, accessed 12 Nov 2021] This gives George Campbell`s address from 1943
  19. Forces Records, UK Navy List, February 1942.
  20. https://rootschat.com>forum
  21. https://www.findagrave.com/
  22. Information from his will, published 30 July 1976
  23. ancestry.co.uk, UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960
  24. ‘George Edgar Campbell’, Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database 2011 [http://sculpture.gla.ac.uk/view/person.php?id=msib6_1204564125, accessed 12 Nov 2021]
  25. Catalogue of Donors to Glasgow Museums, Glasgow Museums Resource Centre
  26. Information from his will, published 30 July 1976
  27. https://auction.gorringes.co.uk/

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