Mrs Anna Bella Baird nee Maltman (1870 – 1963)

On 28 February 1944, an oil painting by Sir John Lavery presented by Mrs Baird of 8 Northbank Terrace, Glasgow, N.W., was accepted by Glasgow Corporation.1 The subject of the painting was Mr. George Ure Baird who was the father-in-law of the donor.

Figure 1. Lavery, John (1885). George Ure Baird (2361) © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.(http://www.artuk.org)

The Donor

Anna Bella Walker Maltman was born at 17 Kelvinhaugh Street, Anderston, Glasgow on 14 January 1870.2 Her father, Thomas Maltman was a drapery warehouseman who had married Anna`s mother Isabella Adam on 6 July 1860 in Glasgow.3 In 1871 the family consisted of Thomas, (who was now a shipping clerk) and Isabella with Magdalena aged 8, Frances 6, John 4 and Anna Bella.4 Ten years later the family was living at 9 Windsor Street, Kelvin, Glasgow. Anna Bella was a scholar, aged 11 and there were two other children, Johanna aged 7 and James aged 2.5  

            In 1891, the twenty-year-old Anna was living at 52 Ardbeg Road, Rothesay with her sisters Frances and Magdalena and brother-in-law, Andrew Adamson who was a photographic artist. Anna was ‘living on private means’.6 On 9 April 1896 Anna married George Callwell Baird at her home, 22 Montgomerie Street, Glasgow. George was a commercial traveller, aged 27, living at his brother`s home, Killadoon, Langside. Anna`s sister Johanna was a witness.7

            By 1901 Anna and George had moved to 2 Albany Street, Kelvinside. They now had a son George Ure Baird aged 3 and employed one servant.8 Ten years later, they were living at 242 Wilton Street, (later 8 Northbank Terrace) and now had three children, George, Dorothy, aged 9 and Thomas, aged 2.9 George senior was now a silk buyer employed by Gilmour & Co. silk merchants of 5 Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow. 10

            George Callwell Baird died in the Western Infirmary, Glasgow on 18 May 1943. He was 75.11 The following year Anna donated the painting of her father-in-law to Glasgow Museums.

            Anna Bella Walker Baird died on 10 December 1963 at 44 Balshagray Avenue, Glasgow. She was aged 93 and the cause of death was ‘senile decay’. Her usual address was that of her son Thomas at 242 Wilton Street.12

The Sitter

            George Ure Baird was born in Saltcoats on 8 January 1832 although the birth was registered in Stevenston. His parents were Hugh Baird, gentleman, and Margaret Anderson.13 On 18 July 1860, George married the nineteen-year-old Mary Helen Robertson at Gothic Cottage in Govan, and the couple took up residence at 3 Osborne Place, Govan. George was a commission merchant in sewing machines and lace.14 By 1881 the family had moved to Cartbank, 45 Netherlee Road, Cathcart. (This small Georgian house consisted of a single storey with a basement. It was described as symmetrical, two ends circled, ashlar, large square bay window on front. Probably circa 1770, with ends added circa 1800).15 The family now consisted of four sons and three daughters.16

It was about this time that the portrait of George Ure Baird was commissioned from John Lavery – probably to help the artist become established. Lavery later said that ‘Mr. Baird was one of my first patrons and his kindness to me still excites my warm gratitude’.17 Lavery`s paintings The Tennis Party and a watercolour Lady on a Safety Tricycle, (now in the government art collection) were painted at Cartbank and dated to 1885.18

Figure 2. Lavery, John. The Tennis Party © Aberdeen Art gallery. (http://www.artuk.org).

At about this time, George Ure Baird moved to a different address. An entry in the Glasgow Post Office directory for 1884/5 is

Baird, George Ure, commission merchant, 62, Queen Street; House, Anglsey Lodge, Langside

         George Ure Baird died of consumption aged 53 at Anglesy Lodge on 21 January 188519 and was buried in the Glasgow Necropolis along with two sons and a daughter who had predeceased him. The inscription on the headstone reads;-

    ‘GEORGE URE BAIRD ANN OGILVY born 22nd April 1873 died 6 March 1875, DAVID ANDERSON born 6th Oct 1870 died 28th March 1875 JESSIE born 3rd Jan 1877 died 9th Aug 1877, GEORGE URE BAIRD born 8th Jan 1832 died 21st Jan 1885, MARY HELEN ROBERTSON wife of the said GEORGE URE BAIRD who died 4th Oct 1903 aged 61’.

His business of commission merchant was carried on by his son Hugh Baird in partnership with Mr. William Ewing. However, the name George Ure Baird was retained. 20

The Painting and the Artist

            John Lavery was born in Belfast in 1856 but was orphaned three years later. At the age of ten he was sent to live with a rich cousin of his aunt who had a pawnshop in Saltcoats.21 George Ure Baird was one of his earliest patrons and the portrait was one of the first painted by Lavery. It may have been commissioned partly to help the artist become established. (It is not clear if the Saltcoats connection is relevant to their relationship since Baird would have moved to Glasgow before Lavery arrived in Saltcoats). However, the present portrait at GMRC is not the one commissioned by Baird.

         Lavery had bought and insured a studio in St.Vincent Street and ‘very shortly afterwards it succumbed to a mysterious fire’. Lavery recalled later that he had completed the original painting at his studio one Saturday evening but was not at all happy with the finished work. On returning to the studio the next day he found the place in flames and the painting destroyed ‘to his secret pleasure’. He pretended to be aggrieved but was secretly pleased with the outcome. More especially since he collected £300 of insurance money with which he financed his departure in 1880 for the Heatherley School of Fine Art in London and then to Paris.22

            Sometime later (1885) he painted the present portrait from a photographic miniature. Unfortunately, it was completed after the sitter’s death and was delivered to his widow. When Mary Helen Baird died on 4 October 1903, the painting passed to her son George Callwell Baird, husband of the donor. There is a letter on file at Glasgow Museums Resource Centre from Lavery to Mr. J. (sic) C. Baird dated 3 October 1931 from 5 Cromwell Place, London in which he says that he will be ‘passing through Glasgow on Monday with an hour to spare’ and stating that he would wish to come and visit and view the painting. The letter was handed in to Kelvingrove in February 1962 by Mr. T. M. Baird the grandson of the sitter.

Figure 3. Lavery, John (1885). George Ure Baird (2361) © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.(http://www.artuk.org)
Figure 4 Photographic Miniature from the Glasgow Evening News 4 September 1931.

                                    

References

  1. Glasgow Corporation, Committee on Art Galleries and Museum, Minutes, 15February 1944. (Mitchell Library)
  2. Scotland`s People, Birth Certificate
  3. Scotland`s People, Marriage Certificate
  4. Ancestry.co.uk, 1871 Scotland Census
  5. Scotland`s People, 1881 Census
  6. Scotland’s People, 1891 Census
  7. Scotland`s People, Marriage Certificate
  8. Scotland`s People, 1901 Census
  9. Scotland’s People, 1911 Census
  10. Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1911-12
  11. Scotland`s People, Death Certificate
  12. Scotland’s People, Death Certificate
  13. Old Parish Registers, Ayrshire, Family Search
  14. Scotland`s People, Marriage Certificate
  15. http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/sc-33943-45-netherlee-road-cartbank
  16. Scotland’s People, 1881 Census
  17. Glasgow Evening News, 4 Sept 1931
  18. www.scotcities.com/cathcart/whitecartwalk.htm
  19. Scotland’s People, Death Certificate
  20. The Edinburgh Gazette, 24 April 1885
  21. Billcliffe, Roger, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/34425
  22. ibid

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