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EDWARD WILLIAM COX 1809-1879
THE ORCHID COLLECTOR
Hon JOHN COLLIER OBE VPRP
Exhibited at the City of London Society in 1880
1850 -1934 Signed & dated 1878
Oil on canvas 56 x 44 inches
Framed size 62 ½ x 51 ¼ inches
John Collier was born in London on 27 January 1850, son of Judge Robert Porrett Collier (1st Lord Monkswell).
He was educated at Eaton and went on to study art at the Slade under Poynter; then on to Paris where he was taught by J.P Laurens and also spent some time in Munich.
He was acquainted with Alma-Tadema and Millais who encouraged him to improve and continue his painting skills.
Collier went on to establish his successful society portrait practice producing painterly works with a fresh use of light and colour, quite different from the more sombre colours of the traditional Victorian portraiture.
He exhibited mostly portraits, 85 at the Royal Academy; 165 at Royal Society of Portrait Painters, 4 at the Royal Hibernian Academy from 1874 up until his death in 1934.
Collier wrote books on the subject of painting and published The Primer of Art, 1882, A Manual of Oil Painting, 1886, The Art of Portrait Painting, 1905 and The Religion of an Artist, 1926.
Among his sitters were W.K. Clifford, Professor Huxley, HRH the Dukes of Cornwall & York and ‘Mrs Kendal, Miss Ellen Terry and Mr Tree in the “Merry Wives of Windsor”.
Collier's daughter by his first marriage, Joyce, was a portrait miniaturist, and a member of the Royal Society of Miniature Painters. By his second wife Ethel he had a daughter, Joan and a son, Sir Laurence Collier, who was the British Ambassador to Norway from 1941 to1951.
Collier lived at various addresses in London.
A copy of his Sitters book is in the National Portrait Gallery London.
John Collier died in London on 11 April 1934.
Works Represented: National Portrait Gallery London; National Gallery Ireland; Brighton Art Gallery; Clandon Park NT; Southampton City Art Gallery; Tate; Athenaeum London; Wolverhampton.
Bibl: Portrait Painters – Brian Stewart & Mervyn Cutten Victorian Painters - Christopher Wood
British Artists 1880 - 1940
This painting shows an extremely mature handling of paint, seeing Collier was only twenty when he painted this piece.
We are extremely grateful to Dr Henry Oakeley, Chairman, and Val Micklewright, Secretary, of the Orchid Society of Great Britain for their generous help and advice in researching this painting and identifying the orchids shown.
This newly-rediscovered painting is the only-known oil portrait of Serjeant Edward Cox. The likeness is confirmed by a woodblock print published with his obituary in the Illustrated London News in 1879.
Collier’s portrait shows Edward Cox Serjeant-at_Law in the hothouse he built at Moat Mount House in Mill Hill. The composition echoes Collier’s earlier botanically-themed Portrait of Major Forster (Royal Academy 1877). It was an elegant way of suggesting that the Victorian man of action or business had a contemplative inner life, but it was no mere pose for Serjeant Cox. He was a man of vast achievement who could have been painted in many guises- lawyer, publisher, judge, huntsman – but his orchids were especially dear to him, and he was well-known for the plants that he and his gardener grew in ‘Serjeant Cox’s famous collection.’1
Botanical subjects are a great test of a painter. Collier has painted the here orchids so precisely that Dr Oakeley has been able to identify them:
‘The orchids that Cox is holding are Cattleya purpurata or C. lawrenceana with more of the same on the plant in front of him (the plant is mounted on a thick sheet of cork bark), the white spray of flowers at the bottom middle is Odontoglossum crispum (now renamed Oncidium alexandrae); the red one at bottom left corner is probably Masdevallia ignea, above it are three flowers of Cattleya mossiae semi-alba. Just to the right of the topmost of these three flowers is a flower of Lycaste deppei. Above his head is Cyrtochilum macranthum (known as Oncidium macranthum from 1833-1917).’
It was a valuable collection. The year after Cox died his orchids were sold at JC Stevens in Covent Garden, the specialist botanical and natural history auctioneers. They fetched high prices:
‘Odontoglossum Andersoni £22.1s (bt Anderson); Oncidium macranthum £19. 19s (bt Winn) and £11 11s (bt Morley); Masdevallia tovarensis £12 12s’2
Dr Oakeley notes that Masdevallia tovarensis was quite rare in 1880.
By way of comparison, the prices paid for the orchids are similar to the fees that Collier was charging for his smaller paintings at the same date, or about £1,300 in today’s money.
Edward William Cox (1809–1879)
Edward William Cox was an English lawyer and legal writer, who was also a successful publisher. He has been described as "the greatest entrepreneur of 'class' journalism".
Cox was born in Taunton, the son of William Cox, a manufacturer and Harriet, daughter of William Upcott of Exeter. He became a solicitor in Taunton and in 1836 established a local newspaper there, the Somerset County Gazette. He was called to the bar in 1843, joined the Western Circuit and sold the title.
Cox moved to London to pursue his career as a barrister. His periodicals, reports and textbooks led to him being raised to the dignity of serjeant at law in 1868 — rather than his modest practice as a lawyer.
He held various significant legal appointments - Recorder of Helston and Falmouth 1857-1868 which he resigned when gaining the more important appointment as Recorder of Portsmouth. In 1870 he became Deputy Assistant Judge of the Middlesex Sessions, a position he continued to discharge until his death.
Around the time he was called to the bar, Cox founded the weekly Law Times which he conducted for nearly 25 years. He also founded or transformed the English journals The Field, bought cheaply from Benjamin Nottingham Webster and the Exchange & Mart; also The Queen, founded by Samuel Beeton and bought by Cox in 1862, merged in 1863 with Ladies' Paper, and edited by Elizabeth Lowe under Horace Cox (his nephew), and the County Courts' Chronicle. An enduring publication was Crockford's Clerical Directory, started in 1858, although whether it was really his creation or that of his junior partner, John Crockford, remains an area of debate. Cox also set up his own newspapers. Some of them, like The Critic, had only limited success, but others such as Bazaar were profitable. Long before his death, he relinquished direct control over the publishing businesses but he continued to write.
A lifelong Conservative, he unsuccessfully contested Tewkesbury in 1854 and Taunton in 1866. He did get elected in his native town 1868 but was unseated on petition by Henry James; James successfully brought a bribery petition. Cox was a Deputy Lieutenant and JP for Middlesex, and a JP for Westminster.
Cox spent freely on his joint interests on orchids and psychology. He had lectured on phrenology in 1834, and retained an interest in it. The London Dialectical Society, founded in 1867, set up in 1869 a committee to investigate spiritualism, of which Cox was a member. In 1871 he assisted William Crookes in his experiments into what Cox called "psychic force" Cox was interested in the psychological side of mediumship. Some have viewed him as a spiritualist rather than one interested in "secular" psychology; but he is said to have rejected the "spirit hypothesis". In 1875 he founded the Psychological Society for Great Britain, with George Harris; it was quickly dissolved after his death. In 1876 he passed to the medium Daniel Dunglas Home details of trickery used by others in séances.
Cox bought the fee simple (unfettered freehold) of the Serjeants' Inn in Chancery Lane at auction in 1877 for £57,100. The Inn's hall was reconstructed at his new house at Mill Hill (then Middlesex, now London, NW7) with the original stained glass windows from the hall and chapel at the inn.
His diversification proved profitable. When one of his heirs offered their reversionary interest in Cox's probate estate for sale the advertisement listed the sources of income. These included various leasehold properties in the City of London, Marlow Mills in Buckinghamshire, his newspaper and magazine titles as well as his landed property. Taken together, these had produced £54,000 a year for some years, although the bulk of the income came from Cox's magazines and newspapers.
Cox is an example of the wealthy early Victorian middle class men who established large landed estates. He began in 1866 by the purchase of Moat Mount. He rebuilt the house as a Renaissance-style stuccoed villa to include a large main block with a carriage porch, and by 1873 owned 209 acres (0.85 km2) in Middlesex. He and his son continued to add to the estate in Hendon and Edgware until it covered perhaps 2,000 acres (8.1 km2) of valuable land near London. The estate included Moat Mount Park (120 acres), plus Coventry Farm (of 127 acres), Stoneyfields, Broadfields, Bays Hill, and Barnet Gate. Cox kept a pack of hounds and he and his son hunted over what are now Golders Green, Hendon, Mill Hill and Hampstead Garden Suburb. While some land was sold in 1906, 1,090 acres (4.4 km2) remained to form public open spaces and part of the Broadfields housing estate in Edgware when the Cox estate was finally broken up in June 1923.
Cox was also lord of the manors of Taunton Deane and Trull in Somerset. He also owned small estates at Ugborough and Widecombe in Devon. He died worth a reputed £400,000; although his estate was declared as under £200,000, he owned at least as much again in landed property.
Cox married twice. His first wife, Sophia, was the daughter of William Harris of the Royal Artillery, and they married in 1836. In 1845 he married Rosalinda Fonblanque, the only daughter of John Samuel Martin Fonblanque, a Commissioner in Bankruptcy. The son from his first marriage was Irwin E. B. Cox, and he had a daughter now known as the novelist Mrs H. Bennett Edwards (1844–1936); there was another son, from the second marriage. Irwin Cox carried on his father's business interests, his acquisition of land and his preservation of game on the Mill Hill estate until his death in 1922 when the estate was broken up.
Cox's works included:
• 1829, a Poem, 1829.
• Reports of Cases in Criminal Law determined in all the Courts in England and Wales, 1846–78, 13 vols. (With Thomas William Saunders.)
• Railway Liabilities, 1847.
• Chancery Forms at Chambers, 1847.
• The Law and Practice of Registration and Elections, 1847.
• The New Statutes relating to the Administration of the Criminal Law, 1848.
• The Powers and Duties of Special Constables, 1848.
• The Magistrate, 1848.
• The Practice of Poor Removals, 1849.
• The Advocate, his Training, Practice, Rights, and Duties, 1852.
• Conservative Principles and Conservative Policy, a Letter to the Electors of Tewkesbury, 1852.
• Conservative Practice, a second letter, 1852.
• The Practical Statutes, 1853.
• The Law and Practice of Joint-Stock Companies, 1855.
• The Law and Practice of Bills of Sale, 1855.
• The Practice of Summary Convictions in Larceny, 1856.
• A Letter to the Tewkesbury Electors, 1857.
• The Arts of Writing, Reading, and Speaking, in Letters to Law Students, 1863.
• How to prevent Bribery at Elections, 1866.
• The Law relating to the Cattle Plague, 1866.
• Representative Reform, proposals for a Constitutional Reform Bill, 1866.
• Reports of all the Cases decided by the Superior Courts of Law and Equity, relating to the Law of Joint-Stock Companies, 1867–71, 4 vols.
• A Digest of all the Cases decided by the Courts relating to Magistrates' Parochial and Criminal Law, 1870.
• Spiritualism answered by Science, 1871.
• What am I? 1873.
• The Mechanism of Man, 1876.
• The Conservatism of the Future, 1877.
• The Principles of Punishment as applied to the Criminal Law by Judges and Magistrates, 1877.
• A Monograph of Sleep and Dreams, their Physiology and Psychology, 1878.
Cox prepared law books and reports with others, and contributed to the Transactions of the Psychological Society and the London Dialectical Society.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Boase, George Clement (1887). "Cox, Edward William". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography 12. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 409–410.
We are very grateful to James Mulraine for all his research regarding this painting.
|Height||56.00 inch||(142.24 cm)|
|Width||44.00 inch||(111.76 cm)|
|External Height||62.50 inch||(158.75 cm)|
|External Width||51.25 inch||(130.17 cm)|
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