Edmund Glover commenced the Winter theatre season on October 13th, 1852, as the new lessee and manager of the Theatre Royal, Dunlop Street, to an overflowing house. The newspapers were reporting that he had transformed the Theatre Royal into "one of the most brilliant and comfortable establishments in the kingdom". (G. H., October 15, 1852). He was 39, an artist, an actor and a theatre producer. His first son Edmund was also an artist.(Census, 1851) By1854, his health was becoming a problem. At the conclusion of the second Winter season on Monday 8th May, he spoke to his theatre audience from the stage and said that he was unwell and could only speak briefly, however he praised Helen Faucit for her performances. He also talked about his old friend, the actor, Mr. Lloyd, and the gossip surrounding his dismissal from the Theatre Royal and Prince's Theatre Royal, West Nile Street laying the rumours to rest. He said that it had been the most successful pantomime season the Royal had ever had, finishing a most brilliant season. (G.H., May 12, 1854) During these last couple of years, Thomas received little mention in the newspapers in connection with the Theatre Royal. He was establishing his own business and working very hard at that. His work at the Theatre Royal had obviously reduced, presumably because Edmund Glover and his son were both also artists and may have taken on the work themselves.
During the Scottish shooting season of 1856, when William Alexander Hamilton, the 11th Duke of Hamilton and 8th Duke of Brandon, 1811-1863, was hunting at Brodrick Castle, Arran, it was decided to hold a fete at his country house, Hamilton Palace. In 1843, William, a Scottish nobleman, had married Princess Marie Amelie of Baden, who was the daughter of the Grand Duke Charles of Baden, and Stephanie de Beauharnais, the adopted daughter of Napoleon I, of France. The fete would include some private theatrical performances, to be held each evening of the event. Mr. Grant, his Grace's Master of Works, was given the job of converting the impressive Picture Gallery at Hamilton Palace into a temporary theatre for the performances. His contact for this type of work was Mr. J. B. Bennett who at that time was already busily re-painting and decorating an area of the palace. Bennett hired Thomas to paint the sets, however the stage, sets and scenery needed to be constructed as a matter of priority. Matthew MacKintosh, an old stager and stage carpenter, recollected in his entertaining book how he was engaged on Thomas's recommendation by Mr. Bennett to construct the stage and scenery. This was a lucrative and prestigious appointment for Thomas and Matthew MacKintosh.
The Duke of Hamilton was enormously wealthy, from the families ownership of the Lanarkshire coalfields. "Mr. Bennett at once secured the services of the well-known scenic artist, Mr. Dudgeon, and, on the recommendation of the latter, engaged the readers humble servant to fit up the stage, scenery, &c. ( MacKintosh, 1871, p. 166.) The theatre scenes were constructed at an empty warehouse in the Candleriggs by Mr. MacKintosh, and then Thomas and his assistants painted them all there. Thomas now owned and operated his own business, employing a team of assistants, and was accepting some lucrative commissions. Meanwhile, Mr. MacKintosh's brief was to travel to the Palace, and remove all of the valuable paintings from the gallery, restow them, and commence the refit of the Gallery into a theatre. Hamilton Palace, built in 1695, was one of only two non-royal homes in Scotland which included the word Palace in it's name, the other being Dalkeith Palace, and was considered one of the grandest houses in Scotland. It's interior was considered to be a wonder of decorative luxury,and was only shown to well-introduced visitors.
By this time, the Palace housed one of the best private collections of paintings in Scotland, including the Laughing Boy by Da Vinci, the Stag Hunt by Sneyder, the Ascension by Georgione, works by Peter Paul Rubens and Titian, and Portraits by Anthony Van Dyck. In addition to famous artworks in the palace by the great masters, there were also various rare pieces of art gifted from Royal families around the world, including Russia and France.
"Among the recent additions to the treasures of the palace, is a gift to the Princess Marie by the Empress Eugenie of France, in the shape of a round table of Sevres china, exquisitely painted - on the gold run of which is engraved,"Offert a la Madame la Duchesse de Hamilton, par sa majeste l'Imperatrice Eugenie - Sevres, le 4 Avril, 1851." (G.H., Mar. 5th, 1856). The opulence of this Palace was staggering.
|Hamilton Palace, 1916, north-east of Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, Scotland|
|Hamilton Palace Picture Gallery|
Source: The Illustrated London News, No. 2254-Vol. LXXXI, Saturday, July 15, 1882, p.69
Thomas and his assistants, would have been working under mounting pressure to meet the deadline of finishing the scenery in time. The act-drop was to be a view of the Duchess Amelie's (Marie) paternal home at Baden-Baden, painted from a small picture hanging in the her private apartments. She was quite anxious about how it would look when completed. Friends of the Duchess were arriving daily at the Palace for the fete, and she wanted to show off the painting to them straight away. . Thomas and his assistants delivered the back drop to the Palace just in time, and they all worked together to hang it, which took until almost 11 o'clock that night. ( MacKintosh, 1871, p.167) The gas-fitting arrangements for the illumination of the theatre were still to be finalised, further testing the Duchess's patience as she was desperate to show it off that night.
|Princess Marie Amelie of Baden, 1817-1888|
Artist - Emanuel Thomas Peter, 1799-1873
Watercolour on ivory, 1842
All of Thomas's charm and diplomacy skills were needed at this late hour, when dealing with Her Grace. She wouldn't wait, and ordered that a dozen wax candles should be used to illuminate the room and uncover Thomas's painting. What a moment for Thomas. Would the Duchess and her guests like the painting? It was received with a good round of cheering, and then the Duchess described it as a really beautiful work. The painting was her toy during the time the fete lasted. (MacKintosh, 1871, p. 168) Matthew MacKintosh spent a lot of his time with the Duchess the following day exhibiting Thomas's act-drop to guests as they arrived for the fete.
There were three days left for rehearsals and the first evening event scheduled in the theatre was the display of the tableaux vivants. A French expression, it means a living picture, describing a group of appropriately costumed actors, carefully posed, who do not speak or move, performing in front of well lit and beautiful backdrops. This art form reached its heyday in the 19th century. On Tuesday, 28th October, 1856,over two hundred people attended the opening night tableaux vivants. The tableaux were created by Mr. C. Heath Wilson. His first series of three scenes was called Chivalry, where the knights were decked out in the magnificent armour belonging to the Earl of Eglington, and the ladies in medieval costume. Some of the talented guests at the fete acted out the roles in the tableaux dressed in costumes and using sets largely provided by the Palace. (G.H., October, 31st, 1856.) Lord Eglington, Lord and Lady Perth, Lord and Lady Dysart, Lord Elgin, Lord Henry Lennox, and Sir David Baird were just some of the nobility from the west that attended. No cost had been spared with preparations for the festival. Thomas's painting and the tableaux were very much admired by the guests. The nobility's love of pomp and ritual, beautiful clothes and elaborate ceremonies was on full show that night. After the tableaux vivants, there were performances of various plays such as "Charles II", and the "Bengal Tiger" using authentic props often from within the Palace. "I may just add that a grand ball, given at the Palace on the following night, brought to a close a three days' round of festivities, which those who assisted therein will long remember". (MacKintosh, 1871, p. 170).
At the ball, were walls lined with satin, enormous candelabra, thousands of flowers, a heroic frieze below the ceiling, and sumptuous food. It was the highlight of the season for the 200 nobility and gentry who attended. The food would of course been very Scottish and I can't help thinking that in today's world would probably have been flown in from all over Europe. A grand thought indeed.
Enough of Scottish nobility, back to the esteemed and successful Edmund Glover. On 27th December, 1858, Edmund opened a new Theatre Royal in Greenock, at West Blackhall Street, reportedly costing 8,000 pounds. He also now owned the Theatre Royal, Dunlop Street and leased the Prince's Theatre Royal, West Nile Street. According to the December, 1859 playbills, Mr. Lloyd is playing at the Greenock Theatre Royal, despite a serious accident earlier in the year where reportedly after a fall in the theatre his tongue was completely cut in half, and sewn back together by Dr. McCall. Thomas was still doing some work at the Theatre Royal, Dunlop Street and presumably the Prince's Theatre Royal when available. However, the new drop curtain for the Greenock Theatre Royal was painted by C.F. Fisher.
Preparations for the 1859-60 season at the Theatre Royal, Dunlop Street, commenced early for Thomas . He had been painting many beautiful scenes for the Christmas pantomime, The Sleeping Beauty, with the assistance of Mr. Fisher and O'Connor, jun. To the chagrin of the newspapers but probably not the public, Mr. Glover, decided to commence the Pantomime season a week earlier than usual. Traditionally commencing on Boxing Night, the pantomime opened on Monday 19th December, instead of the 26th December.(The Era, December 25, 1859) Despite this variation from the norm, theatre critics proclaimed Sleeping Beauty to be one of the best and most magnificent Pantomimes it has ever been the lot of a manager to produce.
During the Pantomime season, and over Christmas, Thomas's mother, Janet, wasn't well. I hope they all spent Christmas together as a family. Janet died on the 14th January, 1860 at the age of 76 from bronchitis. Her son William, was with her when she died in his home at 5 Gibson Street. A very sad time for the whole family, a Protestant funeral, and then she was laid to rest at the Calton Cemetary in Glasgow. Living until 76 in those times was a real achievement given the living standards in Glasgow, and the Scottish winter weather, and in hindsight Thomas was fortunate to inherit the longevity legacy as well. Janet deserves credit for bearing 9 children, and then after her husband Andrew's death in 1846, for taking over his Spirit License and becoming an iconic personality at the Old Castle Tavern (Provand's Lordship), in 3 Castle Street, until 1854, only 6 years before she died. Quite a woman and I think her death would have affected Thomas, her eldest child and firstborn son. The loss of their Mother affects most children more profoundly than they ever realised that it would. She was born Janet Adams, to William and Helen Adams, nee Hardie.
Edmund Glover expanded his footprint in Greenock by opening the Western Concert Hall, situated next door to the Theatre Royal Greenock, and commemorating the event with a grand concert on 16th May, 1860. The new Hall seated 700 patrons. For the event Thomas had completed a series of opera paintings which proudly adorned the walls. (http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/GreenockTheatres.htm). The draw card to this event was Miss Louisa Fanny Pyne, affectionately known as the Skylark, who ran the Pyne and Harrison English Opera Company, in the USA and Britain. She became a regular performer at the Glover theatres, after her company now named the Royal English Opera, obtained a lease at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.
|Miss Louisa Fanny Pyne |
On the 22nd January, 1861, Thomas's youngest brother, James, married Janet Gallacher at 213 Gallowgate, Glasgow. A family wedding, well timed for a needed celebration given recent events. Thomas and his family of course attended to represent the family, as neither sets of parents were alive to attend. James was aged 39, and interestingly on the Marriage Register certificate was listed as working as a house painter. Perhaps he was of necessity working with Thomas in his business, however there is no actual proof of who James was working for. If he was working at the Theatre Royal, this would have precipitated his move to Paisley a year later to open his own business. With the Theatre Royal, Dunlop Street once again under new management, and his reputation as a scenic artist in Glasgow established, Thomas makes a career move. By October, 1861 he is in Aberdeen, painting a new drop curtain for the re-opening of the concert season at the Bon-Accord Music Hall.
"Bon-Accord Music Hall will be re-opened for the concert season, on Saturday, 2nd November, 1861. Proprietor...Mr. Morison Kyle. Manager,...Mr. H. Copeland." Mr Dudgeon, Scenic Artist of the Theatre-Royal, Glasgow, has painted a new drop curtain, representing a view of Aberdeen." The Aberdeen Journal, Oct. 30, 1861.
The building at 46-50 Union Street, Aberdeen, appeared on the 1st Edition Ordnance Survey Map of 1866-8 as the Bon Accord Music Hall. It is reputed to be the first granite classical style building constructed in Aberdeen by renowned Aberdeen architect Archibald Simpson in 1811, and formed an essential part of the planned streetscape. Archibald Simpson (1790-1847) was one of the main architects involved in redesigning and cleaning up the expanding 19th century city. The redesign of the area, commanded that the new buildings had a sense of grandeur and confidence, as the visual appearance of the street was very important. Once again it seems that Thomas had landed on his feet in Aberdeen, working in a prestigious building in a city with a pride of place for that era. However, it may have been the old Glasgow network as well that facilitated the easy transition, as the Manager of the Music Hall, Mr. Kyle was from Glasgow, and most of the artists performing on Opening Night such as Miss Wight (Mezzo Soprano) and Miss Marianne Smith (Scottish Vocalist) were also from Glasgow. The building is now known as the Union Chambers in Union Street. (British Listed Buildings, 2007).
It is May 11, 1862, in Aberdeen, the end of the theatre season, and the following playbill showcases the quality of the Music Hall giving Thomas a good wrap:
ABERDEEN.-BON-ACCORD MUSIC HALL.- (Proprietor, Mr. Morison Kyle, Glasgow.)-This Hall, one of the most elegant in Scotland, with new Stage and Proscenium, new Drop Curtain, representing a view of Aberdeen, by Mr. Dudgeon, of Glasgow; new and commodious Balcony, and other modern improvements, the whole most handsomely decorated, and capable of seating 1,000 people, may be had for Concerts, Lectures, or other entertainments, by the Night, Week or Month.
Applications to be made to Mr Morison Kyle, Music Publisher, 108 Queen-street, Glasgow; or to Mr John Mare, Music Saloon, Union-street Aberdeen. (The Era, London, May 11, 1862.)
Later in 1862, Thomas entered the small but trendy world of the "Carte de Visite." This was a photographic phenomena sweeping through Great Britain, Europe and America. A type of small photograph patented in 1854 in Paris, France by photographer Andre Adolphe Eugene Disderi, they were small albumen photographic prints mounted on cards 2 1/2 by 4 inches. To some extent, the Cartes replaced the very civilised social custom during the 1850s of leaving one's calling card when visiting, and became the new format that friends and visitors traded amongst themselves. They became an overnight success in 1859, when Desideri published Emperor Napoleon III's photos in this format. By the 1870's the Cartes were replaced by the larger cabinet cards. A Photography advertisement in the Saturday Press Journal for Dunfermline, Scotland, on August 29th, 1862 advertises Thomas's paintings as backgrounds for the Carte De Visite at Mr. A. P. Taylors studio:
At A.P. TAYLOR'S PHOTOGRAPHIC STUDIO, KIRKGATE, you can have your "CARTE DE VISITE" taken in a few minutes, with the Choice of a dozen backgrounds, some of which are of local interest; being painted by Mr. THOMAS DUDGEON, Decorative Painter, Glasgow, from Photographs taken on the spot, and are of unrivalled Artistic Merit. A.P. TAYLOR simply invites comparison with any other "CARTES," and Specimens can be seen at the booksellers and in the Studio, Kirkgate.
Price per half dozen,....................6/-
Farther orders at the rate of ......4/-
Dunfermline, August 29, 1862.
An advertisement like this was one of many flooding the newspapers as any photographic studio worth its salt was capitalising on the "Cartes" phenomena.
In December 1862, Thomas painted and delivered to Eglinton Castle, Kilwinning, in North Ayrshire, Scotland, 21 miles south of Glasgow, the shields of the arms of England, Scotland and Ireland. Archibald William Lord Montgomerie, fourteenth Earl of Eglinton, attained his majority, on Wednesday , 3rd December, 1862. His father, the thirteenth Earl of Eglinton had only recently died on 4th October, 1861, and so the family and the surrounding numerous tenantry of Kilwinning, Irvine, Ardrossan, Kilmarnock and Ayr were looking forward to having another Earl who could assume the responsibilities of landholder. The young earl had been at sea for seven years serving in the Royal Navy on board H.M.S. Conqueror before returning home following the death of his father. By the date of his coming of age , the papers were already reporting that he had become very popular with the tenantry in the area.
"About three o'clock, omnibuses being in waiting at the Eglinton Arms Inn, Kilwinning, the invited guests, the tenantry and family, and the tradesmen began to proceed to the castle. Here a very grand sight awaited them-one which has only been equalled twice at the same place -on the occasion of the tournament, and when the late Earl came of age." (Belfast Newsletter, December 6, 1862) .
A wooden pavilion had been erected in the grounds of the Castle. The interior was eighty feet by eight feet wide, laid with carpet, the walls were covered with striped white and pink cloth, serving as the entrance to the banqueting hall . This hall was 100 feet long by 62 across, with the walls draped in striped pink, white and blue cloth. The coats of arms of county families, including the armorial bearings of the Duke of Argyle, Sir James Boswell of Auchinleck, Lord Cathcart, Earl of Glasgow, Sir Archibald Murray of Black Barony and others were hung from wall panels, and including the shields of the arms of England, Scotland, and Ireland painted by Thomas Dudgeon, of Glasgow. Thomas would have attended this grand party as the guest list included invited guests, tenantry and family.
It is1863, and a memorable year. Thomas's relationship with the Theatre Royal, Dunlop Street takes another surprising twist, and he makes a decision which initiates the Australian connection to Scotland and Thomas.
- Mackintosh, Matthew, an Old Stager, (1866) Stage reminiscences: being recollections, chiefly personal, of celebrated theatrical & musical performers during the last forty years.Glasgow: James Hedderwick & Son, (printers to the Queen.)
- Glasgow Herald, (Glasgow, Scotland) Friday, October 15, 1852, Issue 5187.
- Glasgow Herald, (Glasgow, Scotland) Friday, May 12, 1854, Issue 5351.
- Accessed (http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/GreenockTheatres.htm) on 20th March, 2014.
- The Era (London, England), Sunday, December 25, 1859, Issue 1109.
- The Belfast Newsletter (Belfast Ireland), Coming of age of the Earl of Eglinton, Saturday, December 6, 1862, Issue 15454.
- The Aberdeen Journal, Wednesday, Oct. 30, 1861.
- British Listed Buildings, 2007, http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/sc-20550-46-50-even-nos-union-street-union-chamber, Accessed 23rd March, 2014.
- The Era (London, England), Sunday, May 11, 1862, Issue 1233.
- Photography, [Advertisement], Saturday Press: a family journal of Politics, Literature and General News for Fife, Perth, Stirling, Clarkmannan and Kinross. No. 176, Sat., Aug., 30, 1862.
- Hamilton Palace, Glasgow Herald, Wednesday, March 5th, 1856, Issue 5576 (From the Hand-Book of Hamilton, by Mr. Jas. Muir, Western Bank in Brown's Directory.)
- Glasgow Herald, (Glasgow, Scotland) Friday, October 31, 1856, Issue 5679.
- This article is Copyright (c) 2014 by Hope Pauline McNee, All rights Reserved.