Saturday, 17 March 2012

Henry Jervis

I have a sneaking suspicion that at sometime in the distant past - or what counts as the distant past in the terms of this blog - I may well have written about Henry Jervis. If I'm wrong, and I haven't, I'm going to do so now. If I'm right, and I have, I'm going to do so again.

I should, perhaps, explain that the Old Bat is and always has been an only child. It was therefore not surprising that she rather expected that three particular things in her parents' house might one day come into her possession. In the hall stood a magnificent grandfather clock. I have no idea how old this clock was, nor do I know anything else about it such as who the clockmaker was. Past the grandfather clock and the stairs was a passage leading to a room which I don't recall ever having a name. It wasn't the dining room or the lounge. I suppose it was really a breakfast room although it was never called that. My grandparents had a similar room which they called the kitchen even though they never cooked in that room. The room in which they cooked (by 'they' I really mean my grandmother) and washed up and did the laundry was called the scullery. But, as usual, I am starting to drift away so let's get back to my in-laws' house.

In this room without a name, hanging on the wall was an antique copper warming pan. And in a corner stood a genuine Sussex shepherd's crook. This was a thing of rare beauty whilst being eminently practical and suitable for use as a working man's tool. At the top of the 6' or so pole was grafted a delightfully crafted hook.

It would be wrong to say that the Old Bat coveted these three things - the grandfather clock, the warming pan and the shepherd's crook - but she had hopes of eventually having to find room for them. That, regretably, was not to be. One day, when visiting her mother, the Old Bat noticed that 'grandfather' no longer stood in pride of place at the foot of the stairs.

'Oh,' said ma-in-law, 'somebody came to the door and gave me £5 for it.'

In the fullness, or even shortness, of time the warming pan and shepherd's crook went the same way despite all the warnings about knocker boys given to the old dear. Fortunately, none of the knocker boys had seen the sketch books but one day my wife found her mother about to throw the two of them in the dustbin. My wife rescued them and brought them home. They date from the 1820s and 1830s and show scenes in England, Scotland, Ireland and India, all drawn and painted by Henry Jervis.

I took both books to London and had them valued at Sotheby's. I was pleased that the estimated value at auction was not very high. Had it been, we would have had to decide whether or not to sell and, if not, should the books be kept in a bank safe? As it was, we were happy to keep them at home and I take them out occasionally to admire them. Only very occasionally, you understand, as I would hate to damage them. Here is one of the sketches. Do click on it to enlarge so that you can see the detail. The original measures just over 9" x 6". Dating from August 1832, this shows the mausoleum at Laul Baug, Seringapatam with tombs of Hyder Ali, his wife, and son Tippoo Sail.



Good grief, look at the time! I must dash - and I haven't told you anything about Henry Jervis. Tell you what, come back tomorrow and I'll carry on from where I left off.

8 comments:

The Broad said...

I'll be back! fascinating...

Stephen Hayes said...

A very interesting watercolor. I'm not familiar with the structure it represents. Is it still standing?

Buck said...

I did enlarge the watercolor and it IS very well done. Amazing detail.

Brighton Pensioner said...

Stephen, here is a link to a photo taken in 2005:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sl4mmy/32660582/

Meera said...

Have you already seen the book by Henry Jervis? It's called Narrative of a Journey to the Falls of the Cavery. It has a few more really beautiful sketches by him.

Brighton Pensioner said...

Meera, Many thanks indeed. I have found a copy of that book online and have downloaded a copy. Looks facinating.

Meera said...

I'm an independent researcher with a special interest in Bangalore history. I was curious - do Jervis's books have any other sketches of Bangalore?

Brighton Pensioner said...

No, sorry, Meera - that's all.