Edward Clifford (British 1844-1907)
A group portrait of The Broadlands Conference
Pencil, watercolour and bodycolour with scratching out
Signed and dated 1887 (lower right)
169 x 263cm (66½ x 103½ in.)
The Church Army, by 1887
The Keswick Convention, by 1964
Mrs R Cholmeley, Edward Clifford , London: The Church Army Book Room, 1907, p 42 and pp 86-94, reproduced opposite p 87.
Edward Clifford, Father Damien and Others , London: The Church Army Book Room, 1904(?), p 34.
This impressive group portrait, painted on a monumental scale, celebrates the Broadlands Conferences of the Higher Life which took place between 1874 and 1888 at Broadlands in Hampshire the country estate of the William and Georgina Cowper-Temple. In the picture he is seen in a tweed suit seated at the table with his wife in the upper right corner. William had an illustrious political career as a member of Parliament for over forty-five years, Private Secretary to his uncle Lord Melbourne and groom-in-waiting to Queen Victoria. With his second wife he shared an interest in Evangelical Christianity and embarked on a search for religious enlightenment. Georgina had a particular interest in mysticism and mixed with leading spiritualist figures from Britain, American and Europe, attending several séances. The annual conferences they founded brought together their religious interests and the beautiful surroundings at Broadlands aimed to create a "foretaste of heaven" with many of the services taking place under the Beech trees or in the orangery.
Their interests were precipitated by the Holiness movement in America and the 1870s saw the emergence of the Higher Life movement in England which was named after William Boardman's book The Higher Christian Life (published in 1858) the main aim of the movement was to help in advancing the Christian's progressive sanctification, and enable one to live a more holy, less sinful, life. Though principally Evangelical, the movement was seen as non-denominational. Together with William Boardman, two other key figures helping to spread the holiness message in England were Robert Pearsall Smith and his wife, Hannah (the central standing figure in the composition), both of whom were acquainted with the Mount-Temples and were involved in the conferences at Broadlands.
Edward Clifford was well placed to paint the picture. He had a strong faith, was honorary Secretary of the Evangelical Church Army (the first owners of the picture) and attended the conferences. He was a gifted artist and alongside Robert Bateman, Walter Crane and others, was part of a group of followers of, the Pre-Raphaelite painter, Edward Coley Burne-Jones and exhibited at the Dudley Gallery in the late 1860s and 1870s. Clifford's works often took passages from the Bible as its subject and according to Angela Thirkell, Burne-Jones's granddaughter `He had a peculiar gift for copying his paintings so that my grandfather himself could hardly tell the difference.' He also produced fine pencil portraits, a talent he used to much effect in the present work.
Clifford has helpfully named many of the sitters and they reflect the social and geographical diversity of those that attended the various Broadlands conferences. The most notable includes several members of the Wilberforce and Gurney families including Canon Basil Wilberforce, the Church of England Bishop, and Emilia Gurney, the feminist reformer, suffragist, and abolitionist. Amanda Berry Smith is also included, and she spoke at the conference in 1879. She was born into slavery in Maryland and joined the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
The Rev. H.B. Macartney vividly recorded his attendance at one of the conferences in his book England, Home and Beauty, 1878, p.73-90. A reprinted copy is included with this lot.
The figures are identified, left to right:
1 - The Hon Ion Keith Falconer (1856-1887), 2- The Reverend Barton Brown, 3 - Mrs Sumner, 4 - Boyd Carpenter, Bishop of Ripon (1841-1918), 5 - The Rev Evan Hopkins (1837-1918), 6- Mrs Wilberforce (Caroline Charlotte Jane Langford,1840-1909), 7- Rev Charles Armstrong Fox, (1836-1900), 8- Rev R Corbett, 9- Edward Clifford (1844-1907) Artist and Hon Secretary of the Church Army, 10 - Vernon Bayley (Perhaps the gardener at Broadlands), 11 - Stanley P Smith, 12 - Lt Herbert Wilberforce, (see 6 and 32 for his mother and father), 13- Mrs Charles, 14 - Sir Stevenson Arthur Blackwood (1823-1893), 15 - The Rev William Hay Macdowall Hunter Aitken (1841-1927), 16 - Lady Ashburton 1844-1930 (The Hon. Leonora Caroline Digby), 17 - Amanda Berry Smith (1837-1915), 18 - Canon Body, 19 - Hon. Mrs Butts, 20 - Ernest Gerard Leycester (1849-1914), 21 - Countess Dowager of Gainsborough, 22 - Rev. Alfred Clifford (1849-1931), 23 - Lord Chichester, 24 - Miles Tyndale, 25 - Countess of Darnley (1829-1905), 26 - Wilson Carlile, CH (1847-1942), 27 - Dr George MacDonald (1824-1905), 28 - The Rev. Andrew Jukes (1847-1931), 29 - Unknown Sitter, 30 - Mme Juliet Latour Temple (later Deschamps) (Possibly), 31 - Canon (Albert) Basil (Orme) Wilberforce (1841-1916), 32 - The Rev. Alfred Gurney (1843-1898), 33 - George Howard Wilkinson, (1833-1907), 34 - Mary Clifford (1842 - 1919), 35 - J W Farquhar, 36 - Hannah Tatum Whitall Smith (1832-1911), 37 - William Francis Cowper-Temple, 1st Baron Mount Temple (1811-1888), 38 - Théodore Monod (1836 - 1921), 39 - Theodor [sic] Monod, 40 - Emilia, Mrs Russell Gurney (1823-1896), 41 - Georgina Tollemache (married 1848, died 1901)
For more information on the sitters please refer to our blog which can be found in 'News & Insights' on www.dreweatts.com