[Edmond Brock, painter.] Five Autograph Letters Signed (four signed 'Edmond Brock' and one 'E. Brock') to Colonel F. H. L. Oldham, regarding a commission to paint his wife Christabel Josephine Oldham.

Edmond Brock [Charles Edmond Brock] (1882-1952), painter [Colonel Frederick Hugh Langston Oldham Overley Hall, Shropshire]
Publication details: 
Four from 1920, the other undated but from the same period. Four from 2 St John's Wood Studios, Queens Terrace, [London] N.W.8., three of them on letterheads; the other from Merrieweathers House, Mayfield, Sussex.
SKU: 22426

An interesting correspondence, casting light on the practicalities of early twentieth-century English portrait-painting. The recipient is Colonel Frederick Hugh Langston Oldham, D.S.O., D.L., of Overley Hall, near Wellington, Shropshire, eldest son of the Archdeacon of Ludlow, and the letter concerns Brock's portrait of Oldham's wife Christabel Josephine Oldham. The five letters in good condition, lightly aged. The four dated letters are dated between 25 February and 13 July 1920. The total 9pp (seven in 8vo and two in 12mo). In the first letter he thanks Oldham for sending the 'charming' photographs of his wife, whom he thinks 'would make a really interesting subject to paint, & under the circumstances it would be a pleasure to do the portrait for you at your fee of £123, this would be exclusive of the frame'. In accepting the commission he does not wish to 'bind' himself 'in making a promise to send the portrait to the R.A.' He explains: 'We are only entitled to send in three each year and as a rule I only send in one portrait of a lady, so I have to disappoint many.' The rest of the letter concerns proposals for the date of painting. The second letter, 30 March 1920, is written after the completion of the portrait, and in addition to discussing the frame and payment Brock writes: 'I had some artists here on Sunday & they selected your wife's as the best - it was remarkable the way it came on just when I thought I had failed again. I had another sitting on Sunday morning & managed to soften off the features especially the chin, & am only waiting for the paint to dry before putting in the final touches.' He has 'decided to leave the face & background alone, it is the drapery only that requires qualifying, at present it is a little heavy in places.' In the third letter, 5 April 1920, he writes: 'On seeing the portrait after my short list I thought it looked quite my best - it does not show in any way the trouble I had over it & I am only sorry that I was unable to send it to the R.A.' He also discusses the possibility of visiting the Oldhams in Shropshire. In a postscript signed 'E. B.' he states that there is 'certainly a possibility that I might be able to send the portrait to the R. A. next year'. In the fourth letter, 13 July 1920, he writes: 'It is very kind of you to suggest that I should visit you & bring the portrait with me but unfortunately I shall be unable to get away - I shall be returning to the Studio on Saturday the 17th. & shall arrange to have the portrait packed & forwarded on to you.' Before sending it he proposes 'using a special medium to bring out the colours as quite six months must pass before the pictures can be varnished properly'. In the final letter, only dated 'Monday' and signed 'E. Brock', Brock again declines the invitation to visit the Oldhams, adding: 'I have so much to do.' He concludes with regard to the varnishing of the picture: 'it is best that it should be done in the summer months. The varnish to me is drastic - it is preferable to the other kinds - it should be painted very thinly with a hog's hair brush. & it is preferable to slightly heat the varnish & it is also important that the brush & canvas be free from damp - I am letting you have these particulars so that in the event of my being unable to get away, you could attend to the matter yourself.'