Archibald Standish Hartrick, BM, RSW, OBE.
Artist, Correspondent, Teacher and Author.
By Lester J. Hartrick
She became Archie's mother. William declined to join the family enterprises of commerce, industry, shipping and politics. Instead, he was one of the few Hartricks ever to choose the military as his life's career. This of course meant that he joined the British Army. He rose through the ranks to become Captain in the 7th Royal Fusiliers, stationed near Bangalore, India. This was the Kiplingesque setting of Victorian, Colonial India, into which Archie was born, on the 7th of August 1864.
Archie's mother took him to Scotland when he was two years old. Traveling by troop ship around the Cape of Good Hope, they stopped at the Isle of Elba where a French sentry lifted him so that he could kiss the bust of Napoleon. His mother was of Scottish ancestry and owned a home in western Scotland. This is where Archie was raised; thus, we must consider Archie to have been a Scott. Most of his life however, was spent in London and environs.
His father died at the age of 38, when Archie was just eight years old. There was no mention of the cause of death, but being a soldier, it may well have been due to hostile action.
Archie's mother then married a widowed doctor with a grown family. He had the very British sounding name of Blatherwick. They lived in Dumbartonshire, Scotland. In addition to being a doctor, he was an amateur painter in watercolors of quite professional ability. He was also a writer and musician of no small skill.
Being a good and dutiful stepson, Archie bowed to his stepfather's wished and passed the matriculation examination for medicine at Edinburgh University, with honors. He completed medical school and thus the B.M. [Bachelor of Medicine], tacked onto his name. However, he did not pursue a career in medicine. He wanted to be an artist and considered his stint at the university as, "No more than another obstacle to my purpose, [of becoming an artist], now safely overcome."
Perhaps a word or two about the abbreviations following Archie's name are in order. The R.S.W. is for his membership in the Royal Society of Painters in Water Colors.
The very prestigious O.B.E. is for the Order of the British Empire. The Dictionary of Acronyms and Abbreviations that I consulted for these meanings gave a couple of facetious definitions for O.B.E. They are "Old Boiled Egg" and "Other Buggars Efforts".
A family's history, when passed on orally from generation to generation, may well become distorted. Mark Twain described this process as "Varnishing the truth". Archie's recounting of the origins of the Hartrick family provides a perfect example. He relates, "The Hartricks, I've been told, came from Holland with William III and were given land in New Ross as military settlers after the battle of the Boyne.
King Billy's war was over eighteen years before the first Hartrick ever set foot on Erin's green isle. The story of Queen Ann's grandiose socioeconomic scheme to transplant Germans into America had not been a part of the family's oral history. This illustrates just how important it is that your family's history be written, based upon researchable facts and that it then be passed on to the younger generation for them to build upon.
In his book, A Painter's Pilgrimage through Fifty Years, Archie tells that his maternal grandfather's great grandmother was Mary Stewart of Invernahle in Appin, Scotland. As a child of eight years old, for weeks after the battle of Collodin in northern Scotland, she was able to evade the soldiers who were hunting for her wounded and fugitive father. She had hidden him in a thicket-covered cave on his own property. There she tended to his wounds and nursed him back to health. Mary became the model for the character Rose Bradwardine in Sir Walter Scott's Waverly. Scott attests this to in the introduction to that work.
Archie's Artistic Education.
"Artists are dull dogs" and "An uneducated lot". This was Archie's introduction to the public school at Fettes College. His art teacher and mentor was himself "an amateur in art and unable to take him far." When his old teacher learned that Archie was planning further studies in Paris, he wailed, "He is lost. He will return an impressionist! The most valuable art training that he had was from studying and copying the pictures that he found in back issues of The Graphic, an early illustrated newspaper.
Archie remained yet another year at Fettes College, presumably to acquire more culture. In addition to such artistic training that he was able to accrue, he earned his cap at Rugby football and excelled in gymnastics. The remark that artists are "dull dogs" rankled Archie and he went to no small effort to prove it to be wrong. His view of formal artistic training is summed up in this Quote. "The education of an artist is a much more personal matter than that of a schoolmaster or don. What others know or can teach is of little use to him. Only what his own eye and hand and brain can together create will serve him in the end." He quotes the French essayists Montaigne as saying, "Though we can become learned through another man's knowledge, we can never be wise except in our own wisdom."
Thus, we see that Archie was not only a seeker of knowledge, but that he also sought wisdom through his own experiences. Although he attended many schools, he was essentially self taught.
It was at the Slade School in London that Archie began formal training as an artist. A landscape painted by him won him a prize. It was here that he met the French sculptor Auguste Rodin.
He was a close personal friend of the school's director and thus, his contact with the school and it's students. His sculpture "The Age of Bronze", which was exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1877, caused a scandal because the critics could not believe that Rodin had not used a casting of a live model in creating so realistic a work. The statue was on display at the Slade School.
Archie's Paris Years.
After two years, Archie decided to leave the stogy teachings of the Slade School and seek the freer and more exciting teachings in the City of light. He enrolled in the Académie Julian in Paris. There he also won a prize for composition, but his professor told Archie that he must, "learn to draw." This proved to be the soundest advice that he could have given.
After a year or so, Archie left Julian's and joined the Atelier Cormon, a very French studio in the Clichy quarter of Paris. It was here that Archie was to study with and paint, some of the artists who were to become among the art world's most famous.You might think that things would be
Archie's Career as an Artist and Teacher.
Archie returned to his mother's home on the Firth of Clyde, Scotland, late in 1887. He enrolled in the Glasgow School of Art and it was here that he was awarded membership in the Royal Society of Watercolorists. This is the "R.S.W." following his name.
Early in 1889, an advertisement seeking "black and white" artists caught Archie's attention. A new newspaper was to be started in London called The Daily Graphic. This was the year of the Great International Exhibition in Paris, which gave that city the Eiffel Tower. Archie's training at The Daily Graphic initially was to wander the streets of London, making sketches from which he made pen and ink drawings for photoengraving. Later, he was assigned to make sketches of witnesses and court scenes. From this he went on to become a special correspondent for the paper. This meant that in addition to sketching the scene of a newsworthy event, he also had to write the accompanying text.
in London. He attended military ceremonies that he felt were a method of preparing him to be a war correspondent, should the need for one arise. He described his work there as being "interesting to me from the first". His assignments brought him into contact with such notables as Thomas Mann.
Despite having been groomed for the enviable position of being The Daily Graphic's first war correspondent, Archie felt that what he really wanted to do was to paint. While pursuing this end in London, he often visited his close friends and fellow artist, etcher, lithographer and writer, the American Joseph Pennell and his wife Elizabeth. Archie often told Pennell that he was the most quarrelsome Quaker that he had ever met! It was in their home that he met another American artist who was a frequent visitor, James Mc Neil Whistler. He is best remembered for his painting of his Mother. He is quoted as saying, "If silicon were a gas, I'd be a general." By way of explanation, while Whistler was a cadet at West Point Military Academy, he incorrectly identified silicon as a gas. This led to his dismissal from the academy. Archie describes him as "the most original personality that he ever met." If Archie painted either of these artists, he has not provided us with a copy in his books.
Archie's only recollection of him was that he was a large black bearded man, who was unable to speak in public.
In his discussion of the technical side of art for reproduction, Archie writes of the manner in which artists were forced to adapt to photographic reproduction. Often the fineness of the artist's lines were lost when their work was reduced in size for printing.
He relates that, "I have seen Dana Gibson, [the creator of the Gibson Girl], drawing direct from the model, standing at an easel and slashing the lines with a crow quill at arms length. The original drawing was not pretty or distinguished, but was refined by reduction."
Archie painted the illustrations for Rudyard Kipling's book Soldier Tales. Although Archie met Kipling, regretfully he says he did not come to know him personally.
At the end of the 1890's, Archie left London and the Chelsea Arts club and moved to the bucolic English countryside. London was not to Lily's liking and Archie wanted to find time to paint, so they moved to the seclusion of the village of Tresham in the Cotswolds. This was located just a mile and a half off the Bath to Gloucester road. It must have been satisfying to both of them for they stayed there for 10 years. Lily was able to paint and Archie "kept the pot boiling" by making book illustrations. He did however, return to Paris from time to time, often staying a week or more, to stay in touch with the art world there.
Centenary. One was for his watercolor paintings and the other for his oils. Lily was also made a member and her submissions to the society's exhibitions were highly praised.
Archie often commuted to London, bringing finished work to his publisher and returning with new assignments. This began with an eight-mile bicycle ride to the nearest train station and ended with another eight-mile ride home again. He remarks that these rides were especially onerous when raining and at night. The age of the automobile was just dawning and most of the local folks despised and mistrusted them.
In the end, the winters in the country became too much for Lily's health and the Hartricks were forced to return to London. Lily found a home for them with a studio in Clancarty Road, in the London Borough of Fullham. They moved in at Easter time in 1908. This was to be their home for the rest of their lives.
It is interesting to note that, in 1709, while the British pondered what to do with original Palatines, they were encamped at Blackheath and Camberwell. Archie appears to have come round full circle, two hundred years later.
Archie, along with three other of his artist friends founded the Senefelder Club of London. The specific objects of the club were to promote the craft of art reproduction by the process of lithography. The club was named in honor of Aloys Senefelder, who in 1771 invented the process of lithography. The process was slow in development and even slower in gain acceptance in the art world. At the turn of the century it began to flower and to be considered as an art form in it's own rite. The principles of lithography are still in practice around the world today. The club provided a forum for the artists to meet and exchange information on this heretofore semi secret process. Further it provided a means to instruct artists and their patrons that lithography was an art as well as a craft.
Lily and Archie shared a common hobby of painting the art of stained glass. They especially enjoyed the windows found in York Minister. He says of English stained glass; "We have still a quantity of glass in our parish churches of high quality, which can often give the artist and even the casual tourist, greater pleasure than the larger examples to be found in the cathedrals on the continent."
Archie's wisdom and love for his life's chosen work is best illustrated by the following quote from his writings. "The longing for painting and sculpture lingers with a large proportion of men and women: there is no work in which man can loose himself with more perfect satisfaction and many are willing to submit to incalculable hardships to be allowed to pursue it."
England's first poster exhibition was initiated by Archie. It was held in the old "Aquarium" of Westminster. Posters by Toulouse-Lautrec were among those on display. Archie's lithograph of "Morris Dancers" was exhibited to critical acclaim.
for seeing that his students were safely escorted to the "tube". Once there he sketched what he saw for posterity. He mentions that there were Boy Scouts there, helping to keep order.
The worst explosion of the war was when a munitions plant was bombed. The blast leveled the plant to the ground and the surrounding area within two to three miles was devastated as though having been destroyed by an earthquake.
Windows were broken as far as fifteen miles away. Archie twice inquired of the authorities, if there was anything that he could do for the war effort. In that he was by this time, too old for service, he was told to remain in his teaching job.
One of Archie's assignments during the war was to depict women workers. He says that, "In most cases women were doing work that was normally done by men and doing it well. This lesson had to be learned all over again in World War II. Also there were the same concerned questions then about what were all these women workers going to do when the men came home? If we have learned anything from two world wars, we have learned of the capability of women to adapt to almost any situation in which they may find themselves.
I am grateful to Standish Hartrick of Australia for providing his name and family information. His full name also appears in the book, Book Illustrators of the Twentieth Century, as well as his obituary in the New York Times, of February 3, 1950. This book also lists accolades that he apparently was too modest to write about in his books. These are that he was elected NEAC, New English Art Club], in 1893, ARWS, [Associate of the Royal Society of Painters in Water Colors].
As I dabbled with the computer attempting to enhance some of the pictorial material for this article, I wondered just what Archie would think of today's computer technology where you are able to manipulate and retouch photographs electronically. In a simple keystroke, spots from an ancient photograph can be automatically removed. Highlights in an eye can be enhanced. If the result isn't the desired one, a click of the mouse restores the photograph to its original state. Being the sort of man that is revealed in his writings, I believe that he would embrace the new technology as he had the fine art of lithography in his time. I believe however, that he would retain his faith in the painted image.
He is described as a discerning observer of the art world, who was loved by his students and highly, esteemed by his fellow artists. By all the measures that are significant, Archie was a success. He said of his work as an artist, "I loved my job and have known it as a workman, desiring no other.
Photographs "Reprinted with the permission of Cambridge University Press."
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Last Modified December 20, 2003.