Our latest acquisition is an oil painting of Colonel John Lodge by Rowland Henry Hill.
It’s been donated by Gill Griggs, who was given it by a friend to practice her conservation skills on as part of a course she was doing. Despite becoming rather attached to her Colonel, Gill decided the best place for the restored painting was in the museum collection.
“It’s been a fabulous experience working on this painting,” explains Gill, who completed an Oil Painting Restoration course at Richmond Art College, London. “I have been able to clean the artwork, remove the varnish, restore some of the damaged paint and reapply a layer of varnish. I also made some repairs to the mouldings of the impressive frame, adding gold leaf and then ageing it to match the original finish.”
“I’ve always been interested in art and learning about the history of artefacts, and conservation seems the best way to carry the life, energy and history of paintings on into the future,” adds Gill, who says working on portraits inevitably makes you feel more connected to the subject, and admits she chatted away to Colonel Lodge during her restoration. “The most challenging part was getting the Gesso infills right. The painting has noticeable brushstrokes and trying to emulate those was difficult. Modern day conservation is not intended to deceive and I think the painting should continue to look like it’s had a life – it is, after all, more than 100 years old.”
John William Lodge
John Lodge featured on the museum’s Ribbon of Remembrance as part of our commemoration of the centenary anniversary of the end of the First World War. Read his profile here.
About the artist: Rowland Henry Hill (1873 to 1952)
One of the Staithes group of artists, Hill was predominantly a landscape painter. He exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy from 1897 as well as internationally. His portrait of Colonel Lodge was painted in 1917, but we do not have any information about who commissioned the work.
The Lodges, Bishopdale and The Rookery
The Lodge family were a prominent Yorkshire Dales family; an integral part of life in Bishopdale for more than 100 years. They were already firmly established in Bishopdale in the mid 18th century, but it was in the 1870s that Robert Lodge decided to refurbish The Rookery into a modern mansion, with all mod cons. An imposing Victorian Gothic building, the house was the grandest in the area.
Robert died in 1888 and the house was inherited by his son, our Colonel, John William Lodge, who never married.
When John’s sister died in 1920, her son inherited the estate and put it up for sale the following year. The estate included eleven farms, two grouse moors, 4000 acres of land and shooting and grazing rights over another thousand acres. Most of the tenants took the opportunity to buy their farms. After a spell as a boarding school during the Second World War, The Rookery was demolished in 1952.
What now for Colonel Lodge…
At the time of his death The Craven Herald reported, “Of a cheery and kindly disposition, always out to do good, Colonel Lodge was loved by all who had the pleasure of knowing him, and particularly by those who served with him. A brave soldier, a keen sportsman, and a gallant gentleman, his loss will be widely felt.”
The portrait of Colonel John Lodge is now on display in the museum’s South African War case on the top floor.