All Kingston Museum Wants For Christmas Is A Millais Watercolour

By David Prudames | 01 December 2003
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Shows a photograph of a painting, which depicts a tranquil view of the River Thames at Kinsgton, south-west of London. There are a number of boats floating on the still water, while the banks of the river are lined with trees.

Photo: Thames at Kingston, William Henry Millais (1828 –1899). Courtesy of Kingston Museum.

Staff at Kingston Museum are appealing for the public to help raise the cash needed to buy a 19th century watercolour bequeathed to the museum by a local resident in her will.

The Thames at Kingston was painted by William Henry Millais (1828-1899), who lived in the borough with his family including younger brother, John Everett Millais.

The work was left to the museum on the condition that a reasonable sum, which will then go towards restoring Kingston’s Grade I listed All Saints Church, is paid for it.

Applications have been made to both the National Art Collections Fund and the Resource/V&A Purchase Fund. But grants would only cover 75% of the total cost. Museum staff are therefore appealing to the public to help raise the rest.

Anne McCormack of Kingston Museum and Heritage Service told the 24 Hour Museum why the watercolour would be an important addition to the institution.

"It’s our collection policy to show the topography of the area," explained Anne McCormack, "and it’s also really nice to have a Millais connection."

Shows a photograph of the exterior of Kingston Museum as seen from above. It is a large square red-brick building and its roof slopes up to a small turret, upon which there is a weather vane.

Photo: built in 1904, Kingston Museum tells the story of the borough from Saxon times to the present day. Courtesy of Kingston Museum.

"Knowing that they lived here anyway and with John Everett Millais and Holman Hunt having worked here, it is a nice connection with a well known family."

Pre-Raphaelite painter, John Everett Millais’ older brother, William Henry was a multitalented man. While several of his paintings were exhibited at the Royal Academy of Art between 1852 and 1892, he was also a fine singer and his tenor voice was described as one of the best in the country.

The Millais family moved to London in around 1838 to further John Everett’s art education and is known to have lived in Portsmouth Road, Kingston.

William Henry married Judith Agnes Boothby in All Saints Church, Kingston in 1860 and their daughter attended a private boarding school in Surbiton.

He also lodged for a short time in Worcester Park Farm near Kingston where his brother, who was painting his famous Ophelia at the time, and William Holman Hunt stayed in 1851.

Anyone interested in helping the museum can contact Anne McCormack by phone on 020 8547 6738 or by post at:
Kingston Museum and Heritage Service,
North Kingston Centre,
Richmond Road,
Kingston upon Thames,
KT2 5PE.

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