21 November 2007
Helen Allingham, R.W.S. (1848-1926)
A farmhouse at Smarden, Kent
signed 'H. Allingham' (lower right) and inscribed 'Matthew Hartnup' (on the beam in the centre)
pencil and watercolour heightened with touches of bodycolour and with scratching out
11½ x 8¼ in. (28.6 x 21 cm.)
with Leger Galleries, London.
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J. Rodger, Smarden- A pictorial history, London, 1982, p. 8.
I. Taylor, Helen Allingham's England, London, 1990, p. 85, illustrated.
A. Watts, Helen Allingham's cottage homes revisited, London, 2002, p. 31, illustrated.
This imposing house, which still stands in Smarden, Kent, is featured in at least one other watercolour by Allingham. Back in the 1670s it was the home and work-place of Matthew Hartnup, the village apothecary. The house still bears his name carved over the doorway alongside an image of a rhinoceros, being the apothecaries' symbol.
Over the centuries the building's fortunes changed dramatically; originally built by wealthy Flemish weavers it was a high status property, but by the turn of the 20th Century it was divided into three dwellings and served as a billet during both World Wars.
The house was 'rescued' in the 1950s by Captain John Noel, the official photographer on the 1924 Everest Expedition. Recognising the house's importance he restored it sympathetically and returned it once more to a single dwelling.
We are grateful to Annabel Watts for her help in preparing this catalogue entry.
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