Sunday, 23 April 2017

Of Eltham, Manchester and an artist from Wales

Now I like the way things have a habit of falling together in a most unexpected way.

Manchester  School of Art 1900
So recently when my friend Tricia found a painting looking down Well Hall Road with the parish church in the far distance my interest was tripped which was added to when Lesley stumbled across the fact that the artist had briefly lived in Manchester.

So given that I left Well Hall for Manchester in 1969 it was as they say “game set and match.”

Francis Dodd by the artist
The artist was Francis Dodd who had been born in Hollyhead, educated in Scotland and during the Great War was appointed as an  official war artist.

In 1895 he moved to Manchester.

I found him on the 1901 census living as a “boarder" in a house in Chorlton-on Medlock and three years later he was still there but is listed as the householder.

As yet I have no idea of what he did in Manchester other than that he “worked and taught” here.

He may have attended the prestigious School of Art as a student or even as a teacher.  Walter Crane was the Director of Design from 1893 to 1898, Adolphe Valette taught there from 1906 to 1920 and its graduates include

L.S. Lowry, Eugene Halliday, Liam Spencer and Ossie Clark.

I lost him after he left Manchester and only found him in Blackheath at the end of his life.

Entrance to  the School of Art  1972
All of which set Tricia off on a search and I have to say she found a lot.

“I have been out with my spade again doing some digging concerning the life of Mr Dodd  He was born 29.11.1874., 

He was the oldest child of parent Benjamin Dodd & Jane Francis Shaw. His siblings were Gertrude Helena Dodd bn 1876, Walter Stanley Dodd bn 1877 & Elsie Lilian Dodd bn 1881. 

He married  1911 to Mary Arabella Bouncker Ingle born 1871 Woolwich died 14.2.1947 Blackheath. Francis Dodd then went on to marry Ellen Margaret (Nell) Tanner born 1908 Chelsea. They married in January 1949 in Chelsea he was aged 74, she was 41. To my knowledge I can see no evidence of any children from either marriage.

Frances Dodd took his own life at his home in Blackheath in March 1949 two months after he married his second wife. The Daily Mail states of his death the following.

A short time after finishing an important picture Francis Edgar Dodd age 74, Royal Academican, took his own life at his home 51 Blackheath Park. It was stated at the Lewisham inquest that Mr Dodd was found by his gardener in a gas filled basement kitchen. 
Ellen Margaret Dodd

His wife out lived him by 34 years she died in 1983.


Being an old romantic I have a theory that maybe he pined for his first wife and thought by remarrying it would ease his broken heart but instead it made him miss his first wife even more. Just a notion I have with no evidence whatsoever to back it up.

The visitor at his home on the 1911 census Susan Mabel Dacre a fellow painter was also his benefactor for 14 years whilst he was living in Lancashire.

Miss Isabel Dacre born 1844 Leamington. She befriended Dodd & was his patroness for 14 year & affectionately know as Aunt Susan.”

And that of course brought me back to Manchester not only because of that house in Chorlton on Medlock but the School of Art is a place I know well.  Some of my friends  studied there, others taught there and for a while in 1972 I regularly stood in that entrance.

Odd world.  All we need now is a picture of the 9 roomed house in Blackheath.

Now that we didn't get but instead this from Michael Gorman,
"Isabel Dacre was an important artist in her own right - forming the Society of Women Artists whilst study at the Municipal School of Art and winning the Queen's prize. One of her contemporaries was Annie Swynnerton - who also attended the School - and was the first woman to be elected to the Royal Academy."

Research by Tricia Lesley

Pictures; Mr Dodd and Mrs Dodd, sourced by Tricia Lesley, Municipal School of Art, 1900, m66425, and entrance to the Art School, 1972, H Milligan, m66434,and in 1972, m66433, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council, http://images.manchester.gov.uk/index.php?session=pass



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