Withers, Walter (Andrew MacKenzie, ed.)
- The Forgotten Manuscripts
Mannagum Press, Lilydale Vic., 1987.
Quarto hardcover; 144pp., colour and monochrome illustrations. Dustwrapper lightly faded along spine and lower edges (now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film); otherwise minor wear only. Very good to near fine. The English born painter Walter Withers is known for his moody landscapes of Victorian scenes around Heidelberg, Eaglemont and Creswick. In the brotherhood of the Heidelberg school of painters he was called 'The Colonel' for his ability to organise others, and his old farmstead at Charterisville became the home for a generation of painters in the 1890s. His indefatigable wife Fanny wrote four manuscripts on the life and art of her husband, one of which became the small publication produced by Alexander McCubbin, The Life and Art of Walter Withers - as part of his Australian Art Book Series of the 1920s. Fanny Withers played an important role not only in acting as housewife and mother to Walter's six children, but also in supporting and encouraging her husband and helping run the business side of his life. Her strong will and character, ceaseless energy and her eagerness to promote her husband's career had her entertaining guests and defending assiduously his art works against the critics. Her pen was ever ready, poised to strike at those who unwittingly or unjustifiably attacked his works. In one instance a series of letters were exchanged with a Mr. Carrington of the Argus who deigned to criticise adversely Wither's work prior to the exhibition. In her protest, Fanny Withers wrote: ' ..I do understand the function of an Art Critic - when my husband and I lived in Paris, I was Musical Critic for one of the London Papers, but I never wrote about a performance without hearing it'. To which Carrington replied: 'You may, or should know that a wife's evidence for or against her husband is absolutely and entirely valueless for sound and very obvious reasons'. That Carrington had to resort to such a statement is probably tantamount to an admission that his match had been met. Fanny did not confine herself to only these pursuits. She was a teacher in Heidelberg and Eltham and was passionately concerned with the social welfare of the poorer members of the community. She wrote a novel, Boarded Out; a Story Founded on Fact which was published in Melbourne by Fraser & Jenkinson in 1907, sending out copies of the book to influential members in the community including various local and state members of the government as a means of helping these unfortunate children. The four manuscripts, letters, photographic images of the family, studios and the works of Walter Withers are all included here.
Click here to order