Mid-19th-Century English School

The Mackenzie Children

Mid-19th-Century English School

The Mackenzie Children

This charming mid-19th-century English School oil painting depicts the daughters of Reverend Charles Mackenzie (1807-1888), the Rector of St Benet London and Prebendary of St Paul's Cathedral.

Set within an idyllic landscape, the MacKenzie sisters in their Sunday best. Each captured with delicacy to convey a perfect notion of Victorian family bliss. Whether this was actually the case remains to be seen, but on this day in question, all appears to be particularly harmonious.

From left to right:

Henrietta Helen Mackenzie (1841-1862)
Mary Louisa MacKenzie (1836-1916)
Anne Isabelle MacKenzie (1838-1927)
Florence Emma MacKenzie (b.1844)

Note the use of flowers, the eldest, Mary handing them down to Henrietta who catches them in her dress. While the seated Anne wears a Summer hat decorated with flora and baby Florence clutches a stem in her left hand. At this point in their lives, they had the world at their feet and little did they know just how eventful their stories would become. Having explored the ancestry records, we’d need an essay to convey the extent of their lives, but here’s a summary:

The eldest, Mary, married the Reverend Alexander St David Francis Pringle (1828-1908) and travelled extensively. Pringle is noted for setting up the first library in British Columbia and in 1861, founding the oldest church. The pair had ten children.

Second eldest, Anne, married Captain Edward Picton Warlow alias Baumgarten (1831-1913) and spent many years in India where several of her nine children were born. Baumgarten is listed in the census as a Gentleman.

Third eldest, Henrietta, married Edwin Arthur Brassey Crockett (1836-1915), an architect. She sadly died young while also in India. It’s plausible that she was living near her sister at the time. She had one child.

Youngest, Florence, was a home bird it seems. Marrying Duncan Stewart (b.1826), a London barrister, and settling in the Capital where the couple had seven children.

This gentle portrayal of four siblings captures a memorable day in their lives. Probably commissioned by their father, it’s a loving picture that once hung in the London family home.

Held within a splendid 19th-century gilt frame with foliate.

Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall size: 33½” x 38” / 85cm x 97cm
Year of creation: c. 1845
Condition: Artwork presents well. Fine craquelure but the paint is stable. Frame with some light wear.

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