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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.

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Thursday, 29 May 2014

War talk

Saturday, May 29th., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

On Thursday I sent off first copy of first half of "The Lion's Share".

London yesterday for the day. New English Art Club. Very interesting watercolours of Steer, etc.

Painswick Beacon, Wilson Steer, 1915
It is in relation to the Royal Academy that much of the development of the New English has been seen. The origin of the Club was in the studios of a group of young London artists in 1885. These painters had studied and worked in Paris, and felt a dissatisfaction with the exhibition potential of the very academic R.A. which was under the presidency of Sir Frederick, later Lord Leighton It was decided to mount a rival show, so in April 1886 the first exhibition of the New English Art Club was organised at which about fifty artists were represented, including Fred Brown, George Clausen, Stanhope Forbes, J.S. Sargent and Wilson Steer. Thus the scene was set: the stolid academic approach of the R.A. as opposed to the dynamic and vibrant observation of the New English - a caricature of course, as are all such comparisons. However, it is remarkable that the artistic descendants of the Impressionists continued to be associated with the New English whilst the R.A. moved by fits and starts towards a more conceptual approach and towards public gallery orientated work. During the late 19th and early 20th century the New English grew greatly in influence, and the days of Sickert, Augustus John, Tonks, Steer and William Rothenstein were a golden period indeed. In the 1920's Stanley Spencer, Paul Nash, Duncan Grant and Mark Gertler were all members - indeed almost every member of the Camden Town Group started with the New English, and it formed an essential part of their development.

Lunch with Mair at Garrick Club. Mair said that Princess Irene blew up with 300 mines on board. 

HMS Princess Irene
At about 11.14 on the morning of 27th May 1915, Sheerness witnessed the destruction of the minelayer HMS Princess Irene which was on No.28 buoy about 3 miles WSW from the town centre. The ship had been built in Scotland in the previous year to the order of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company but was requisitioned and converted for Naval use before she could sail to the Pacific. The Princess Irene had a complement of 225 officers and men, three of whom were ashore that morning as the mines were being primed on the ship's two mine decks. Also on board were a party of 80 or so Petty Officers from Chatham in addition to 76 Sheerness Dockyard workers who were completing tasks prior to the ship's planned departure to lay her mines on 29th May. Without warning, the ship was blown to pieces and her remains, and the remains of those on board, were scattered over a wide area of the surrounding river and countryside. One of the Chatham Dockyard workers, David Wills, amazingly survived the explosion but few bodies were found. Those that were located were buried in Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham. A memorial to those lost in both this and the Bulwark disaster is situated opposite Sheerness Railway Station. The cause of the disaster was thought to have been due to a faulty primer (pistol)although evidence at the Official Enquiry showed that the work of priming the lethal mines was being carried out a) in a hurry and b) by untrained personnel.

He said that whereas Fisher went to bed at 10 and rose at 5, Churchill would come to the Admiralty after dinner. Churchill sent in a telegram to be approved by Fisher; Fisher declined to approve it. On the intermediary suggesting that instead of sending a blank refusal he should draft a new telegram, he did so.

Mair said that Sir John Simon was going to be much more strict with the censorship, and that it was intended to prosecute The Times. He also said that Fisher on being appointed ordered 300 craft of various sorts. One firm alone made 24 light cruisers. There are special craft for going up the Danube, and special monitors for running over mine fields to attack Cuxhaven.

Churchill and Fisher
Admiral of the Fleet John Arbuthnot "Jacky" Fisher, 1st Baron Fisher, (1841 – 1920) was a British admiral known for his efforts at naval reform. He had a huge influence on the Royal Navy in a career spanning more than 60 years, starting in a navy of wooden sailing ships armed with muzzle-loading cannon and ending in one of steel-hulled battlecruisers, submarines and the first aircraft carriers. The argumentative, energetic, reform-minded Fisher is often considered the second most important figure in British naval history, after Lord Nelson. Fisher is primarily celebrated as an innovator, strategist and developer of the navy rather than a seagoing admiral involved in major battles, although in his career he experienced all these things. When appointed First Sea Lord in 1904 he removed 150 ships then on active service which were no longer useful and set about constructing modern replacements, creating a modern fleet prepared to meet Germany during World War I. He first officially retired from the Admiralty in 1911 on his 70th birthday, but became First Sea Lord again in November 1914. He resigned seven months later in frustration over Churchill's Gallipoli campaign, and then served as chairman of the Government's Board of Invention and Research until the end of the war.

Additionally for May 29th., see 'Parisian culture'

He took me yesterday afternoon to make the acquaintance of the Godebskis at Valvin. Husband, wife, two small kids. Poles. Among the most charming people I have ever met. Purely artistic. Godebski once owned and edited a little review. Looks like a Jew but is not one. I saw on a table a copy of Mallarme's "Divagations", with the envoifrom the author "A son vieil ami, Godebski". Not interested in anything but artistic manifestations. I said I had gas and they hadn't. Godebski said he didn't like gas lamps. I said: "For cooking." "Yes", he said, carelessly, "but with alcohol and oil they can manage." Didn't care a damn about inconveniences. A whole crowd of artistic youth there; various French accents. A picturesque, inconvenient house, full of good and bad furniture in various styles. A large attic with rafters formed the salon; a good grand piano in it.

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