Maggs Bros Ltd

An album of drawings by the young Lucy Parker illustrating a family holiday to Scarborough and the surrounding area.

PARKER, Lucy (c.1860s?)

£2500.00 

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Oblong 4to., 120 manuscript drawings in ink and pencil pasted on to the verso and recto of nineteen leaves. Album leaves heavily browned and occasionaly torn at the edges, some scattered foxing, drawings a little dusty but otherwise well preserved. Late 19th-century blue roan and pebbled cloth boards (large piece detached from the spine, edges and corners rubbed and bumped, some staining to the boards, headcaps torn away, endleaves foxed).

A series of amusing and surprisingly artistic sketches by a young woman documenting a late 19th-century family holiday in the North of England; the drawings display the keen sense of humour of three (probably adolescent) girls in the Victorian period.

The album contains numerous sketches and records the adventures of Lucy Parker and her two sisters on a family holiday to Scarborough and the surrounding Yorkshire coast. The drawings depict their various activities - coastal walks, bathing, sightseeing, socialising, etc. - but also provide portraits (often satirical or comedic) of their fellow holidaymakers.

In 1984 the 17th Earl of Perth chose to produce a facsimile of another manuscript by Lucy Parker as his Roxburghe Club book, A Tour in Scotland in 1863. It reproduced Lucy's lengthy prose account of the Parker family holiday to Scotland alongside numerous similar drawings showing unusual aspects of Scottish life including the appalling weather and the eccentric people they encountered on the trip. At the time of publication the identity of the author was unknown but further investigation, aided by descendents of the Parker family who came forward after publication, enabled them to be identified as the Parkers of White Lodge, East Barnet (North London). Henry Parker (Lucy's father) was a notable solicitor and her mother, Susannah, the daughter of an admiral. The three girls were called Caroline ("Sissy"), Helen ("Nellie") and Lucy ("Lulu") and their three brothers were Henry, Frederick and William. The family law firm, Parkers of Bedford Row, was initially successful but in 1884 was declared bankrupt and two of the Parker brothers emigrated to America. Lucy never married but helped in the education of her nieces and nephews and wrote a considerable number of books for the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge (see The Scotsman, 8th September, 1990).

Our album does not contain a prose account of the Scarborough holiday but the drawings - and their often witty captions - illustrate in detail many of the most interesting points of the trip. Lucy depicts herself and her sisters as in one sense removed from the usual Scarborough holidaymakers and notes that their clothes are more fashionable than the "anti-crinoline movement" on the seafront promenade. Like their Scottish holiday, the weather appears to have been against them, and the girls are shown fleeing the waves as their bathing carriages are washed around in the sea water below (the caption reads: "Is it fit for Bathing this morning?"). Many of the portraits in the album appear to be the product of long evenings before and after dinner in their hotel. Their fellow residents are gently satirised and comical stories invented around them including an illustration of an older plump lady playing the piano as her gentleman friend turns the pages of her music book, the caption reads: "Miss Bilten's Courtship. 3 vols". As well as Scarborough the children visit Whitby, where they see the famous herrings being prepared for the smoke house.

The drawings have been clipped and pasted into the book from another source and it is possible that not all of the drawings are from the Scarborough holiday. Six of the drawings on a single page centre around the infant Master Hugh Rawlinson Ford who was the son of Lucy's eldest sister, Susannah who married John Walker Ford in 1864 and gave birth to Hugh Rawlinson Ford in 1866. John Walker Ford is shown playing with his son (who is more interested in the suspended carriage lamp) and Hugh's grandfather (presumably Lucy's father) is shown reclining on a sofa reading the newspaper. In most of the other drawings Susannah still appears to be one of the three "young" Parker sisters and so perhaps the drawings of her son and husband were done some years later. There is also a quick sketch of a woman kneeling by a fireside while a man, who looks much like John Walker Ford, looks on. Many of the drawings of non-family members give the name of the subject ("The Morgan Family", "Mr Hare and the 'Three Little Girls' from Clifton", "Miss Balfour", "Mrs and Miss Claremont"), a few of the names - including a rotund and haughty woman labelled "Baroness Rothschild" - may be joke nicknames made up by the sisters.

Provenance: (John) David Drummond, 17th Earl of Perth (1907-2002); by descent to his grandson Viscount Strathallan, sale, Lyon & Turnbull, Edinburgh, 29/8/2012, lot 290 to Maggs where it was described as a scrapbook of drawings "apparently by the Misses Parker who accompanied their parents on a holiday to Scarborough and Whitby"; the four-line catalogue description does not note the connection to the Earl of Perth's Roxburghe Club book. This album was presumably acquired by the Earl with the manuscript of A Tour of Scotland in 1863 but not used or referred to when the facsimile was produced. The introduction to the facsimile states that A Tour of Scotland in 1863 was acquired in the 1970s through the bookseller Dudley Massey of Pickering & Chatto and has never been publicly offered for sale since and its present location is unknown.

Stock Code: 63138