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Crest of Sir Thomas Storey

Copyright © 2007

This page was last updated on
Sunday, 3 February 2008
by Brad Storey


as Mr. Frank Banfield puts it in his able sketch of Mr. Story's art-life which appeared in Cassell's Family Magazine for February, 1897, "that in the year 1852 Mr. Story was - 'hung' - very high up, it is true - but still 'hung' at the Royal Academy. The picture, a large one, contained eight portraits in the dress of the crinoline period, and was entitled 'A Family Portrait.'

"'One day,' said Mr. Storey, 'I thought I would look in and see the effect of it. It was hung quite at the top of the north room, and it so happened that the whole family who sat for it, and several friends, were just then craning their necks to look at it; as other visitors came in they naturally looked up, too, until quite a little crowd was collected. One individual referred to his catalogue, then to the picture, and exclaimed very audibly: 'What an ugly group!' This was unfortunate, as one of the friends had just been saying what good likenesses they were. I did not wait to be congratulated on my success !'

"From 1850 to 1858 is what Mr. Storey describes as his portrait period, when he painted-over a hundred of them; and then, from 1858 to 1862, his work was affected by pre-Raphaelite influences. It is during those latter four years that he painted 'The Annunciation,' 'A Song of the Past,' and 'The Burial of Juliet.'

"Mr. Storey states that he was inspired at that time very greatly by the picture known as 'Autumn Leaves,' by Millais.

"It was in 1867 that Mr. Storey made his one great attempt at large work. It was a 'Crucifixion' for the Rev. J. C. M. Bellew, a Lancaster gentleman and a distinguished preacher and poet, too, but more generally known as a remarkably fine reader. He was a member of the Higgin family, but assumed his mother's maiden name in 1844. The lady was descended from the O'Briens, Earls of Thomond. At this time Mr. Bellew was the popular minister of Bedford Chapel. One day Mr. Bellew came in when the artist was busy with the picture.

"'I don't like the hands of St. John,' said he. 'There is not enough intensity in the clasp.'

"'Well,' said I, 'will you stand for it?'

"'I do not mind,' he replied, 'if I may smoke.'

"So he lit his cigar and posed for his hands, but I must confess that the notion of St. John with a cigar in his mouth rather tickled me. Subsequently, you know, he became a Catholic (his mother had been all her life a devoted member of the Latin Church), and, as a result, my picture got into the possession of the Carmelites at Kensington. Some time ago," continued Mr. Storey, "I went to their Church, and was disappointed on finding my big sixteen feet high picture was being used as a sort of window curtain, and that the whole upper hall was hidden from view. I came away saddened with the conviction that I was neither a Perugino nor a Raphael in the opinion of the Kensington Carmelites."