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News > Heritage > The sketchbook of GM Hamilton

The sketchbook of GM Hamilton

3 Oct 2019
Rt. Hon. Sir Richard Temple, Bart. by GM Hamilton, 1898
Rt. Hon. Sir Richard Temple, Bart. by GM Hamilton, 1898

Little is known of OB Gavin Macaulay Hamilton (1895 – 1899), but he left a unique artistic and historical legacy to the College.

A most talented draughtsman, he combined his considerable skill and evident humour to capture the very early characters of the SCR in a way that brings them back to life for us well over a hundred years later. We have over 30 images by Hamilton, mainly small pen and ink drawings on scraps of paper collected together in an album, which implies he was drawing the characterful Masters from life whilst in the classroom and in Chapel. A number of these are very fine silhouette portraits which were so fashionable in the early 19th century.

Hamilton became a prefect in 1898 and was a member of both the Debating Society and the Tuck Shop Committee. He was also in the chorus of Antigone in 1898 and produced programmes for concerts and plays. Whilst the College archive holds a good number of photos of this era, Hamilton is not specifically identified in any which is a shame. For a young man so skilled at capturing the essence of those people around him, we have no image of him!

It would be fascinating to know more about this man and whether he continued his artistic pursuits in adult life. We know that he became the aide to the Governor general in New Zealand (1912-1920). Do email if you can add to the information that the College holds on this Old Bradfieldian, or if you have ideas about how we could best display his cartoons. They are currently out of sight and locked in the archive.

The main image shows Mr Hamilton’s cartoon of the Rt. Hon. Sir Richard Temple, who visited the school on Founder’s Day in 1898 to talk about the National Society for Church Education. Most of Hamilton’s cartoons were monochrome pen and ink, but this one is very finely polychrome and arguably rivals an earlier cartoon of Sir Richard or "Burra Dick" in Vanity Fair Magazine in January 1881.

Here below is more of his work, including James Watt, complete with his book of Algebra and very impressive moustache, and Mr HH Piggott who was a member of the SCR from 1895 to 1902.

Thankfully, nearly all of the sketches are clearly signed with the artist’s initials, GMH.


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