Humphrys genealogy

Genealogy research by Mark Humphrys.

Our common ancestors - Herbert - Contents

  Summary of proof this is Augustus Montgomery

Provenance: Augustus Montgomery family, 1780s to about 1920

Provenance: Mis-labelled in 1920s

Provenance: Modern era


Conclusion: This is Augustus Montgomery

Lost portrait of Augustus Montgomery

A lost (and now re-found) portrait of Augustus Reebkomp (later Montgomery).
Inherited by his descendants, the Gibbon family, and sold after 1913.
It was lost for a century, and then re-discovered by me in 2023.
In 2023 I discovered it had been sold in 2022 at auction in America.
It had been mis-labelled for a century as "Colonel St Leger" (John Hayes St Leger).
The proof that it is Augustus Montgomery (and not St Leger) is below.


Portrait of Augustus Montgomery.
For sale in 2022 at Charlton Hall, South Carolina, USA.
Mis-labelled as "Colonel St Leger" (John Hayes St Leger).
See full size. See wider shot.
See close-up. And closer.


Summary of proof this is Augustus Montgomery

Summary of the proof that this is a portrait of Augustus Reebkomp (later Montgomery).


Provenance: Augustus Montgomery family, 1780s to about 1920

Augustus Reebkomp (later Montgomery) was the illegitimate son of the 10th Earl of Pembroke.
He was half-brother of George Augustus Herbert, 11th Earl of Pembroke.
He was treated well by the family, and was close to his legitimate half-brother.
The (future) 11th Earl sat for a portrait in 1780 painted in Paris by Jean-Baptiste Greuze.

Reebkomp's descendants, the Gibbon family, had a story that the portrait of Reebkomp above was painted by Greuze.
However [PP, vol.1] shows no sign of Reebkomp in Paris with his brother in 1780.
Reebkomp was serving in the Navy in 1779 to 1783. He took the surname "Montgomery" in 1781. He went on leave in 1783. Maybe the portrait was painted in 1783 or shortly after.
It is possible he then went to Paris for his own portrait by Greuze. He did travel a lot. However [Russell, 1992] studies all British sitters of Greuze, and does not find him.
When the painting was later sold, it was classified as a portrait by John Russell. Although the sitter is mis-labelled, the painter is probably accurate.
The Greuze story is probably just confusion with his brother's picture.
I call it as most likely a portrait by John Russell, and not by Jean-Baptiste Greuze.

Augustus Montgomery died in 1797.
His widow Susan Maltass would have inherited the portrait.
She moved to Paris before 1818. The portrait would have been in France for many years.
Susan died in Paris in 1851.
Susan's natural son Auguste Henry Saladin Montgomery is known to have then held a portrait of Augustus Montgomery, which must be this portrait. However Augustus Montgomery is not his father.
Augustus Montgomery's daughter Elizabeth Gibbon in a letter of 28 Nov 1851 is trying to get "my father's portrait" from him.
This must be the portrait on this page, and she succeeded in getting it.

Elizabeth's son Arthur Augustus Gibbon inherited the portrait.
It is mentioned in his will. He died in 1907.
The portrait took centre place among the portraits in the Gibbon family home, where it is seen in a photo of 1913. It is clearly of Augustus Montgomery.
Arthur Augustus Gibbon's son Arthur F.V. Gibbon sold the portrait sometime between 1913 and 1926, to meet debts (notably school fees). He apparently sold it before he moved to Pinner in 1926. I had a note that said "possibly 1920".
It was then lost for a century, until in 2023 I found it.

Extracts (these two sections run into each other) from letter of 28 Nov 1851 from Reebkomp's daughter Elizabeth Gibbon after her mother's death.
She says that "my father's portrait" is now in the possession of her illegitimate half-brother, who she calls "Henry S."
It is not his father. She is negotiating with him for the picture and other things: "I cannot find words to express Henry S's [illegible]".
It seems he has agreed to give it to her: ".. has resolved itself into offering me my mother's old, dirty mended Turkish bracelet and my father's portrait".
Presumably it is the portrait on this page.
See top larger and full page.
See bottom larger and full page (rotated).

Will of Arthur Augustus Gibbon (died 1907) mentions the 5 portraits of his parents and grandparents.
This would be:


Photo of Apr 1913 of interior of Lawn House, the home of Arthur F.V. Gibbon.
Left to right: Portrait of Capt. Robert Gibbon (still in the family), the lost portrait of Reebkomp, portrait of Barbara Yeats (still in the family).
See full size and original.
See close-up and further close-up.


Lawn House is now a pub.
This fireplace behind the bar (E end of the building) is the only location that matches in any way the 1913 photo above. The approximate position and dimensions of the fireplace seem right, though there are many differences.
It is unclear if this is the same location as the photo. The E end of the building was redesigned and the door moved, so maybe the old fireplace is simply gone. Nothing else in the building matches at all.
Photo 2019. See full size.
See other shot. See closer. See wider.

Left: Close-up of the Gibbon portrait in the 1913 photo.
Right: The 11th Earl portrait by Greuze.
The oval frames are quite similar. As if these were meant to be a pair?
In close up, though, the beading is in slightly a different place on the two frames.
Also the 11th Earl picture has writing showing the sitter and painter. The image quality is low on the other, but it does seem that the Gibbon portrait does not have writing.

A cut-out photo, found in Gibbon family papers.
This is clearly the portrait on the wall.
This photo looks very professional, like from a printed book.
Maybe this photo is cut out of the auction catalogue.

Notes written on the back of the above.
These say it is Reebkomp.
Notes look fairly modern, maybe late 20th century.


Provenance: Mis-labelled in 1920s

The Reebkomp portrait was sold and then lost for a century.
I often wondered if it was out there. For many years, I did a "reverse image search" on the above picture to see if it would turn up.
Eventually, in 2023, a "reverse image search" by me discovered the picture existed and had been sold at auction in America in 2022.
It was mis-labelled as a portrait of "Col. St Leger". This is John Hayes St Leger (born 1756, died 1800).
We need to establish of course that it is not St Leger. See below.
The painter was said to be John Russell (born 1745, died 1806). This is probably correct.

Research soon showed that it was mis-labelled as Col. St Leger quite early, by 1921.

Label on the front of the picture sold in 2022.
This says it is John Hayes St Leger, by John Russell.
See full size. From Charlton Hall.
This label looks old but we think it was only made around 1921.

The back has various stickers and markings.
See full size. From Charlton Hall.


Agnew's records

Given the stickers and markings on the back, some of the picture's provenance can be traced in the Thomas Agnew & Sons Ltd Archive at the National Gallery, London. Thanks to Zara Moran of the National Gallery for the following research.


It apparently came to Agnew's in 1921, labelled as Col. St Leger by Russell.
This index card however says: "really a naval officer".
Someone spotted the uniform is navy not army. So it cannot be St Leger. But they had no alternative candidate. So it seems they just shrugged and left it as St Leger.

Bo/s number (Bond Street on sale number): 4528
Date: 29 Sept 1921
Artist: J Russell
Title: Portrait of Col St Leger Sd & dated
Owner: Colin Agnew
How disposed of: Credited
Date: 4 Aug 1925 

Agnew's record says owner as at sale in 1925 is Colin Agnew (one of the family of Agnew's).
It says "signed and dated" but the modern picture is not (or the 2022 auction would show it).
Maybe it was signed and dated on a label that was lost?

WO 1296 (Work Order number) 
Date: 31 July 1925
Owner: Chester Johnson
Fd Oval portrait by Russell 
ex Bo/s 4528 (see above)
Packed and sent to USA

Agnew's record says it was sold in 1925 to Chester H. Johnson (died 1934), a Chicago art dealer.

Chester H. Johnson's art gallery and business was from at least 1925 to 1930 in the Fine Arts Building, Michigan Ave (or Michigan Boulevard), Chicago.
This is from pp.116-117 of 1927 Chicago Directory.
The Fine Arts Building is still there today. See street view.
The Reebkomp portrait was probably displayed for sale there, mis-labelled as St Leger.


Provenance: Modern era

The painting was sold at auction on 23 Sept 2022 by Charlton Hall, South Carolina, USA.
It sold for $6,250.
See auction entry with many images at Charlton Hall.
They say it came from the estate of Bennetta Heath of North Carolina (died 1982).

The grave of Bennetta Heath of North Carolina (died 1982), who owned the Reebkomp portrait without knowing what it was.
She lived in North Carolina, then Ohio, then Florida, then back to North Carolina.



Let us compare the 2022 auction picture with other images.
Left: The cut-out picture in the Gibbon papers.
Right: The 2022 auction picture.
Clearly identical. This is how "reverse image search" found the picture.

Left: The portrait on the wall in 1913. Clearly the same as the cut-out picture.
Right: The 2022 auction picture.
Note the frames are different.

Comparing the uniforms.
Left: The Beechey portrait of Augustus Montgomery. This is his Royal Navy uniform.
Right: The 2022 auction picture. The uniform is similar. It must be Royal Navy, which wore "navy blue" uniforms.

Left: John Hayes St Leger painted in 1778.
Right: John Hayes St Leger painted in 1782.
British Army officers wore red uniforms, the red coat.
But the 2022 auction picture does not have a red coat. It is a Royal Navy uniform, not army. It cannot be Col. St Leger. The picture is mis-labelled.

St Leger's family.
Col. St Leger is "John Hayes", born 1756.
From DONERAILE on p.829 of [Burkes Peerage, 1938].
No connection to Herbert or Gibbon.
It makes no sense for Gibbon to have a portrait of St Leger.
See full size.


Conclusion: This is Augustus Montgomery

The 2022 portrait is our lost portrait of Augustus Montgomery.

Sources: Thomas Agnew & Sons Ltd Archive

The painting was sold by Thomas Agnew and sons.

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