POSTED BY RUSSELL POTTER
Among the lesser-known signatures in the Bradford scrapbooks is that of Lucette E. Barker, an artist in her own right, whose connections with other London artists and writers were considerable. Her brother-in-law, Tom Taylor, was the editor of Punch, as well as (somewhat less fortunately) the playwright whose play, “Our American Cousin,” was being presented at Ford’s Theatre when Lincoln was assassinated. Lucette, though described in some sources as an “amateur” artist, achieved considerable success in her day; she provided the frontispiece for Mrs. Alfred Gatty’s popular The Fairy Godmothers (1851), and counted among her admirers Anthony Trollope, to whom she sent several of her drawings. She also regularly provided illustrations for George Bell’s annual Poetry of the Year series.
Another little-known signer was Rosa E. Beaufort, who was the sister of Emily A. Beaufort, at the time a well known “lady traveller” whose Egyptian Sepluchres and Syrian Shrines (London: 1874) was dedicated to Rosa, “who shared in every scene depicted in these pages, and with whose kind assistance they were written.” The book was handsomely printed, and included a full-color fold-out frontispiece, “Panorama of Tadmor” (shown above). The Beaufort sisters were the daughters of W. Morris Beaufort, an active member of the Royal Geographical Society, who also signed the scrapbook (but no relation, apparently, to Sir Francis Beaufort after whom the Beaufort Sea was named).
One last group of signers of the Bradford scrapbook, though their individual names may not be familiar today, played a significant role in African-American musical history. These were the Fisk Jubilee Singers, a group just founded in 1871 and embarked upon a European tour. Six of the group’s nine original members — Benjamin Holmes, Thomas Rutling, Minnie Tate, Jennie Jackson, and Ella Sheppard, along with their director George White, signed their names. Their singing, including a command performance before Queen Victoria, elicited universal praise. When the group departed on their return trip to America, one member — Rutling — decided to remain in England, where he continued to perform and teach music until his death in 1915. The Jubilee Singers have carried on through the generations, and in October of 2014 will mark their 144th year.
The cross-section of those who were drawn to Bradford’s studio is remarkable for its diversity; clearly men and women of every walk of life were fascinated by his Arctic canvasses, and as we continue to search for the stories behind the names, I have every expectation that there will be yet more surprises.