Art Through a Life

Today, I want to talk about a man who worked in various artistic fields during his life.  A pioneer in some aspects – a man willing to explore his different talents and this after being trained as a boot-maker by his father.  Living from 1859 to 1936, Arthur Albert Collings expanded his various artistic talents to become well known in several artistic fields.  Arthur married Keturah Anne Beedle in 1887.  Both Arthur and his wife Keturah had artistic talents and it is possible that they were brought together through their interest in art.  Most probably, at the time of their marriage, Arthur and his wife were working as artists or photographers.

Blessing and Blest watercolour on silk by Esme Collings @ 1890

Christmas Morning – An Errand of Mercy
watercolour on silk
by Esme Collings
@ 1890

Arthur entered into a business partnership with photographer William Friese Greene (1855-1921), who was later to gain some notice as a pioneer in making “moving pictures”.  The partnership dissolved in 1888.  Collings adopted the middle name of Esmé in 1889, and is usually referred to in sources as Esmé Collings.

In 1896, he made a number of films, of which only three are known to have survived.  From a surviving stock list and other sources, it is known that he made at least nineteen films during his first year of production.  As well, he made Woman Undressing, which must have been one of the first erotic films in British cinema.

After the break up of the partnership #ArthurEsmeCollings moved down to Brighton,to take personal charge of the studio at 69 Western Road, Hove.

In 1897 he seems to have abandoned films to devote himself to painting, while continuing to run the Esmé Collings Limited photographic business until at least 1914.  His wife, Keturah Collings, ran a fashionable photographic studio in London and was a watercolourist.  Collings’ chief claim to fame is as one of the first of that small band of South Coast film makers labelled the ‘Brighton School’.  In 1905, the Collings’ moved back to London and each had their own photographic studio.

Christmas Morning - An Errand of Mercy photo section 1 by Esme Collings

Christmas Morning – An Errand of Mercy
photo section 1
by Esme Collings

Christmas Morning - An Errand of Mercy picture segment 2 by Esme Collings

Christmas Morning – An Errand of Mercy
picture segment 2
by Esme Collings

This stunningly beautiful print is done on silk .  It is not a miniature but is 14″ x 9″.  The detail and technique superb –  it is clearly visible why #EsmeCollins was a well known miniaturist painter.

From photographer, to film maker, to miniature portrait painter, and back to photography.  A talented man.  A talent that should be well remembered.

The lines found at the bottom of the painting are from William Cowper’s  ‘To A Young Lady @ 1782

“Sweet stream that winds through yonder glade,
Apt emblem of a virtuous maid
Silent and chaste she steals along,
Far from the world’s gay busy throng:
With gentle yet prevailing force,
Intent upon her destined course;
Graceful and useful all she does,
Blessing and blest where’er she goes;
Pure-bosom’d as that watery glass,
And Heaven reflected in her face”

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