At Home with the Watertons

Waterton, Eliza and HelenI’ve enjoyed the detective work involved in researching the scene in my comic strip biography in which we meet the Waterton family at home in Walton Hall. I’ve been unable to track down any portraits of Charles Waterton’s young sisters-in-law, the Miss Edmonstones, so photographs of their close relatives have been the next best thing but I’ve also found a clue from art history.

As I understand it, Eliza and Helen, were, like Waterton’s late wife Ann, half Scottish, half Arawak. Whether this is true or not, I can take Edmund, the only son of Waterton and Ann as my starting point for the Edmonstone look. In photographs, he has a broad face and tightly curled hair which I’ve also found in a photograph of a Josephine Waterton, who I assume is Edmund’s daughter.

St Catherine, detail from an etching by Maratta.
St Catherine, detail from an etching by Maratta.

Ann Waterton died shortly after the birth of Edmund in April 1830. Charles later acquired a painting of St Catherine by Carlo Maratta (1625-1713) which he felt bore a close resemblance to Ann. I’m unable to track down this particular painting but Maratta’s models for St Catherine and the Virgin Mary do have a similar look to the photograph of Josephine.

The hair style and the full-sleeved dress in Maratta’s etching of St Catherine aren’t so different to the fashions of the early 1830s that I’m using in my illustration.

Charles Waterton's seal on a letter dated 2 June 1855.
Charles Waterton’s seal on a letter dated 2 June 1855.

Although I’ve yet to discover a portrait photograph of Charles Waterton himself, there are contemporary sketches, a bust and a portrait, plus a death mask which I have yet to arrange to see.

Links; An icon in York Art Gallery, Virgin with a Breast on her Neck appears to have links with Edmund. He liked to style himself ‘Lord of Walton Hall’ and he collected rings so I think that the flamboyant seal on the back of the York painting must be Edmund’s. Charles Waterton’s seal (left), was a simpler affair.

My reference for fashions from the Wonderful 1830s, from Whilhelmina’s Antique Fashion blog.

Ann Mary Edmonstone on the Overtown Miscellany website

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