Louisa Thomas married Henry Gipps (1837-91)in 1863. They had six sons and two daughters. While Louisa and Henry Gipps were to die in Sussex, two of their sons, Frederick George De Visme Gipps (1867-1953) and Richard Brook Woodthorpe Gipps (c.1872-1946) migrated to Queensland, possibly bringing with them their mother’s sketchbook.
The collection of artworks that are included in the sketchbook are often of outstanding aesthetic and artistic significance. In the variety of subject matter and the geographical places represented, it is historically significant as a document recording the postings of Colonel Henry Gipps, 9th Norfolk Regiment, and his wife Louisa to locations in the Mediterranean and West Asia.
The large bound sketchbook has a marbled cover with blue binding. The name Louisa Goulburn Thomas and the date 1862 are faintly inscribed in pencil on the front page. However the book contains pen and ink and pencil drawings, watercolours, and photographs, which both predate and postdate 1862. The approximately 75 works are loose-leafed items and [currently] do not form a chronological, geographical or thematic sequence. Creators identified on some drawings and watercolours include Mary Julia Wilder Thomas, JFV Wright, ELG (Edward Louis de Bondell Gipps?), L Nicholson, Bertha Isadore Thomas, and HG (Henry Gipps?). Many of the works are signed and dated, and include rural landscapes and seascapes, archaeological sites, animal studies, and portraits. While most of the works were created in the British Isles, others are scenes of Venice, the Ionian Islands, Cape Town, Hong Kong and Japan. [A number of the ‘oriental’ paintings on silk were probably purchased from local artists.]
The art works in the book are at various stages of completion and represent a diverse range of artistic skills. What may be the earliest work in the sketchbook is a drawing of three uniformed soldiers. An annotation on the reverse records that the drawing is of a Group of Soldiers after [Philipp Jakob] de Southerbourg 1830. The birth of Louisa Thomas' oldest son, William Henry Houston Meyrick Gipps (1864-1903) in Corfu perhaps explains why a number of scenes and items in the album are of the Ionian Islands. Louisa is probably the creator of a number of still life and botanical studies in the album. These range from floral studies to a bird’s nest. The painting of objects was to remain a socially ‘approved’ specialty of amateur and professional women artists into the 20th century.
The complete contents of the album will be uploaded to accompany this record. Some items may be published separately on Victorian Collections, but will acknowledge their origins in the sketchbook.
Inscriptions & markings
"Louisa Goulburn Thomas / 1862"