Henry Marriott Paget – a short file on his design work
This file is goes with the other files on Henry Paget’s life as a painter and illustrator.
The Pagets and their friends were really keen on
amateur dramatics. Henry and Henrietta had even chosen to rent a house where
one of the rooms had a small daïs that could be used like a stage. While I was
researching Henry Paget as a painter and illustrator I came across some
references to him designing and making stage scenery and costumes. Some was for
his children’s entertainment – Etta would adapt fairy stories as little plays,
and Henry would improvise a stage-set on the daïs. On a rather larger scale,
scenery was commissioned by his sister-in-law, the GD’s Florence Farr (married
name Emery) from the 1880s to 1905, for the various theatrical productions she
was involved in. I don’t think Henry was ever paid for any of it. Nor did it
ever lead to his getting paid commissions for work on productions in the
As early as 1882, Henry designed an allegory of painting which was meant to be part of the decoration of a public building. He won a prize for it.
On occasion, Henry was also willing to do a spot of acting. In 1885 he played the part of the architect Ictinus – though I don’t think he spoke any lines – in a tableaux on the details of the Parthenon, one of the series of such tableaux on classical themes. This was for a costume ball held at the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours to open its new galleries in Piccadilly, an event attended by the Prince and Princess of Wales. I couldn’t find out whether Henry had designed the costume he wore in the tableaux or whether he had had any hand in designing its scenery.
While living in
In June 1899 the Art Workers’ Guild staged a masque, Beauty’s Awakening, for the Lord Mayor members of the Corporation of London at the Guildhall. The idea and organisation for it came from Walter Crane. As a Guild member, Henry contributed the design for the costume of Dante; though someone else wore it – Henry didn’t take any part in the masque itself.
In 1905, Florence Farr asked Henry to design the scenery for a production of W B Yeats’ play Shadowy Waters, which she was producing for a Theosophical Society congress. Henry designed some scenery and made a mock-up model of what the stage would look like; though the actual production used designs by someone else.
Henry was also known amongst the Pagets’ friends
for his fascination with mechanical gadgets. In his autobiography (from many
years later) W B Yeats even suggested that Henry found these more interesting
than painting. Yeats described how Henry’s artist’s studio in
WAR WORK World War 1
Henry’s combination of the artistic and the practical/mechanical was what Lieutenant-Colonel Solomon J Solomon was looking for when he was ordered to bring together a group to design camouflage. Solomon’s first recruit was the theatre designer Lyndsay Symington. Henry Paget was called up to join the group in 1916 and became a specialist in camouflage for tanks, in different shades of brown and green. On the battlefield, attempts were also made to conceal them with smoke but I don’t know whether that was Henry’s idea.
The camouflage group, known as the
Florence Farr: Bernard Shaw’s New Woman by Josephine Johnson. Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1975 p60, p90, p103, p107, p126.
The Artist volume 3 p10 issue of 1 January 1882. Acads and Institutions. Henry won £40 – a nice sum.
Times 20 May 1885 p6 for the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours.
Times 10 May 1890 p17 for A Sicilian Idyll.
The Studio in its issue of Summer 1899. Long article on the Masque including the entire script, reproductions of the costume designs and a list of the AWG members who were involved. Especially p3, pp12-13. Henry’s costume design is in a set of black and white illustrations; with Dante meditatively holding a rose.
Collected Letters of W B
Yeats Volume IV 1905-1907. Editors John Kelly and Ronald Schuchard.
Bernard Shaw: The Diaries 1885-1897 in 2 vols, annotated and ed by
World War 1:
The European Powers in the First World War: An Encyclopedia compiled by Richard A Voeltz. Seen via google: p161.
A Genius for Deception by Nicholas Rankin 2009: pp165-67.
BASIC SOURCES I USED for all Golden Dawn members.
Membership of the Golden Dawn: The Golden Dawn Companion
by R A Gilbert.
For the history of the GD during the 1890s I usually use Ellic Howe’s The Magicians of the Golden Dawn: A Documentary History of a Magical Order 1887-1923. Published Routledge and Kegan Paul 1972. Foreword by Gerald Yorke. Howe is a historian of printing rather than of magic; he also makes no claims to be a magician himself, or even an occultist. He has no axe to grind.
Family history: freebmd; ancestry.co.uk (census and probate); findmypast.co.uk; familysearch; Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage; Burke’s Landed Gentry; Armorial Families; thepeerage.com; and a wide variety of family trees on the web.
Famous-people sources: mostly about men, of course, but very useful even for the female members of GD. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Who Was Who. Times Digital Archive.
Useful source for business and legal information: London Gazette and its Scottish counterpart Edinburgh Gazette. Now easy to find (with the right search information) on the web.
For the GD members who were freemasons, the membership database of the United Grand Lodge of England is now available via Ancestry: it gives the date of the freemason’s first initiation; and the craft lodges he was a member of.
To take careers in craft freemasonry further, the website of the the Freemasons’ Library is a good resource: //freemasonry.london.museum. Its catalogue has very detailed entries and the website has all sorts of other resources.
You can get from the pages to a database of freemasons’ newspapers and magazines, digitised to 1900. You can also reach that directly at www.masonicperiodicals.org.
Wikipedia; Google; Google Books - my three best resources. I also used other web pages, but with some caution, as - from the historian’s point of view - they vary in quality a great deal.
To put contemporary prices and incomes into perspective, I have used www.measuringworth.com/ukcompare which Roger Wright found for me. To help you interpret the ‘today’ figure, measuringworth gives several options. I pick the ‘historic standard of living’ option which is usually the lowest, often by a considerable margin!
Copyright SALLY DAVIS
22 January 2019
Find the web pages of Roger Wright and Sally Davis, including my list of people initiated into the Order of the Golden Dawn between 1888 and 1901, at: