Everard Studley Miller and his bequest to the National Gallery of Victoria


When Everard Studley Miller died aged sixty-nine on 5 July 1956, the major beneficiary of his £262 940 estate was the National Gallery of Victoria. Miller’s legacy was announced in newspaper reports after his will was lodged for probate on 18 September the same year.1 Everard Studley Miller’s will and probate papers are held in the Public Record Office, Laverton, Victoria. Headlines such as ‘£200,000 Bequest to Art’2 Herald, Melbourne, 18 September 1956, final edition, p. 1. and ‘£170,000 in Will to Gallery’3 Sun, Melbourne, 19 September 1956, p. 2. declared an exceptional act of private patronage to an Australian public art institution. After legacies had been made to relatives, friends, employees and organisations, the sale of Miller’s real estate and personal effects realised about £200 000, and this sum was earmarked 

for the Trustees of the National Gallery of the said State of Victoria to be applied in or towards the purchase of portraits of individuals of merit in History painted engraved or sculptured before A.D. 1800.4 Will of Everard Studley Miller, 22 March 1956, Everard Studley Miller Probate Papers, Public Record Office, Laverton, Victoria. 

Unlike the bequest made to the National Gallery by Alfred Felton (1831–1904) in 1904, Miller’s legacy has not enjoyed a high profile. Numerous factors may account for this, including a dearth of information about Miller and his benevolence – a situation that contrasts sharply with the considerable scholarly attention afforded Felton and his philanthropy.5 U. Hoff, ‘The Everard Studley Miller Bequest’, in Australian Art and Architecture: Essays Presented to Bernard Smith, eds A. Bradley, T. Smith & B. Smith, Melbourne, 1980, pp. 150–60, presents one of the very few published accounts of Miller’s Bequest. This essay also provides details of the Miller family and of the origins of the Bequest’s funds. See also P. Paffen, Everard Studley Miller and His Bequest to the National Gallery of Victoria, Postgraduate Diploma in Art Curatorial Studies thesis, University of Melbourne, 1992. It can even be argued that the processes that have marginalised Miller’s Bequest can be located within a certain mythology surrounding the Felton Bequest. Comparing the terms of the two bequests illustrates this point and, seen in this light, the ‘different’ character of Miller’s stipulations takes on a decidedly negative cast. Sustained by its record financial magnitude, which even today remains unsurpassed in Australia, the Felton Bequest has long been accepted as the preeminent example of the form a munificent bequest to the National Gallery of Victoria should take. As such, its pinnacle status has remained largely unchallenged. Consequently, the Everard Studley Miller Bequest, with its idiosyncratic stipulations, has been somewhat overshadowed and thought of as ‘unusual’.6 See ‘Artbursts: Melbourne Bequest’, Bulletin, 26 September 1956, p. 21. Yet it can be shown that Miller was himself influenced by the terms and conditions of the Felton Bequest, and that they were linked to the formulation of his own stipulations.

  

Hindsight may have brought Miller to conclude that some of the conditions of the Felton Bequest were deficient, for their application had allowed the Felton administrators a degree of flexibility that resulted in ‘a course beset with difficulties and illusions’.7 L. B. Cox, The National Gallery of Victoria 1861–1968: A Search for a Collection, Melbourne, [1970], p. 62. Could Miller’s act of patronage have been partly inspired by an attempt to overcome some of the obstacles faced by the Felton administrators? Certainly, his precise buying directions appear contrary to Felton’s. Where Felton provided that a committee of five (to become the Felton Bequests’ Committee) should be given both the freedom and the authority to purchase ‘works of art ancient or modern or antiquities or other works or objects … upon the recommendation of the Trustees … of the Melbourne National Art Gallery’,8 Will of Alfred Felton, 20 August 1900, cited in D. Lindsay, The Felton Bequest: An Historical Record, 1904–1959, Melbourne, 1963, p. 19. Miller stipulated that the Trustees could purchase only portraits, and, within that category, only works executed in certain media and before a specific historical date. 

Miller’s unique thinking is further revealed by what he left unspecified. Felton had expressly stipulated that the purchases of works of art through his Bequest were to have ‘an artistic and educational value and be calculated to raise or improve public taste’;9 ibid. Miller, however, did not document the reasons for his benefaction. Also, where Felton decreed that ‘all works and objects purchased’ with Felton moneys should ‘bear the words “Felton Bequest” thereon’,10 ibid. Miller made no similar demand.

But what possible spectrum of motives influenced Miller in formulating the terms of his Bequest? To investigate this question, we must examine the terms through the filter of Miller’s biography. Born on 24 October 1886 at Studley Park, Kew, Melbourne, Everard Studley Miller was the second and last child of Sir Edward Miller and Lady Miller, née Mary Elizabeth Darlot.11 For biographical information on Sir Edward Miller, see Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 10, eds B. Nairn & G. Serle, Melbourne, 1986, p. 509. Lady Miller received an OBE from King George V, in December 1919, for service in the Red Cross Society during the 1914–18 war, and was a foundation member of All Saints parish church in Kooyong. She died on 25 September 1941, aged eighty-five (see ‘The Late Lady Miller’ [Obituary], All Saints Review, Kooyong, Melbourne, no. 179, February 1942). His brother, Edward Eustace Miller, called ‘Esme’, was five years his senior.12 Edward Eustace Miller, born in 1881, was admitted to Melbourne Grammar Senior School in 1895 and left in 1899. He subsequently resided in London and at one stage excavated important archaeological specimens in the Middle East. He served in France during World War I as a Lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards and was invalided out in 1917. Edward died in southern Rhodesia in 1944, leaving the Ε. E. Miller Bequest for staff superannuation at Melbourne Grammar School. The school’s Miller House, a house for day boys, was named after him in 1960 (information received from the Archivist, Melbourne Grammar School, letter to the author, 28 July 1992; details from Liber Melburniensis [Centenary Edition], 1963). Neither son married. They were the grandsons of Henry ‘Money’ Miller (1809–1888), who was perceived to be the wealthiest man in the colony of Victoria in the nineteenth century, and who was the originator of the funds eventually bequeathed to the National Gallery of Victoria. 

 

Everard Studley Miller was initially educated for one year at Melbourne Grammar’s preparatory school, Wadhurst, in 1898,13 Information received from the Archivist, Melbourne Grammar School, telephone conversation with the author, 21 July 1992. and then continued his studies at two schools in England: Sandroyd in Surrey, and Sherborne in Dorsetshire.14 See ‘The Quiet World of … 200 Kooyong Rd’, Herald, Melbourne, 19 September 1956, p. 3. Photographs of these schools are contained in the Miller Papers – a series of ten volumes assembled by Miller that consist of photographs, extracts of typed carbon-copied letters written from overseas, newspaper clippings, theatre programs, some received correspondence, Miller family documents and other papers of general interest to Everard Studley Miller. The Miller Papers were bequeathed to Mr Edward J. Miller. However, Miller never undertook formal institutional studies in the intellectual areas that preoccupied him throughout his adult life. Instead of fulfilling his dream of attending Cambridge and becoming a don he returned to Melbourne,15 Information received from Ms Ruth Miller, telephone conversation with the author, 18 July 1992; see also Hoff, ‘The Everard Studley Miller Bequest’, p. 157. where he received private tuition from Sir Archibald Strong, a classics scholar and writer of international standing for whom Miller had a ‘deep admiration’.16 See ‘Obituary: Everard Studley Miller’, IPIE: The News-Sheet of the Classical Association of Victoria, vol. XLIII, no. 2, September 1956. Miller’s interest in classics continued after his instruction with Strong ceased; he was devoted to the Classical Association of Victoria and despite ill health in later life regularly attended the Association’s lectures.17 ibid. 

  

Another lifelong passion – a fascination with Egyptology – began for Miller when he first travelled to Egypt during the Australian summer of 1910–11 in the company of his mother and brother. During this tour he visited the Cairo Museum, where he marvelled at its collection of ‘archaeological wonders’ and reluctantly left what he described as ‘sands of historic glories … interest and fame’.18 E. S. Miller, ‘An Egyptian Impression: The Inauguration of Egyptology’, Miller Papers, vol. I, 1912, p. 20, collection Mr Edward J. Miller. His library of approximately 820 volumes19 Inventory, Everard Studley Miller Probate Papers, Public Record Office, Laverton, Victoria. contained valuable texts on Greece, Rome and Egypt.20 See ‘Obituary: Everard Studley Miller’. From his reading, Miller acquired an impressive command of historical facts, although the theories he espoused concerning classical studies were those of an earlier generation of scholarship.21 Information received from Mr Hubert Miller, telephone conversation with the author, 25 June 1992. 

Miller also had in his collection a number of books on Australian history, and he was a lifelong member of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, which he joined on 4 May 1914.22 Information received from the Secretary, Royal Historical Society of Victoria, Melbourne (hereafter RHSV), July 1942. Today the Society holds the few extant endeavours of his academic historicism.23 Miller’s undated paper ‘The First Fleet’, comprising nineteen chapters, an index and a bibliography, is an account of the preparatory activities and voyage of the initial fleet and also contains research into the state of the first penal settlement in Australia. The content of a paper compiled in December 1919, ‘Notes upon a Historical Tour in New South Wales and the Contribution of M. Le Baron de Bougainville as to the Conditions in That Colony in the Year 1825’, reflects the same interest in the early days of the colony and pays homage to those figures responsible for pioneering activities. He also toured Australian regions, photographing sites and landmarks that bore witness to the toils of the first white settlers. Such journeys were undertaken for the specific purpose of recording the ‘monumental memories of early Australia’ before their destruction by the intervention of subsequent generations and by the ‘ravages of time’.24 E. S. Miller, ‘Photography for the Purpose of Historic Study’, October 1914, p. 18, RHSV. Miller, who had been given a camera as a young boy, used the medium of photography to record Australia’s monuments in order to convey ‘their actual resemblance … to posterity’.25 ibid., p. 19.In his paper entitled ‘Photography for the Purpose of Historic Study’, dated October 1914, he demonstrates a technical proficiency and knowledge of the medium such as is usually credited only to professional photographers. 

Early photographs by Miller were taken on tours of Europe in 1900, 1901 and 1902, and they record public monuments, grave sites, fountains and other memorials in London, Monte Carlo, Monaco, Turin, Paris, Holland and Venice. These were the years of Miller’s schooldays in England; in all likelihood, it was with family members that he travelled through Europe during his vacations. Trips to Tasmania in 1905, 1906 and 1908 were also documented with photographs, revealing Miller’s developing fascination with what would later become his main choice of subject matter: cemeteries, tombstones and their inscriptions, churches, historic sites, historic public and private buildings, and other forms of commemoration and memorial. Miller systematically compiled his photographic work in a collection of albums.26 For a listing of the locations of the extant photographic albums, see Paffen, pp. 53–4. This indicates the value he attributed to the record and the document as ways of providing empirical evidence for practical ends – that is, to prompt memory by visual means and to spark inspiration. As Vance has written, commemoration is more than a simple act of retrieving the past – it is an expression that perceives the present as somehow ‘deficient … a vice … a lack that memory will fill’.27 E. Vance, ‘Rowland and the Poetics of Memory’, in Textual Strategies: Perspectives in Post-Structuralist Criticism, ed. J. V. Haran, Ithaca, New York, 1979, p. 382. In a preface to one of his photographic volumes, Miller wrote: 

 Yet age’s constant march 

shall nothing leave and take to endless night 

Your toils. And so I strive, by light, 

To image here the works ye did – 

That those who come may see – 

Lest they forget your memory.28 E. S. Miller, ‘Yesterday’, May 1924, Historical Monuments of New South Wales, vol. I, RHSV. 

In accordance with his father’s request, Miller took up a position in the family’s Bank of Victoria business in Flinder’s Lane, Melbourne. He is also known to have trained as an electrical engineer,29 See ‘Obituary: Everard Studley Miller’. and to have overseen the operation of sheep-breeding, for its economic value, at the Millers’ Bacchus Marsh property, ‘Pirette Farm’ (where he also kept horses).30 Information received from Mr Edward J. Miller, interview with the author, 16 June 1992. Through his interest in farming. Miller developed a marked awareness of Australian economics in relation to trade and export, maintaining in 1934 that ‘the Colonies are infinitely better engaged in producing primary produce, while leaving the secondary industries to English manufacture where so much technical and mechanical skill is available’.31 E. S. Miller, letter, Miller Papers, vol. II, 1934, pp. 26–7. 

Miller’s convictions were located in the values of the conservative social class into which he was born and, consequently, he stood in opposition to the increasingly prevalent nationalist tendency which held that Australia could become independent of the rest of the world. Knowing that the country was vitally dependent upon external markets in order to raise the revenue needed to finance national debts, Miller was adamant that, as a nation, Australia should think and act within a broader geographical vision. In 1934 he clearly stated his position: ‘[W]e must recognise that, for better or for worse, we are part and parcel of the European civilisation. Long away as we may be from it, we are none the less part of it’.32 ibid. 

Miller’s pride in Australia’s history and in being an Australian was not expressed in terms of independence from the Crown. His firm identification with England, and his views on Australia’s position within the British Empire and the Empire’s place within a broader international arena, appear to be strong factors contributing to the measures invested in his legacy that relate to education and edification. His act of patronage reached deliberately beyond Australia’s young history and culture as a European colony, and pointed its beneficiaries further afield to ‘individuals of merit in History’ – to players upon the world’s older historic stage. Thus, the Bequest could potentially offer alternative models of merit from the past to a nation that applauds and glorifies the ‘little battler’, the ‘digger’ and the pioneer. 

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, ‘only close associates of Mr Miller knew of his devotion to the arts’.33 ‘£170,000 Art Bequest in Vic’, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 September 1956, p. 1. But did Miller actually carry such a devotion and should we view his Bequest as a reflection of its author’s belief in the power of art? The clearest insight we have into the degree of Miller’s regard for art can be gleaned from the extant carbon copies of the letters he typed while travelling abroad in 1929 and 1934. Although far from uninterested in visual art, these documents demonstrate that art was not Miller’s all-consuming passion. What becomes apparent to a reader of this material is the great respect that Miller had for history and for those places and objects which signify the past activities of Man as the agent of, and catalyst for, its making. Miller believed that ‘[I]t is to History that we must largely turn for the solution of the many complex problems of sociology that await us in the future’.34 E. S. Miller, ‘Excavations in Egypt’ [undated letter to the Editor of the Argus, Melbourne (unpublished)], Miller Papers, vol. II. It was this fascination with and belief in the mystique of history which primarily informed Miller’s intellectual creed, while at the same time enveloping his attitude to art.

On his 1929 tour Miller travelled with his brother from Melbourne to Ceylon, where the two witnessed social customs and visited Buddhist shrines. The brothers then headed for Marseilles, where the church of Notre Dame de la Garde was for Miller the city’s outstanding feature, closely followed by ‘an extremely fine picture gallery’, and a museum of Louis XIV and Louis XV period furniture. In Paris, Miller studied the Louvre’s collection of Egyptian artefacts; however, due to a lack of time an inspection of the museum’s Italian old masters, French period furniture and antiquities from Greece and Rome was not possible. Faced with so many options, Miller revealed his priorities by confining himself to photographing outdoor monuments: the University of Paris, the Bibliothèque Nationale, and the Père Lachaise cemetery all received close inspection. Arriving in England, the self-described ‘Colonial Historian’ essentially followed the familiar pattern of his Australian tours and took himself to a number of historic sites and monuments. During his visit to the British Museum, Miller’s attention appears to have been primarily focused upon the collections devoted to civilisations from palaeolithic times onward, and the zoological holdings at South Kensington also held a particular fascination. In addition, the Medieval and 18th Century Art division at the Victoria and Albert Museum held what he described as ‘the most wonderful collection that I have ever set eyes on, or ever dreamt of ever existing’.35 At the British Museum, Miller also viewed the George Salting Collection. Salting (1835–1909) was born in Sydney and acquired a fortune as a pastoralist in Australia, yet his considerable art collection, formed abroad, was bequeathed to English institutions (see Cox, p. 426). In his letters Miller did not comment in detail on Salting’s bequest, yet he noticed it was ‘one of the most prominent portions of the whole collection’.

Miller also commented on a visit to London’s National Portrait Gallery, writing:

The National Portrait Gallery, of course, contains paintings of enormous value. The National Portrait Gallery is badly lit. I must say that some of the Medici Society’s productions seem almost better than the originals.36 E. S. Miller, letter, 1929, Miller Papers, vol. II, p. 39.

Miller was accompanied by his mother on his 1934 tour. In Cairo, he examined the archaeological discoveries of Howard Carter’s Tutankhamen excavation, responding with great interest to the Egyptian figures, which he perceived as ‘unquestioned portraits’ of members of the Pharaoh’s court. Then, in Italy, although he visited churches and monasteries around Naples in order to view art, it was in an unidentified museum, referred to by Miller simply as ‘the Naples Museum’, that he had his ‘first sight of Italian painting’. The temples of Amalfi and Paestum provided his introduction to Magna Graecia. 

  

Rome and its museums were described in the letters as ‘a complete Mecca of the Antiquarian’, with the unrivalled series of statues, carved sarcophagi, and inscriptions at the Vatican Museums and in rooms of the Baths of Diocletian. Churches, catacombs and a collection of Egyptian figures further comprised Rome’s attractions for Miller, and a visit to the Villa d’Este was an ‘unforgettable experience’. He observed a ‘truly miraculous’ collection of paintings by the so-called Primitives in Siena, concluding that ‘no painter, probably, anyhow in religious matters, surpasses Fra Angelico, some of these primitive painters, commencing about 1250 A.D., are more than remarkable’. He commented that although the collection was unique, ‘as the layman … passes from room to room, a certain sense of sameness overcomes him. An eternal supply of Holy families, even if they do depict the birth of Art, becomes wearisome’. While Miller discovered Fra Angelico in Florence, in Milan, his next destination, he ‘of course, saw Leonardo’s Last Supper. I think, probably, this last painter and Fra Angelico … to be the Greatest of all. “The Last Supper” … is more than impressive’. After passing through Switzerland, Miller headed for Paris, where an excursion to Versailles was undertaken. At Versailles he was almost alone: tourism was in decline as ominous signs of war gathered throughout Europe and England. England thus became his final destination before he left on the return journey to Melbourne. 

When commenting upon London’s National Portrait Gallery, Miller had revealed that he was familiar with the printed reproductions of paintings published by the Medici Society.37 The Medici Society in London began producing prints in 1906 by the collotype process, thereby following after the Arundel Society, whose hand-drawn lithographic prints had catered for an earlier generation of collectors. Named after the famous Florentine family, the Medici Society aimed at perfect colour reproductions of paintings from the principal galleries and museums of Europe and the United States. Works were chosen for their artistic value and beauty. The National Gallery of Victoria avidly collected Medici Society prints between 1910 and 1930. Art in Australia, vol. 1, no. 1, 1916, n.p., advertises Melville & Mullen of Collins Street, Melbourne, as the sole Australian agent distributing Medici Society prints and other Society items. The Society also published a limited edition of the first complete English translation of Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects. The Lives were published in ten volumes between 1912 and 1914.38 G. Vasari, Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects, trans. G. du C. de Vere, 10 vols, London, 1912–14. Miller may have possessed at least one of these volumes, given that ‘500 Portraits’ is listed in the inventory of his library among other abbreviated titles;39 Inventory, Everard Studley Miller Probate Papers.

this is possibly an executor’s compressed reference for Vasari’s epic biographical work. There is further evidence for this connection with Vasari in the fact that in 1934 Miller described the birth of art as having occurred around 1250 AD, thereby adopting an idea detailed in the preface of Vasari’s first volume. This preface also develops another idea that would have certainly struck a sympathetic chord with Miller. It asserts that the advent of Christianity caused the decline of humanist principles manifest in antiquity, that Christian religious zeal was determined to replace the symbols of a ‘heathen’ civilisation, destroying

not only … marvellous statues, sculptures, pictures, mosaics, and ornaments of the false gods of the heathens, but even the memorials and the honours of numberless men of mark, to whom, for their excellent merits, the noble spirit of the ancients had set up statues and other memorials in public places.40 Vasari, pp. xlviii–xlix.

 Vasari also explains his reason for not including portrait drawings to illustrate his biographies of notable artists: 

portraits in drawing are never so like as are those in colours, not to mention that the engravers, who have no draughtsmanship, always rob the faces (being unable or not knowing how to make exactly those minutenesses that make them good and true to life) of that perfection which is rarely or never found in portraits cut in wood.41 ibid., p. lix.

Given Vasari’s views, it is interesting that Miller saw fit to exclude drawings from the very specific list of media governing the kinds of works that could be acquired under the terms of his Bequest. However, if Miller was guided by Vasari in formulating this aspect of his Bequest, how can we account for his inclusion of the engraved portrait, a genre that Vasari had rejected? Returning to Miller’s library inventory we find that a copy of ‘[A. M.] Hind’s “Engraving”’ is also listed.42 Inventory, Everard Studley Miller Probate Papers. Chapter 5 of Hind’s History of Engraving and Etching (1923) provides an exposition of ‘The Great Portrait Engravers … (about 1600–1750)’,43 A. M. Hind, A History of Engraving and Etching: Prom the 15th Century to the Year 1914, London, 1923, p. 140. In this chapter, Hind discusses engraved and etched portrait work from 1600 to 1750 by French, Flemish, German, Dutch and English artists. a period that accords with Miller’s specified timeframe for works eligible for acquisition through his Bequest. Similarly, a remark in Hind’s book that may have cemented the appeal of engravings for Miller was that due to their portability engravings had a ‘cosmopolitan’ nature, which could foster immediate relationships between different countries.44 Hind, p. vi. 

As its buying direction was precisely focused, Miller’s Bequest could claim a certain uniqueness, standing apart from previous legacies to the National Gallery of Victoria, including the Howard Spensley Bequest, which came to the Gallery in 1939.45 Howard Spensley was born in Melbourne and resided in Bedfordshire, England. He bequeathed his art collection, valued in 1939 at £10 000, to the National Art Collection Fund, which transferred the legacy to the Government of Victoria with £2000 for the ‘transport arrangements or maintenance of the collection, the cost of shipping, insurance, cataloguing, show cases and so forth’. The Victorian Government passed the bequest over to the National Gallery of Victoria. See Cox, p. 161. The Spensley gift contained a sizeable number of old master drawings, providing Daryl Lindsay, in his capacity as Keeper of Prints, with a ‘nucleus [from which] to work on set[ting] about building up the collection’.46 See Lindsay, p. 71. A provision for drawings in Miller’s conditions would thus – in addition to perhaps representing a rejection of the views of Vasari – have compromised the uniqueness of his Bequest. Furthermore, the use of his funds to enlarge a collection whose core had been established by another benefactor may have held little or no appeal for Miller. 

It is only speculation which permits us to assume that Miller was acquainted with the workings of the Spensley Bequest. However, his familiarity with the administration of the Felton Bequest, together with his awareness of its importance to Gallery acquisitions, has been documented and appears to have been due to his association with Daryl Lindsay. Lindsay was a friend of the Miller family,47 Information received from Mr Hubert Miller and Mr Edward J. Miller. Mr Hubert Miller has in his possession a picture by Lindsay, signed to Lady Miller. Another of Lindsay’s pictures. The Findon Hunt, exhibited at the Royal Academy, London, was used as a cover illustration for a Christmas edition of the English publication Sporting and Dramatic News (not sighted). The Findon Harriers Hunt Club was started at the ‘private preserve of the Miller family’ and was named in 1898 after ‘Findon’, the twelve-hectare Kew property of Henry Miller, established in 1871 (see ‘Historic Homes’, Age, Melbourne, 1 July 1933, p. 5). and Miller is known to have visited him at the Gallery.48 See Hoff, ‘The Everard Studley Miller Bequest’, p. 158. During these meetings, the Felton Bequest was a topic of conversation for which Miller showed ‘considerable interest’.49 ibid. Although the reasons for this inquisitiveness were not revealed to Lindsay at the time,50 ibid. it nevertheless seems that the terms of Miller’s Bequest were responsive to, and tried to address, issues surrounding the administration of the Felton Bequest. 

Activities concerning the Felton Bequest preoccupied Lindsay, like other directors, for the greater part of his directorship.51 See Lindsay, p. 43. He worked to establish a buying plan towards the formation of a National Collection that would have both a practical function and an eventual goal, for he believed these were elements that had not been considered previously and now needed to be taken into account.52 ibid., p. 83. In a submission to the Felton Bequests’ Committee in 1944, Lindsay proposed the acquisition of works within three distinct categories. These were: works by old masters – works from before 1840;53 The intention underlying this definition was to enable the major English landscape painters of the nineteenth century – J. M. W. Turner and John Constable – to sit comfortably within the old master category. ‘modern’ works – works from after 1840; and Australian art.’54 Lindsay’s submission was approved by the Gallery Trustees and the Felton Bequests’ Committee. For the text of the submission, see Lindsay, pp. 83–91. Lindsay recommended ‘the narrowing down of the acquisition of work painted prior to 1840’,55 Lindsay, p. 87. assuming that the chances of enlarging the old master collection were diminishing due to the increasing scarcity and cost of such items. Lindsay’s thinking was reinforced by his recognition that, fantastic as the funds of the Felton Bequest were, they were not sufficient to allow the Gallery to compete effectively in the international arena, particularly after the art market boom in 1948.56 ibid., pp. 64–6. 

Whether or not Miller was aware of Lindsay’s functional definition of old master works, his own stipulation that the portraits acquired through his Bequest should predate 1800 would undoubtedly direct the Gallery’s Trustees towards buying items in an area where funds were most needed. It is interesting to note that in 1961 Dr Ursula Hoff, in the context of her catalogue of the Gallery’s old master paintings, redefined ‘old masters’ as ‘artists born before 1800’.57 U. Hoff, Catalogue of European Paintings before Eighteen Hundred, Melbourne, 1961, p. 3. Dr Hoff’s reclassification was made with a view to overcoming the awkwardness of the existing definition, while at the same time designating the historical period generally associated with the dawning of modernity (information received from Dr Ursula Hoff, interview with the author, 9 June 1992).
 

Miller’s funds could also be ‘applied in or towards’ the purchase of works, thus allowing the moneys to supplement or be supplemented by other financial resources – Felton’s terms did not permit this. If such an alliance were necessary to enable a special acquisition, the additional funds would enter the province of the highly structured terms of Miller’s Bequest. This would go some way towards addressing Lindsay’s complaint that European buying had been ‘haphazard and without a proper sense of direction’.58 Lindsay, p. 90. It was Lindsay’s constant opinion that Felton funds should be reserved and used only for the acquisition of ‘great’ overseas works; he believed the State was responsible for providing funds for the acquisition of Australian art.59 ibid., p. 67. Miller’s cut-off date of 1800 ensured that his funds could be spent only on works from abroad, due to the rarity of Australian art from before this date that met all of the Eurocentric criteria of his Bequest. In addition to directing the Trustees overseas, the 1800 date also prudently eliminated the possibility of administrators purchasing ‘modern’ art, thereby effectively removing 

the temptation to buy the latest fashion, which in the case of the Felton Bequest, was indulged in with such enthusiasm that it has filled the Gallery with a lot of very dubious pictures called abstractions just when that fashion is going out in the very place in which it started – Paris.60 ‘Artbursts’, p. 21.

Miller’s constraint upon the Trustees’ freedom to purchase ‘modern’ portraiture seems an interesting inversion of the terms set by J. F. Archibald in 1919 with reference to the annual Archibald portrait prize. Archibald’s conditions unequivocally promoted the contemporary production of portraiture,61 Archibald’s portrait prize was to be awarded to a work ‘preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in Art, Letters, Science or Politics, painted by an artist resident in Australasia during the 12 months preceding the date fixed by the Trustees for sending in the pictures’. whereas Miller pointed the Trustees to look to distant notables from other times and shores. This was not an approach that endorsed Lindsay’s proposal that the National Gallery of Victoria’s future buying policy ‘must be directed mainly towards the acquisition of the best contemporary works’.62 Lindsay, p. 66. The Miller conditions instead addressed Lindsay’s concerns regarding the application of the Felton Bequest funds, and also reflected Miller’s ambition to participate in and direct future buying at the Gallery himself. His act of patronage thus appears as a purposeful response to Lindsay’s call for ‘constructive’ buying in order to assemble a collection that would have ‘a definite historical and educational value to the State’.63 ibid., p. 83. 

It is entirely feasible that Miller drew the parameters of his Bequest independent of the director’s influence; equally, however, Lindsay may have unknowingly served to reinforce Miller’s closely guarded ideas about philanthropy, providing a background that assured Miller that his Bequest would be of practical and ideological value to the Gallery and thereby to the State. The final form taken by his patronage is ultimately a reflection of a view that is firmly anchored within the humanist paradigm, a tradition which holds that Man is central to historic transformation and is the agent of history. Portraiture of notables, within this paradigm, celebrates Man as being primarily responsible for the construction of history.

Postscript 

The Everard Studley Miller Bequest was finally exhausted just over twenty years after its patron’s death. It became inactive in 1976, for unlike the Felton Bequest – which stipulated that Alfred Felton’s estate, amounting to £383 163, was to remain as net capital upon trust from which would be formed a fund whose income would be available for the purchase of works of art – it allowed both capital and interest from the benefactor’s estate to be used.64 ibid., p. 19. Felton’s will also stipulated that an equal portion of the income from his estate would be expended on charities. 

Paul Paffen, Department of Fine Arts, University of Melbourne (in 1994).

Acknowledgements 

I am deeply grateful to Mr and Mrs Edward J. Miller for granting me the privilege of working with the Everard Studley Miller Papers, which until now have not been brought to light. I also wish to thank Mr Hubert Miller and Ms Ruth Miller for their memories and co-operation. Thank you Dr Ursula Hoff for encouraging me to delve further into both the biography of Miller and the conditions governing his Bequest. And thank you too Mr Steven Heath and Ms Dana Rowan for your help, which enabled me to complete the writing of this article.

 Notes 1         

This article is based upon the author’s thesis, Everard Studley Miller and His Bequest to the National Gallery of Victoria, Postgraduate Diploma in Art Curatorial Studies, University of Melbourne, 1992.

1          Everard Studley Miller’s will and probate papers are held in the Public Record Office, Laverton, Victoria.

2         Herald, Melbourne, 18 September 1956, final edition, p. 1.  

3          Sun, Melbourne, 19 September 1956, p. 2. 

4          Will of Everard Studley Miller, 22 March 1956, Everard Studley Miller Probate Papers, Public Record Office, Laverton, Victoria. 

5          U. Hoff, ‘The Everard Studley Miller Bequest’, in Australian Art and Architecture: Essays Presented to Bernard Smith, eds A. Bradley, T. Smith & B. Smith, Melbourne, 1980, pp. 150–60, presents one of the very few published accounts of Miller’s Bequest. This essay also provides details of the Miller family and of the origins of the Bequest’s funds. See also P. Paffen, Everard Studley Miller and His Bequest to the National Gallery of Victoria, Postgraduate Diploma in Art Curatorial Studies thesis, University of Melbourne, 1992. 

6          See ‘Artbursts: Melbourne Bequest’, Bulletin, 26 September 1956, p. 21.  

7          L. B. Cox, The National Gallery of Victoria 1861–1968: A Search for a Collection, Melbourne, [1970], p. 62.

8         Will of Alfred Felton, 20 August 1900, cited in D. Lindsay, The Felton Bequest: An Historical Record, 1904–1959, Melbourne, 1963, p. 19.  

9          ibid. 

10        ibid. 

11        For biographical information on Sir Edward Miller, see Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 10, eds B. Nairn & G. Serle, Melbourne, 1986, p. 509. Lady Miller received an OBE from King George V, in December 1919, for service in the Red Cross Society during the 1914–18 war, and was a foundation member of All Saints parish church in Kooyong. She died on 25 September 1941, aged eighty-five (see ‘The Late Lady Miller’ [Obituary], All Saints Review, Kooyong, Melbourne, no. 179, February 1942). 

12        Edward Eustace Miller, born in 1881, was admitted to Melbourne Grammar Senior School in 1895 and left in 1899. He subsequently resided in London and at one stage excavated important archaeological specimens in the Middle East. He served in France during World War I as a Lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards and was invalided out in 1917. Edward died in southern Rhodesia in 1944, leaving the Ε. E. Miller Bequest for staff superannuation at Melbourne Grammar School. The school’s Miller House, a house for day boys, was named after him in 1960 (information received from the Archivist, Melbourne Grammar School, letter to the author, 28 July 1992; details from Liber Melburniensis [Centenary Edition], 1963).  

13        Information received from the Archivist, Melbourne Grammar School, telephone conversation with the author, 21 July 1992. 

14        See ‘The Quiet World of … 200 Kooyong Rd’, Herald, Melbourne, 19 September 1956, p. 3. Photographs of these schools are contained in the Miller Papers – a series of ten volumes assembled by Miller that consist of photographs, extracts of typed carbon-copied letters written from overseas, newspaper clippings, theatre programs, some received correspondence, Miller family documents and other papers of general interest to Everard Studley Miller. The Miller Papers were bequeathed to Mr Edward J. Miller.   

 15       Information received from Ms Ruth Miller, telephone conversation with the author, 18 July 1992; see also Hoff, ‘The Everard Studley Miller Bequest’, p. 157. 

16        See ‘Obituary: Everard Studley Miller’, IPIE: The News-Sheet of the Classical Association of Victoria, vol. XLIII, no. 2, September 1956.  

17        ibid. 

18        E. S. Miller, ‘An Egyptian Impression: The Inauguration of Egyptology’, Miller Papers, vol. I, 1912, p. 20, collection Mr Edward J. Miller. 

19        Inventory, Everard Studley Miller Probate Papers, Public Record Office, Laverton, Victoria.  

20        See ‘Obituary: Everard Studley Miller’.

21       Information received from Mr Hubert Miller, telephone conversation with the author, 25 June 1992.  

22        Information received from the Secretary, Royal Historical Society of Victoria, Melbourne (hereafter RHSV), July 1942.

 23       Miller’s undated paper ‘The First Fleet’, comprising nineteen chapters, an index and a bibliography, is an account of the preparatory activities and voyage of the initial fleet and also contains research into the state of the first penal settlement in Australia. The content of a paper compiled in December 1919, ‘Notes upon a Historical Tour in New South Wales and the Contribution of M. Le Baron de Bougainville as to the Conditions in That Colony in the Year 1825’, reflects the same interest in the early days of the colony and pays homage to those figures responsible for pioneering activities.  

24        E. S. Miller, ‘Photography for the Purpose of Historic Study’, October 1914, p. 18, RHSV. 

25        ibid., p. 19. 

26        For a listing of the locations of the extant photographic albums, see Paffen, pp. 53–4. 

27        E. Vance, ‘Rowland and the Poetics of Memory’, in Textual Strategies: Perspectives in Post-Structuralist Criticism, ed. J. V. Haran, Ithaca, New York, 1979, p. 382. 

28        E. S. Miller, ‘Yesterday’, May 1924, Historical Monuments of New South Wales, vol. I, RHSV.  

29        See ‘Obituary: Everard Studley Miller’. 

30        Information received from Mr Edward J. Miller, interview with the author, 16 June 1992.  

31        E. S. Miller, letter, Miller Papers, vol. II, 1934, pp. 26–7. 

32        ibid.  

33       ‘£170,000 Art Bequest in Vic’, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 September 1956, p. 1. 

34        E. S. Miller, ‘Excavations in Egypt’ [undated letter to the Editor of the Argus, Melbourne (unpublished)], Miller Papers, vol. II. 

35        At the British Museum, Miller also viewed the George Salting Collection. Salting (1835–1909) was born in Sydney and acquired a fortune as a pastoralist in Australia, yet his considerable art collection, formed abroad, was bequeathed to English institutions (see Cox, p. 426). In his letters Miller did not comment in detail on Salting’s bequest, yet he noticed it was ‘one of the most prominent portions of the whole collection’.  

36        E. S. Miller, letter, 1929, Miller Papers, vol. II, p. 39. 

37        The Medici Society in London began producing prints in 1906 by the collotype process, thereby following after the Arundel Society, whose hand-drawn lithographic prints had catered for an earlier generation of collectors. Named after the famous Florentine family, the Medici Society aimed at perfect colour reproductions of paintings from the principal galleries and museums of Europe and the United States. Works were chosen for their artistic value and beauty. The National Gallery of Victoria avidly collected Medici Society prints between 1910 and 1930. Art in Australia, vol. 1, no. 1, 1916, n.p., advertises Melville & Mullen of Collins Street, Melbourne, as the sole Australian agent distributing Medici Society prints and other Society items.  

38        G. Vasari, Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects, trans. G. du C. de Vere, 10 vols, London, 1912–14. 

39        Inventory, Everard Studley Miller Probate Papers.  

40        Vasari, pp. xlviii–xlix. 

41        ibid., p. lix. 

42        Inventory, Everard Studley Miller Probate Papers.  

43        A. M. Hind, A History of Engraving and Etching: Prom the 15th Century to the Year 1914, London, 1923, p. 140. In this chapter, Hind discusses engraved and etched portrait work from 1600 to 1750 by French, Flemish, German, Dutch and English artists. 

44        Hind, p. vi.  

45        Howard Spensley was born in Melbourne and resided in Bedfordshire, England. He bequeathed his art collection, valued in 1939 at £10 000, to the National Art Collection Fund, which transferred the legacy to the Government of Victoria with £2000 for the ‘transport arrangements or maintenance of the collection, the cost of shipping, insurance, cataloguing, show cases and so forth’. The Victorian Government passed the bequest over to the National Gallery of Victoria. See Cox, p. 161. 

46        See Lindsay, p. 71.  

47        Information received from Mr Hubert Miller and Mr Edward J. Miller. Mr Hubert Miller has in his possession a picture by Lindsay, signed to Lady Miller. Another of Lindsay’s pictures. The Findon Hunt, exhibited at the Royal Academy, London, was used as a cover illustration for a Christmas edition of the English publication Sporting and Dramatic News (not sighted). The Findon Harriers Hunt Club was started at the ‘private preserve of the Miller family’ and was named in 1898 after ‘Findon’, the twelve-hectare Kew property of Henry Miller, established in 1871 (see ‘Historic Homes’, Age, Melbourne, 1 July 1933, p. 5). 

48        See Hoff, ‘The Everard Studley Miller Bequest’, p. 158.     

49        ibid. 

50        ibid.  

51        See Lindsay, p. 43. 

52        ibid., p. 83.  

53        The intention underlying this definition was to enable the major English landscape painters of the nineteenth century – J. M. W. Turner and John Constable – to sit comfortably within the old master category. 

54        Lindsay’s submission was approved by the Gallery Trustees and the Felton Bequests’ Committee. For the text of the submission, see Lindsay, pp. 83–91.  

55        Lindsay, p. 87.

56       ibid., pp. 64–6.  

57        U. Hoff, Catalogue of European Paintings before Eighteen Hundred, Melbourne, 1961, p. 3. Dr Hoff’s reclassification was made with a view to overcoming the awkwardness of the existing definition, while at the same time designating the historical period generally associated with the dawning of modernity (information received from Dr Ursula Hoff, interview with the author, 9 June 1992). 

58        Lindsay, p. 90.  

59        ibid., p. 67. 

60        ‘Artbursts’, p. 21. 

 61       Archibald’s portrait prize was to be awarded to a work ‘preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in Art, Letters, Science or Politics, painted by an artist resident in Australasia during the 12 months preceding the date fixed by the Trustees for sending in the pictures’. 

62        Lindsay, p. 66.  

63        ibid., p. 83. 

64        ibid., p. 19. Felton’s will also stipulated that an equal portion of the income from his estate would be expended on charities.