Collection Online
Moonlight, Westminster
Medium
oil on canvas on composition board
Measurements
60.5 × 91.5 cm
Place/s of Execution
London, England
Inscription
inscribed in black paint l.l.: Henry Pether 1858
Accession Number
E1-1985
Department
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented through The Art Foundation of Victoria by Sir Thomas and Lady Travers, Governors, 1985
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
Gallery location
19th Century European Paintings Gallery
Level 2, NGV International
Provenance

Collection of the Hon. Archibald Michie (1813–99), Melbourne, by 1869, until 1899[1]; by whom lent to the exhibition of Works of Art, Ornamental and Decorative Art, Melbourne, March–May 1869, no. 322, as Moonlight, Westminster[2]; probably by descent, into the collection of Justice Thomas à Beckett (1836–1919) and Isabella à Beckett (neé Michie), Armadale, from 1899–1919[3]; by descent to his daughter Lady Edith Eliza (Edie) Harrison Moore (1872–1974, neé à Beckett), wife of Sir William Harrison Moore KBE CMG (1867–1935), Toorak, until her death in 1974; by descent into the collection her nephew, Thomas à Beckett Travers (1902–99), from 1935 (and that of his second wife Lady Mercy Alicia ‘Tone’ Travers), Melbourne, until 1985[4]; by whom donated to the NGV, February, 1985.

[1] Michie most probably purchased this for himself directly from the artist, while abroad acting for the Commission for Fine Arts in Victoria. When Michie died in 1899, a sale of his collection was held by the auctioneers Gemmell, Tuckett & Co., on 8 December 1899. While the catalogue for this cannot be located, commentary from the The Age suggested that sale comprised predominantly watercolours and that the few paintings that were included were of lesser quality. No mention is made of the Pether, suggesting that it remained with the family. See ‘Sale of paintings’, The Age, Melbourne, Friday 8 December 1899, p. 7, accessed http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article188653904

[2] Numerous articles from 1869, including the one cited here, provide a description of this painting: “A moonlight on the Thames, by Pether, is another delightful picture. The view is taken from Millbank, slightly above Lambeth Palace and church, which are seen on the opposite side of the river. The Houses are in session in the palace of Westminster, and the old bridge supported by crutches is visible in the distance”. ‘The exhibition of Fine Arts’, The Age, Melbourne, Tuesday 30 March 1869, p. 2, accessed http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article177004657 and copied in The Leader, 3 April 1869, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196483610. See also Catalogue of the works of art: ornamental and decorative art exhibited by the Trustees of the Melbourne Public Library and Museum in March April and May 1869, printed for the Trustees of the Public Library by Mason, Firth & Co., Melbourne, 1869, accessed http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/107196

[3] In 1864 à Beckett married Isabella, daughter of the Hon. Archibald Michie, Agent-General for the Commissioners of Fine Arts in Victoria. See R. G. De B. Griffith, 'à Beckett, Sir Thomas (1836–1919)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/a-beckett-sir-thomas-2860/text4073

[4] Dr Travers, leading ophthalmologist, married firstly Dorothy Allenby Hanlon (d. 1964), although the couple divorced during the early 1950s. By 1963 he was married to Mercy Alicia, who survived him when he died in 1999. He was awarded Knight bachelor in the New Years’ Day Honours list, January 1972, for services to medicine.



Exhibited: Works of Art, Ornamental and Decorative Art exhibition, Melbourne, March–May 1869, no. 322, as Moonlight, Westminster, lent by Hon. Archibald Michie

Henry Pether came from a family of artists whose degree of specialisation led to them being called the "Moonlight Pethers". This painting would have been something of a novelty when it was made as the prominent clock tower of the London's Palace of Westminster was only completed in 1859, the year Pether made this work. Pether also chose to give greater prominence to large Victoria Tower as opposed to focusing on Big Ben.