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A Note on Percy Bigland's "Quaker Wedding" By Hannah Clothier Hull* THE oil painting known as "A Quaker Wedding, 1820" by Percy Bigland has become so familiar throughout Quakerdom that it seems fitting at this time to record facts with which history and the passing generation are acquainted but which might too easily be lost sight of over a period of years. The painting itself, finished in 1896, is of significant interest to all Friends because it portrays the solemnization of our precious historical testimony of the marriage ceremony that man and woman should in a meeting for worship exchange vows without the assistance of a minister or a priest. I was told by the artist himself that he had named the picture "In the Presence of the Lord," but during its exhibition in the Royal Academy in London it became familiarly known as "A Quaker Wedding," which name has become permanent by usage. The painting portrays the impressive moment when the bride and groom have risen, and the groom speaks the opening words of the marriage ceremony "In the fear of the Lord . . . ." On every face on the canvas is evident the intense interest of emotional sympathy. Besides the excellent portrayal of this spiritual experience, the painting interests Friends especially because of the number of truly fine portraits, taken from life, of well-known and so-called "weighty" Friends in attendance. Here it must be made clear, however, that it does not represent a marriage that actually occurred. The Friends who served as models did so upon the invitation of Percy Bigland. The "bride" in die picture is Kadiarine Pollard, afterwards Lady Robertson Nicol, the "groom," William Hanbury Aggs, brother-in-law of Percy Bigland. The other portraits may be identified by numbers in the following sketch. * Hannah Clothier Hull of Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, is the present owner of Percy Bigland's painting "The Quaker Wedding." 100 Notes and Documents101 The artist spent a period of two years in the study of the historical correctness of the costumes and accessories, which date from various periods. The scene is laid in the historic meetinghouse at Jordans, famous as the burying place of William Penn. Percy Bigland, the painter, learned his craft in the art schools of Munich. He painted portraits of many English notables of his time, including William E. Gladstone, Howard Lloyd, Chairman of Lloyd's Bank, and George Cadbury, the great Quaker industrialist and philanthropist. During his three visits to the United States, Percy Bigland made portraits of a number of American Friends, among them Isaac H. Clothier, Elizabeth Powell Bond, and William P. Bancroft. The "Quaker Wedding" is a large canvas, measuring 5' 6" ? 6' 6". It was first exhibited in the Royal Academy in London in 1896. My father, Isaac H. Clothier, became interested in it upon reading a description of it in Friends' periodicals, sent for a photograph of it, and soon bought it. Upon its arrival in this country, it was exhibited for some weeks in Philadelphia, then at Swarthmore College, before going to my father's home at Ballytore, Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. Here it hung until after the death of my parents. Since then it has been in my home in Swarthmore. Finally it will hang in the Board Room of Swarthmore College, in the college building named for my father. Meanwhile, Friends who wish to see it are always welcome in my home. 102 Bulletin of Friends Historical Association Key to "A Quaker Wedding, 1820" 1.Joseph Storrs Fry (1826-1913), partner in the well-known cocoa firm and Clerk of London Yearly Meeting lor fifteen years. 2.Joseph Bevan Braithwaite (1818-1905), English lawyer, writer, and beloved Friends minister, active in educational and missionary work. 3.David Scull (1836-1907), distinguished Philadelphia wool merchant, elder in the Society of Friends, and valued member of the boards of three Quaker schools, Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and William Perm Charter. 4.Edith Mary Hanbury Aggs Bigland (1863-1951), wife of the artist, leader in the cause of women's suffrage, moral and social hygiene, and criminal-law amendment; earnest supporter of the League of Nations; devoted and active member of the Society of Friends. 5...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1504
Print ISSN
0033-5053
Pages
pp. 100-102a
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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