The Dent Du Midi Sketched in 1895... lost... then found


This charcoal sketch was found in the wash house of my childhood home, wedged between sheets of wood and glass. It had clearly been discarded and forgotten decades ago, and we have no idea how it did not suffer from damp or mould out there.

The wash house did not survive. When my dad pulled the ivy from the walls, the walls came down with it. But the picture did. Framed and cherished, it now hangs in my parents' new home.

My childhood home was a Georgian farmhouse that had put on airs and graces as posher residences sprung-up around it. Located in Abbey Road, Grimsby, it was quite the time capsule, with owner after owner barely maintaining it. This picture was our greatest find.

The location of the sketch is given as The Dent Du Midi, from St Maurice. The artists is Mabel Chard and she has dated the picture 1895.

St Maurice is a little town in Switzerland, squeezed into a narrow pass in the Rhone valley, south of Lake Geneva. Somewhere I'd like to go.

I wonder what the street looks like now? No goats I suspect, and the Swiss version of Health & Safety will have knocked the romance out of it.

As for Mabel Chard, I suspect she lived in my old home through Victoria's reign and this sketch was completed in St Maurice on her Grand Tour. I hope she rests in peace knowing it has a safe home after all those years in the wash house, and is now enjoying a flutter of fame on the Internet.

If you know anything else about this sketch, St Maurice or Ms Chard, please let me know with a comment or through my Twitter page. Thank you.


UPDATE 1: My sister Louise has just emailed added her recollections

"Dad remembers a shirt box behind the boiler to Dr Chard so think her and a this doctor lived there I think I found them when I did research into who had lived in our house at Grimsbyy library (who have records of ownership / occupation) and map showing the house as a stand alone farm house on a "turnpike" road into town."

UDPATE 2: Christine Farmer has located a Mabel Chard born in Louth in 1880, the daughter of a solicitor's clerk who went on to marry John Gilbert Jones. Louth is about 12 miles from Grimsby so the date and location all fit. This Mabel would be 15 when this sketch was completed. As talent can be well developed by that age, I would say this could be the same woman. Christine has kindly contacted Mabel's descendents, now living in South Africa, to see if they can shed more light and confirm if this Mabel is my Mabel. I will update the blog again should any new information come in.


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