MR. MORTIMER MENPES, THE ARTIST.
TO THE EDITOR.
Sir—My attention has been directed to your account of the early career of Mr. Menpes, which appeared in the Evening Journal of July 29. The autobiography as a
whole is fairly faithful, yet there are two or three inaccuracies—slight discrepancies—in it that with your permission I will rectify. I am led to believe that Australia con- tains many thousands of patriotic colonists who are watching with the keenest interest every upward step taken by this risen artist in his ascent of the mount of fame, and the accounts appearing in the Press are not only read eagerly, but will, if unchallenged, be handed down as authentic reports. It is not correct that he was placed in drawing under Mr. J . L. Young's tuition, and at the next speech day carried off the first prize. From the principal of the Adelaide Educational In- stitution (Mr. Young) he received instruction in geometry, English literature, astronomy, chemistry, and. kindred subjects. Mr. Thomas Bennet, of Stepney, was his tutor in English, whilst the honour of being his instructor in arithmetic and writing is claimed by myself, but in freehand drawing he was taught by Mr. Wilton Hack, who was engaged by Mr. Young as drawing master on the retire- ment of Mr. Charles Hill from the same post. That was in 1868, and at the Christmas term of the same year, the second prize was awarded to Mortimer Menpes, the first being given to Abraham Barber for his sketch of an old unused water mill, in which is included a group of trees, whilst the water is represented as being turned out of its usual course over the wheel, and flows past the ivy-covered mill into a rippling pond below. The former, although gaining the second prize, does not suffer in comparison with the latter, and in con- sequence of the success of its author around it most interest is gathered. It is a sketch of two trees standing by a marsh, and was an easy subject to place in the hands of one so clever, but the teacher was evidently not then aware of the superior talent of his young pupil, whose age did not exceed 11 years. After the distribution of awards both these prize drawings were pre- sented to me by their respective prize winners, and at the shop of Mr. Clarke, the bookseller, Mortimer Menpes's first prize may be seen by those who would like to judge for themselves of the author's early skill. The drawing bears the date of 1868, and if the present age of the artist is only 29 its author was then only 9 years of age, but I believe he was a year or two older, if not it matters not, and so much greater is the credit due to him. Doubtless he was naturally clever, but it was his indomitable perseverance mainly which has placed him, after twenty years of close study, in the first rank. I have never forgotten his reply to me when asked how he was intending to spend the holidays—"I have invitations to go into the country, but I will stay at home (Wakefield-Street) and get on with the draw- ing." I am, Sir, & c., P. T. HILL. Town Hall, St. Peters, August 3.