The Case of the Missing Paintings

Folks, I’m back. Not sure how long for, but hey, I’ll do my best while I’m around. I’m starting today with an odd request from an Australian sports historian, James Brear:

James asks

This is a long shot, but you never know. Can you help? I’m looking for three paintings, a portrait of Captain George Brunswick Smyth, Smyth with his horses and dogs, and a painting of his yacht. The works in question were left to Lady Rose Emily Maryon Wilson by her aunt Constantia Smyth, the widow of the captain. They were sent from Australia to Charlton House in 1900. I have tried many avenues but so far to no avail. Anything at all would be greatly appreciated.

Captain George Brunswick Smyth, I have learned, was an officer in charge of Port Philip military police in 1839 (which now means I know two things about Port Phillip – that it had a policeman called George Brunswick Smith and that it’s home to a colony of penguins…) and it is alleged that the area of Brunswick was named for him, though another theory is that it was named for splendid scarlet woman and jolly Greenwich resident Caroline of Brunswick.

Now, I’m assuming that James’s ‘many avenues’ have included Charlton House itself and various Charlton luminaries such as Carol Kenna of Charlton Parks Reminiscence Project and the Charlton Champion. Greenwich Council took over the house in 1925 but I assume the family kept the furniture and other fittings, especially things that have a personal (if distant) link like paintings.

I don’t know what became of the Maryon Wilsons – the baronetcy died out in the 1970s, if memory serves, but I think there are still family members around. I am sure someone will know. If I had the hours in the day it might be worth looking through the papers for 1925, the year of the sale and seeing if there was an auction, I guess.

George SMyth is not a household name in Britain, so frankly these paintings could be anywhere and possibly not even named. ‘Fraid Phantom Towers doesn’t have any pictures of 19th Century policemen, dogs, horses or yachts, but I’ll keep an eye out next time I’m at Greenwich Auctions…

It’s an odd one. I don’t know why James needs to find these paintings but I know there are Phantophiles out there who enjoy a treasure hunt, so I’m passing it on.


the attachments to this post:

Charlton House 1922
Charlton House 1922


4 Comments to “The Case of the Missing Paintings”

  1. Johnny says:

    Can’t help on the paintings sorry, but just to add to Brunswick thing- the Hanoverian kings were technically the Dukes or Electors of Brunswick-Lüneburg so it could also be named after the king.

  2. Mary says:

    - what became of the Maryon Wilsons?? You should have been at the Charlton Society AGM on Saturday where the family was represented by Viscount Gough (when I was first involved he used to be known as ‘Young Shane’. I am sure the Society have his address

  3. James Brear says:

    Thanks Mary but I have had an email back from Viscount Gough and he doesn’t know anything about the paintings. J.Stevens held a large auction at Charlton House in the 1920′s and the catalogue is amongst a large file on the Maryon Wilsons held by the London Metropolitan Archives. Sadly there are few individual details of the paintings sold.

  4. Jools says:

    The contents of Charlton House were sold at auction in 1920. I’m fairly sure there is a detailed printed catalogue of the sale in Greenwich Heritage Centre. So, well worth an email to the GHC; the answer may well be there.