Thomas Hunt (1854 – 1929)

In 1913 the artist Thomas Hunt donated to Glasgow Museums a painting, ‘Patchwork’, accession number 1325, by his late wife Helen Russell Salmon. This report contains biographical notes on both artists.

Thomas Hunt was born in Skipton, Yorkshire in 1854[1], the sixth child of ten,[2],[3] of John Hunt and his wife Betty (nee Wood) who married in 1848[4]. John’s main occupation was as a limestone merchant and canal carrier, and he had also been an inspector of tolls.[5] In 1877 he stood for election as a Liberal candidate in the South Ward of Leeds, duly winning by 34 votes.[6] He remained as a councillor until 1892 when he retired from politics.[7] He died in 1900, age 81, leaving an estate valued at £1034 7s 3d, probate being granted to his sons Richard and Henry.[8]

Thomas initially started out as commercial clerk[9] probably working for his father, however by the age of 21 he had become a full time artist having been inspired to do so after attending an International Art Exhibition in Leeds at the age of 15.[10] There is reference in a Scottish Art Dictionary to him studying in Paris under Raphael Collins, receiving an honorable mention at the Paris Salon in 1905, and that he attended the Glasgow School of Art and the Leeds equivalent.[11] However there is no record of him attending the Glasgow school [12] nor has any better source been identified which confirms his connection with the Leeds School or Paris. By 1879 he was living at 113 West Regent Street in Glasgow,[13] that address consisting of a number of offices, housing professional people such as architects, writers and accountants, and six artist studios, one of which he occupied.[14] In 1884 another studio at that address was occupied by the artist Helen Russell Salmon, whom he eventually married a few years later.[15]

Helen, born in 1855 in Glasgow,[16] was the daughter of the architect James Salmon, whose company James Salmon and Son, between 1862 and 1903, was involved with the building of a number of public and professional structures in Glasgow and elsewhere, including schools, churches, banks and hospitals. He first made his name with the building of St. Matthew’s Church in Bath Street and building, for Archibald McLennan, an art warehouse in Miller Street.[17] In 1854 Salmon was commissioned by Alexander Dennistoun to design the new east end suburb of Dennistoun, a design not fully realized,[18] where, by 1871 the Salmon family were resident at 3 Broompark Circus.[19] They were however unsuccessful participants in the competition for the City Chambers in George Square in 1880, and also for alterations to the Virginia Street side of the Trades House in 1882.[20] James was the co-founder of the Glasgow Architectural Society in 1858 and was a Baillie of Glasgow between 1864 and 1872. [21]His wife was Helen Russell whom he married in 1837 in Edinburgh.[22]

In the census of 1871 daughter Helen Russell Salmon is recorded as a scholar living in the family home.[23] In 1874 she is listed in the Glasgow School of Art student catalogue, during which year she won a local competition, ‘Stage 6b, figure shaded from flat, book prize.’[24] Where she was resident at that time is not listed in the school records however by 1881 she is living with her sister Margaret and her husband David Miller in Bridge of Allan and is described as an artist.[25] Her father, now a widower, her mother having died in January 1881,[26] continued to live at Broompark Circus with two of Helen’s siblings.[27] Her usual residence for the next few years is unclear, however from 1882 to 1883 she had a studio at 101 St Vincent before moving to 113 St Vincent Street in 1884, which address she painted from until 1888.[28] It’s quite possible that she also lived at these addresses at varying times however when she married Thomas Hunt on 27th October 1887, her usual residence was given as 3 Broompark Circus which is where her marriage took place.[29]

In 1891 Tom and Helen were living In Garelochhead,[30] where she died in August of that year having been ill with phthisis (tuberculosis) for two years.[31] In the 1891 census her occupation is not recorded which perhaps suggests she had ceased to paint some time before then due to her illness. ‘Patchwork’, which was painted in 1888,[32] and was exhibited at the Royal Glasgow Institutes of the Fine Arts in 1889[33] was one of her last works.

In a letter dated 29th January 1948 to John Fleming, Deputy Director of Kelvingrove Art Gallery, from Robert Lillie, founder of the Lillie Gallery in Milngavie,[34] the subject is identified as Miss Annie Elizabeth Nisbet, the adopted daughter of John Nisbet, church officer of St John’s Church in George Street, Glasgow, and his wife Agnes.[35] In the letter, which tells of her death, she is described as the ‘Belle of St John’s’. In 1900 she married Robert Arbuckle Mackie, her adoptive parents being deceased by then.[36] She died, aged 80 in January 1948.[37]

Figure 1 ‘Patchwork;’ Helen Russell Salmon 1888.     © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.(http://www.artuk.org)

Helen had 23 paintings exhibited by the Glasgow Institute between 1882 and 1891, the last of which were three in 1889, and two, ‘Madge’ and ‘Wallflowers’ which were completed at her home in Garelochhead, in 1891.[38]She also had her work exhibited by the Royal and Royal Scottish Academies between 1884 and 1890.[39]

In 1935 the Catalogue of the Pictures in the Glasgow Museums and Art Galleries, page 205, carried a short biography of Helen in which it stated she had trained in Paris. Also included were details of her painting ‘Patchwork’.[40]

In 1982 an exhibition in the Collins Exhibition Hall of Strathclyde University was held to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Glasgow society of Lady Artists. The catalogue of the exhibition, which also took place at the Fine Art Society premises in Edinburgh later that year, included in page 23 a black and white illustration of one of Helen’s paintings.[41]

Tom eventually moved back to Glasgow and by 1895 was living at 219 West George Street.[42] Between then and his death he stayed at various Glasgow addresses including Holland Street,[43] Bath Street,[44] and finally Hill Street in Garnethill.

He was elected a member of the Glasgow Art Club in 1879 became vice president in 1883 and was club president in 1906-1907.[45]

Figure 2 Tom Hunt drawn by Wat Miller of the Glasgow Art Club. Courtesy of the Glasgow Art Club

He exhibited at the club and elsewhere including the Burns Exhibition of 1896 in Glasgow where his paintings ‘A Winter’s Night’ and ‘Alloway Kirk’ were shown,[46] the annual RSW shows, and also several times from 1881 at the Royal Academy in London and the Royal Scottish Academy.[47] He also exhibited at the Royal Glasgow Institutes of the Fine Arts yearly between 1879 and 1929 with a total of 138 paintings being shown during this period, the last three of which were posthumous.

The prices of his paintings during these exhibitions were anywhere between £30 and £300.[48] His wife Helen’s were typically priced at under £30.[49]

He was elected a member of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour (RSW) in 1885[50] and was made an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy (ASRA) in 1929.[51]

He is represented in the museums of Sheffield, Leeds, Perth and Kinross, Paisley, Inverclyde, South Ayrshire and the Hunterian in Glasgow. There are three of his paintings in Glasgow Museums: ‘Corner of Hope Street and Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow’, gifted 1917, accession number 1444, ‘A Few Remarks’ gifted 1939, accession number 2124, and ‘November, Braes of Balquidder’ purchased 1914, accession number 1343.[52]

He died on the 13th March 1929 in the Glasgow Royal Infirmary of pneumonia, his usual residence being given as 156 Hill Street. His death was registered by E.E. Smith his niece from Leeds.[53] His estate was valued at £1889 12s 3d and on the 15th August his fellow artists Joseph Morris Henderson and Archibald Kay, were confirmed as his executors.[54]

Header image Courtesy of the Glasgow Art Club.

[1] Births (PR) England. Skipton, Yorkshire. 1st Qtr 1854. HUNT, Thomas. England & Wales Births 1837-2006 Transcriptions. www.findmypast.co.uk:

[2] Census. 1861 England. Leeds, Yorkshire. ED 9, Schedule 47, piece 3371, folio 51, page 10. www.ancestry.co.uk:

[3] Census. 1871 England. Leeds, Yorkshire. ED 9, Schedule 23, piece 4543, folio 6, page 5. www.ancestry.co.uk:

[4] Marriages (PR) England. Leeds, St Peter, Yorkshire. 29 August 1848. HUNT. John and WOOD, Betty. Collection: West Yorkshire, England, Marriages and Banns 1813-1935. www.ancestry.co.uk:

[5] Census. 1861 England. Leeds, Yorkshire. ED 9, Schedule 47, piece 3371, folio 51, page 10. www.ancestry.co.uk and Census. 1871 England. Leeds, Yorkshire. ED 9, Schedule 23, piece 4543, folio 6, page 5. www.ancestry.co.uk

[6] Leeds Mercury. (1877) Election Results. Leeds Mercury. 3 November 1877. Supplement p.1a. Collection: 19th Century British Newspapers. National Library of Scotland. www.find.galegroup.com.connect.nls.uk/bncn/publicationSearch.do:

[7] Leeds Times, (1892) Municipal Elections. Leeds Times. 22 October 1892. p.5f

[8] Testamentary Records. England.6 April 1900. HUNT, John. Principal Probate Registry, Calendar of the grants of probate. p.275. Collection: National Probate Calendar 1858-1966.www.ancestry.co.uk:

[9] Census. 1871 England. Leeds, Yorkshire. ED 9, Schedule 23, piece 4543, folio 6, page 5. www.ancestry.co.uk

[10] Eyre-Todd, George. (1909). Who’s Who in Glasgow 1909. Glasgow: Gowan and Grey. Collection: Glasgow Digital Library. http://gdl.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/eyrwho/:

[11] McEwan, Peter J M (1994). Dictionary of Scottish Art and Architecture. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors Club. Mitchell Library reference: f.709.411. MCE

[12] Grant, Jocelyn. (2015) Thomas Hunt and Helen Russell Salmon. E-mail to George Manzor, 30 November 2015. g.manzor@ntlworld.com:

[13] Billcliffe, Roger (1991). The Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts 1861-1998: A Dictionary of Exhibitors at the Annual Exhibitions. Vol. 2. Mitchell Library reference: f.709.411.074 Roy.

[14] Valuation Rolls. 1885. Scotland, Glasgow, West Regent Street, HUNT, Thomas. GROS Data VR102/335/171. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk:

[15] Billcliffe, Roger (1992). The Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts 1861-1998: A Dictionary of Exhibitors at the Annual Exhibitions. Vol. 4. Mitchell Library reference: f.709.411.074 Roy.

[16] Births (CR) Scotland. Central District, Glasgow. 17 October 1855. SALMON, Helen Russell GROS Data 644/01 1358. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk:

[17] Dictionary of Scottish Architects. http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/architect_full.php?id=200029

[18] Dennistoun Conservation Society. http://www.dennistounconservationsociety.org.uk/Page.asp?Title=History&Section=11&Page=11:

[19] Census 1871 Scotland. Springburn, Glasgow. GROS Data 644/02 100/00 022).

www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk:

[20] Dictionary of Scottish Architects. http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/architect_full.php?id=200029

[21] Ibid.

[22] Marriages (PR) Scotland. Edinburgh, Midlothian. 20 March 1837. SALMON, James and RUSSELL, Helen. GROS Data 685/01 0650 0219. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk:

[23] Census 1871 Scotland. Springburn, Glasgow. GROS Data 644/02 100/00 022).

www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[24] Grant, Jocelyn. (2015) Thomas Hunt and Helen Russell Salmon. E-mail to George Manzor, 30 November 2015. g.manzor@ntlworld.com

[25] Census 1881 Scotland. Logie, Bridge of Allan. GROS Data 374/00 003/00 001. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[26] Deaths (CR) Scotland. 19 January 1881. SALMON, Helen. GROS Data 644/03 0107.

www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[27] Census 1881 Scotland. Springburn, Glasgow. GROS Data 644/03 037/00 017.

www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[28] Billcliffe, Roger (1992). The Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts 1861-1998: A Dictionary of Exhibitors at the Annual Exhibitions. Vol. 4. Mitchell Library reference: f.709.411.074 Roy.

[29] Marriages (CR) Scotland. Dennistoun, Lanark. 27 October 1887. HUNT, Thomas and SALMON, Helen Russell. GROS Data 644/03 0383. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[30] Census 1891 Scotland. Row, Garelochhead. GROS Data 503/00 013/00 009.

www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[31] Deaths (CR) Scotland. 5 August 1891. HUNT, Helen Russell. GROS Data 503/00 0124.

www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[32] BBC My Paintings. http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/paintings/patchwork-85945

[33] Billcliffe, Roger (1992). The Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts 1861-1998: A Dictionary of Exhibitors at the Annual Exhibitions. Vol. 4. Mitchell Library reference: f.709.411.074 Roy.

[34] East Dunbartonshire Leisure + Culture. http://www.edlc.co.uk/arts/lillie_art_gallery.aspx:

[35] Lillie, Robert. (1948) Letter to John Fleming. 29 January. GMRC Archives and Object file.

[36] Marriages (CR) Scotland. Blythswood, Glasgow. 26 September 1900. MACKIE, Robert Arbuckle and Nisbet, Annie Elizabeth. GROS Data 644/07 0994. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[37] Deaths (CR) Scotland. Milton, Glasgow. 26 January 1948. MACKIE, Annie Elizabeth. GROS Data 644/10 0045. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[38] Billcliffe, Roger (1992). The Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts 1861-1998: A Dictionary of Exhibitors at the Annual Exhibitions. Vol. 4. Mitchell Library reference: f.709.411.074 Roy.

[39] McEwan, Peter J M (1994). Dictionary of Scottish Art and Architecture. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors Club. Mitchell Library reference: f.709.411. MCE

[40] GMRC Object File – Helen Russell Salmon.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Valuation Rolls. 1895. Scotland, Glasgow, West George Street, HUNT, Thomas. GROS Data VR102/463/167. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk:

[43] Census 1911 Scotland. Blythswood, Glasgow. GROS Data 644/11 033/00 031.

www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[44] Valuation Rolls. 1925. Scotland, Glasgow, Bath Street, HUNT, Thomas. GROS Data VR102/1368/274. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk:

[45] Macaskill. D.K. (2015) Glasgow Art Club Minute Books. E-mail to George Manzor, 26 June 2015. g.manzor@ntlworld.com:

[46] (1898) Memorial Catalogue of the Burns Exhibition 1896.  Glasgow: William Hodge & Co. and T & R Annan & Sons. https://archive.org/stream/cu31924029635798#page/n7/mode/2up:

[47] McEwan, Peter J M (1994). Dictionary of Scottish Art and Architecture. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors Club. Mitchell Library reference: f.709.411. MCE

[48] Billcliffe, Roger (1991). The Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts 1861-1998: A Dictionary of Exhibitors at the Annual Exhibitions. Vol. 2. Mitchell Library reference: f.709.411.074 Roy.

[49] Billcliffe, Roger (1992). The Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts 1861-1998: A Dictionary of Exhibitors at the Annual Exhibitions. Vol. 4. Mitchell Library reference: f.709.411.074 Roy.

[50] Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour. http://www.rsw.org.uk/pages/members_page.php?recordID=133:

[51] Billcliffe, Roger (1991). The Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts 1861-1998: A Dictionary of Exhibitors at the Annual Exhibitions. Vol. 2. Mitchell Library reference: f.709.411.074 Roy.

[52] BBC My Paintings. http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/artists/thomas-hunt:

[53] Deaths (CR) Scotland. Dennistoun, Glasgow. 13 March 1929. HUNT, Thomas GROS Data 644/04 0530. www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[54] Testamentary Records. Scotland. 15 August 1929. HUNT, Thomas. Scotland, National Probate Index (Calendar of Confirmations and Inventories), 1876-1939. . www.ancestry.co.uk

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