‘Exhibition of Spirit Drawings in Watercolours at the New British Gallery by Miss Houghton through whose mediumship they have been executed.‘
May 22nd 1871 – 39 Old Bond Street, London
The exhibition consisted of 155 works from Houghton’s first tentative drawing created with the planchette in 1861 to her many mature works by hand up to 1871.
“I earnestly hope that some of the visitors to this gallery, who have leisure to devote themselves to it, will go home, and try to obtain this delightful gift, but they must bear in mind that extreme patience and perseverance are needed for all spiritual work. In my own case, the drawing power would appear to have come with very great rapidity, but they must remember that I had already been a medium for upwards of a year and a half, after having steadily striven for it during three months.
For the drawing phase I was also prepared by my own earthly training, having devoted the chief part of my life to that accomplishment, until Zilla’s death, in 1851, so crushed me, that I felt as if I should never again use pencil or brush. The Spirits say that when once the fact is acknowledged that they can work through a mortal hand, it is not really more surprising when they draw through a medium who has not learned than through one who has; they can of course better guide the trained hand, and make a more speedy progress if they are thus relieved from all the elementary part, which must be gone through, for no person can spring, at one bound, to a pinnacle of art perfection, any more than an acorn can in one season become a widely spreading oak.
I have numbered the drawings chronologically for a double purpose. In the first place the character of the work is so totally unlike all mortal experience, that the eye, even of an artist, will better appreciate the later ones by being led up to them by the gradual changes of style, and secondly, because the spiritual significance deepened in proportion with my own development. The early ones are but very faint shadows of what they are intended to represent, because my own spirit was still too much clogged with earthliness to grasp the hidden mysteries beyond the veil, or even to have them portrayed through my mediumship.” Georgiana Houghton – 20 Delamere Crescent, Westbourne Square – April 20th 1871.
This remarkable exhibition of spirit drawings was arranged nearly single-handedly by Georgiana. She hired the gallery, framed the works, wrote the catalogue and attended almost daily for its duration of several months. She borrowed from friends and family the works she had given them in order for the whole of her collection to be seen and was particularly interested in attracting artists in the hope of encouraging them to develop their own spiritualistic gifts. The loans were not for sale, but many of the remaining works were. Unfortunately, there was only one sale and the exhibition used all of the artist’s savings of £300. The reviews were mixed, but in agreement that the exhibition was like nothing seen before in Old Bond Street. Looking back today it is possible to reflect on what a remarkable feat it was for a woman and spiritualist of that time in Victorian England. It would not be for another 145 years until the Courtauld Gallery exhibition in 2016 that Georgiana would have another solo show in London.
Reviews of the Exhibition of Spirit Drawings at the New British Gallery, 1871 will be added soon.
The following chronological list of 155 works in this ground-breaking exhibition of spirit drawings was presented in an exhibition catalogue with introductory remarks by Houghton and explanations to the symbolism in her art.
Executed with a planchette in 1861: Study of Curves; A little more Design; Still more Design; Cecil’s Flower; Cecil’s Fruit; Zilla’s Flower (with pencils of two colours, left unfinished, as being satisfactory); Zilla’s Flower and Zilla’s Fruit – three in number, representing that she was a daughter, a wife and a mother.
Executed by hand: Warrand’s Flower; Warrand’s Fruit; Sidney’s Flower; Sidney’s Fruit; Flower of William Borer; Fruit of William Borer; Flower and Fruit of Henry Lenny; Flower of Zilla Rosalia Warren; Fruit of Zilla Rosalia Warren; Flower of Cecil Angelo Houghton; Fruit of Cecil Angelo Houghton; Flower of Warrand Houghton; Fruit of Warrand Houghton; Flower of Sidney Alexander Houghton; Fruit of Sidney Alexander Houghton; Flower of Helen Butler October 1861 (presently VSU Collection); Fruit of Helen Butler; Flower of William Harman Butler; Fruit of William Harman Butler; Plant of William Borer; Flower of Henry Lenny (inside view); Flower of John Neville Warren; Fruit of John Neville Warren; Plant of Zilla Rosalia Warren; Plant of John Neville Warren; Flower of William Shakespeare; Plant of Henry Lenny; Flower of H.R.H the late Prince Consort; Flower of Felix Mendelssohn Bartoldy; Flower of Bartolomeo Esteban Murillo; Flower of Susan Lenny; Flower of the two Babies; Flower of Samuel Warrand 1862 (presently VSU Collection).
The Sacred Symbolist drawings: The Holy Trinity November 1861 (presently VSU Collection); Wisdom, Truth, Love; The Eye of the Lord – Proverbs xv; The Eye of the God 1862 (presently VSU Collection); The Ear of the Lord; The Trinity in Unity; Plant of Cecil Angelo Houghton; Flowers of the Twelve Apostles; Plant of Warrand Houghton; The Hand of the Lord; Flower of George Houghton; Fruit of George Houghton; Flower of Alexander Warrand; Fruit of Alexander Warrand 1863 (presently VSU Collection); Flower of Mary Warrand; Fruit of Mary Warrand; Plant of Sidney Alexander Houghton 1863 (presently VSU Collection); The Strength of the Lord; The Glory of the Lord 1864 (presently VSU Collection); Flower of Mrs Cromwell Varley; Types of the Lord’s Loving Powers; The Loving Mercy of the Lord; Flower of H.R.H Victoria, Princess Royal of England, Crown Princess of Prussia; Flower of Franz Anton Mesmer; The Hollow of the Hand of the Lord; The Ascended Lord; Glory be to God 1864 (presently VSU Collection); The Power of the Lord; The Gems; God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost; The Apostles; The Love of God 1864 (presently VSU Collection); The Hand of God; Ministering Spirits; Flower of William Blake the artist; The Holy Spirit; The Gifts of the Spirit; The Gift of Inspiration; The Eye of Jehovah; The Eye of the Trinity; The Gate of Salvation; The Word; The Shield; The Might and Majesty of God; The Omnipresence of the Lord; God’s Love as now manifested; The Three Persons of the Trinity; The Light of the World; The Holy Spirit of Love; Religions; The Cup of Salvation and the Bread of Life; The Judgements of the Lord; The many Mercies of the Lord; The Agents of God’s Will; The chosen vessels of the Lord; The Lord Omnipotent Reigneth; The Out-pouring of the Holy Spirit; The Tenderness of the Lord; The Unveiling of the Heavens; The Lightnings shew forth the Power of the Lord 1865 (presently VSU Collection); The Third Dispensation; The Hand of the Holy Ghost; God’s True Church upon Earth; The Spirit of Peace; Rock of Ages; God’ s tender supervision over earthly hopes; Heavenly Hopes; The Well of Life; Heavenly Joy over the repentant; Christ, God and Man; The Panoply of Righteousness; The Heavenly Pathway; The Ark of Salvation; The Helmet of Faith and The Searcher of Hearts.
Introducing the Monogram and Crown series: V.R. Monogram of her Majesty the Queen; S.A.C.Monogram of H.R.H.the late Prince Consort, Albert of Saxe Coburg; Flower of William Stringer (presently CPS Collection); Flower of Catherine Stringer (presently CPS Collection); Mrs Ramsay’ s Flower, The Dawn is at Hand; Flower of Catherine Emily Stringer (presently CPS Collection); Motee’ s Flower; Flower of Rev. Samuel Rickards; Spiritual Crown of Miss Houghton; The Ever Present One; Flower of Archbishop Whately; Spiritual Crown of Mrs Oliphant (presently CPS Collection); Spiritual Crown of D.D.Home; Spiritual Crown of Mrs Spear; Spiritual Crown of Mrs A.A Watts, 1867 (presently private collection); Spiritual Crown of Miss Houghton; Four Crowns; Spiritual Crown of the Rev. Richard Chermside (presently CPS Collection); Spiritual Crowns of Her Majesty the Queen and H.R.H the late Prince Consort; The Perfect Love of God (commenced Xmas day 1867); The Eye of the Lord – Samuel xvi; The Eye of the Lord – Jeremiah xxxii; A.S Monogram of Anne Stringer (presently CPS Collection); W.T Monogram of William Tebb; G.H Monogram of Miss Houghton; C.V Monogram of Cromwell Varley; The Flower of Consolation; A Blossom from a Spirit Home; J.I Monogram of John Ingram (presently CPS Collection); S.G Monogram of Samuel Guppy – executed with pen and ink; E.C.G Monogram of Mrs Guppy; The Eye of the Lord – Job xxvii; The Eye of the Lord – Genesis xviii; The Eye of the Lord – S John xiv; The Eye of the Lord – Psalm ciii; The Eye of the Lord – Psalm xxxii; E.G Monogram of Mrs Guppy and The Eye of the Lord – James i.