In the days before photo-copying, one might transcribe by hand an article in the newspaper – in order to send it then to someone else. Fortunately for us, this is what Irene, Margaret’s sister (or perhaps it was her brother Harry, as it does look like his handwriting), seems to have done (see pic below) concerning a review of a little local exhibition held by Marga and a friend; otherwise the text might never have been easily found again.
The review comes from the Shrewsbury Chronicle of December 1905, at a time when Marga was twenty-three, and only just four years into her time at Birmingham Art School.
In it, the reporter praises Margaret’s efforts in plaster reliefs and stained-glass panels.
The review is useful in research terms, in that it mentions her Goblin Market panel, so giving us a rough date for it.
However – Marga did two panels, both called Goblin Market.
One is a square panel showing just the goblins (now in New York), while the other, a larger piece now owned by the Rope Family Trust (see pic above), has a pride of place at the Margaret Rope 2016 Retrospective Exhibition. It is an intriguing matter to think which version the reviewer is referring to.
Presumably, the reference to “full-length portrait of a lady drawing a bow” was about a design/cartoon for a window, probably done as a student exercise. It could possibly be describing a preliminary attempt at her Welle Of Love panel (which is now in Los Angeles). Maybe.
The review inadvertently brings up a puzzle for researchers trying to work out Marga’s family history. It mentions a portrait in plaster of Dr Edward Burd – Marga’s grandfather. This is the man who left nothing in his will to Margaret and her mother because they both had converted (in 1901) to Catholicism – a religion he seems to have had an anathema for.
However, it seems the granddaughter and grandfather are still on good enough terms for him to sit for her…! … this is both counter-intuitive and very interesting…
And (– it’s fascinating how many clues are in this small item! –) the reviewer places the exhibition at Talbot Chambers (in central Shrewsbury, where Margaret briefly rented a studio) saying that it is a joint one with a ‘Miss Evelyn Pears of Church Stretton’.
Well, we know nothing of Miss Pears (yet!) but it’s a fact that a stained-glass panel by Marga did turn up many years later – in a quite unexplained way – in a house in Church Stretton.
Could Miss Pears have acquired this particular glass panel from Marga and then left it at a house in her home town? Obviously, this is pure speculation – but it’s an interesting place to start…
Much of Margaret’s life – both in Shrewsbury and later in London – is simply not known, and this absence of facts leads one to speculation.
But we’d prefer facts… If you feel that you can contribute any facts – no matter how slight! Just email us…
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