The Collingridge Family
Arthur Oscar Collingridge was born on May 10 1853 in Kentishtown, London, youngest of five children of William and Louisa Collingridge. The Collingridges had been a long-established Catholic county family from Godington in Oxfordshire, but in 1853 William and Louisa moved to Paris so that their children could receive the advantages of a French education.
Charles, the eldest of the children, joined the church. Alfred, the second son, was a Jesuit novice in 1866 when the Italian patriot Garibaldi laid siege to the Papal States around Rome. Alfred left his studies to enlist as a Papal Zouave in the Papal Army and died in 1867 from wounds received in battle. The third son, George, also served as a Papal Zouave.
In the early 1870s both George and Arthur worked as wood-engravers in Paris and London. In Paris, Arthur worked for Le Monde Illustre and L'Illustration and was associated with the illustrator Daniel Vierge. In London he worked for the Illustrated London News and the Graphic.
Arthur married in 1873 and in 1877 emigrated to New South Wales with his wife Margaret and their three young children. George joined him in 1879.
Arthur and his family settled at Ryde, living first in a house opposite St Charles' Church on the corner of Providence Road, before buying an allotment of the Shepherd estate in Victoria Road below the Ryde police station. Here Arthur built a house which he called St Cloud, named after the place on the outskirts of Paris where he had met and worked with the artist Vierge.
The eldest of the Collingridge brothers, Charles, emigrated to South Australia in the late 1870s and in 1886 Arthur's widowed mother, Louisa, and his sister Mary, joined the family in Australia. They lived for a time in the old stone cottage that is now no.310 Victoria Road Gladesville.
Following her mother's death in 1893, Mary opened a boarding and day school for young ladies called "Villa des Roses" in Alexandra Street Hunters Hill. The prospectus for this academy announced that the course of instruction comprised all the branches of a sound English education with "special advantages in music, drawing, painting and Parisian French".
Engraver, Painter, Teacher
After arriving in Sydney, Arthur Collingridge became a staff artist for the Illustrated Sydney News and a contributor to the Town and Country Journal and the Sydney Mail. George Collingridge also worked for these papers and in 1881 the Illustrated Sydney News published the first picture of the Jenolan Caves, an engraving by George Collingridge based on a drawing by Arthur.
In 1880 the brothers played a key role in the formation of the Art Society of New South Wales. Both were regular exhibitors and sometimes prize winners at the Society's exhibitions. In 1888 the brothers produced three issues of a journal called Australian Art.
Arthur Collingridge also worked closely with the artist Charles Henry Hunt, sharing a studio with him in Hunter Street. They collaborated in establishing the Centennial Magazine.
Arthur was an art teacher at various technical colleges as well as having many private pupils. He was a trustee of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. His work is represented in that gallery and in other collections. One of his best known works, an oil painting entitled "Departure of the troops for the Soudan", is in the collection of the Australian War Memorial. The Ervin Gallery holds an 1890 oil painting entitled "Man O'War Steps, Bennelong Point".
Arthur died on April 28 1907 at his home in Ryde and was buried in the Field of Mars cemetery. One Sydney newspaper observed that his death removed from the cultural life of Sydney "a man universally beloved and of striking personality".
Arthur Collingridge designed two works of public sculpture. The first, in 1888, was for a statue of Joseph for the St Joseph's Investment and Building Society premises in Elizabeth Street Sydney. He used his brother George as a model for this sculpture which is now lost.
Photo: Queen Victoria Jubilee Fountain, intersection of Church and Glebe Streets, Ryde. Around 1900.
His second design was in 1897 for a fountain in Ryde to mark Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. In 1897, the Australian colonies enthusiastically celebrated this jubilee, the 60th anniversary of the Queen's accession to the throne, a "record reign". It was as a member of the committee formed in Ryde to organise local celebrations that Arthur Collingridge put forward a proposal for a drinking fountain. The most notable feature of his design was its incorporation of a profile of the Queen within the pedestal of the fountain.
The contractors for the work were the well-known Sydney firm of Loveridge and Hudson. The fountain was erected at the intersection of Church and Glebe Street (now Victoria Road) and was unveiled by the Governor of New South Wales on October 30 1897. The Cumberland Argus & Fruitgrowers' Advocate reported that it was "not only an ornament to the district but a most useful convenience." On top of the fountain was "a handsome globe fitted with the latest improved incandescent gas burner and surmounted by a beautifully designed and gilded crown."
Collingridge's profile of Queen Victoria on the pedestal was judged "most excellent" and presumed to be "the only one of its kind in the colony, if not in the world." The fountain, minus its gas burner, is now located at the intersection of Victoria Road and Blaxland Road, Ryde.
Written by Megan Martin, former Local Studies Librarian, Ryde Library & Information Services, April 1997. Biographical information provided courtesy of Winsome and Richard Collingridge.
These photos are provided courtesy of Ryde Library Services, and can be found on the Library Catalogue.