Katharine Maltwood (1878-1961) was commissioned to draw a map outlining the adventures of the Knights of King Arthur and the Holy Grail, a subject made popular in the Victorian era by the Pre-Raphaelites.
The University of Victoria owns a terrific collection of fine, decorative and applied arts that was the bequest from the sculptor and antiquarian, Katharine Maltwood. Included are oriental ceramics, costumes, rugs, seventeenth century English furniture and Canadian paintings amongst many other objets d'art. The collection was formed by Katharine and her husband, John, as they collected over their long and happy marriage that saw them travelling around the world. As well, many of Katharine's wonderful sculptures, carved from marble, may be found in the collection.
Katharine Sapsworth was born into a comfortable upper middle class family in England in 1878. She showed an early talent for art and her parents encouraged her interest. Katharine enrolled at the Slade School of Fine Art in London from 1896-97, studying with George Frampton and she finished her formal training with visits to Paris and Italy. In 1901 she married John Maltwood, her childhood sweetheart. The Maltwoods shared a profound interest in the Arts and Crafts Movement and in Theosophy. Indeed, most of Katharine's sculptures reflect her interest in the latter. John was a highly successful businessman and he retired as the managing director of Oxo Ltd. in 1921.
The Maltwoods moved to Victoria after the war to pursue their interests. They purchased a large home that had been built as an English Hall house and had served as a bed and breakfast until the outbreak of war. The huge manor can still be visited as it now serves as the Fireside Grill. Many years ago, I had the good fortune of living in the house for a month when it was being run as the Maltwood Art Gallery by the University of Victoria. There were nights when I was sure that the ghost of Katharine was floating around the beautiful things that she and John had treasured. Her poem to John reveals her commitment to beauty:
"Beauty in Living"
"How delightful it is to feel bourne upon one's soul the divine law of Harmony, which is neither more nor less than Beauty. Whatever subject you find me taking up will be to help in the study of that, the greatest of all sciences."
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!