A. C. Michael

Arthur Cadwgan Michael was born in Swansea in 1881, the youngest child of hotel proprietor Ben Michael and his wife Laurina Louisa (née Birt). His middle name is spelled ‘Cadwgan’ on his birth certificate, and his family have confirmed his preference for that spelling, although he signed his name as ‘Cadogan’ in the register for his first marriage.

In France?

I haven’t found Michael in the 1901 Census. Appelbaum[1] suggested that he could be the Arthur Michael (or Michaël) whose illustrations appeared in the French magazines L’Assiette au Beurre and Cocorico around the period 1899 to 1901, though he couldn’t be sure. Since the information in the magazines is so sparse, it is difficult to call it one way or the other.

Top: Cocorico, No. 21, 5 November 1899; L’Assiette au Beurre, No. 20, 1901. Bottom: Marriage certificate, 1905; signed copy of An Artist in Spain, 1915.

The signature on the marriage certificate is more stilted, as he wasn’t writing his middle name on other occasions, but for my money the other signatures are close enough to suggest that these are all the same person.

Back in England

Certainly he had moved to London a few years later, because he married the young widow Constance Rosling in Herne Hill in 1905.

In 1906 he showed “Riots in Moscow” in the black and white room at the Summer Exhibition of the Royal Academy.

In 1908 he illustrated H. G. Wells’s “The War in the Air” for The Pall Mall Magazine. After the serial had finished, his illustrations were used in the book published by George Bell & Sons.

In 1909 he provided the frontispieces for at least three issues of the illustrated weekly paper Black and White. In February it was “A Skating Carnival at Olympia,” and a sketch of the final act of the play “An Englishman’s Home.” In July 1909 the Western Chronicle reported that the frontispiece of the summer edition was drawn by Michael, showing the King opening the Victoria and Albert Museum.

He was working regularly for the Illustrated London News from about 1910 to at least the early 1920s, as well as providing work for other periodicals like The Pall Mall and The Strand Magazine. He also illustrated plenty of books, some of which are listed below.

Most of his work during this period was credited to “A. C. Michael”, with just his earliest work appearing as by “Arthur C. Michael.”

In the Papers

The relative anonymity offered by his use of “A. C.” must have come as some comfort in 1912 when his full name hit the newspapers for all the wrong reasons.

In 1910 Constance sued for divorce and was granted a decree nisi on 14 June 1911. On the very same day, a Herbert Owen was granted a decree nisi for his divorce from Dora Mary Owen, claiming that she had “committed misconduct” with Arthur Cadogan Michael. The King’s Proctor took a look at these two divorces, did some digging, and alleged that Herbert had also committed misconduct with Constance. In the court case, in March 1912, both decrees nisi were rescinded because the two men had exchanged wives.

So, rather awkwardly, two marriages has broken down, but in neither case could a divorce be granted. Herbert and Dora Mary had three children; Arthur and Constance had none.

Herbert and Dora’s children were adopted by his sister Louise, who was private secretary to Alfred Harmsworth, Lord Northcliffe. Herbert continued living in Carshalton, Surrey. I have no idea what became of Constance.

On 6 August 1915, Arthur left for Spain on the ship Frisia; accompanying him was his “wife,” Dora Mary Michael.

In Spain

By this time, Michael was very familiar with Spain, having travelled extensively with an unnamed companion in 1912 and 1913, painting and writing a travelogue which was published by Hodder & Stoughton in 1914 as An Artist in Spain.

In Guernsey

By the mid-1930s, Michael was living in Guernsey, married to Dorothy (née Moorhouse). During this decade he produced at least two posters for the railway companies LNER and LMS; “Edinburgh” and “The Broads.”

Shortly after the Germans invaded Guernsey and the other Channel Islands in June 1940, Dorothy’s son, Lieutenant Desmond Mulholland, landed on Guernsey as part of an ill-fated covert fact-finding mission. He had to give himself up after a few weeks and was transported to a camp in Germany. Two years later, Dorothy and Arthur were also taken to Germany to see out the rest of the war in a camp as neither of them had been born on the island.[2]

After the war, Dorothy and Arthur returned to Guernsey, where he continued to paint. Guernsey Museums have some of his work. He died in 1965, just six days after his 84th birthday.

Works

Here is an incomplete list of works that Michael illustrated, mostly culled from second-hand book sites.

Gallery

I find these images from Michael’s “An Artist in Spain” irresistible, especially the portraits.

El Pase por Alto
Segovia Cathedral
Workers in the Fields, Province of Segovia
Village in Soria
Old Houses, Almazán, Soria
Ox Waggons on Road to Madrid
En Route for the Bull-Fight
The Alcántara, Toledo
The Gardens of Aranjuez
A Shepherd of La Mancha
Argamasilla de Alba–La Mancha
The Court of the Orange Trees, Córdoba
A Corner of Sevilla
The Alhambra at Sunset
The Court of the Myrtles–Alhambra
The Gardens of the Generalife
A Grenadine Gipsy
The Generalife
The Siesta
The Torres Bermejas
Night in Murcia
La Calle de la Acéquia, Murcia
The Goatherd, Murcia
‘Abuelito’
Tarragona Cathedral
Montserrat at Dawn

Footnotes

  1. Stanley Appelbaum, “French Satirical Drawings from ‘L’Assiette au Beurre’” (Dover, 1978)
  2. Many more fascinating details are contained in Peter Jesson’s “No News from Guernsey: The Diary of Lieutenant Desmond Mulholland, M.C.” (Peacock Press, 2014).
  3. Most of Michael’s illustrations for Haggard stories are to be found at Kate Holterhoff’s “VisualHaggard.org