Maurice and Edward Detmold

Edward Julius Detmold
by Charles Maurice Detmold
NPG 3037

Past display archive 
March - September 2007

Room 29 wallcase


Two of the most intriguing drawings in the Gallery's Victorian collections are those, probably drawn of each other, of the artist brothers Maurice and Edward Detmold. The twin brothers were born on 21 November 1883 and were raised by their uncle as orphans in Hampstead. From the age of five both boys showed an interest in drawing animals at London zoo and spent six months studying drawing at the Hampstead Conservatoire. Precociously talented, they first exhibited at the Royal Academy at the age of thirteen, attracting the attention of Edward Burne-Jones.

Experiments in colour printing led to a number of publications including Pictures from Birdland in 1899 and an illustrated edition of Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book in 1903. They also held an exhibition at the Fine Art Society in 1900 and turned to stained glass design. Although they produced prints separately, their works are almost indistinguishable and they continued to collaborate. 'They seemed as one soul divided between two bodies', a contemporary remarked. On 9 April 1908 Maurice committed suicide by inhaling chloroform. Edward continued to work but, in the 1930s, withdrew into obscurity and also took his own life in 1957.

These two portraits are the subject of current research as part of the Gallery's major project to catalogue its later Victorian portraits, supported by The Getty Foundation and The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.

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