- Aimee Mortill’s will. I had assumed she had died intestate but, thanks to a tip from a reader, I now have a copy. The poignant, handwritten document makes very clear that Aimee wanted her considerable estate to go to her four children, with her daughter receiving a larger share than her brothers, and for her husband William Mortill to get nothing. How William thwarted her wishes remains a mystery
- evidence that Lydia Mortill was a ballet dancer. Again, thanks to a reader, I discovered newspaper advertisements for her dancing in Adelaide in 1918. Once she even performed in front of Dame Nellie Melba who later would become her peer as a fellow member of the Lyceum Club, and a business associate of William Mortill
- there are large number of newspaper articles about the Mortills which are easily accessible online through the National Library’s wonderful newspaper digitisation project. Go to:http://newspapers.nla.gov.au/ and search Mortill. You will be rewarded with dozens or articles and many photographs
But, frustratingly, still no clues as to the whereabouts of the lost painting.
May 10, 2010: After I was on Macca’s program on May 2 (“Australia All Over” ABC radio) I was contacted by many people who wanted to follow up on various things I had talked about. One of these contacts was an email from a woman in country Victoria who said she had a portrait: of a young girl who looked like the madonna. She thought it could be the missing portrait of my mother.
My heart was in my mouth while I waited for her to photograph it and email me the picture (Oh how quick these things are today!). I had a good feeling about this. I spoke to the woman on the phone and she said she had bought the picture at an auction. It could be it, I thought.
But after it arrived, I could see that it was not my mother. The hair was different, the eyes not the same. This portrait was probably painted in the late 19th or very early 20th century. It was not my mother.
But the portrait is out there somewhere, and I feel very encouraged by the interest that Macca’s program created.
May 16, 2010: After I went on Jon Faine’s The Conversation Hour in Melbourne on Friday (May 14) I was contacted by a man who is sure he has seen the missing painting in a gallery in Geelong. He told me he saw it last July or August, after he had read my book. The painting in the gallery looked just like my mother, he said, with the same colours, but the pose was different.
I am contacting the Gallery. Fingers crossed!
This was a red herring, sadly.
Apologies to everyone for the long gap in reporting on how the search is going. There are a few developments. First, the post below describes another lost painting, by Lydia Mortill. I can’t wait to see the image. It is a water colour of an interior at Tay Creggan. I will try to post the image when I receive it from Carmelo.
6 April, 2011 carmelo salvo wrote:
Dear Anne, well interesting times whether seredipidous, not sure, but I do believe that things and people are put in your life for a reason. My partner Scott and I went to sydney a few weeks ago and he bought your book mainly because of constance parkin as his surname is also parkin, though not related.
He read it and told me it was interesting and I would enjoy it as well. Well apart from constance’s paintings and your writing style which I am enjoying, but, when I read about Lydia Mortill I had this sudden realisation that I had a painting in Launceston Tasmania signed Mortill. When we got home I looked for the painting and found it. It was a watercolour of an interior with chair, dressing table and irises and signed L. Mortill how interesting, however on a more disappointing note, there was another watercolour painting of a turretted house with chimneys, high bushes and trees, also signed by L. Mortill, which i recognised as Tay Creggan (after seeing your phoyograph in your book) however, it was damaged by moths so I destroyed it. I bought them at a bric a brac shop in St Kilda some 25 years ago and I only destroyed the house last year as I did not frame it.
I recently visited Tay Creggan as a guest of Strathcona College, the girls’ school which uses the mansion as a year 9 campus. It was wonderful to see the building again and especially to be able to take some photos of the ballroom where Lydia held so many of her fabulous parties: