Lieutenant General Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers Lieutenant General Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers 14 April 1827–4 May 1900 By Hermione Waterfield This is a brief history of an important collection formed by a remarkable man. It was dispersed in two parts: the first part in his lifetime by himself, the second by his grandson and his common-law wife. Augustus Henry Lane Fox was born in 1827. As the second son of a country gentleman who enjoyed racing and hunting, and who was himself a second son, he was not rich, and his prospects were not promising. His father died when Augustus (or Fox as he was generally called) was only five, leaving the estate to his elder brother. His mother later moved to London, taking the thirteen-year-old Fox with her. In 1841 he entered the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, and in 1845 he was commissioned a Lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards. Portrait of Lt. General Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers painted by Fred Beaumont, 1897. Courtesy of Anthony L. F. Pitt-Rivers In 1854 Fox was sent with the third battalion of the Grenadier Guards to supervise their rifle training in Malta, thence to Istanbul, Bulgaria, and finally Crimea, where he took part in the battle of Alma. It was his only experience of combat, of which he was immensely proud, for in October of that year he was declared unfit for service and sent back to England. Indeed, Fox always suffered from diabetes and a bronchial condition—in later life his doctor advised him to grow a beard to protect his throat. The ill-health that was to hound him all his life must have been frustrating for a man whom the army noted was zealous and hardworking, and no doubt contributed to his reputation for a bad temper. It was probably the Great Exhibition of the Works of Art of All Nations in Hyde Park in 1851 that stimulated the inquisitive mind of young Fox. In a publication on locks and keys (1883), he admitted to collecting such items as early as 1850. In a book review, his great-grandson Michael wrote: “Pitt Rivers started collecting common types of objects from the primitive and the prehistoric past in 1852,” and “He was a man with a mission in life: to unveil the laws of cultural evolution. He saw the facts of human remains as a continuous process of growth and decay, and just as Darwin applied these two component elements to his theory of continuity in nature, Pitt Rivers applied them to the material arts.” Addressing members of the Anthropological Institute in Bethnal Green at the opening of his exhibitions there in 1874, Fox said: “[it] has been collected during upwards of twenty years … solely with a view to instruction. For this purpose, ordinary and typical specimens, rather than rare objects, have been selected and arranged in sequence, so as to trace, as far as practicable, the succession of ideas by which the minds of men in a primitive condition of culture have progressed from the simple to the complex.” The collection was kept in his London houses until he was posted to Guildford in 1873, when he arranged to loan most of it to the Bethnal Green extension of the South Kensington Museum (now the Victoria and Albert). Fox organized the layout for his first exhibitions there and wrote the catalogue which was to be published in four parts. The first part was on skulls, the second on weapons, the third on navigation and “the arts of savage and early races,” and the fourth on prehistory, but only the first two parts were printed. By 18 October 1878, the collection was transferred to South Kensington, and Richard Thompson was appointed Assistant Director. The displays included prehistoric material from all over Europe, and the General (as he had by now become, although still Lane Fox) had strong ideas about how it should be shown. The ledgers reflect the growing amount of material consigned to the museum, which must have increasingly exasperated the staff who handled it. The following year was an important one for the General. He unexpectedly inherited the estates of his cousin, Horace, 6th Lord Rivers, son of his great-uncle the 2nd Baron, whose older brother and five nephews had all died within a couple of decades of each other. A Royal License was issued on 4 June 1880 so that he—and, subsequently, his eldest son—might add Pitt Rivers to his existing surname of Lane Fox, as stipulated in the will. With the name came the revenue from 27,000 acres of land in Dorset, Wiltshire, and Hampshire. In May 1881 he moved to palatial premises at 4 Grosvenor Gardens, near Victoria Station. The General was now rich and could afford to retire from the army completely—this he did in 1882 with the honorary rank of Lieutenant General. In his new state of affluence, the General wrote to Thompson of his intention to extend his ethnographical collections, which would now require more space. He offered to pay the costs of a curator if the Council on Education acceded to his demands. A view of the billiard room at Rushmore House, Dorset, with a figure, perhaps the Sainsbury artist Waldo Johnson, circa 1890. Courtesy Anthony L. F. Pitt-Rivers In 1881, the General installed himself at Rushmore, a large Victorian house near Tollard Royal, Dorset, amid a vast estate that split over into Hampshire and Wiltshire. A former Rivers with educational intentions had converted a farmhouse into a school for gypsy children. The General now rebuilt it to use as his museum, first called the Gypsy Museum, often referred to as the Peasant Museum, but finally just as The Museum, Farnham. It would appear to be the General who entered the first pages of the nine existing ledgers of his acquisitions. The first entries are inconsistent, with measurements or other information often omitted. The first sketch is of the foot of a Roman casket in the form of a winged figure and is the only piece to be depicted on the third page. A knife is drawn on the following page, but there are four undecorated pages before a flint from the collection of Mr. Henriques is found on page 8. The rather-tentative ink drawings embellished with coloured washes appear to indicate the General at work, but later there appear to be several hands, and soon the competence and number of illustrations points to several assistants. In Volume 3 (1891–1896), the illustrations become more elaborate and greater space is given to each entry. The writing is more consistent, probably that of his secretary, Harold St. George Gray, who had enrolled as boy clerk in 1888. Mr. E.B. Savage’s collection of New Guinea artefacts, acquired on 20 October 1894, was meticulously recorded and beautifully drawn. W.D. Webster appeared in August 1895, at Oxford House, Bicester, from whom the General acquired a large Papuan Gulf mask, a shield, two skulls, a Solomon Islands parrying shield, a Yoruba bowl, and a Siamese musical instrument. Sir Arthur Gordon made further presentations (the first being in 1882) of Fijian artefacts in Volume 4 (1896–1897). A view of the Pacific Room, Pitt-Rivers Museum, Farnham, Dorset. Courtesy of Anthony L. F. Pitt-Rivers The General died after years of ill health on 4 May 1900. His eldest son, Alexander Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers, inherited the estates on his father’s death in 1900. No member of his family shared the General’s interests in his museum or excavations. At Alexander’s death in 1927, the estates passed to his only son, George Henry. George had joined the army in 1910 and was wounded in 1914, after which he left with his wife, the actress Rachael Foster, and their two sons, Michael and Julian, for Australia to be aide de camp to his father-in-law, the Governor-General, Lord Foster. Being a forthright and outspoken character, he was not a success as a diplomat, so the posting was terminated, but not before George had developed an interest in the impact of civilization on primitive peoples. He was a member of the Polynesian Society to whose Journal he contributed “A Visit to a Maori Village, Being some Observations of the Passing of the Maori Race and Decay of Maori Culture” (1924, Vol. 33:48–65). In the article he described how he was saddened by the way in which the Maoris were taught English history rather than their own. Whilst in the southern hemisphere he worked for a year on Aua Island, north of New Guinea, before returning to England. He was admitted to Worcester College, Oxford, where he gained a bachelor of science degree on the grounds of his work: The Clash of Culture and the Contact of Races: an Anthropological and Psychological Study of the Laws of Racial Adaptability, with Specific Reference to the Depopulation of the Pacific and the Government of Subject Races (1927). He was offered the position of Assistant Professor at the University of California at Berkeley but was unable to take up the appointment because he was expected to manage the considerable estates he had inherited on his father’s death. Portrait of Captain George Pitt-Rivers aged about forty-five. Courtesy of Anthony L. F. Pitt-Rivers George—or the Captain as he was normally referred to—formed the Wessex Agricultural Defense Association in Dorset and stood as a member of Parliament. An outspoken fascist, he sympathized with Hitler, whose ideas based on eugenics were the aspect of anthropology that interested the Captain (rather than the material culture so dear to his grandfather). He was imprisoned as a suspected enemy sympathizer when war was declared, but later released as a harmless eccentric on condition he did not go within ten miles of the Dorset coast. The Captain was notoriously bad-tempered and the staff at Sotheby’s fled at his appearance in the salerooms. Others, like Michael Thompson, remember him as a genial and generous host. The Captain, who admired his grandfather but not his father, was interested in the museum, which he reorganized with the help of L.H. Dudley Buxton and renovated at considerable expense. The amount of the repairs was enormous, so in 1932 Captain Pitt-Rivers began to seek means of recouping his losses. By April 1933, it was reported that Captain Pitt-Rivers was prepared to sell the entire collection to Bournemouth Corporation. He was dissuaded from this course of action, and he announced his intention to sell off some items in order to maintain the rest of the collection at Farnham. The museum was still open after the Second World War, with Major Joyce as the curator. The Captain again tried to interest the government in taking it over for the nation but found the conditions of an endowment of £600,000 with no participation in the organization unacceptable. He sold an important bronze head and a rare ivory mask, both from Benin, to raise funds—having casts made to replace them on display. Other Benin items found their way into collections abroad through the dealers John Hewett and Kenelm Digby-Jones. The museum was virtually closed in 1962 as George became increasingly ill and disillusioned with this section of his inheritance, which by now he regarded as an unwelcome encumbrance. It was not finally closed until his death in 1966 (on the death of Major Joyce, visits were arranged through his redoubtable wife). The Captain had divorced Rachel and married again to have a third son, Anthony, in 1932. This marriage also failed and there was a further separation, but no divorce. He was disenchanted with his two older sons (Anthony was still a boy), but relied on Stella Howson-Clive, who came to live with him until his death (she changed her name to Pitt-Rivers by deed poll). Before he died the Captain set up a secret trust for the contents of the museum of which Stella was apparently the sole beneficiary. Putzel Hunt, John Hewett, Peter Wilson, and Kenelm Digby-Jones had helped him sell various items, either privately or through Sotheby’s in 1965 and 1966, and continued to assist Stella in a similar manner. On the Captain’s death his son Michael had offered to buy the contents of the museum from Stella—which included much else besides the ethnographical and archaeological items—when she was prepared to part with them. He was understandably furious when he discovered, in 1972, that sales had taken place and others were planned. He thought of suing Stella, but Lord Goodman advised him against such action. Kenelm Digby-Jones and Professor Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn helped to place the finds of the General’s excavations in the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, but the remainder was sold mostly at auction at Sotheby’s between 1970 and 1977, and after Stella’s death, at Christie’s in 1990 and 1991. The nine accession ledgers that were kept by the General from 1881 until his death in 1900 are now in the University Library in Cambridge. Bibliography BLACKWOOD, B. “The Origin and Development of the Pitt Rivers Museum.” Occasional Papers on Technology, 11, Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, 1974. BOWDEN, Mark. Pitt Rivers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991. CHAPMAN, W. C. “Lane Fox Pitt Rivers.” Unpublished thesis. Oxford University, 1981. PETCH, Alison. “Man As He Was and Man As He Is.” Journal of the History of Collections 10, 1 (1998): 75–85. PITT-RIVERS, Michael. “Cultural General.” Books and Bookman 22, 9 issue 261 (June 1977). THOMPSON, Michael and Renfrew, Colin. “The Catalogues of the Pitt-Rivers Museum, Farnham, Dorset.” Antiquity 73, 280 (June 1999): 377–393. THOMPSON, M. W. General Pitt-Rivers: Evolution and Archaeology in the Nineteenth Century. Bradford-on-Avon: Moonraker Press, 1977. Works by Lt. General. A. H. L. F. PITT RIVERS concerning ethnographical art. A full list of his publications may be found in Bowden 1991. “Primitive warfare, part 1.” Journal of the Royal United Services Institution 11: 612–645, 1867. “Primitive warfare, part 2.” Journal of the Royal United Services Institution 12: 399–439, 1869. “Primitive warfare, part 3.” Journal of the Royal United Services Institution 13: 509–539, 1869. “Note on the use of the New Zealand mere.” Journal of the Ethnological Society of London 2: 106–109, 1870. “Address to the Department of Anthropology.” Report of the British Association for the Advancement of Science for 1872: 157–174, 1872. “On the principles of classification adopted in the arrangement of his anthropological collection, now exhibited in the Bethnal Green Museum.” Journal of the Anthropological Institute 4: 293–308, 1874. LANE FOX, Colonel A. Catalogue of the Anthropological Collection Lent by Colonel Lane Fox for Exhibition in the Bethnal Green Branch of the South Kensington Museum June 1874. London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1874. “On Early Modes of Navigation.” Journal of the Anthropological Institute 4: 399–435, 1874. “On the evolution of culture.” Proceedings of the Royal Institute of Great Britain 7: 496–514, 1875. “On measurements taken of the officers and men of the 2nd. Royal Surrey Militia according to the general instructions drawn up by the Anthropometric Committee of the British Association.” Journal of the Anthropological Institute 6: 443–457, 1877. “Observations on Mr. Man’s collection of Andamanese and Nicobarese objects.” Journal of the Anthropological Institute 7: 434–451, 1878. “Anniversary Address to the Anthropological Institute as President.”, Journal of the Anthropological Institute 11: 488–508, 1882. “On the Egyptian Boomerang and its Affinities.” Journal of the Anthropological Institute 12: 454–463, 1883. On the Development and Distribution of Primitive Locks and Keys; Illustrated by Specimens in the Pitt-Rivers Collection, Chatto and Windus, London, 1883. “Remarks on the paper ‘On the structure and affinities of the composite bow’ by Henry Balfour M. A.” Journal of the Anthropological Institute 19: 246–250, 1889. A Short Guide to the Larmer Grounds, Rushmore; King John’s House; the Museum at Farnham; and Neighbourhood, privately printed, 1899. Works of Art from Benin, West Africa, privately printed, 1900. G. M. PITT-RIVERS, “Visit to a Maori village.” Journal of the Polynesian Society 33: 48–65, 1924. “An appreciation of Elsdon Best.” Journal of the Polynesian Society 41: 9–10, 1932. Acknowledgements Peter Saunders, Andrew Deathe, and Martin Wright of the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum; Anthony Pitt-Rivers, Michael Thompson.