|Thanks to the generosity of an important London museum, Mersea Museum acquired in 2018 two attractive new exhibits. These are two landscape paintings by the artist Lewis Taylor Gibb (1873-1945). Both are small oil paintings on canvas; one is titled "The River Stour near Dedham" the other simply "The Bend of the River". They were painted in 1925 and acquired by Leighton House Museum in 1926.
Little is known about the early life of Lewis Taylor Gibb. He was born in Kensington, London in 1873. He was the second son of Robert Blakey Gibb and Ellen Walker Gibb (née Taylor).
In 1881 the were family living at 11 Earls Court where Robert Gibb ran a drapery business employing two men and a woman. Robert Gibb now a widower had three sons Henry aged 10, Lewis aged 7, Arthur aged 5.
In 1891 Lewis Taylor Gibb now 17 years old is living as a boarder in the household of William Woodcock a draper's manager in Hampstead.
He is employed as a draper's assistant.
1902 Lewis Taylor Gibb marries Margaret Anne Robinson in Paddington. By 1905 they are living in 13 Church Street, Kensington.
The 1911 census shows Lewis and Margaret Gibb still living at 13 Church Street, Kensington. The household now includes their daughter Margery T Gibb aged 7 and son Hugh D Gibb age 0, along with two servants, Alice M Bye age 26 and Victoria A Woodward age 32.
Lewis Taylor Gibb's occupation is given as owner of general drapery establishment.
Lewis continued to run the company until shortly after the First World War when he began to work as a professional artist, mainly as a landscape painter. He quickly established himself as an artist of sufficient quality to be a regular exhibitor at the Royal Hibernian Academy until 1935. He also exhibited at the Royal Academy; at the Paris Salon, and many other leading venues.
The two Taylor Gibb pictures now at Mersea Museum are typical examples of the 1920s Art Deco style of painting. The use of strong, bright colour reflects the growing interest in modernism in British art and design at the time. The popularity of landscape as a subject to portray in this manner also shows an increasing awareness among the wider public to nature and the British countryside in general.
All this begs the question, why have these paintings ended up in Mersea.
It turns out that Lewis Taylor Gibb, having lived in Kensington for most of his life, moved to West Mersea with his entire family in 1929. He set up Holmcroft Studio in Grove Avenue and apparently found much inspiration for his work in the local area.
He had purchased Holm Croft in W Mersea in 1914 but the family had continued to reside in Kensington, probably at 13 Church Street, until 1929 when they moved to West Mersea once the house constructed at Holm Croft was completed.
Within a year of the family moving to West Mersea Lewis Taylor Gibb's wife Margaret died on 20th Dec 1930.
The 1939 register shows the occupants of Holm Croft as Lewis T Gibb, a widower and retired artist. Margery T Gibb, daughter, spinster and housekeeper. Hugh D Gibb, son, single and a bank clerk.
Also living with the family was an elderly woman Alice Robinson (probably a relation of Taylor Gibb's late wife).
Nancy P Meekings was a servant to the household.
Lewis T Gibb died 7th December 1945 at Holm Croft. Probate to Margery T Gibb, (still unmarried) and Hugh D Gibb.
Effects totalled £23,945 19s 9d.