29th July 1942: Sir Gurney Benham's Portrait

Went to the presentation of Sir Gurney Benham’s portrait at the Moot Hall this afternoon, wearing my best suit.  Poulter came along, but to the shame of the Museum, Hull never appeared, although he ought to have been on the platform.  There must have been about 250 people in the hall.  Hervey [Benham] came in with his sister Edna, smartly dressed and looking much younger than when I saw her last.  Sir Gurney and Lady Benham were on the platform, with Miss Elfreda Saunders, the Mayoress, A. Fisher, the Deputy Mayor, Maurice Codner the artist and some others.  Harold Turner played the organ for a time before the Mayor came in.  I have not heard it for years.

It appears that Maurice Codner at one time attended the Colchester Art School.  He is a man of quite 55, with a distinguished appearance.

The portrait is a good likeness, though it seems to me to lack depth of colour. 

You can see whether you agree with Rudsdale's assessment of the portrait by viewing it here on the BBC 'Your Paintings' website.

The portrait of Sir Gurney Benham was commissioned to mark his 50 years of service for Colchester's Council and arose from a suggestion made by Rudsdale and Poulter.  Both Rudsdale and Poulter contributed to the fund to commission the portrait as did many prominent Colcestrians at the time.  The painting now forms part of the collections of Colchester Museums Service.  CP


Barbara Critchley said...

It is still there, but not in the moot hall. It is in the grand jury room. It is in a style of the time and compares well to other portraits of the 1930s and 1940s. In the north committee room, nearby, are some fireplace surround tiles depicting Colchester's history created by Gurney Benham. Let's hope the current town hall organ appeal is successful in getting the organ back to tip=top condition, so it can be enjoyed again.

E J Rudsdale said...

Many thanks, Barbara - I'm glad to have your update on where the painting is located in the Town Hall today, 70 years later. It would be great if the organ can be renovated too - it's a wonderful feature of the Town Hall. CP