TITLE 12 - The Collection

The Percy French Society has assembled an outstanding collection of some 90 Percy French watercolours and some 800 items of memorabilia (see Catalogue) all of which is cared for under formal agreement by the North Down Museum in Bangor.

Much of the Collection has been entrusted to the Society by members of the French family – mainly by his daughters the late Ettie and Joan French but also by his great niece the late Frances Killingley, his great nephew Courtney Kenny and by a number of other generous benefactors.

There are additional items purchased by the Society Itself. Through this archive of photographs, programmes, letters, engagement diaries, plays , song copies and press cuttings ` the life and times of Percy French can to a major extent be recalled in colourful detail as is shown so engagingly in Alan Tongue’s book ‘A Picture of Percy French’.

Amongst the Collection can be found the baby grand piano given by Percy French as a birthday present to his daughter Mollie who was a highly successful professional pianist in the London of the early years of the 20th century.

urlAlso included is a door from a house in Baldoyle, Co. Dublin where Percy French lodged after the death in 1890 of his first wife, Ettie Armytage Moore. French painted local landscape scenes on the panels of this door.

The Collection includes a painting by Richard C. Orpen entitled ‘Newlyn by Night”. Richard Caulfield Orpen, a talented artist in his own right, was a brother of one of Ireland’s and Great Britain’s greatest artists, Sir William Orpen. Richard was a Dublin friend of French who illustrated many of French’s tennis publications as well as The Jarvey, the comic weekly edited by Percy French 1888-90.

Much more recently (April 2012) the Society acquired for the Collection three original cartoon drawings by Richard C. Orpen from that period, one of which, ‘Portrush’, featured in The Jarvey issue of September 28, 1889 . Orpen had also played a major role in getting French’s career as a platform entertainer underway when together in 1892 they produced the satirical show ‘Dublin Up-to-Date’ at Dublin’s Ancient Concert Rooms.