At first, everything went well. They adored each other, William was eminent and financially successful and
seemed content with the part that she had chosen. Ada
In spite of the ceaseless pregnancies they were a sociable couple, doing the rounds of the exhibitions, varnishing days and receptions in the great studio-salons. And always before the opening of the Academy Summer Exhibition, they gave their own reception at
No. 22 Campden Hill Square.
The babies became little children, cared for by nurses.
had many friends, painters and sculptors. Albert Moore RA and Henry, his brother the sea painter who strapped himself to a mast to paint his pictures and then fell off a knifeboard bus in Ada and was killed. John Millais ARA lived next door and Great-Aunt Johnson was still alive. London
"Uncle John " - "their favourite uncle on their mother's side."
"John Millais ARA"
"Palette scraping by Henry Moore RA.")
For the many years of his Scottish period, William travelled up to the north to paint the
Highlandcattle. With a bonnet on his head and a heather coloured plaid wrapped round him he sat out, day after day, painting the shaggy wide-horned animals against the misty backgrounds of their moors and mountains.
Always when the holiday season came and the great pack-up was finished, a London passenger omnibus was hired and loaded with trunks, packing cases, bundles and baskets, children, servants, parents and animals pulled off heavily for the station. There, the immense cargo was unloaded onto a train and reloaded at the other end onto farm wagons. After that, always in the dullest of dull places chosen solely for the quality and density of the bovine population, the family settled down to several months of boredom while, equipped with easel, canvasses, paint-box, umbrella, mosquito net and camp stool, William sat out contently all day with the cows.
"Boredom must have sent
out to the cows as well.") Ada
Then, after many busy, hopeful years, something very curious and disquieting was noted. Fewer pictures were being bought and the galleries seemed less excited by the work of William Luker. And the critics seemed almost a little weary of the portraits of cows and Highland cattle while the innumerable representations of Burnham Beeches with every leaf and blade of grass so accurately observed, seemed all of a sudden, positively boring.
The canvasses piled up against the studio walls, William grew irritable, his wife looked worried. Economies in the household expenditure had to be devised - and they filled the house with lodgers. And then to really deadly blow came. After an unbroken record of acceptance - he was rejected by the
. Rejected when he should have been elected an Academician. Royal Academy
After that, day after day, he sat huddled before his easel working over the same subjects and cursing the world for its stupidity, wickedness and ingratitude. It was jealousy, favouritism, the cliques he said, and the bad taste of the public. The causes of his downfall lay everywhere but in himself. The truth was that after the first fine dashiness of youth his work had not developed and so it had declined.
He stopped going out and refused to see his friends and loyally, his wife did the same and they sank into a state of depression from which they never wholly emerged.
"William & Ada.")
Three of the boys were taken away from their private schools and sent to the local Board School or into dead-end little office jobs alleviated by practical joking and before long, sex and seduction. Noel, the youngest was a virtual libertine. And the hunt for rich wives followed.
William (Willie) the eldest, whom they adored and believed would be the greatest painter of his time, was allowed to stay at home and paint. He made the cook pregnant and when his mother discovered that he had secretly married the mother's help and was living with her in the house, she fell screaming to the floor.
Later, after being set up with a house, he abandoned his wife and children and came home, and then tried to seduce his sister, Louie.
Amy was sent away to be brought up by the musical aunts. She became a music teacher and went to a
in Church School where, having a weak malleable nature, she attached herself to the headmistress and became her shadow and her slave. Cornwall
When the governess left, Louie's education ended. After years of drift, when she enrolled herself at the
, they took her away and sent her to the local High School as an art teacher. She was 27 before she was awarded a three-year scholarship for the South Kensington Art School - and she was able to escape. Herkomer Art School
"The Luker brothers.")
Louie met all her brothers again when she returned from abroad - except Willie whom she avoided. Noel, the libertine, joined the Navy when war broke out, became Captain of a mine-sweeper and came out a hero. Then, unable find a job - he entered the Church.
"A broken-down degenerate family"
, Amy, Louie, William, Harry, Frank." Ada
"Painted by Louie aged 16"
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