John Mcewen com­ments on Lt J. R. D. Mcewen

Country Life Every Week - - My Favourite Painting Lord Hesketh -

Jim MCEWEN’S mu­si­cal fa­ther, pa­tron of com­poser Charles Vil­liers stan­ford, owned two coun­try es­tates. Jim was to have Bardrochat in Carrick. Jim’s upbringing was strongly reli­gious and mu­si­cal. He loved coun­try sports and won Eton’s draw­ing prize at 15. when, out of the blue, the First world war came, first-born Jock cut short his Cam­bridge ed­u­ca­tion to en­list. He got leave for the Glo­ri­ous Twelfth and, in his mem­oir of Jim, he wrote: ‘it was then the two boys and their fa­ther were able to take to the hill… for the last time to­gether.’

Jim had gone up to Cam­bridge days be­fore the Dec­la­ra­tion. He was just 18, so there was min­i­mal pres­sure on him to vol­un­teer; even Jock urged him not to. Most days that Au­gust, he took gun and sand­wiches and walked the moor alone, not so much to bag a grouse as to drink deep of what Robert Louis steven­son called the ‘hills of home’. in septem­ber, he joined the Royal scots Fusiliers.

Philip de Lás­zló, favourite por­traitist of Con­ti­nen­tal roy­alty and no­bil­ity, set­tled in Lon­don from 1907 and filled the va­cancy left by sar­gent’s vol­un­tary re­tire­ment. Dur­ing the First world war, he found a lu­cra­tive mar­ket in half-length por­traits of young of­fi­cers. Jim, still 18, was on a ‘blighty’ af­ter neuve Chapelle. He was killed on the somme the fol­low­ing year.

This was the only de Lás­zló cho­sen by Ger­vase Jack­son-stops for his land­mark 1985 ex­hi­bi­tion ‘The Trea­sure Houses of Bri­tain’.

Por­trait and mem­oir haunt my fam­ily to the present. Of Jim’s great-great-nieces, Eleanor ded­i­cated her school pro­duc­tion of Jour­ney’s End to his mem­ory and Ma­bel planted a cross where he died near Ba­paume.

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