KETURAH COLLINGS (England, Somerset, Weston-super-Mare 1862-1948 / act: London)

Keturah Collings Keturah Collings was a noted artist and photographer. Keturah Collings was the married name of Keturah Anne Beedle, who was born in the first quarter of 1862 at Weston-super-Mare, Somerset. Keturah was the daughter of William Henry Beedle (ca. 1831-1907), an upholsterer and house furnisher, and his wife Eliza Williams (1833-1903). William Beedle's was a successful businessman. In 1881, William Beedle was employing nine men in his upholstery firm and was served by at least two servants at the family home, a large house called "The Elms" on Arundell Road in Weston Super Mare. In a local trade directory of 1889, William Henry Beedle is listed as a house furnisher, a furniture van proprietor with his own house removal business, a furniture appraiser, an upholsterer and an undertaker. W. H. Beedle was also a house & estate agent, with business premises in the High Street and in Regent Street, Weston-super-Mare. William Beedle's furniture warehouse and furniture storerooms were located in Great Alfred Street in Weston-super- Mare.

Keturah Anne Beedle was the eldest of five children. Her three brothers were Thomas William Beedle (b. 1865), who became a house agent for his father, Alfred James Beedle (b. ca. 1869), who followed his father's trade and eventually worked in Toxteth, Liverpool as a furniture dealer's buyer, and Leonard Edward Beedle (b. 1871), who later became a chemist and druggist in Stretford, Lancashire. Keturah's younger sister, Charlotte Ellen Beedle (b. 1866), went on to marry Clement Henry Reynolds, a bank cashier, in 1898.

In December 1887, Keturah married Arthur Albert Collings (1859-1936), a former bootmaker of Weston Super Mare. Both Keturah and Arthur had artistic talent and it is possible that they were brought together through their interest in art. The couple set up home in Brighton, Sussex. Arthur and Keturah's first home was at 59 Dyke Road, Brighton. In 1892, Keturah gave birth to their only son - Arthur Cyril Esmé Collings (b. 1892). By 1899, Keturah Collings was living with her husband and eight year old son at 13 Alexandra Villas, Albert Road, Brighton.

Presumably, Keturah Collings assisted her husband in his photographic portrait studios in Brighton and Hove in the late 1880s and early 1890s. Around 1905, Ms. Keturah Collings established her own fashionable photographic studio at 16 North Audley Street in West London. Keturah Collings' London studio was favoured by a number of European Royal Families. Her distinguished sitters included Albert, King of the Belgians (1875-1934), his wife Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965), Crown Prince Leopold of Belgium (1901-1983), Princess Marie-José of Belgium (1906-2001), Princess Victoria Louise of Prussia (1892- 1980), and Prince Hubertus Karl Wilhelm of Prussia (1909-1950). A number of Keturah Collings' portraits of members of the Prussian Imperial Family were issued as picture postcards in Germany by Gustav Liersch of Berlin before the outbreak of the First World War. Keturah Collings also photographed members of the British aristocracy, including Sir John Lubbock, Lord Avebury (1834-1913) and Pamela Genevieve Tennant, Lady Glenconner (1871-1928).

Keturah Collings, opened her studio at 16 North Audley Street around 1905 and is listed at this address in London trade directories until at least 1908. A few years later, Keturah Collings was living at 73 Park Street, near Grosvenor Square. By 1914, Keturah Collings had established a photographic studio at 7 Lower Seymour Street, W. London and she was listed as a photographer at this address in the Post Office London Directory published in 1915.There is evidence that by the end of 1915, Keturah Collings was working from her home address at 73 Park Street, London.

From 1913, around the time she closed her studio at 16 North Audley Street, Keturah Collings began to make a living as a portrait painter as well as a photographic artist. The Post Office London Directory of 1915 lists Keturah Collings as a professional photographer at 7 Lower Seymour Street, West London, but during and immediately after the First World War, Keturah painted small watercolour portraits of military officers. The people who commissioned portraits from Keturah Collings generally came from the upper strata of society.

Keturah Collings closed her photographic studio in North Audley Street around 1913. After this date, Keturah Collings applied her artistic talents to painting small portraits in watercolours. Surprisingly, there is evidence that Keturah Collings was still involved in portrait photography at the time of the Second World War. A studio portrait of Pilot Officer Bruce McAllister (1919-1942) of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, photographed by Keturah Collings of London, is held in the archives of North Invercargill Church, New Zealand. Keturah Collings died in the London Borough of Ealing in 1948, at the age of 86.

[Megakles Rogakos 12/2004]