CLARENCE BICKNELL (1842-1918)
This list of dates helps the reader situate Clarence's life (in black) alongside other world and local events (in green)
- 1838 Queen Victoria crowned 28 June 1838 The first photograph taken, by Louis Daguerre in France and William Henry Fox-Talbot in Britain.
Clarence's father Elhanan began to buy the works of art which were to form one of the great Victorian collections.
- 1842 Clarence Bicknell was born 27th October at Herne Hill near London
- 1848 Dante Gabriel Rossetti, English poet, illustrator, painter and translator founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood with William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais
- 1850 Clarence's mother Lucinda Sarah, née Browne, died
- 1851 The Great Exhibition opened at Crystal Palace
- 1852 Napoléon III, beginning of the Second Empire
- 1855 Giovanni Ruffini (1807-1881), librettist for Donizetti's Don Pasquale, published a novel - in English - called Doctor Antonio, set in Bordighera and which it painted in seductive terms
- 1860 Edward Whymper starts his ten years of mountaineering which culminated in his book Scrambles in the Alps
Nice and the Comté de Nice, which were part of Piedmont and ruled from Turin by the kings of Sardinia of the House of Savoy, became part of France. A slice of land which includes Tende and the Vallee des Merveilles stayed in Italy until 1947 (see below)
- 1861 Clarence went up to Trinity College, Cambridge, for the Michaelmas Term (mid-September), to read mathematics.
Clarence’s father Elhanan Bicknell died on 27 Nov.
Proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy.
Dr. James Henry Bennet publishes what became Winter and Spring on the Shores of the Mediterranean which promoted Menton and the Riviera to Americans in multiple editions up to 1875.
- 1862 Bordighera first appears in guide books.
- 1863 The great sale by auction of Elhanan Bicknell’s art collection "Painted for Mr. Bicknell" at Christies in London.
The railway from Paris reaches Cannes
- 1864 British botanist J.T. Moggridge published Flora of Neighbouring Menton in London, a book which influenced Clarence
- 1865 Clarence graduated from Cambridge University with a B.A. (Bachelor of Arts). He got his M.A. (Master of Arts) as a result, in 1873. He took orders in the Church of England.
- 1866 Clarence was ordained as a deacon in the Church of England and was appointed Curate of St. Paul, Walworth, Surrey. He was there till 1872
Edith Wharton, American writer, falls in love with the Riviera as a child aged 4. She lived in Hyères from 1918 till her death in 1937.
- 1867 Sir Thomas Hanbury settled in La Mortola and created the Hanbury Gardens 12 kms to the West on the Franco-Italian border.
- 1868 Clarence graduated to become a priest, still at Walworth in London.
- 1869 Opening of the Suez Canal. Luisa May Alcott, American writer, publishes Little Women, set partly on the Promenade des Anglais at Nice. Mark Twain publishes Innnocents Abroad which features travel on the Mediterranean coast.
- 1870 Proclamation of France's Troisième République. Rome replaces Florence as the capital city of Italy.
- 1872 Clarence finishes hs term at St Paul, Walworth. The railway reaches Bordighera.
- 1873 Clarence appointed as a clergyman to St. Peter’s Church, Stoke-on-Tern, Market Drayton, Shropshire. Some sources give his start date here as 1875. He stayed in Stoke-on-Tern till 1878 or 1881
- 1876 Clarence began to have serious religious doubts, and decided to see the world.
Charles Lowe, shipping magnate from Rowde, Wiltshire, retires from business aged 48 and settles at the Casa Rossa in Bordighera. He became a local benefactor and gave the land for the Bordighera Lawn Tennis Club. Read more
- 1877 The world's first recording of the human voice, by Thomas Edison
- 1878 Clarence, aged thirty six, first arrived in Bordighera on 2nd October, on the Italian Riviera, as chaplain to the Anglican Church.
Monet paints “Bordighère”
- 1879 Clarence spent his first winter in Bordighera but returned to Stoke-upon-Tern on 7th June. He returned to Bordighera sometime in the autumn of 1879 and lived there the rest of his life.
Scottish writer George MacDonald (1824-1905) settled in Bordighera. He spent 20 years and produced half his books here. His home the Casa Coraggio became a literary studio and the site of play readings and community events. His son Robert Falconer MacDonald was an architect and designed Clarence's Casa Fontanalba 25 years later.
- 1881 Clarence first visited the Vallée des Merveilles, early in June, on the west side of Mont Bego, and sketched in Tarragena.
The son of Clarence's sister Ada, Edward Elhanan Berry, came to Bordighera as manager of a bank, as Thomas Cooke's agent, and later as British vice-consul.
St. Peter’s Church, Stoke-on-Tern, records Clarence’s departure, even though from other accounts he had been in Bordighera on and off since October 1878, three years before.
Tsar Alexander II assassinated.
- 1882 Clarences: sketches in Luzern. Clarence’s cousin Phiz (Charles Dickens’ illustrator) died in Hove, Sussex
Queen Victoria of England visits the Riviera.
James Gordon Bennett Jr., the most eccentric American to live on the Riveira and owner of the New York Herald and the Paris Herald, first mentioned in the local press. He brought giant motor yachts to Villefranche-sur-Mer and built a villa at Beaulieu.
- 1883 Clarence decided on the site in Via Romana, Bordighera, for the museum which still carries his name
Clarences: sketches in Florence and Pisa
3 kilometre road tunnel at the Colle di Tende, first under the Alps, opened.
- 1884 Clarence had completed over a thousand botanical drawings
Claude Monet (1840-1926) painted Portrait of an English Painter, Bordighera (the subject now thought to be Arthur Alfred Burrington - 1856-1924) and Les Villas de Bordighera. Le peintre français Claude Monet a effectué un séjour à Bordighera entre janvier et avril 1884 : "Je suis installé dans un pays féérique" écrit-il à son ami le critique Théodore Duret. "Il faudrait une palette de diamants et de pierreries."
- 1885 Clarence made his second visit to the Vallée des Merveilles and sketched about 50 rock engravings. He spent the night at La Minière. This is the date at which Clarence’s interest was first captivated by the mysterious marks on the rock.
Clarence’s oeuvre Flowering Plants and Ferns of the Riviera and Neighbouring Mountains published
Sketches in Florence, November
- 1885 Charles Gordon is killed at Khartoum
- 1886 German inventor Karl Benz invented the first modern motor car
- 1887 Severe earthquake in Italy; Clarence helps poorer residents in and around Bordighera.
Ludovic Lazarus Zamenhof (1859-1917), an ophthalmologist in Warsaw, publishes the first textbook in Esperanto, the planned language he had invented over a series of years.
- 1888 Museo Bicknell opened. Clarence: Sketches in Vernante (nr Cuneo), 20th August
- 1889 Clarence tours Italy and Egypt ending early 1890.
Opening of the Eiffel Tower at the Universal Exhibition of Paris.
Alice, Duchess of Richelieu, née Heine, born New orleans 1857, married Prince Albert of Monaco. Alice was the muse for Princess de Luxembourg in Marcel Proust's A la Recherche du Temps Perdu
- 1892 Swiss botanist Emile Burnat (1828-1920), described by Reginald Farrer in 1911 as ‘the greatest authority on the flora of the Maritime Alps’, publishes the first volume of his monumental Flore des Alpes Maritimes.
Rudolf Diesel patents the diesel engine.
Queen Victoria takes a holiday in Menton
- 1893 Clarence excursion notebooks listing flower species
- 1895 21-year-old Guglielmo Marconi invents the radio telegraph
- 1896 Clarence’s "Flora of Bordighera and San Remo" (unillustrated hand-list) published
- 1897 Clarence visited Vallée des Merveilles and Val Fontanalba. Rented the house of M Pellegrino at Val Casterino for the summer for the first time. Started rubbings of the engravings. Clarence reports to the Society of Antiquarians of London (published in its proceedings) and read a paper to the Societa Ligusticà in Genoa. Clarence joins the Esperanto movement. Edward Berry (Clarence's nephew) and Margaret Serocold were married.
Queen Victoria came down from Cimiez to Nice to visit her son the Prince of Wales whose yacht was moored between James Gordon Bennett Jr. and Ogden Goelet, both of whom she met.
- 1898 Clarence visited Vallée des Merveilles and Val Fontanalba for three weeks in August. 538 rubbings from 12 trips and about 100 photographs.
- 1899 Clarence visited the Balearic Islands, as recorded in the list of contributors to the Herbarium at Kew Gardens. He sent seeds of Pimpinella bicknellii, a species endemic to Majorca which was discovered by Bicknell.
- 1901 Clarence visited Vallée des Merveilles and Val Fontanalba, staying in M. Pellegrino’s house in Casterino again, and concentrating on the Val Fontanalba.
Queen Victoria died. Her son, Edward VII, became King
- 1902 Clarence visited Vallée des Merveilles and Val Fontanalba. First substantive report on the rock engravings in “A Guide to the Prehistoric Rock Engravings in the Italian Maritime Alps” first edition 1902, last edition 1913.
End of the Boer War
- 1903 M Pellegrino had sold his house and Clarence was not able to spend any summers at Casterino until the Casa Fontanalba had been constructed in 1906.
Professor Artur Issel publishes his prehistory of Liguria.
First manually controlled, fixed wing, motorized aircraft takes place in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina by Orville and Wilbur Wright.
- 1904 Edward and Margaret Berry laid the foundation stone of the Villa Monte Verde. The Entente Cordiale (a series of agreements between Great Britain and France, including the alliance against Germany that fought the First World War) was signed on 8th April. Start of the Russo-Japanese War when more than 100,000 died in the largest world battles of that era. The Russian revolution is raging against the Tsarist regime with dire results.
- 1905 Clarence started building a house for the summer at Casterino, the Casa Fontanalba, after a design by Robert MacDonald. The builder was Signor Lanteri of Tenda, supervised by M. Pellegrino. The house was completed in summer and autumn 1905, the terrace in spring 1906. Clarence and Luigi attended the Universal Esperanto Congress in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France.
This is the annus mirabilis of Albert Einstein, who published papers which lay the foundations for quantum physics and introduced the special theory of relativity.
March 4 – Theodore Roosevelt is sworn in for a full term as President of the United States.
March 13 – Mata Hari introduces her exotic dance act in Paris.
April 2 – The Simplon Tunnel is officially opened through the Alps.
September 8 – The 7.2 Mw Calabria earthquake shakes Southern Italy killing between 557 and 2,500 people.
October – Fauvist artists, led by Henri Matisse and André Derain, first exhibit, at the Salon d'Automne in Paris. Life took on new colours.
October 5 – The Wright brothers' third aeroplane (Wright Flyer III) stays in the air for 39 minutes with Wilbur piloting. A new era of travel.
- 1906 Clarence arrives in June with Luigi and Mercede Pollini to inhabit the house. Casa Fontanalba Visitors’ Book starts 16th June
- 1907 Clarence attends the Lingva Komitato (the Language Committee of the Esperanto movement) held in Cambridge. In December he travels to Ceylon to visit the botanical gardens (letters in the Kew Gardens archives).
- 1909 Émile Cartailhac (1845-1921), French prehistorian, one of the founding fathers of the studies of the cave art, visited the Casa Fontanalba, 17th August. Clarence discovers the engraving he calls the “Chief of the Tribes
- 1910 A little more land annexed to the garden of the Casa Fontanalba and a wire-netting fence erected to protect the garden from cows and goats. Clarence elected to lead the Bordighera Esperanto group. Déchelette’s Manuel d’Archéologie uses Clarence’s data as a basis for his account and dates the figures to the Bronze Age period.
- 1911 Clarence’s album for Margaret Berry is a coronation procession of the flowers of Fontanalba to celebrate the coronation of King George V.
- 1912 Clarence and Luigi attended the Esperantist Congress in Cracow, Poland, for two weeks in August as there was still snow on the best slopes of the Fontanalba and they could do little work.
- 1913 Clarence and Luigi attended the Universal Esperanto Congress in Bern, Switzerland, 24-31 August. First dams built at Les Mesches near Casterino for electricity generation
- 1914 World War I broke out. Clarence was at the Esperantist Congress in Paris looking after a party of blind Esperantists whom he safely escorted back to their homes in Italy Clarence, aged 72, continues working on the wall decorations in the Casa Fontanalba. Clarence completes the last of the vellum albums, an elaborate fantasy called The Triumph of the Dandelion in which the flowers compete for the crown of the Beauty Queen of Fontanalba. Clarence, at age 72, was planning a visit to Japan, travelling by the trans-Siberian railway; but he called it off, as he thought Luigi was not strong enough to accompany him.
- 1915 Italy enters World War I on the side of the Anglo-French Allies
- 1918 Clarence Bicknell died on the terrace of the Casa Fontanalba on July 17th
- 1924 F Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda first travel to the Riviera
- 1926 Ernest Hemingway first visits the Riviera. The Garden of Eden was set on the Riviera and published posthumously in 1986
- 1927 Vanity Fair describes Antibes as Broadway's most popular outpost
- 1929 Huge railway station built at San Dalmazzo di Tenda, the closest to Casterino
- 1931 The Berrys publish their guide book “At the western gate of Italy”
- 1934 F Scott Fitzgerald publishes Tender is the Night, fiction based on many of the real characters on the Riviera
- 1936 Last evidence of Edward and Margaret Berry using Casa Fontanalba.
- 1947 Italy cedes the commune of Tende to France. Tende and the slice of land including the Massif du Mercantour and the Vallee des Merveilles belonged successively to the Count of Ventimiglia in the tenth century, then the Counts of Provence and the Counts of Lascaris of Ventimiglia before being swapped several times between Italy and France, first to the Duchy of Savoy, then the French Republic (later Napoleonic Empire), then restored to the Savoyard Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont (which became in 1861 the Kingdom of Italy). From 1861 to 1947 Tende was part of Italy, and was damaged during the Italian invasion of France in 1940. Tende was the last commune to join the French Republic in 1947, when Italy was forced to cede (after defeat in World War II) some alpine areas to France.
Last update - mise a jour - Marcus Bicknell 26 April 2017