Wednesday, June 4, 2014

'Poses Plastique', 1858

Unidentified man wearing classical costume, from the State Library of Victoria Collection, H88.50/44.
The last story about George Griffith at the Ovens goldfields comes from a very interesting publication called Nobblers and Lushingtons: a History of the Hotels of Beechworth and the Ovens District, by Richard Patterson (Endymion (Australia) Pty Ltd: Beechworth, 2009.)

In this Patterson reports on a violinist called Griffiths (probably George Griffith), who took the licensee of the Telegraph Hotel, Thomas Mooney, to court for unpaid  wages.  Mooney had employed a performer called Donovan who presented a series of tableux - 'Poses Plastique' - based on classical themes at the  Hotel, with Griffith providing a musical accompaniment.  However, Mooney took exception to the tunes selected by Griffith - an Irish jig for a pose as a "Greek Statue", and "Tow Row Row" (which I think is the British Grenadiers March) for a scene depicting the Rape of the Sabine Women. Mooney dismissed Griffith for what might be characterised as a disrespectful choice of music, but Griffith successfully defended himself by saying that as a classical musician and composer, he didn't even know the tune of "Tow Row Row" (though one could point out that he knew the Irish jigs.)

Patterson gives the reference for this story as the Ovens and Murray Advertiser 14 September 1935.

Griffith's reference to himself as a composer is an interesting one, though to date the only evidence of that is a program which advertised a polka called "Beechworth" in a concert  in Beechworth. 


  1. Is this an example of one of your family members 'taking the mickey" Lenore?
    One would have thought a classical musician would have appreciated the sight of men in tights.

  2. I think there was a fair amount of pot-stirring involved - though whether it was aimed at Donovan or Mooney I couldn't say. Perhaps the Irish jigs were intended as an insult to both of them. No further reference to performances at the Telegraph Hotel (or tableux performed by Donovan.)