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Monument to Ninon Michaelis, Kensal Green Cemetery

A Grade II* Listed Building in Wembley, London

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.5284 / 51°31'42"N

Longitude: -0.2203 / 0°13'13"W

OS Eastings: 523553

OS Northings: 182556

OS Grid: TQ235825

Mapcode National: GBR BD.H4G

Mapcode Global: VHGQR.4VD6

Plus Code: 9C3XGQHH+9V

Entry Name: Monument to Ninon Michaelis, Kensal Green Cemetery

Listing Date: 13 June 2001

Last Amended: 3 April 2012

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1246089

English Heritage Legacy ID: 487679

Location: Kensington and Chelsea, London, W10

County: London

District: Kensington and Chelsea

Electoral Ward/Division: Queens Park

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Brent

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: St Michaell and All Angels Ladbroke Grove

Church of England Diocese: London

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Summary


Funerary monument to Ninon Michaelis, 1901, by Henry Alfred Pegram.

Description

Carrara marble funerary monument comprising a tall curved panel with a shaped top (inscribed 'NINON') and a scrolled base, set upon a plain grave slab. Athwart the panel, in an extravagant attitude of grief, is a classically draped female figure bearing a garland.

History

Ninon Michaelis (c1864-1895) was the first wife of Maximilian (Max) Michaelis (1852-1932), a German-South African financier and diamond magnate. Max Michaelis was a partner in the mining company of Wernher, Beit & Co., and came to England in 1891 as the firm's London director. An avid collector of paintings, he donated a magnificent collection of Dutch masters to the South African government, and endowed the Michaelis School of Fine Arts in the University of Cape Town. He was knighted in 1924. Ninon Michaelis was named as a popular figure in reviews of troops in South Africa. In May 1895, at the age of 31, she died of syncope (fainting), pneumonia and alcoholism. Also deposited in the vault beneath the monument are the remains of Max's brother Gustav Michaelis (c1858-1901). Ownership of the vault passed to Maximilian's second wife, Lillian Elizabeth Burton, whom he married in 1908, and who is recorded as the owner of the plot in 1932.

The monument was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1901 before being placed on the plot on 10 August 1903. Notes in the ledger of the General Cemetery Company state that 'Maximilian Michaelis paid £320 for the plot; the monument was a figure memorial 12 feet high; and...weighed five to six tons'.

The monument is attributed to Henry Alfred Pegram (1862-1937). Pegram entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1881 and exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1884. He was assistant to the Sculptor Sir Hamo Thornycroft between 1887-1891 and was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1904, and a full member in 1922. Pegram's early work was influenced by Alfred Gilbert (1854-1934) and his greatest successes came early in his career. Two of his defining works show the influence of Gilbert's symbolist sculpture and were bought by the Tate: a bronze relief 'Ignis fatuu' of 1889 (a development of an earlier roundel by Gilbert); and, in marble, a group 'Sibylla fatidca' of 1904. Pegram won a bronze medal at the Paris International Exhibition of 1889 and a gold medal at Dresden in 1897. Public statues by Pegram include: Sir Thomas Browne and Edith Cavell both in Norwich; Sir John Campbell in Auckland; Sir Robert Hart in Shanghai; and Cecil Rhodes in Cape Town.

The Cemetery of All Souls at Kensal Green was the earliest of the large privately-run cemeteries established on the fringes of London to relieve pressure on overcrowded urban churchyards. Its founder George Frederick Carden intended it as an English counterpart to the great Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris, which he had visited in 1821. In 1830, with the financial backing of the banker Sir John Dean Paul, Carden established the General Cemetery Company, and two years later an Act of Parliament was obtained to develop a 55-acre site at Kensal Green, then among open fields to the west of the metropolis. An architectural competition was held, but the winning entry – a Gothic scheme by HE Kendall – fell foul of Sir John's classicising tastes, and the surveyor John Griffith of Finsbury was eventually employed both to lay out the grounds and to design the Greek Revival chapels, entrance arch and catacombs, built between 1834 and 1837. A sequence of royal burials, beginning in 1843 with that of Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, ensured the cemetery’s popularity. It is still administered by the General Cemetery Company, assisted since 1989 by the Friends of Kensal Green.

Reasons for Listing

The monument to Ninon Michaelis is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* Artistic interest: an exceptional example of late Victorian funerary sculpture by the noted artist Henry Alfred Pegram;
* Group value: with other listed monuments within the Grade I registered Kensal Green Cemetery.

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