2009 - The Year of Valley History
The Children of Willougby Bertie, 3rd Earl of Abington - English Painting dated 1743 - Los Angeles Times Library - Woodbury University - Photo by Gerald Fecht for the Archives of The Museum of the San Fernando Valley.
One of the great adventures in the effort to create a great Museum of history and culture for the San Fernando Valley are the mysteries one encounters almost every day. On August 26th, I attended the Annual Meeting of The Valley Economic Alliance. Naturally, I had hopes of creating more interest in the development of your Museum, but also had the opportunity before the meeting began to visit the Los Angeles Times Library next to our meeting hall. When I first saw this painting, high on the right side of the former chapel of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, I assumed that it was of the infant Jesus and Saint John the Baptist. I thought it odd that the artist would have depicted Jesus as the older child, since John is supposed to have been born before the Christ Child.
When I got to my computer desk, and enlarged and brightened the photo, I found that the painting was of two English aristocratic boys, The older child (in his fancy outfit) is James Bertie Lord Noreys. James only lived from 1735 to 1745. The baby surrounded by roses is Willougby Birtie who lived from c. 1739 to 1799. The boys were the children of Anna Marie Collins and her husband Willoughby Birtie, 3rd Earl of Abington.
How the painting came into the possession of Woodbury University, and why it is relocated to its lofty station is not as yet known to me.
"James Ld (Lord) Norreys and Willougby Birtie 3rd Earl of Abington 1743"
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The San Fernando Valley, in the heart of the Creative Capital of the World, deserves a great Museum of history and culture.