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Rome Scholars

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Some resident South African Architects who attended the British School at Rome.

George Esselmont Gordon LEITH was the first holder of the Herbert Baker Scholarship for South African architects (1911-13). He arrived in 1911 and worked with Boni on a reconstruction of the, palace of Domitian. He also collaborated with the other new scholar of 1911, J.S. Beaumont, who was funded by the Gilchrist Trustees. Together they made drawings of the Vigna di Papa Giulio, next to the Villa Giulia and they were attracted to the Valle Giulia, a prescience anticipating the future location at the School. On his death in 1965 he left to the School ‘all drawings, photographs, diagrams and related documents dealing with the Flavian Palace, Rome. I was privileged to attend the excavations during the years 1910-1913 which were carried out under the supervision of Commendatore Giacomo Boni which may well be the only records available of relics then discovered.’

Joseph Michael SOLOMON (1886-1920) competed unsuccessfully in 1911 for the Baker Scholarship but was awarded a two-year travelling bursary by Sir Lionel and Lady Phillips which took him to Europe. Solomon not only fulfilled an ambition by studying in Italy but acted as a go-between for Lady Phillips, Robert Ross and Sir Hugh Lane over the purchase of art books and works of art for the Johannesburg Art Gallery. SOLOMON was in Europe from 1911 until 1913. While in Italy where it is recorded he had tenure at the British School at Rome (Wallace-Hadrill, 2001: 209) he fell while sketching at the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli 'seized with an attack of vertigo, overbalanced, and fell to the bottom of the precipice, a distance of some two hundred and fifty feet' (Afr Archt Apr 1913:185). From then onwards Solomon suffered from severe recurring headaches. He returned to Johannesburg late in 1913.

Vivian Sydney REES-POOLE (1883-1965) is recorded as being a Rome Scholar of the Transvaal Institute of Architects in 1915 (Wallace-Hadrill, 2001: 210), having gone overseas to study and travelled in England, Belgium, Paris and the south of France for a year. He then spent a further year in Italy and France, studying mostly in Rome and Paris.

Charles Douglas ST LEGER (1890-1968) spent nine months in 1920 studying at the British School at Rome, apparently on BAKER's awarding him a bursary, although Radford states that St Leger was awarded a Baker Scholarship (DSAB IV:61) this was not under the auspices of the official Baker Scholarship.

Leonard Forbes McCONNELL (1896-1932), in 1920, the year he became a member of the Cape Institute of Architects, won the Baker Scholarship. In 1921 he sat the RIBA examination at Conduit Street, London, his application for Associate membership of the RIBA being signed in Rome by AH Mason at the British School at Rome where he is recorded as having been in residence (Wallace-Hadrill, 2001: 210). He appears to have returned to South Africa only about 1925.

JA HOOGSTERP is recorded as having been awarded the Baker Scholarship and being in residence at the British School at Rome in 1925 (Wallace-Hadrill, 2001: 210).

Norman Musgrave EATON (1902-1966) won the Baker Scholarship in 1929 and spent nine months in residence at the British School at Rome before visiting France, Greece, Turkey and Austria and toured Italy in 1930. In November 1931 he visited Germany, Holland, Belgium and Britain. Eaton must have spent some time in Britain however, since he had made contact with Sir Herbert BAKER who signed Eaton's nomination papers for associate membership of the RIBA. He returned to Pretoria in 1933.

William Graham HOLFORD (1907-1975) was also the first South African-born Rome Scholar of the RIBA in 1930, (the second and to date the last South African to win this prize was RS UYTENBOGAARDT in 1957 [see below].)

Robert Alexander BRUCE is recorded as having been awarded the Baker Scholarship and being in residence at the British School at Rome in 1933 (Wallace-Hadrill, 2001: 211).

Owen Pryce LEWIS. In 1935 he was awarded the Bernard Webb Studentship and spent six months at the British School at Rome, using it as a headquarters for his thesis on 'Renaissance architecture and classical sources'.

Jack BARNETT is recorded as having been awarded the Baker Scholarship and being in residence at the British School at Rome in 1949 (Wallace-Hadrill, 2001: 211).

Gilbert HERBERT is recorded as having been awarded the Baker Scholarship and being in residence at the British School at Rome in 1956 (Wallace-Hadrill, 2001: 212).

Raymond ERITH is recorded as having been awarded the Baker Scholarship and being in residence at the British School at Rome in 1957 (Wallace-Hadrill, 2001: 212).

Roelof UYTENBOGAARDT (1933–1998) was awarded the RIBA Rome Scholarship and spent two years in Rome (1957-9).
In 1957-58 he was given the medieval hill-town of Calcata as area of study. He was later highly influential as architect and educator in South Africa, and became, next after Herbert Baker, the champion in South Africa of the legacy of the British School at Rome, resurrecting the scholarship after South Africa achieved full democracy in 1994, but now through the offices of the South African Institute of Architects (SAIA).

Julian BEINART is recorded as having been awarded the Baker Scholarship and being in residence at the British School at Rome in 1961 (Wallace-Hadrill, 2001: 212) making him the last of those South African architects funded under the auspices of the Baker Scholarship with its discontinuation by the RIBA with the declaration of sanctions against South Africa after the country became a Republic and left the Commonwealth of Nations in 1961.

[Extracted, edited and expanded from: Wallace-Hadrill, Andrew. 2001. The British School at Rome One Hundred Years. London: British Academy.]