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The Gastineau Garden Party 1873. A Chess Photograph.

The Gastineau Garden Party 1873. A Chess Photograph.

Apr 27, 2017, 5:29 AM 23

Standing. Left to right.

J. Lovelock, ( committee member, City of London Chess Club) Bernhard Horwitz, William Norwood Potter, John Lowenthal, Henry F. Down (Honorary Secretary, City of London chess Club) Joseph Henry Blackburne, Dr William R. Ballard.

Seated. Left to right.

Wilhelm Steinitz, Henry Francis Gastineau (President, City of London Chess Club),  Cecil De Vere.

This list derives from Leopold Hoffer, The Field, December 1910. The figure named as J. Lovelock, top left of picture, has often been given as Hoffer, and , indeed, the likeness is a striking one.


I used this photograph in an earlier post on De Vere. It has always fascinated me. I first came across it as a teenager in a book called 'A Picture History Of Chess', by the excellent compiler Fred Wilson. It has caused some confusion, with many figures identified incorrectly, differing dates given etc. In the last couple of years, two eminent historians - Owen Hindle in his excellent book 'Cecil De Vere. The English Morphy', and in particular Professor Tim Harding in his outstanding work 'Joseph Henry Blackburne. A Chess Biography', have researched it fully. I draw on their work here. I have tried to contact both to obtain the relevant permissions to quote from their work, but have been unable to find a means of contact, for which I offer my apologies and beg their indulgence. The information quoted is now public domain, as far as I know, but I am using their work as primary source material.

The photograph is of huge historical significance. It contains the earliest known likeness of Blackburne ( ref. Harding page 94), an image of the great W.N.Potter, A rare image of Horwitz - if anyone can source another I would be grateful to know of it, an early image of Steinitz, and the last images that I am aware of, of Lowenthal (a later pen and ink sketch is in the Rev. G.A. Macdonald's book Chess life pictures.) and De Vere. Again, any corrections would be most welcome.

The circumstances under which the photograph was taken was a chess garden party at the home of H.F.Gastineau in Albion Terrace, Peckham, London. The date was June 14, 1873. These events seem to have been a regular part of Gastineau's hospitality to the London chess community. In 'Mr Blackburne's Games of Chess ( ed. P.Anderson Graham ) there is a game from another such event. The invitees would enjoy the catering provided -  in middle class Victorian England on such occasions the dinner menu would often extend to eight courses, ( see the tournament book of the London 1883 Tournament for example ) with the relevant wines a.s.o. Then the players would play chess until the small hours, supplied with liquid refreshments. In those days, before fridges, liquid refreshment was generally alcohol based. I think it has been mentioned that in one World Championship Match, the refreshments provided were champagne  and brandy, but that may be my memory playing tricks. The central point of the evening would be a consultation game, played for a small stake provided by the host.

The event was reported in 'The Field' June 21. As De Vere was responsible for the chess column at that time, it is reasonable to assume that the report was his. Hindle gives Steinitz as the author. The consultation game is appended.

The report goes as follows.

On the 14th inst. a gathering of chess players took place at the residence of Mr. H.F. Gastineau, Albion- Terrace, Peckham, the occasion being one of those pleasant summer reunions which that gentleman delights to bring about, and which, by alluring the habitues of public rooms and clubs from their not very wholesome haunts, affords them a change that they are much in need of. The intention was that the chess play, as likewise the preliminary entertainment, should take place in the open air amongst the flowers; but the weather did not permit this arrangement to be carried out. About five o'clock some forty guests sat down, and amongst the number were Messrs Steinitz, Lowenthal, Horwitz, Blackburne, De Vere, Potter, Coburn, Major Martin, Dr. Ballard, Chappell, Down, Pfahl, and Vyse. After ample justice had been done to the repast, the various gentlemen present were paired off for warfare - some indoors, some in a greenhouse, and others in a summer house in which it is stated that Oliver Goldsmith used to smoke his pipe.

The chief event of the evening was a consultation game, which was played in Mr. Gastineau's conservatory, the combatants being Messrs Blackburne, De Vere, and Ballard on the one side, against Messrs .Potter, Coburn, and Bussey on the other. The latter won the first move, and they played P-KB4, an opening lately brought into vogue by it's recurrence in the Bird and Wisker match. The game which followed was a highly interesting one, and was maintained on both sides with the greatest vigour. It's duration was nine hours, viz., from a quarter past six p.m. until a quarter past three the following morning. the combatants thus began playing ere daylight had departed in the west, and when it appeared again from the east they were still fighting. We give the game below, as a good exemplification of the merits and demerits of this opening.











Photographs, from the top. Horwitz and Potter.




De. Vere.


 Going to add a couple of games. The first is taken from 'Mr Blackburne's Games of Chess',  page 153 in the version I have. It was played in ' Mr. Gastineau's Garden Party in 1872. Please bear with me while i try to learn how to do this stuff!!

 The second is posted to show that the 'Amateurs' involved in these events were not such weak players as one might think. I take it from H.E Bird, A Chess Biography. By Hans Renette, who posts on this site. with thanks. Dr. William Robert Ballard blows some of Bird's published analysis out of the water.

Note by Zukertort ( abridged ) Chess Monthly. Jan. 1880.

Hans Renette, in his wonderful book H.E.Bird. A Chess Biography. also discusses this photograph. My apologies for carelessly not having found this source when originally writing this article. It is on page 164, in connection with another game which I will give here. The game is also in Adams' excellent 'Johannes Zukertort. Artist Of The Chessboard' as game number 137. There are some discrepancies between the annotations. As Renette gives his full source - 'The Sportsman (Wisker) 23 December 1874', and Adams simply 'Wisker' I did a little digging. It appears that the Adam's version may be from Bird's 'Modern Chess', so I have scanned my copy of that book and add it here.








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