In chapter 2 of The Just Men of Cordova by Edgar Wallace, the author was describing a young constable and very rich man in London:

“Constable Fellowe, the man of whom I have complained, had the good fortune to render a service to the daughter of Mr. Theodore Sandford—I see you know the gentleman.”

The sergeant nodded; he had heard of Mr. Theodore Sandford, as who had not? For Theodore Sandford was a millionaire ironmaster who had built a veritable palace at Hampstead, had purchased the Dennington “Velasquez,” and had presented it to the nation.

“Your constable,” continued Colonel Black, “sprang upon a motor-car Miss Sandford was driving down a steep hill, the brakes of which had gone wrong, and at some risk to himself guided the car through the traffic when, not to put too fine a point on it, Miss Sandford had lost her head.”

“Oh, it was him, was it?” said the sergeant disparagingly.

“It was him,” agreed the colonel out of sheer politeness. “Now these young people have met unknown to the father of Miss Sandford, and—well, you understand.”

Now, all what I found by searching is that "Dennington" is a village in London, and "Velasquez" may refer to the spanish painter "Diego Velázquez", so does it mean "a painting for the village that Diego had paint it" or something like that?

And I think "these young people" refer to "the young constable and miss Stanford", but it's a bit strange description, so I just wanted to make sure?


1 Answer 1


The words the Dennington “Velásquez” do suggest a Velásquez painting that was in the possession of a person or place named Dennington. Similarly diamonds and Stradivarius violins are often given names that reflect their provenance.

I haven't found any connection between the painter and anyone named Dennington.

Dennington is a village in Suffolk. I think your search took you instead to Kennington - the district in South London which is home to The Oval cricket ground.

It's unlikely Velásquez would have had any contact with the Suffolk village. He was court painter to Philip IV of Spain for much of his life and although the king occasionally sent him to Italy to buy statues and paintings for the court, he never sent him to England, let alone East Anglia. And he wouldn't have found much to buy at Dennington. The church has a remarkable relief of a sciapod - a man sheltering under his own enormous foot - carved into the end of a bench, but since medieval times the village seems not to have taken much interest in art.

At Dennington Hall, which has belonged to the same family for six hundred years, their main interests seem to have been deer-hunting and farming rather than art. They don't seem to have had any connection with Velásquez.

Perhaps Edgar Wallace knew the Rokeby Venus, a Velásquez painting ("Venus at her Mirror") smuggled out of Spain in 1813 during the Napoleonic wars, which reappeared at the house of John Morritt in Yorkshire. The name of the house was Rokeby Park, and the picture became known as the Rokeby Venus just as the Venus found at Milos became known as the Venus de Milo!

I think the Rokeby Venus inspired Wallace's the Dennington “Velásquez", but I don't know why the painter's name is in quotation marks. Perhaps they indicate that the painting turned out to be a fake: a so-called Velásquez.

(Unlike Wallace's Theodore Sandford, John Morritt didn't present it to the nation. In 1906 it was acquired for the National Gallery after a fundraising campaign. A few years later it was slashed five times by a suffragette.)

Yes, I'm sure you're right: "these young people" refers to the young constable and Miss Stanford." It doesn't seem strange for Colonel Black to call them that. He and Sergeant Gurden are considerably older than they are.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.