August Neven Du Mont (born August Ludwig Mathaeus Neven du Mont) was a German painter, a Master of Foxhounds for East Sussex and an aristocrat. While he was very famous, successful, and popular during his lifetime, he went to being an, almost, unknown after his early death in 1909.
He was the son of the proprietor of the Kolnische Zeitung newspaper and was born in Cologne, in 1867. He studied art in Düsseldorf but moved to Bournemouth, on the south coast of England, in 1895, because of his liking for British art. At the death of his father he was supposed to inherit the Kölnische Zeitung but refused saying that he wanted to dedicate his life to his art and, until his early death, he received a monthly pension instead.
He married Maria von Guillaume, the daughter of the billionaire proprietor of the “Carlswerk Cable Works”, with whom he had three sons, Mark, Charles and Valentine; the last dying of tuberculosis.
At some time, August Neven du Mont moved to London where he rented a town house, the “Cromwell House” in Cromwell Road.
In 1903, he moved to Bexhill-on-Sea and took a lease of the historic Bexhill Manor House. Mr Du Mont enlarged the Manor House turning part of the building into a studio and converted the barn into a ballroom with a stage for the performance of amateur theatricals. While here, he painted some of his most famous works. A painting of his, “The Crucifixion of Jesus”, is currently held by St Mary Magdalene’s Roman Catholic Church in Bexhill.
He moved to Bexhill because he had heard of its reputation as a beneficial health resort and he hoped that this would help his son who suffered from ill-health.
He was a polo player of some repute and rode with the hounds, which lead to him, in 1906, succeeding the Hon. Thomas Allnutt Brassey as “Master of the East Sussex Foxhounds”.
During their stay, the Du Mont family had many distinguished visitors to the Manor House, including dignitaries of the Roman Catholic Church, Captain R.F. Scott before his last Antarctic expedition and, in July 1914, the two sisters of Emperor William II of Germany. Mr Du Mont was a popular figure, well received by all who came into contact with him.
Mrs Du Mont founded a school for German boys in Bexhill and one of its pupils was the nephew of the Kaiser.
August Neven du Mont became terminally ill in June, 1909, and died soon after on the 27th. He was the first foreign Master of Foxhounds in Britain and had acquired a reputation of grace and generosity after making many secret donations to both persons in need and museums as well as Cultural Organisations. He was a modest man, liked by all and the “Bexhill Observer” reported that during his funeral the streets were crowded with people.
The Funeral of August Neven Du Mont (1867 – 1909)
After the war the Manor House was bought by Sir Robert Leicester Harmsworth, a publisher and the younger brother of Lord Northcliff, who founded the Daily Mail and had competed in the 1902 motor races in Bexhill.
A very long report on his death and funeral, as it appeared in the “Bexhill Observer”, on 3rd July, 1909, can be seen here – click on the image and then click on symbol at top right to enlarge. To close click on symbol at bottom right.