Alexander McCulloch

Alexander McCulloch (born Melbourne October 25, 1887 – died England September 5, 1951) was a British rower who competed in the 1908 Summer Olympics.

Alexander was the son of George McCulloch, who was born in Scotland but made his fortune at Broken Hill in Australia. The McCulloch family returned to Britain about 1891 and set up home at 184 Queens Gate, London (demolished 1971). George McCulloch was an avid art collector and bought works by many pre-eminent pre-raphaelites and impressionists. Alexander was himself the subject of a portrait called "On His Holidays... Norway" painted in 1901/1902 by John Singer Sargent. At the time the McCullochs, accompanied by John Singer Sargent, were on a salmon fishing holiday in Norway. John Singer Sargent originally painted Alexander in a standing position holding a landing net but decided the portrait looked too contrived. John Singer Sargent turned the canvas on its side and painted directly on top of the original portrait. Alexander is now portrayed laying his side at the side of a river in a more natural and relaxed pose. At the time of the portrait Alexander was a pupil at Winchester College, a Public School, and in the portrait the school tie can be seen serving as a belt for his trousers. The painting is now on display at the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Merseyside, England. It was acquired by Lord Leverhulme, along with several other paintings, shortly after the death of George McCulloch. Lord Leverhulme, who regarded "On His Holidays...Norway" as his favourite painting, had for a long time tried to have his own portrait painted by John Singer Sargent but without success. At school Alexander was a member of the Winchester College Boating Club (WCBC) and developed a keen interest in, and a high level of ability at, rowing. After leaving school Alexander studied at University College Oxford, and competed in the 1908 University Boat Race against Cambridge as part of the Oxford crew.That year, Alexander, who was a member of the Leander Rowing Club, also competed in, and won, the Diamond Sculls at the 1908 Henley Royal Regatta. Alexander was subsequently selected for the British Team and took part in the 1908 London Summer Olympics where he won the Silver Medal in the Single Sculls. The winner of the Gold Medal was Harry Blackstaffe of the Vesta Rowing Club, Putney, who was, at the time, something of a sculling legend. Victory falling to the home crew in the Sculls, Pairs and Fours, Great Britain could claim a success in every event of the Olympic Regatta of 1908.


* Alexander McCulloch's scrapbook - containing many newspaper cuttings about the rowing events in 1908.

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