Completed British 20th C, except portraits, Military History, Yorkshire, The Humber and North East England: Artists and Subjects 29 Can anyone identify the artist, probably ‘WF’, in this wartime painting?

Topic: Artist

This is signed in monogram WF? and dated 42 bottom left.

Martin Hopkinson, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. Although it has been running for three years, there has been no firm evidence to support updating the existing artist record.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the discussion. To anyone viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all the comments that led to this conclusion.


The Collection has commented: ‘Unfortunately, there was nothing further on or with the painting to help us identify the artist or provenance beyond the image already on Art UK. I would guess that looking at teachers and students of the Newcastle Fine Art department in the 1930s-40s might be a place to start if we can take the '42' as a year, as many little-known paintings in the collection arrived via the department.'

Jimaa Alaa,

It could be William (Bill) Crosbie

Peter Nahum,

I can't find it in my monogram notes, but I agree it looks like WF (FW) and 1942. It looks more Northern European to me.

Jacinto Regalado,

The title, however, is written in English, suggesting at least a UK-based artist.

Marcie Doran,

I believe this could be a very early work of the Sunderland artist William Frederick Kite (1929 - 2014).

Here are two examples of his work:
“Street Scene No. 1”
W. F. Kite (active mid-20th C)
Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens
oul on hardboard

“Domino Players”
On for Tynemouth Fine Art
located within The Linskill Centre on North Tyneside

I noted that:
1. His sitters were often odd-looking people and their features were cartoonish;
2. His printing shown in the title “THE SIREN” is similar (in particular the letter “E”) to the printing he later uses to sign his name;
3. He paints in oil on board/oil on hardboard; and,
4. Hatton Gallery is located in Newcastle upon Tyne, therefore the location of this work would make it local to the Northumberland area, as are some of his other paintings that I have viewed online.

Jacinto Regalado,

Well, as Peter Nahum already said, inspired by Northern European work, at any rate.

Martin Hopkinson,

Nothing like Ian Fleming's work which I know very well and who spoke at a conference which I organised

Martin Hopkinson,

Roger Billcliffe is the man to ask for a second opinion

Martin Hopkinson,

1942 was the year of the foundation in Glasgow of the New Art Club , which held a series of exhibitions of works by young and advanced artists as The New Scottish Group between 1943 and 1948 under the presidency of J D Fergusson
It might be worth checking the associated small publications for this work
Dennis Farr organised a small exhibition of this period in 1968, New Painting in Glasgow 1940- 46 for The Scottish ArtS Council

Martin Hopkinson,

The footnotes and bibliography of Alice Strang, A New Era. Scottish Modern Art 1900-1950, National Galleries of Scotland , 2017 should provide further guidance
Strang is now at the Edinburgh Auctioneers , Lyon & Turnbull.
Emeritus Professor Duncan Macmillan [Edinburgh] and Roger Billcliffe of the Roger Billcliffe Gallery, Glasgow both might recognise the artist

Martin Hopkinson,

Jane England of England & Co is the London dealer who might know, because of her study of two London based Scots , associated with Jankel Adler, Benjamin Creme and Robert Frame
If the artist was not Scottish one might try young Birmingham artists

Martin Hopkinson,

That is a very good suggestion to follow up - both the Hatton Gallery and the School of Art are part of the University - and it should have in its archive a record of the art students of the period. Can the Hatton tells us about this? Does a handlist even in manuscript survive of the participants in this exhibition?

Jacob Simon,

I agree with Martin and Marcie that we should be looking locally. Perhaps a student work, left behind and only incorporated in the collection later?

As the Hatton says (2/07/2021): ‘Unfortunately, there was nothing further on or with the painting to help us identify the artist or provenance ... I would guess that looking at teachers and students of the Newcastle Fine Art department in the 1930s-40s might be a place to start ... as many little-known paintings in the collection arrived via the department.'

Martin Hopkinson,

of course we should also look to see if the initials of a member of staff matches the initials as Jacob suggests

Osmund Bullock,

Marcie, a siren in this context merely means a seductive and usually gorgeous woman - particularly one perceived to enjoy luring men into dangerous or wicked ways against their better judgement. Although the call of the sirens originates in Homer's Odyssey, it was, as you say, quite common parlance in the 30s & 40s: my mother certainly used the term, and she knew nothing of classical mythology. My father had a theory that its use was reinforced by an analogy with the wail of the air-raid siren, but that's probably fanciful...

Marcie Doran,

Perhaps, depending on the date of acquisition of this work, the catalogue for the “modern” art show at the Laing Art Gallery in April 1942 mentioned in this article could be checked for this artist.

Louis Musgrove,

Assuming the monogram is WF- I think this painting looks a bit comic book/strip inspired-- so how about Trog ???
Here is excerpt from his biography....
In 1942, he entered an art competition that was judged by the Daily Mail's chief cartoonist Leslie Illingworth, who found him work with the Clement Davies advertising agency.[3] On Fawkes' 21st birthday in 1945,[8][3][2] Illingworth found Fawkes work at the Daily Mail drawing column-breaks and decorative illustrations.[3] He signed the drawings as Trog, which was short for Troglodyte which came from his days from World War II. He once joked that due to the amount of time spent in underground air-raid shelters people in London were becoming troglodytes.[3] Fawkes was later inspired by this to adopt "Trog" as his pen-name.

Louis Musgrove,

Very interesting Marcie. Mind you -the H and F in several other works of his are also clearly separated-vertical H and vertical F. The two 42s are a bit different.
The brush work is similar-and in "David and Goliath" the colour palette is very similar. Feibusch does seem to have concentrated on Church Murals.
Still our monogram does look like W.F.--- or possibly I T F.
The H in" the siren" does look like a vertical H.
But definitely food for thought. :-).

Martin Hopkinson,

could we misreading the monogram? could it be MF for Millie Frood? She was from Motherwell and a member of the New Scottish Group
She was in Bill Hare' s Lemon Street Gallery , Truro exhibition of 2008 The Glssgow School of Painting