Completed Portraits: British 20th C, South West England: Artists and Subjects 14 Can we identify the artist of this recently painted portrait?

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Topic: Artist

This portrait is signed bottom centre, possibly P A [or L] Lindsay. [Group leader: Catherine Daunt]

Martin Hopkinson, Entry reviewed by Art UK

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Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. The artist was identified as Patrick Lambert Larking (1907–1981). Unfortunately, it was also found that the portrait was mistakenly recorded as part of the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital’s collection while on loan from the sitter's family, leading to the error in the PCF catalogue, later Art UK. The portrait has always been owned Dr Daly's family. The artwork will therefore be removed from our website.

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


Malcolm Fowles,

An alternative ending may be "". I find it particularly hard to read an "a" into what's there.

Patrick Larking signed his work in various ways. I have several paintings by him. However, I have only just noticed that the acquisition details indicate that the painting was commissioned in 2005, which is 24 years after Patrick Larking's death. I am not convinced though that 2005 is accurate as the sitter, Dr Anthony James Daly, was born apparently in 1913. Many of Patrick Larking's later paintings are signed 'P.L. Larking'. Early work is usually signed 'Larking' and mid life it was often 'Patrick Larking'. I think the present painting is likely to be from the late 1960s / early 1970s.

Osmund Bullock,

Larking seems all but certain, which of course means that the portrait cannot have been commissioned in 2005 - but that's no surprise, as by then the sitter was 92, long retired and with at best severely compromised eyesight. See his biography here:

If there is any doubt about this, or a need for further information, one of Dr Daly's two sons was readily traceable and lives in Devon (I'm deliberately omitting his full details). If we think it desirable I am happy to drop him a letter.

Osmund, thank you. That is very helpful. If Art UK can clarify with the collection that the date of the commissioning of this portrait was indeed some fifty years ago we would, perhaps, not need to contact Dr Daly's family although you may wish to alert them to the fact that their late father's portrait is the subject of this discussion. They may then wish to add their own comments to this discussion.

I see from Dr Daly's biography on the website of the Royal College of Physicians that he retired from the NHS in 1978. At that time he was a consultant physician at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital. In 1974 the main hospital moved to a new site at Wonford, which is to the east of Exeter city centre, and I imagine that is where Dr Daly was based until retirement in 1978. In 1985, the building was found to have concrete cancer. Replacement buildings were built over several phases with the first phase apparently being completed in 1992, the second phase being completed in 1996, the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry opening in 2004 and a new centre for women's health in 2007. There was also another principal Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital building at nearby Heavitree and this NHS Trust also has more than twenty different sites over a wide geographical area in Devon. Given this background the painting of Dr Daly may well have been moved several times over the years. I understand that the present location of the painting is being checked in order to facilitate further progress with this discussion.

Thanks to Osmund, I have been in contact with Dr Daly's son, who is the portrait's owner. Patrick Larkin was first a patient, later a friend, of Dr Daly. He privately commissioned the painting, which hung in his home for many years. When their father died, the family lent it to the Devon and Exeter Medical Society on behalf of the RD & E. The family took it back some years later, after discovering that it wasn't on display.

The portrait has never been in public ownership, so we must remove it from Art UK and close the discussion. Although the artwork will disappear from Art UK, the record has been updated and the discussion will remain in our database. There may well be further enquiries to Art UK, because it's in the PCF catalogue.

Last but by no means least, thank you, Grant, for identifying Larkin as the artist, telling us more about his practice and providing further promising leads.