A Stone Gateway with a House and Trees Beyond
Topic: Artist

Is Mrs H.G. Tabor, who is represented on Art UK with this painting and Helen Tabor, represented on Art UK with these two portraits https://bit.ly/3CvmW0B and https://bit.ly/3nUomxM the same artist? If so, what more can we establish about her?

[this public discussion combined an original submission on the portraits by Jacinto Regalado and then Grant Waters noticing the (Mrs) H.G. Tabor painting at the Royal West of England Academy]

David Saywell, Head of Digital Assets, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. Mrs H.G. Tabor is Helen Georgina Tabor (1864–1933), who is also the artist of the two portraits on Art UK. It has been established that the work was bequeathed to the Royal West of England Academy in 1933, and that acquisition date has been added to the Art UK entry along with a ‘1915 or before’ dating for the work. The subject of the landscape remains unknown, although the consensus seems to be that the architecture and trees suggest a Mediterranean setting. Pieter van der Merwe’s new artist biography will now be reviewed with the Editorial team and then incorporated on to the Art UK site.

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.


Jacinto Regalado originally commented, in relation to the portraits: ‘The artist may be the one listed here with her vital dates: https://bit.ly/2XMJCLf. I also found this: https://bit.ly/3kitx8k. The other portrait by Helen Tabor on Art UK was commissioned in 1897 by the entity which still owns it, and that collection may have more information about the artist. I found this as by H. G. Tabor, although the signature appears to be only H. Tabor: https://bit.ly/3zlA3jc.

Simon Kidner,

Some biographical detail:

Western Daily Press, 20 March 1894:
TABOR - LEIPNER-- March 17, at St. Mary's, Tyndall's Park,.... G. Hugo, son of the late Charles Tabor, to Helen Geotrgina, only daughter of Professor Leipner, University College, Bristol.

1911 Census: The Cottage, 31 Twickenham Road, Teddington:
George Hugo Tabor, Head, aged 54, artist & art teacher
Helen Georgina Tabor, aged 45, artist
Hugo Leipner Tabor, aged 10, son

Simon Kidner,

Pl. excuse typo in comment above re marriage: Georgina not Geotrgina.

Simon Kidner,

Helen Georgina Leipner

Some biographical detail, and excerpts from newspaper cuttings:

Birth registered Q3 1864 at Clifton RD 6a 59

Marriage registered Q1 1894 Barton Regis RD 6a 249

TABOR - LEIPNER-- March 17, at St. Mary's, Tyndall's Park, Clifton.... G. Hugo, son of the late Charles Tabor, to Helen Geotrgina, only daughter of Professor Leipner, University College, Bristol.
Western Daily Press, 20 March 1894

1901 census. Bromley Villa, Strawberry Hill Rd. No occupation given. Son is 3 mos. old

1911 census. Teddington. “Artist”.

SCHOOL OF ART SUCCESS –In the national competition of work from Schools of Art under the Board of Education, Helen G. Tabor, a student of the Teddington School of Art, Church road, was awarded a bronze medal for still life painting in oils. The work which won this distinction has been on view for the past month, at South Kensington, in the annual exhibition of prize work, brought together from Schools of Art in all parts of the country.
Surrey Comet, 2 September 1905

Drawing by Mrs. Hugo Tabor.
Surrey Comet, 6 September 1902

The most prominent exhibit faces the visitor, a portrait by Mrs Helen G. Tabor of a young daughter of Col. J. Shakespear, C.I.E., D.S.O. In addition to much success in reproducing the freshness of youth Mrs. Tabor has succeeded in obtaining a natural pose, and the scheme of colouring harmonises excellently with the subject. Mrs Tabor has also another example of her skill in portraiture in a three-quarter length study of Mrs. William Barbour.
Mr G. Hugo Tabor (Teddington) presents a contrast in his two pictures, that of “Early Spring, Kingston Bridge”, being remarkable for a vivid colouring effect. The other, No. 79, has much charm.
Surrey Comet, 27 April 1907

Mrs Helen Tabor (Teddington) has nine exhibits, and the seascape, “Golden Haze” (No. 70) will command much admiration. In this portrayal of sea and sky, as they appear in the softened splendour of a September evening, Mrs Tabor is peculaiarly happy, though why one of these should be so unromantically designated as “The Dredger” is not at all apparent. Mrs Tabor has also found insdpiration for her brush nearer home, two views of Hampton Court being included.
Mr. G. Hugo Tabor presents several seascapes, and a Thames Backwater makes a strong contrast to the limitless ocean which he has so intently studied.
Surrey Comet, 30 November 1907

1911 Census: The Cottage, 31 Twickenham Road, Teddington:
George Hugo Tabor, Head, aged 54, artist & art teacher
Helen Georgina Tabor, aged 45, artist
Hugo Leipner Tabor, aged 10, son

Death registered (as Helen G Tabor) Q2 1933 at Staines RD 3a 6

Jacinto Regalado,

The RWA picture is surely by Helen Georgina Tabor, as everything fits. The portraits are in an older, different style, but we know HGT painted portraits. Ideally, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Museum could be asked about what information it has in its records about the artist who painted its portrait.

Osmund Bullock,

I don't really think we need to trouble the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Museum, Jacinto: as you say everything fits, and she is clearly the same woman. Any possible remaining doubt can be dispelled by her exhibition of four portraits and a French quayside scene as [Mrs] Helen G. Tabor at the London Salon of the AAA in 1908: https://bit.ly/3AEMlEI. The address for her in Teddington found at the back of the catalogue (https://bit.ly/3zK8mAV) matches that found in the 1911 Census (as given us no less than three times above!). According to Johnson & Greutzner she exhibited five more works at the LS up to 1915, but exactly when I don't know - Internet Archive also has the catalogues for 1909-11 uploaded, but she's not in any of them.

Although it's not the question asked, does anyone have any idea where this scene might be? It looks like it might relate to a significant baroque country house - perhaps the entrance to the stable block?

Jacinto Regalado,

The entrance gate is too grand for the building behind it, so it must be part of a larger estate.

Jacob Simon,

This discussion, with as many as six group leaders, ”Can we prove H.G. Tabor and Helen Tabor are the same artist?”, has attracted nine responses since it was launched a month ago.

As Osmund says (23 September), ‘everything fits, and she is clearly the same woman’, that is Helen Georgina Tabor, née Leipner (1864-1933).

As such, I would like to recommend that this discussion is closed, subject to reaction from the collection and other group leaders. Although it would be good to know more about the gateway view depicted in the picture, this is not the subject of the discussion.

Could Simon (see 22/09/2021 14:26 above) or someone else with direct access to the press notices, please clarify what the exhibitions of 1902 and 1907 noticed by the 'Surrey Comet' were.? Only the 1905 one was clearly a national event at South Kensington.

Osmund Bullock,

I've dug them all out, Pieter, plus a number of others, and attach images - there may be others, but I'm afraid I've run out of steam. The 1902 appearance (actually 6 Dec, not Sep) was not an exhibition, but an ad for the Surrey Comet's Illustrated Xmas number in which a drawing by her was reproduced. All the exhibitions were at either the Teddington School of Art (where she seems to have studied c.1902-5 - her husband Hugo was a teacher there), or the Thames Valley Arts Club (of which Hugo was Hon. Sec).

Thanks Osmund: that helps. Biographical draft attached.

While I do not suggest prolonging this discussion for the purpose, the identity of the place shown is an intriguing puzzle. Neither the building nor the gateway are necessarily in Britain, the latter rather suggesting not. The same could be said of the sunny southern light and the fact that, though taller than Mediterranean pines, the trees behind are probably some sort of umbrella pine of similar sort. If not UK it might be one of the sandier coastal areas of western France (eg southern Brittany).

Incidentally, the picture was bequeathed to the RWA by its President, Dame Janet Stancomb-Wills (1854-1932). As Wikipedia points out 'She was elected President of the Royal West of England Academy (RWA) in 1911, decades before any other British Academy even admitted women as full members, and also became President of the School of Architecture at Bristol in 1921.' As a philanthropist she is also remembered as one of Shackleton's sponsors for his celebrated 'Endurance' Antarctic expedition of 1914: he named one of the ship's boats (eventually abandoned on Elephant Island) after her.

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Jacob Simon,

This is really helpful, Pieter. Like you I wondered about the setting but believe that it would be problematic to identify.

Jacinto Regalado,

Pieter, in the first paragraph, the second mention of Adolph Leipner misspells his name as Aloph.

Jacinto Regalado,

As for umbrella pines, they're typical of southern coastal France, which could also fit the light.

Correction noted, thanks.

The other line, which no-one has chased, is whether the lady had any prior artistic existence as Helen Leipner. She was 29 when she married in 1894 and the Royal Pharmaceitical Society portrait was commissioned, necessarily from secondary sources, in 1897. No-one learns to paint with sufficient reputation for prestigious commissions, least of all for posthumous portraits, at rapid notice (and even assuming the apparently German-extraction sitter and her German father as a techer of 'natural sciences' might have been professionally acquainted).

Osmund Bullock,

Marcie, when posting things from the press, could I ask you to crop them to the actual article, and/or mark it up in an easily-visible colour to show where on the page the relevant name / subject lies? What is in the the Bristol newspaper pages you've posted is doubtless of relevance and interest to the discussion; but I suspect that many people faced with the prospect of ploughing through lowish-res images of four complete broadsheet pages with tiny print looking for her name, will (like me) have taken one look and thought, "life's too short"!

Osmund Bullock,

Well I got my second research wind, and attached is a remarkably informative article in the Western Daily Press from September 1915 detailing the presentation to Janet Stancomb-Wills of 87 paintings, drawings and etchings (and one statuette) by 87 artists, all members or associates of the RWA, along with a specially-made cabinet to contain them. I haven't checked to see how many of them could be works now held by the RWA, but I would guess the full list given of the artists and presented works has the potential to provide a lot of information for the Collection.

I presume our work is the one by 'Mrs H G Tabor' just titled (rather disappointingly) 'A Study'. She was an associate of the academy.

Jacinto Regalado,

That means, presumably, that our work could be dated c. 1915.

Jacob Simon,

It may well be the case that our work was the 'study' presented by Tabor to Stancomb-Wills in 1915. I can imagine Tabor examining her many studies (this one is oil on card) to chose which to present. As such her gift may have been painted years earlier.

Jacinto Regalado,

True, Jacob, so it could be dated 1915 or earlier.

Marcie Doran,

That is an excellent write-up, Pieter. I have attached a notice of her birth from ‘The Bristol Daily Post’ that shows that she was born on June 9, 1864. At first I was confused when I saw that date because Simon had indicated it was registered in Q3 1864, but her parents must have been slow to register her. I have no other suggested edits.

Thank you for chasing those Marcie, draft updated accordingly: what you haven't noticed but I had been wondering about, was our painter's possible connection with George Frederick Schacht - whose posthumosus portrait as former V-P of the Pharmaceutical Society she was asked to paint in 1897. He was fairly clearly an old family friend.

The proof is her parents' marriage record: he was one of the witnessnes, presumably her father's 'best man' and possibly her own godfather.

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Jacob Simon,

Thanks again to Pieter. Another entry for the Van der Merwe dictionary of Art UK artists - really valuable.

Johnson & Greutner put George Hugo Tabor at Concarneau, France [i.e. Brittany] in 1889 and Teddington in 1911: one exhibit at the Royal Soc. of Artists, Birmigham, and ten at the London Salon.

(Mrs) Helen Tabor is just noted at The Cottage, [31] Twickenham Road, Teddington address and as exhibiting ten works at the London Salon, 1908-15.

Perhaps Art UK could activate shutting this down with whoever that lies; it seems a bit of a mix of portraits/landscape and 19th/20th century.

Thanks to the contributors for their documentary research and to Pieter for summarising it all. We have I think conclusively shown that the artist is Helen Georgina Tabor (1864-1933), who is also the artist of the two portraits by Helen Tabor on Art UK. The subject of the landscape remain unknown, although the consensus seems to be that the architecture and trees suggest a Mediterranean setting.

Osmund Bullock,

There are at least fourteen other works in the RWA’s collection from the group of 87 presented to Janet Stancomb-Wills, all of them small oil sketches: https://bit.ly/3B9IKy4. All are noted as bequests from Dame Janet, and all (bar Helen Tabor’s) have retained their original titles, though three have had the artist’s basic ‘a study’ expanded into a more descriptive title.

Three of the paintings are visibly dated, two to the year of the gift (1915), the third illegible in Art UK’s image: https://bit.ly/3vAhvvp , https://bit.ly/3G92VzL and https://bit.ly/3po3bF2. So it may be that the artists were in fact asked to produce something new; at the least they must have been given a maximum & minimum size – none has a dimension measuring more than 15½ inches (all but two are under 14”) or less than 7½”.

There may well be others not on Art UK, as the gift included watercolours, etchings and drawings as well as oils.