SFK_CCM_R_1960_186
Topic: Artist

This is reminiscent of paintings of animals by Charles Wellington Furse (1868–1904), especially Tate's 'Diana of the Uplands'. https://bit.ly/3kXxBt9

Martin Hopkinson, Entry reviewed by Art UK

12 comments

Wendy Howard,

Perhaps a copy. To me the painter is not as skilled as CWF.

Louis Musgrove,

First I would like to say that ,although I am very familiar with the Ipswich Borough Collection- I don't recollect ever having seen this painting. Wish I had ! Ipswich Borough have a lot of nice paintings that the public never get to see- a point that has been commented on locally. Emma Roodhouse does try and get exhibitions of unseen stuff up on the walls- but it proves difficult for her!
This is similar to a work by Furse in the Tate ( Martin above) - though smaller- and uses similar colours- but that doesn't really mean anything. I would have thought this was a job for science and a laboratory and a close look by an expert with a lens.

Peter Nahum,

This is almost certainly by an amateur and not professional painter. As stated already, it might well be a copy. Just look how the foremost dog is painted.

Hilary Underwood,

Painting is 152 cm high - about 5 feet in traditional measurements - which is large for amateur work. Another possibility is that it could be by an ambitious teenage student artist - 'difficult' passages like the sitter's head, the hand and the riding crop are surprisingly well drawn, but the figure is not well expressed through the clothing and the dogs are frankly inept. The paint also seems to have technical and condition issues . All these very compatible with typical late 19th century British fine art education, which had lots of careful drawing from the nude, but less training in composition and in the technique of painting, and usually little or nothing on animal drawing except in specialist private ateliers like Herkomer's in Bushey or (I think) Frank Calderon's in Kensington. The clothing with the blouse 'blousing' out over the waistband of the skirt is early 20th century, at which time Furse is a mature and accomplished artist, working in the J. S. Sargent mode with its emphasis on conveying the vitality of the sitter through arrested movement. It is certainly not by Furse.
The Art UK entry does not have detailed accession information, but the accession number implies a 1960 accession date, which is compatible with the dispersal of the estate of an elderly sitter/artist who was a young Edwardian. It would be useful if Ipswich was able to provide any further information on the history of the painting...

Louis Musgrove,

I have asked if this painting is on display anywhere so I can go and have a look, but no answer so far.
Tentatively might I suggest - to get the ball rolling--a local suffolk artist who used similar blues and greens- namely Amy Katherine Browning-- wife of Thomas Cantrell Dugdale.

The collection has no history file on this painting. The Curator will take photographs when she can get back to the store, but that will not be this week.

Marcie Doran,

Is it possible that this is an early self-portrait by the British-American artist Maud Earl (1863-1943)? First of all, I think this work was painted by a woman. And, anyone who paints two dogs likes to paint dogs.

I have attached several composites. The first compares the woman in the painting to a photo of Maud Earl. I think the face is very similar and the sitter is tall and lanky as was Maud Earl.

The second composite compares the black dog in the painting to a black dog in the 1908 work “A Black Setter” at The Old Courthouse, Greyabbey (https://tinyurl.com/ye8d2d5d). I think the faces of the dogs are very similar.

The third composite compares the brown dog in the painting to the West Highland White Terrier in the work “A Favorite Pet” at the William Secord Gallery, NY (https://tinyurl.com/5ntb64t6). I think the scruffiness of the dogs is similar.

The only painting of a person that I could find is her “Young Girl and Her Dog” on ArtNet (https://tinyurl.com/b49979zv) and it is somewhat similar in style, in my opinion.

Marcie Doran,

I have attached a Maud Earl portrait of a Jack Russell Terrier from the website of Helen Storey Antiques (https://tinyurl.com/w3468h2p). I think the somewhat messy beige background and reddish-brown pillow are similar in colour to the sky and land in the Art UK work. It seems to me that this is an early work of hers. The website indicates that she has also decorated the frame.

I have also attached two composites of the woman in the painting and photos of Maud Earl. The first source is Cathy Hatfield’s website https://tinyurl.com/3z32zndb. That photo is also on Ancestry. Obviously she is older in the photo but her eyes are very similar to the ones in the painting.

The second source is “The Sketch” of June 26, 1901. The white blouse and long dark skirt are similar to the ones in the painting. I realize that it was a typical outfit for that era.

Osmund Bullock,

Maud Earl was an always competent, usually excellent animal painter, and immeasurably better than this - her canine anatomy is very sound. As Peter Nahum observed a year ago, the front dog is very poor and clearly by an untrained hand (which Earl was not); and the black Lab behind is so out of proportion to its owner that she looks like she could put her head in its mouth with room to spare.

You suggest it might be an early work. Well, here is one of 1887 that also includes human figures: https://bit.ly/3EaAGj2. And here's another of 1884, when she was just 21: https://bit.ly/38ZOkXW. Her capabilities in these are already very evident, and far beyond those of our artist, so presumably you think she painted it well before that. But the clothes of the woman in our painting indicate a later date, not an earlier one - she is inescapably Edwardian, and simply cannot be as early as even 1890, let alone 1880. See these very interesting photos of ordinary women on the street c.1905-8: https://bit.ly/3liHS3Y. As for any shared likeness between Earl and the sitter in ours, looking at your own comparison images I can see none whatever - the eyes in particular are of a completely different shape. And the similarity in dress? Well, you say it yourself - it was the fashion, and millions of young women dressed like this.

One thing intrigues me: the Collection dates it as "c.1909", an oddly unround number to choose for a "circa" description...unless they have some reason to associate it with that year. Do they?

Marcie Doran,

Those are all excellent points, Osmund. Thank you.

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