Completed Portraits: British 19th C, Portraits: British 20th C 20 Could this be the work of Gabriel Émile Edouard Nicolet?

COL_BAR_SBHX_7_81
Topic: Artist

Is this by Gabriel Émile Edouard Nicolet (1856–1921), who exhibited a portrait of 'H.R.H. The Duke of Cambridge' as No.46 at the Society of Portrait Painters in 1903?

The style seems to be compatible with the two paintings under his name on Your Paintings.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/paintings/lieutenant-general-sir-reginald-pole-carew-18491924-kcb-cv99067

http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/paintings/lady-beatrice-butler-lady-pole-carew-18761952-99066

Martin Hopkinson, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

Jade King,

This painting is now listed as depicting Adolphus, 1st Duke of Cambridge, painted by Eduard von Heuss (1808 – 1881), c.1842. A description can also be added to the record.

These amends will appear on the Art UK website in due course. Thank you to all for participating in this discussion. To those viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all comments that led to this conclusion.

19 comments

I must admit I can't see what Martin sees in the comparisons. Both the Nicolet's are surely much more painterly and of their time than this rather old fashioned portrait that looks much earlier, perhaps even mid- or third quarter of 19th c. I don't think it can possibly be be 1903.

In fact I also strongly doubt the sitter identification. All portraits of the mature Duke of Cambridge in the NPG show him with a moustache. This portrait does not. The nose shape is also quite different.

Edward Stone,

St Bartholomew’s Hospital Museum and Archive indicate that they have little information on the early provenance of the painting. It was originally hung at the German Hospital in East London until its closure in 1987. The second Duke of Cambridge was the President of the Hospital from 1850–1904.

The collection are not aware of a connection between Nicolet and the Hospital, but as the artist spent time in Germany, suggest the possibility that he may have had some connection.

Hi Andrea

Many thanks for this. According to our catalogue, the identification of the sitter was confirmed by the National Portrait Gallery in the 1970s, but I can find no further details of this, and since it is clearly a version of the portraits you like to of the 1st Duke of Cambridge, I will update our catalogue accordingly. Many thanks for pointing this out.

Martin Hopkinson,

The 1st Duke of Cambridge died in 1850, and this would rule out Nicolet as the artist. However, it should be remembered on other occasions that most exhibitions of the Society of Portrait Painters and of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters included a small number of portraits of sitters who has been dead for some time, and likewise by artists who were no longer alive [Millais, Whistler, Holl etc.] Occasionally a painting on show was executed as much as 30 or more years before
None of this, however, should negate the conclusions outlined above

Good that St Bart's have accepted the identification of the sitter as the 1st Duke of Cambridge, but what about the attribution? It might be worth making a tentative 'Attributed to, or style of, Samuel Hawksett (1776-1851)', similarly the version in Kew.

Martin Hopkinson,

Another portrait probably by the same artist as this one is the unattributed portrait of Sir Charles Robinson Morgan , 1st Baron Tredegar in Brecknock Museum and Art Gallery

Martin Hopkinson,

I have considerable doubts that the artist is Samuel Hawksett, a Belfast painter, whose clientele does not seem to have included the peerage. Neither seems to have any resemblance with the portrait of Professor James Seaton Reid in the Hunterian Art Gallery, which is a secure work by him. Eileen Black's article 'Hard Times: an episode of the life of the Belfast painter, Samuel Hawksett' , Irish architectural and decorative studies- The Journal of the Irish Georgian Society, XI, 2008, pp.56-73 clearly needs to be consulted . Hawksett was founder Treasurer of the Belfast Association of Artists [first exhibition in 1836]
All the portraits recorded by him on Artuk.org are in Belfast or Armagh, the exception being the portrait of Reid, who was a distinguished Irish Presbyterian minister, who became Professor of Church History in Glasgow in 1841. That portrait may well have been painted in Belfast.

Sorry only to pick up on this now. Must be the improved Art UK website that prompted me to look at it. It is clear the picture is not by Nicolet, as Andrew Greg noted early on, and is not the 2nd Duke, as Andrea established. The other version of the portrait at Kew is correctly identified as the 1st Duke of Cambridge, so that put us on the right track.
I agree with Martin that Hawksett is unlikely to be the originator of the portrait, and is just a copyist.
As Edward pointed out, the portrait under discussion hung at the German Hospital in Dalston in the East End of London (founded 1845). It was most likely given to the Hospital by the 1st Duke who was a founding patron of this institution which offered free treatment to German speaking immigrants (see http://ezitis.myzen.co.uk/german.html).
Now the search gets interesting. Portraits of royal individuals are likely to be well-documented. And this one is no exception. But because Art UK does not include works in the Royal Collection, one has to extend the search. And I think the excellent Royal Collection website offers our answer. There is a miniature of 1844 by Henry Bone of the 1st Duke: https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/search#/21/collection/421916/adolphus-duke-of-cambridge-1774-1850. I believe this shows the head from our portrait. Information on the Royal Collection website tells of an inscription on the back of the miniature indicating that it was copied from an oil by Heuss, and that artist is identified as Eduard Heuss (von Heuss) (1808 – 81), painter of a portrait of the 1st Duke. The Royal Collection indicates that the miniature records a lost oil portrait of the Duke which originally hung in, yes, the German Hospital.
So the pieces fit together. Our picture is likely to be by Heuss and one might add that it is probably the work exhibited by the artist at the Royal Academy in 1842 (although Graves lists this artist as F. Heuss, I don't think there can be any doubt it is Eduard).
Comparisons with other works by Eduard Heuss show very similar style and handling, see in the Royal Collection https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/search#/4/collection/404904/charles-prince-of-leiningen-1804-1856 and also see https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Eduard_von_Heuss#/media/File:August_Georg_zu_Leiningen_2JS.jpg

Appropriately, Heuss, a visiting German artist painted the portrait which went to the German Hospital. Heuss's nationality means he is not well-represented in British collections. But on a larger point, one could say that all this might have been solved (at least with reference to comparisons via sitter and artist, if not medium) with a few clicks (it took me somewhat longer) if the Royal Collection works of art were integrated into Art UK. But then that would give us less to do on Art Detective. It is good that everyone benefits, as the Royal Collection now know that their miniature by Bone of the Duke is most likely copied from the portrait by Heuss at St. Bartholomew's Hospital and Art Detective has found an attribution (and a correct identification of the sitter) for a very interesting portrait.

The version of the portrait at Kew cannot be absolutely ruled out as the original but without comparing the St. Bart's picture with it, one cannot say for sure. Although I would think that given the Duke's association with the German Hospital that that institution received the prime version. And looking at the images we have available on Art Detective, I would say that the version at Kew appears harder and less like Heuss's style, so more likely to be done at second hand by someone working from the original.

If anyone has any further comments, do send in; I will then make a recommendation to close the discussion.

Martin Hopkinson,

This is splendid work, Barbara. I always thought that this portrait was by a Continental artist and that a German portraitist was most likely as a candidate. Thanks for pointing to the Royal Collection's on line records, which should be a great help in identifying artists of quite a few portraits of the extended royal family on Artuk.org

Oliver Perry,

A couple of things indicate that this portrait may have purchased by the German Hospital rather than presented. They seem first to have intended to commission a portrait from Rudolph Lehmann, who wrote in his 1894 memoirs:

"The same bad luck pursued me through the death of the old Duke of Cambridge, whose portrait I was to have painted for the German Hospital in London."

The second is a passing mention in "Charity and the London Hospitals, 1850-1898" by Keir Waddington, which says "At the German Hospital a subcommittee was appointed in 1851 to purchase a portrait of the duke of Cambridge, the hospital's president".

Unfortunately this doesn't make clear whether the first or second duke is referred to; but the reference to purchase rather than commission would, I imagine indicate the first.

Furthermore Kew also has the companion portait of the Duchess of Cambridge; Heuss exhibited paintings of both at the RA in 1842. http://artuk.org/discover/artworks/augusta-wilhelmina-louisa-17971889-duchess-of-cambridge-87592

Osmund Bullock,

Yes, well done indeed, Barbara.

Prince Adolphus, the first Duke, was closely associated with the hospital from its very beginnings. In June 1845 he chaired a public meeting of the provisional committee to discuss and raise funds for its establishment, and it was resolved there that the Duke be asked to act as President of the Institution. After it opened (in converted premises) later that year, he appears regularly in newspaper reports as president and chairman of the Governors' meetings and Anniversary Dinners up to a few months before his death in July 1850. Oliver must surely be right that it was he who was the subject of the planned portrait purchase in 1851. I can't, unfortunately, find any reference to when and if it actually happened.

The confusion with his son Prince George, the 2nd Duke, is understandable, as within ten days of Adolphus's death the Governors had resolved to ask the new Duke to replace his father as President, and he was in place by February 1851, chairing the annual fund-raising dinner over which his father had presided a year earlier. It was George who opened the hospital's new buildings in 1864 - his name is still inscribed over the door - while his father was commemorated by a ward named in his honour. See attached.

As per Oliver's comment on Rudolf Lehmann, more would need to be done on this and how the German Hospital obtained the portrait.
But thanks to Oliver another unknown ArtUK portrait can be identified. The work at Kew showing Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge is by John Lucas and is likely to be the painting exhibited at the RA in 1839. http://www.artuk.org/discover/artworks/augusta-wilhelmina-louisa-17971889-duchess-of-cambridge-87592/view_as/grid/search/works:augusta-wilhelmina-louisa-17971889-duchess-of-cambridge/page/1. as we know from the lithograph of 1842 in the Royal Collection, cited above.

In conjunction with my more detailed comments two weeks ago, I now propose to close this discussion (with thanks to Martin for introducing the topic and all the other contributors). To correct on ArtUK: the sitter is Adolphus, 1st Duke of Cambridge, not George, the 2nd Duke. The Royal Collection's miniature portrait of the Duke by Henry Bone in 1844 was the major clue to finding the artist of this previously unattributed portrait at St Bartholomew's Hospital. It has been especially satisfying to identify the artist as Eduard Heuss (1808 – 81) whose work is not represented in any UK public collections (other than the Royal Collection), so can now be added to ArtUK. One of Heuss's best known works is the portrait of the sculptor Thorwaldsen in his studio in Rome (1834; Mainz), so we know Heuss worked throughout Europe.

We can also say that the portrait of the Duke at Kew is a version of Heuss's portrait and most likely to be a copy, though curators there might like to look into this further. http://artuk.org/discover/artworks/adolphus-frederick-17741850-duke-of-cambridge-87596/search/venue:collection-of-the-herbarium-library-art-archives-royal-botanic-gardens-kew-4999/page/8/view_as/grid.

The 1st Duke of Cambridge, whose wife was a German princess, had strong ties with Hanover where he lived for some years until 1837. Importing Heuss for his portrait (exh. RA 1842) is understandable. This work will be an interesting addition to the iconography of Adolphus, 1st Duke of Cambridge. The account of the portrait being in the German Hospital in Dalson, the Duke's charitable work for it, and the acquisition of the painting to hang there, gives us an insight into how painted portraits functioned in 19C society.

Jade King,

Many thanks, Barbara. The collection has been contacted about this recommendation.

Jade King,

The collection accept the recommendation, noting:

'I am happy to accept the identification of the painter as Heuss, and have added the following information to our own catalogue, which will be updated to the listing on the online version of the catalogue at the next update in a month or two:

Prince Adolphus Frederick, 1st Duke of Cambridge, was President of the German Hospital, 1845-1850, and a founding patron, and it is likely that this portrait was purchased by the hospital, c.1851. Keir Waddington notes in "Charity and the London Hospitals, 1850-1898" that "At the German Hospital a subcommittee was appointed in 1851 to purchase a portrait of the duke of Cambridge, the hospital's president". This doesn't make clear whether the first or second duke is referred to; but the reference to purchase rather than commission suggests that it is more likely to have been a portrait of the hospital's late President. The hospital's Governors seem first to have intended to commission a portrait from Rudolph Lehmann, who wrote in his 1894 memoirs: "The same bad luck pursued me through the death of the old Duke of Cambridge, whose portrait I was to have painted for the German Hospital in London."

The subject has sometimes been wrongly identified as Chevalier Bunsen, or as a member of the Schroeder family. It was identified in the 1970s by the National Portrait Gallery as Prince George, second Duke of Cambridge (who was President of the German Hospital, 1850-1904). However, in 2015-2016, researchers on the Public Catalogue Foundation Art Detective website identified that this portrait is similar to portraits of HRH Prince Adolphus Frederick (1774–1850), 1st Duke of Cambridge, held in the Collections of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and one by George Pycock Everett Green, held at The Foundling Museum.

A miniature in the Royal Collection of the 1st Duke of 1844 by Henry Bone (https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/search#/21/collection/421916/adolphus-duke-of-cambridge-1774-1850) appears to show the head from the German Hospital version. Information on the Royal Collection website tells of an inscription on the back of the miniature indicating that it was copied from an oil by Heuss, and that artist is identified as Eduard Heuss (von Heuss) (1808?-?81), painter of a portrait of the 1st Duke, which originally hung in the German Hospital. This portrait is therefore likely to be by Heuss and one might add that it is probably the work exhibited by the artist at the Royal Academy in 1842 (although Graves lists this artist as F. Heuss, I don't think there can be any doubt it is Eduard). Comparisons with other works by Eduard Heuss show very similar style and handling. The version of the portrait at Kew cannot be absolutely ruled out as the original, but given the Duke's association with the German Hospital it seems likely that this is the prime version.

The portrait depicts the Duke seated in front of a curtain, in black frock coat, white waistcoat and blue sash. See also SBHX7/80 for another portrait of the same subject.'