Completed East of England: Artists and Subjects, British 19th C, except portraits 23 Could this work be of Fen Bridge on the Stour and by John Dunthorne III?

Landscape with a River and Bridge
Topic: Subject or sitter

http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/artists/john-iii-dunthorne

Martin Hopkinson, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. In the absence of any conclusive identification of either artist or location, this record will stay as it is.

It is thought more than likely that the old wooden bridge depicted in the painting no longer exists or if it does exist it would be in a more modern form, thus making exact comparison rather difficult. Regarding the location of the bridge depicted there was insufficient evidence to identify it as the Fen Bridge on the Stour (the Stour is wider at this point than the river in the painting) or the old bridge at Burwell Lode near Newmarket (the landscape at Burwell doesn't fit well with the artist's image). There is insufficient evidence at present to attribute the painting to John Dunthorne III.

Thank you to everyone for participating in this discussion. To those viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all the comments that led to this conclusion.

22 comments

I think it would help in moving this discussion forward if for the present we separate the two issues raised by Martin, namely the identity of the artist and then the location of the bridge depicted. The Dunthornes were an interesting family of artists and of course their connection to John Constable is well known. I am sure someone will correct me if I am wrong, but it is my understanding that John Dunthorne III (1770-1844) was so designated because there were two other Dunthornes working as artists in the area at the time, who were very possibly unrelated. Dunthorne III had a son, also John Dunthorne (1798-1832) who was a talented painter and picture restorer. His work appears to be of superior quality to that of his father, whose known output is somewhat limited and he is sometimes referred to as an amateur artist. It occurs to me that the present painting could be by the younger John Dunthorne who worked in Constable's studio. I would hope that there will be curators, dealers or collectors reading this who will be able to help in identifying whether this painting is indeed by one of the Dunthornes and if so, which one. Contributions will be most welcome. Also it would help enormously to hear from those of you who have a good knowledge of the history and landscape of the area along the River Stour around Dedham in helping to identify the bridge depicted in this painting.

The bridge has not yet been identified , but it is unlikely that a rural early 19th c. wooden bridge would still exist in its original form.

However it is certainly similar in form to the famous bridge at Flatford, see http://www.loweswatercam.co.uk/110822_Constable_Country.htm, and http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/19820/lot/154/ and for a 19th c. view http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/drawings-watercolors/english-school-19th-century-flatford-bridge-river-5173667-details.aspx.

There is a smaller example of this type of bridge in Constable's drawing http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O248908/a-bridge-over-the-stour-watercolour-constable/ and doubtless there were very many other similar bridges nearby.

There seem to be rather few paintings firmly attributable to John Dunthorne III (1770-1844), Constable's first tutor, and John Dunthorne IV (1798-1832), his studio assistant. The former's 'Flatford Lock' (https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/flatford-lock-suffolk-2299) and the latter's 'Salisbury Cathedral...' (see http://a-l-ancien-regime.tumblr.com/post/37758698094/salisbury-cathedral-john-dunthorne-the-younger) and 'The Rainbow, near Salisbury' (http://collections.britishart.yale.edu/vufind/Record/1670907) are among their best. Are they as good as the Ashmolean's 'Landscape...'?

Martin Hopkinson,

The bridge is certainly similar , but the struts supporting the rail are different

Dear Patty Macsisak

The photograph of the painting on flickr is I believe the same work shown in its frame. Mrs Weldon bequeathed this painting in 1937.

Regards

Cath Casley
Collections Manager, Department of Western Art, Ashmolean Museum

Martin Hopkinson,

The Old Cock Up Bridge looks very similar. Inspection of the site on the ground should establish whether the river has a similar bend and houses on the left bank

Patty Macsisak,

Thanks much for the correct date, Ms. Casley. I tried to confirm the date before posting, but the search was unsuccessful. Best, PM

This discussion has been open for over two years and in the absence of further comment for more than a year, it is my recommendation that the discussion should be brought to a close. We are no further forward in identifying the artist and the whereabouts of the location is still speculation only. In my view, the Collection may wish to consider altering the artist from 'British School' to '19th East Anglian School' and perhaps being a little more specific with regards to the title. 'Rural landscape with a river and wooden bridge' may be more descriptive that the current title.

Jade King,

The collection have been contacted about this recommendation.

Kieran Owens,

May I ask what is the thinking behind closing any discussions without their being resolved, no matter what time has passed since the last posting? Is there some cost to Art UK involved in keeping them open? For instance, the discussion relating to 'Bradda Head', by John James Story (c.1828–1899), was recently resolved, despite a two year gap between significant postings. A scan down Art UK's "Cpmpleted" list shows that there are many discussion that are initiated and for which the passage of a year or two without postings passes, only for a fresh pair of eyes to reveal the solution. As experience, insights and technologies improve, new sources of enquiry can be utilised to identify names, titles etc.. Surely as these research tools continue to improve there is good sense in keeping all unresolved discussion alive.

Thank you Kieran for your two comments. In regard to the second point about the Florence Joy Weldon bequest perhaps Edward will be kind enough to raise the issue with Cath Casley, the Collections Manager at the Ashmolean? My feeling is that it is unlikely that the will of Ms Weldon will have specified the exact nature of her collection, the usual provision being the beneficiary 'to have a choice from whatever paintings I may have in my collection at my death'.

In regard to your first point about whether to close or not to close discussions, that is something for UK Art to agree with the individual collections. Group Leaders can recommend, others decide. In this case the discussion has been open for nearly four years and it is more than a year ago since the collection and Art UK were going to discuss the direction of the discussion. As one of the Group Leaders involved I think it is right that I should call for a further review given the passage of time without any activity. What it has done is to prompt your post with further ideas which is most welcome. Hopefully anyone else with a contribution to this discussion will now be motivated to post it! More generally it is my view that discussions should not continue ad infinitum if there is no reasonable prospect of progress. As you will know Art UK maintains a database of all closed discussions, whether resolved or unresolved, which appear in online search engine results. If and when new information comes to light those discussions may well be re-opened. In these circumstances I do not think there is a real risk of valuable new information not surfacing as a result of discussion closure. However Art UK may well wish to consider your comments, for which thank you again.

Kieran Owens,

Grant,

your point about the will is understandable. My hope was that, in assessing the considerable value of Ms. Weldon's estate at the time of her death, the appropriate authorities might have made an inventory with attached values.

Regarding the closing of discussions, many thanks for your most comprehensive and sensible explanation. In more ways than were initially obvious, I am learning that the ongoing participation in this wonderful endeavour leads to a deeper understanding of the inner workings of the whole project.

Osmund Bullock,

Kieran, there have been no official inventories attached to England & Wales wills since the Probate Registry replaced the various ecclesiastical courts in 1858. Before that they were technically required, but few have survived - and in any case they very seldom itemize individual works of art.

You will occasionally find some artworks mentioned by name in the will itself (though an artist's name is seldom mentioned), but this has progressively become rarer as time has worn on. The sort of item by item valuation you describe has never been part of the will & probate documentation (which is by law publicly-accessible...at a price!). If a detailed valuation existed it would have been (as it is today) part of the supporting information submitted by the executors to the Inland Revenue/HMRC for estate duty/inheritance tax calculation, and like all tax matters remains strictly confidential.

Kieran Owens,

Osmund, as ever, I learn more and more, for which I thank you and others for your tolerance and patience.

Just to point out that all Completed Discussions are not just accessible through search engines but on Art Detective itself, under Completed Discussions tab on the Discussions page.

A quirk of Art Detective I have commented on in the past is that Discussions recommended for closure by a Group Leader can remain open if the collection does not respond to the recommendation.

And, as Grant points out, completed discussions can be reopened as new discussions, and have been.

Dear All, I am sorry not to have responded sooner but I have no new information for you all. The curator believes if we can identify the artist we may then be able to work on the location of the bridge. The name (Henry) Bright of Norwich has been suggested. I have looked at the picture file and the list of paintings based on Mrs Weldon's will but the title there is not illuminating in any way. I am happy to try other avenues but not sure what to suggest as the files in the collection archives have drawn a blank.

As this discussion has been open for more than four years I have reviewed all the comments made to date with a view to submitting a recommendation.

In regard to the location of the bridge depicted I am not convinced that it is either the Fen Bridge on the Stour (the Stour is wider at this point than the river in the painting) or the old bridge at Burwell Lode near Newmarket (the landscape at Burwell doesn't fit well with the artist's image). As Andrew Greg noted, it is more than likely that the old wooden bridge depicted in the painting no longer exists or if it does exist it would be in a more modern form, thus making exact comparison rather difficult.

The information left by the donor of the painting in 1937, the late Mrs Weldon, is not sufficient for the Collection to either identify the artist or the subject of this painting.

There is insufficient evidence at present to attribute the painting to John Dunthorne III. In my view, the work is also unlikely to be by Henry Bright although it is probable that this is an East Anglian School work by an, as yet, unknown hand. The artist may well have been in the circle around John Constable.

In my view, the Collection may wish to consider altering the artist from 'British School' to '19th Century East Anglian School' and perhaps being a little more specific with regards to the title. 'Rural landscape with a river and wooden bridge' may be more descriptive that the current title.

In the absence of any conclusive identification of either artist or location, I am afraid we will have to leave things as they are. Thank you all for your interest in this work.