Completed Portraits: British 18th C 27 Did Bartholomew Dandridge paint 'Three Children in a Park'?

Three Children in a Park
Topic: Artist

Manchester City Galleries purchased this charming painting from the dealer C. Marshall Spink of London in November 1950. The curator, J. Selby Whittingham, did not suggest an attribution at the time. However, in the file for the work is a note:

'3 Children in a Park
'John Ingamells suggests attribution to Dandridge "seems to be very near D. (with the rather distinctive drawing of the cheeks)" – letter to G. L. Conran 2 July 1976'

What do Art Detective contributors think about this suggestion of Dandridge?

Other observations, especially on the wheeled chair, also gratefully received.

Hannah Williamson
Curator, Fine Art, Manchester City Galleries

Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. The discussion was inconclusive and the painting is still recorded as 'British (English) School'.

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.


Tim Williams,

Seems more Arthur Devis than Dandridge, though I'm not sure it's either. There are a few painters around Devis who did similar family/garden groupings .

Patty Macsisak,

Please consider whether the painting depicts the entrance to Prior Park in Bath. I am unable to locate images of the original configuration or the exact date they were built other than "during the Ralph Allen years" (ca. 1742-1764).

Also, please note the similarities (e.g., carved chair retrofitted onto platform with cart wheels and hook for pulling) between the pictured wheeled chair and the ones in “The Graham Children” (1742) by William Hogarth (1697-1764) and "The Grymes Children" (1751) by John Hesselius (1728-1778).

Patty Macsisak,

Perhaps the following books (to which I do not have access) would be of help in your research:

The Devis Family of Painters: Arthur Devis, 1711-1787 / Anthony Devis, 1729-1816 / Thomas Anthony Devis, 1757-1810 / Arthur William Devis, 1762-1822 / Robert Marris, 1750-1827
by Sydney Herbert PAVIÈRE 1950

by Ellen G. D'Oench Published by Yale Centre For British Art. 1st. 1980

Published by Harris Museum And Art Gallery, Preston. 1st. 1983

Manchester Art Gallery,

Just wanted to acknowledge contributions - gratefully received. I agree with Tim that I'm not sure this painting is either Devis or Dandridge. Comparison pictures of wheeled chairs interesting.
Hannah Williamson
Manchester City Galleries

Bendor Grosvenor,

Can't immediately see Dandridge in this one (excepting perhaps things like a very early work), but would be great to see a better photo.

Amanda Draper,

Arriving rather late to the discussion ... but Arthur Devis should be discounted. The handling of tree foliage and hands is too lax; he was very particular about both. Also the boy's torso and legs are too sturdy for Devis, whose figures were very slender.

I've double-checked in Paviere and Sartin as Patty suggests above and this painting isn't listed as something ever attributed to Devis.

Manchester Art Gallery,

Unless there is anymore to be added can it be agreed that the artist remains unknown?

We're sorry that the request to close this was overlooked in 2018. Unless Bendor would like to add more, we will do it as soon as he confirms that as leader of the group.

Marcie Doran,

Just a suggestion, but I think the little girl in pink might be Dorothea Byrne, who is shown in the c. 1750 painting “Meriel Legh and Dorothea Byrne”. The face is the same and she is wearing the same pink dress and the same cap.

Marcie Doran,

The three children shown are Dorothea Byrne, Meriel Legh Byrne and Peter Byrne. Peter became Sir Peter Leicester, bart, was born in Dec. 1732 in England. His red waistcoat is a signal of his status.

Dorothea Byrne later married Richard Parry Price of Bryn-y-Pys Hall, Overton. Meriel reportedly died young (hence shown in chair for invalids).

Peter was the oldest son and heir of Meriel Leicester and her second husband, Sir John Byrne, bart of Timogue, Ireland, who were married in 1728 at Wotton.

Dorothea was born in 1740 and died at Overton, Cheshire on Dec. 11, 1761.

I am attaching a photo of the gates of the now demolished Bryn-y-Pas Hall in Overton, Cheshire. These gates can be seen in the background of the mystery painting.

1 attachment
Marcie Doran,

ArtUk has a painting of Peter that was painted when he was a grown man:

Sir Peter Byrne Leicester (1732–1770), Bt
Francis Cotes (1726–1770)
Tabley House

1 attachment
Marcie Doran,

I believe that the painter of both the mystery painting and “Meriel Legh and Dorothea Byrne” ( was Joseph Blackburn (American (born in England), active in North America 1753–1763).

While there are many similar elements that could be cited, note in particular the similarity of the colour, style and look of the pink dress in the two paintings in the UK and Mrs. Winslow’s dress in the following painting from 1755, which the Museum of Fine Arts Boston has in its collection:

“Isaac Winslow and His Family
Joseph Blackburn (American (born in England), active in North America 1753–1763) 1755
Oil on canvas
138.43 x 201.29 cm (54 1/2 x 79 1/4 in.)
A. Shuman Collection—Abraham Shuman Fund
Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch Gallery (Gallery 132)

After John Greenwood and Robert Feke, the next painter to portray Boston’s increasingly wealthy citizens was the British-born Joseph Blackburn. Blackburn, who was probably trained in England, came to Boston in 1755 by way of Bermuda and Newport. He brought with him a rococo palette of pale colors, a repertoire of graceful poses and compositions from recent English portraiture, and a talent for capturing lace and other materials in paint. He arrived in Boston at an opportune time: John Smibert had died in 1751, Feke and Greenwood had departed, and John Singleton Copley was only seventeen. Blackburn painted more than thirty portraits over the next four years, flattering his sitters with graceful gestures and exquisitely painted costumes.

Isaac Winslow, a member of Boston’s mercantile elite who had been painted by Feke just seven years before [42.424], was wealthy enough to afford this stylish group portrait of his family. While Blackburn had little interest in expressing the character of his sitters, he produced an accomplished painting in the latest London style with pleasing likenesses and elegant, undulating drapery. He presented Isaac Winslow in a cross-legged pose of studied nonchalance as the proud paterfamilias, deferring to his wife, Lucy Waldo Winslow, and family. By way of lighting, color, and placement, the figures of Mrs. Winslow and the children become the focus of the composition. The mother holds a coral-and-bells teething toy for Hannah, one of the livelier babies of pre-Revolutionary painting, who sits on her lap. Hannah has distinctively babylike feet and reaches intently for the fruit held by her sister, Lucy. Behind the elder girl stretches an idealized garden with a swan pond, alluding to the family’s prosperity.

Blackburn displayed his talent for depicting lace and shimmering satin in Mrs. Winslow’s informal rose-colored gown. Neither Mrs. Winslow nor her daughter Lucy is dressed in contemporary fashion, giving the portrait a timeless quality. Mrs. Winslow’s dress, simple hair style, and pose are reminiscent of English artist Godfrey Kneller’s early-eighteenth-century portraits, and Lucy’s dress, with its swagged sleeves and floating drapery, would not have been seen in Boston in the 1750s. The fruit Lucy holds in her apron was a common attribute for girls in the eighteenth century, symbolic of abundance.

By 1758, Copley had absorbed the vocabulary of Blackburn’s lighthearted rococo style and began to move beyond it to become Boston’s premier portraitist. It may be for this reason that Blackburn moved to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He worked there for five years before returning to England, where he continued to paint portraits until at least 1778.

This text was adapted from Elliot Bostwick Davis et al., American Painting[], MFA Highlights (Boston: MFA Publications, 2003).”

Osmund Bullock,

Marcie, it's probably best to avoid cutting and pasting huge chunks of text written by someone else into your posts, especially when exactly the same 50 or 60 lines of text can be read at the link you give us immediately above it! We want to know what *you* think and why, and that's always more persuasive when you've written it yourself.

Anyway I'm afraid I can see little similarity to the Winslow family group (other than period). At the most basic level its composition and mood are radically different: the figures almost fill the canvas, and though relaxed they're essentially still and composed, their status and ownership of all we see immediately clear. Our group is also relaxed, but in a mobile and playful way - the subjects are in a landscape, and belong there, but they do not dominate it.

If the MFA painting is representative of Blackburn, I don't believe our painting has anything to do with him, I'm afraid.

Marcie Doran,

As requested:
1. May I draw your attention to the straw hat that is trimmed with flowers in this painting “Mary Sylvester” (1754) by Blackburn at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The hat is nearly identical to the one held in Dorothea’s lap in “Meriel Legh and Dorothea Byrne”.

2. The lace-trimmed white cap of the youngest girl in the mystery painting is the same as that in the Boston painting “Isaac Winslow and His Family”.

3. Similar sprigs of flowers are on the ground in the mystery painting, on Dorothea’s cap in “Meriel Legh and Dorothea Byrne”, in the children’s hair in “Isaac Winslow and His Family” and in the lady’s hair in “Mary Sylvester”.

4. Note the signature on the staff in “Mary Sylvester”. The initials of Jacob Blackburn are possibly on or beside the lefthand flower in the foreground of the mystery painting.

5. Similar in both the mystery painting and “Isaac Winslow and His Family”:
- The fair complexions with tints of light pink;
- the forearm of the youngest child;
- the stone pillars in the background; and,
- the leaves of the large tree

6. The leaves of the large tree in the mystery painting are also the same as those in this painting in Boston from about 1757 “Mrs. Joseph Blaney (Abigail Browne)”

7. The pink dress with lace trim at the sleeves of the eldest girl in the mystery painting is nearly identical to the one in “Meriel Legh and Dorothea Byrne”(colour, sleeves, bodice, lace trim, white apron) and has been modified to suit an older woman, but is still nearly identical, in my opinion, in “Isaac Winslow and His Family”.

Jacob Simon,

This discussion, ‘Did Bartholomew Dandridge paint 'Three Children in a Park'?’, dating from 2015, reached a point in 2018 where Manchester Art Gallery proposed to close the discussion without conclusion (18/09/2018).

This was picked up in 2021 with a view to closing the discussion subject to confirmation from the group leader (15/06/2021). This was immediately followed by several user posts suggesting that Blackburn was the artist but, as Osmond has posted (25/06/2021), the suggestion did not stand up to scrutiny.

It seems to me that in the absence of a group leader we should follow the lead of Manchester Art Gallery from more than four years ago and close the discussion as inconclusive.

Manchester Art Gallery,

Manchester Art Gallery would like to thank all who participated in this discussion.

Jacob Simon,

Marion posted "We're sorry that the request to close this was overlooked in 2018. Unless Bendor would like to add more, we will do it as soon as he confirms that as leader of the group" (15/06/2021). Bendor is no longer group leader. In fact there is now no group leader.

Now, five years on from 2018, does Art UK have a mechanism for closing this discusion. Or is this a case that old discussions never die?

Marcie Doran,

Surely there is no compelling reason why the discussion of this delightful work should be closed.

This was one of the first discussions that I commented on in 2021. Now that I know how to prepare composites – yes, some would say that is unfortunate since I post so many – I have attached composites of this work and the similar 'Meriel Legh and Dorothea Byrne' to show that they are by the same artist. Here is a link to that work again.

Clearly the young girl in pink in both works is the same girl – possibly Dorothea Byrne (later Dorothea Parry Price)(1730–1761). The boy is possibly Sir Peter Byrne later Leicester (1732–1770). The parents of these two children passed away in 1742.

A portrait of the children's mother Lady Meriel Byrne (née Leicester)(25 November 1705–August 1742) is on Art UK. Her first husband was Fleetwood Legh.

There are certainly some explorations that still could be made. Perhaps images of the reverse of the two works could be obtained and compared. After all, this work is held by the Manchester Art Museum and 'Meriel Legh and Dorothea Byrne' was "transferred to the University of Manchester with the acquisition of the Tabley estate, 1976". And, perhaps the inventory of the Tabley estate (including paintings) at the link below could be reviewed for this work. Sometimes paintings are sold to pay estate taxes.

Marcie Doran,

A compendium of paintings at Tabley House that was published in 1825 includes only works by British artists.

This book mentions that paintings from Tabley House were sold at auction after the death in 1827 of Sir John Leicester, a great collector.

I’ve attached the references from the book as well as two articles that mention some of the paintings that were sold.

Jacob Simon,

“Clearly the young girl in pink in both works is the same girl” is the claim (previous post bar one). Certainly the costume is very similar in the two portraits in the composite -- fashionable dress in the mid-1730s for a young girl from a certain class in society. But the faces are fuller in the double portrait of Meriel Legh and Dorothea Byrne. In any case, as has often been said in discussions on Art Detective, superficial facial likeness is not a sufficient criterion for an identification.

As for the fact that both works are owned by Manchester institutions, it should be noted that Manchester Art Gallery’s “Three Children in a Park” was purchased from the London dealer, C. Marshall Spink in 1950. Unless Manchester Art Gallery has evidence to the contrary, the portrait could have been purchased by Spink anywhere in the country.

It may appear harsh but I think that suggestions like that in the preceding post bar one, “Perhaps images of the reverse of the two works could be obtained and compared” are unrealistic in more ways than one. Art Detective at its best can come up with brilliant identifications, often for 19th and 20th century works where the documentation is there if only it can be dug out. However Art Detective on occasion risks placing unrealistic and somewhat pointless demands on collections. Ultimately Art Detective depends on the goodwill of collections and we must be careful not to spoil that.

Were I the curator at Manchester, I would be asking questions to myself about how discussions of this sort are begun, managed and closed. [I was interviewed for a junior post at Manchester Art Gallery fifty years ago]

Marcie Doran,

I would just add for the record that one hundred years after the first Tabley House auction, Mr. Leicester Warren of Tabley House sold paintings at the Christie’s auction of 21 May 1927, in London.

Page two of the list from 2012 at the link shows that this work was "English School, 18thC Highmore, Joseph (formerly attributed to)".

Jacinto Regalado,

The painter of the two girls, while not front-rank, was better than that of the three children, whose work is clearly that of a minor provincial artist whose identity we are most unlikely to establish.

Jacob Simon,

This discussion, ‘Did Bartholomew Dandridge paint 'Three Children in a Park'?’, dating from 2015, reached a point in 2018 where Manchester Art Gallery proposed to close the discussion without conclusion (18/09/2018).

This was picked up in 2021 with a view to closing the discussion subject to confirmation from the group leader (15/06/2021). This was immediately followed by several user posts suggesting that Blackburn was the artist but, as Osmond posted (25/06/2021), the suggestion did not stand up to scrutiny.

I recommend that we now close the discussion as inconclusive.