Completed Dress and Textiles, Portraits: British 19th C, East of England and the Midlands: Artists and Subjects 22 Did Eden Upton Eddis paint this portrait of brewer and politician Michael Thomas Bass?

DBY_DEMAG_DCT_5
Topic: Artist

This article from the Derby Mercury dated 30th November 1870 indicates that the artist was ‘Mr Eddies’.
https://d3d00swyhr67nd.cloudfront.net/_file/art_detective/portrait-p622.pdf

Art UK adds: Could this be Eden Upton Eddis (1812–1901)?
https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/view_as/grid/search/makers:eden-upton-eddis-18121901

Paul Kettlewell, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. We have concluded that this is the portrait of Bass by Eden Upton Eddis (1812–1901) which was commissioned by Derby Town Council for the Guildhall Council Chamber in 1870.

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.

21 comments

Martin Hopkinson,

It would be worth checking the exhibition catalogues of the Birmingham Academy of Arts, now the Royal Birmingham Society of Arts

Martin Hopkinson,

compare the sitter's left hand in Eddis' later portrait of Baron Cottesloe- 1881 [County Hall Aylesbury]

Angela Lennox,

Looking at the hands, hair, eyebrows and chair, I would say they were the same artist. The chair in another portrait by Eddis below, shows a taller version of the chair. The light is painted the same and the woodwork has a similar depth of colour to it revealing the wear and patina of tactile use.
The hands are painted beautifully and the right hand looks as if it is about to move. I enjoy this artist and think he unveils real character of the sitter in his work although he has a mixed bag. Some of his early artwork has a weird single dimension to it compared to his later work.
https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/sir-charles-edward-trevelyan-18091886-1st-bt-167918/view_as/grid/search/makers:eden-upton-eddis-18121901/page/2

Barbara Bryant,

I think we need some more information about this painting if we are going to seek an attribution to Eddis. Is there anything on the back--labels, marks of any kind, etc? Hopefully the collection might look at the work and let us know.

Martin Hopkinson,

However, we do have the newspaper report. If is not by Eden Upton Eddis, we need to find another candidate of a similar name - a wife, child or relative perhaps. The artist was reasonably proficient and unlikely to be an amateur given the standing within the community.

Martin Hopkinson,

An earlier half length oil portrait of Bass by a different artist can be found on Grace's Guide to British Industrial History

Barbara Bryant,

Here attached. Agreed, Martin, that Eddis is likely. But if this was an honorific portrait of an important member of the community, there should be some indication of the artist (even though these identifications can go astray) attached to the painting in some form (or in the records concerning the painting). Perhaps if we knew that the collection/museum had obtained the portrait from the Town Hall in Derby (where, according to the newspaper article, it had been placed in the Council Chamber from 1870 onward), it would give additional support to the attribution.

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Andrea Kollmann,

The Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal (Nov, 25th, 1870) reported about "The portrait of Mr. Bass, painted by E.U. Eddis, ...".

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Q.E.D. Interesting sitter: declined all public honours in the 'Beerage' for his philanthropy, which (though only partly for that reason) saw his equally philanthropic son Michael Arthur Bass MP first become a baronet and later 1st Baron Burton or Rangemore and Burton-on-Trent, Staffs. The Bass legacy of fine late Victorian/Edwardian brewery and other building there is still evident despite systematic 're-development' wrecking in the town in the 1960/70s, effectively stopped from becoming more complete by the Civic Society active at that time, especially a man called Jim Lloyd (who I remember). Rangemore Hall was demolished, but its still an attractive red-brick estate village largely built by Michael Arthur, though I last saw it before the National Football Academy was built nearby....

Martin Hopkinson,

I do wonder if this is not the prime version of the portrait by Eddis as its quality seems to be a little below that of many of his portraits

Barbara Bryant,

Martin, I'm glad you said it. Most of Eddis's output seems more accomplished than the picture under discussion. Let's keep trying to get some more information. It does seem clear that there was a portrait of Bass by Eddis once in the Council Chamber in Derby but whether this is it is another question. Can the collection give any further information?

Barbara Bryant,

After nearly a year, we probably won't get more information about this picture. But I can add something relevant. Attached is a photograph of the Council Chamber in Derby in 1954 (also another similar view), as seen here: https://bit.ly/30giDF4
and https://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/news/nostalgia/looking-back-many-buildings-derbys-2028173
There on the right side is the portrait of Bass that is under discussion. And since we know Eddis painted a portrait of Bass for Derby (from local newspaper articles provided by Paul and Andrea) it must confirm that that is our portrait. It once had an inscribed gilded plaque which would have recorded the artist, title, date, etc. Perhaps the Derby Civic Treasures Collection might still have it somewhere.

Earlier comments, mine included, thought the portrait not up to Eddis's standard. But this one does date from a later stage in his career in 1870. If we compare it to another late work (Lord Cottesloe of 1881 https://bit.ly/2Ckayak ), as Martin suggested, there is a similar tightness to the handling. It might be a replica, but since Derby Town Council commissioned the portrait to honour Bass's philanthropy , it is likely to be the prime original. The question is resolved. This is the portrait by Eddis that was in the Council Chamber in Derby. Thanks to Paul for opening the discussion and to Martin and others for essential contributions.

Derby Museums and Art Gallery,

Hello all,

I've just received your update to my inbox Barbara; what fantastic sleuthing!

We were originally listed as being a contact for this collection, but have since confirmed with Art UK that this is not the case since our transfer to charitable trust status in 2012.

I am aware from recent correspondence that there was a gap in recruiting to the Mayor's Office following the retirement of our previous contact there. However, it looks as though there may now be someone in post I could ask about this portrait; assuming they can access the civic area at the city Council House during the current situation. I'll let you know about this.

Kind regards,
Lucy

Derby Museums and Art Gallery,

Hi all,

Just to update you, I have now made contact with the new post holder at the Mayor's Office. We have agreed that I will go in and have a look at the portrait when it's possible to do so - hopefully over the next few months all being well. I can then let you know if there are any labels or inscriptions that might help with this query.

In the meantime, very best wishes to you all.

Hello Lucy,

Thank you for offering to check the picture when the collection re-opens. It will be good to know whether there is anything significant there, although there is no need to check in order to close the discussion. We know from the newspaper articles that Eddis’s portrait of Bass was in the Council Chamber from 1870 onward and it is in the 1954 photograph of the Chamber. As Barbara says, finding the plaque or other label is not necessary to attribute this picture to Eddis, but we do need your agreement to update the record please.

Kind regards,
Marion

Derby Museums and Art Gallery,

Hi Marion,

I would be more than happy for you to update the record based on the research that has been carried out, although I should reiterate that I am not responsible for this collection. However, it is possible that it may take a little time to set up a new collections agreement with the City Council, so I would be happy to help until then if I can.

Kind regards,
Lucy

As Marion says, 22 July 2020, "Thank you for offering to check the picture when the collection re-opens. It will be good to know whether there is anything significant there, although there is no need to check in order to close the discussion."

On this basis I would ask Art UK to formally close this discussion, which has been satisfactorily concluded. Thereafter updating the record is subject to the agreement of the collection.

Jacob, since I've been in touch with Derby City Council again today in the hope of finding someone to authorise this update I'll give them a chance to respond first.