Completed Maritime Subjects, Scotland: Artists and Subjects 21 Did Edwin Hayes, not Claude Hayes, paint this view of Tantallon Castle?

Tantallon Castle
Topic: Artist

The 1909 Royal Academy catalogue and 1913 Christie's catalogue for the collection of George McCulloch both say Edwin Hayes did a painting just like this. It seems odd the son would repeat it.

The Illustrated London News from the 8th November 1890 describes Mr Edwin Hayes’s painting ‘Tantallon Castle’ (523) with the sea breaking on the rocks at its feet, at the exhibition of the Institute of Painters in Oil Colours. George McCulloch was buying plenty of pictures over the years 1890–1891 on his second trip to London, before settling permanently in April 1893.

Edwin Hayes also painted further versions of Tantallon Castle, such as ‘Off Tantallon Castle’ in 1898 and ‘Lobster Boats off Tantallon Castle’. Another ‘Tantallon Castle’ by E. Hayes is listed in ‘The Artist’ as being sold at Christie’s in 1881.

The collection is unable to see a signature on the framed painting and would need to remove the canvas from its frame for further investigation to give a definite answer. It hopes to be able to follow up this lead, perhaps during the quieter winter months and will post anything found on this discussion. Any further information would be welcome.

Laurie McCallum, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. The painting has been reattributed to Claude Hayes’ father, Edwin Hayes (1819–1904).

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this discussion. To anyone viewing it for the first time, please see below for all the comments that led to this conclusion.


Martin Hopkinson,

Edwin does seem the more likely Hayes, but did Claude exhibit a Tantallon painting - and did he complete a painting begun by his father, left in his studio on his death in 1904?

Martin Hopkinson,

The two men did exhibit together in the same show at Dowdeswell's in 1894 - Edwin marine paintings, Claude watercolours

Peter Nahum,

It looks like Edwin, but removal from the frame to check the signature is an important requirement.

Colin Rafferty,

To concur with the above, it certainly looks very like Edwin and unlike Claude. Unusual but not unknown for Edwin not to sign although if this was exhibited, there is a greater likelihood of a signature, possibly under the slip?

Martin Hopkinson,

There is no evidence in contemporary exhibition catalogues that the younger Hayes painted Tantallon , or even visited Scotland

Laurie McCallum,

Just to summarize, the evidence from the three catalogues (Guildhall Irish 1904, 1909 RA, 1913 Christie's) appears strong (size and likeness, especially per 1904 photograph) that the painting in the McCulloch Collection, Tantallon Castle by Edwin Hayes is the painting in Torre Abbey, currently attributed to Claude Hayes. The 1909 RA catalogue says the painting is signed but not dated "E.Hayes", so we need to see what may be found when the painting is lifted out of its frame.

Antoinette Gordon,

Edwin Hayes always signed his paintings most unobtrusively, at the very base of the canvas, normally right (facing), often dark upon dark, even floating within a wave. Magnification of our painting appears to reveal a capital H in the bottom right-hand (facing) corner, very close to the edge; perhaps prefaced by an E? Study of his paintings shows slight variations in his signature, i.e. sometimes using an epsilon E, sometimes a usual E; normally in capitals but sometimes in script. Looking forward to a view of the un-framed picture.

Thank you, Antoinette, for providing suitable detail on the likely site of Edwin Hayes' signature. Together with Laurie's summary and help from other correspondents we now have good reason to request that the painting is removed from its frame as soon as possible for investigation. We will report on our findings as soon as we are able.
Jane Palmer, Torre Abbey

Osmund Bullock,

And thank you, Jane, for your response. I cannot emphasize enough what a difference it makes when the relevant collection shows an active interest in a discussion here. I understand that budget constraints make many feel they no longer have the staff and time to get involved, but it is terribly disheartening when we get little or no feedback at all.

Thank you for your kind response. We are very aware that our Master Catalogue on early acquisitions (from 1930) does have errors and we are always keen to help a discussion if we can provide an answer. In this case the information provided by all the participants has been most illuminating and an inspiration for the staff here (woefully few in number) to make the time to work on the painting which we intend to do soon.

Martin Hopkinson,

The question as to the date of this painting also remains. Stylistically it looks a latish work. Hayes exhibited a Tantallon Castle at his one man show at the Dowdeswell Galleries in 1888 as no 59 . 1887-8 is probably the earliest possible date for the painting, but he painted the castle several times

Laurie McCallum,

Finding a date looks to be a tricky matter. Looking at the Irish and British newspapers there are Tantallon Castle's for Edwin Hayes as follows: 25 May 1863 Freemans Journal - Chromo-lithograph underway; 29 June 1868 Freemans Journal - No 291 Royal Hibernian Academy; 16 Feb 1889 Nation - No 140 RHA; 31 Oct 1890 The Times, Institute of Painters in Oils; 4 March 1895 Freemans Journal, No 115 RHA. George McCulloch was in London from 18 Oct 1887-cMarch 1888 & August 1890 - March 1892 & from April 1893 but his agent, Arthur Tooth could have purchased on his behalf at any time. The dates Dowdeswell 1888, RHA 1889 & Institute of Painters 1890 could all refer to the same painting but Edwin Hayes paintings seem to have sold quickly at exhibitions. He was a prolific painter with 670 paintings exhibited in London up to 1893 (Graves Dictionary of Artists.) Finally - Thank you Torre Abbey for fueling this discussion by responding the way you have.

Laurie McCallum,

Here is more which may narrow things down. In 1892 a Tantallon Castle by Edwin Hayes came to Australia as part of the Royal Anglo-Australian Exhibition where it was purchased by George McCulloch in Melbourne (Advertiser, Adelaide 17 Oct 1893). The following year (i.e. 1893) "his original finished sketch for his large picture Tantallon Castle" in oil came out. So perhaps the Tantallon Castle purchased by McCulloch (and now in Torre Abbey?) is the 1887/88 picture from the Dowdeswell/RHA 1889/ Institute of Painters in Oil 1890?
In 1897 an oil painting, Tantallon Castle by Edwin Hayes was auctioned in Montreal at M. Hicks & Co No. 143 (see catalogue on Google). This may have been the 'Sketch' or the 1895 RHA or they were the same painting. It is noted above that Edwin Hayes painted Tantallon Castle several times. There is an image of the Tantallon Castle which came to Melbourne in the Australasian 5 March 1892. (see Trove for Australian papers).

Torre Abbey is glad to let you know that we have now had the chance to remove Tantallon Castle from its frame and inspected it for a signature. Despite the helpful comment from Antoinette Gordon on signatures and asking several colleagues to check the canvas we have been unable to find any signature at all. Hopefully the attached images may help redress this. Although the painting was cleaned in 1981 the images are rather dark, particularly towards the lower edge. Apologies for this. If any of the correspondents above would like to view the painting in person we would be able to offer this during the winter months by appointment.

Peter Nahum,

Claude Hayes is mainly a watercolourist and not at the top of his league, although perfectly competent. His oils are much loser and more impressionist in style. If it is between the two, then the only artist could be Edwin Hayes.

Laurie McCallum,

Thanks Torre Abbey. Signed or not, your painting is the same one illustrated in the 1892 British Art Gallery Melbourne catalogue, 1904 Guildhall Irish Painters catalogue & the 1905 Great Pictures in Private Collections. The latter two link the picture to George McCulloch's collection. Its the correct size at 41 x 54 1/2 in. The 1909 Royal Academy catalogue says the painting is signed "E. Hayes" but does not all the evidence point to the Torre Abbey painting being that from the collection of George McCulloch unless it is the 'finished sketch' which also came out to Melbourne later in 1893. Unfortunately due to distance unable to take up Torre Abbey's offer to view Tantallon Castle. Laurie McCallum, NZ.

This is an old discussion which I have been prompted by Art UK to make a recommendation on (not having seen it before). It certainly contains much information on Edwin Hayes's treatments of 'Tantallon Castle' but not quite nailing this one down to him owing to lack of a signature. The view of participants so far, however, seems to be one of choice between Claude as current 'attributee' and Edwin (i.e no-one else) with the weight of evidence and opinion in Edwin's favour despite the absence of a signature.

It does not seem to be the painting in the Royal Anglo-Australian Exhibition of 1892 at Melbourne, illustrated on p.5 of the supplement to 'The Australasian' of 5 March 1992 (as crucially pointed out by Laurie McCallum) and which -though with no useful commentary in the text - is here:

That image, however, is from what looks like exactly the same low shoreline viewpoint and looks pretty convincingly like another version. Despite the imperfections of the reproduction it also has a clear and large signature at lower left which suggests it might be a smaller one. The other puzzle is that what is a spire to left of the castle here, looks more like a tower there, but versions are versions and the shoreline rocks below the castle crag also differ in scale in both.

Taking everything produced so far, and having looked at such images of both artists as are on Art UK - I think it is probably safe to recommend that Claude (very likely just an old error) be changed to Edwin as the artist, though the decision remains with Torre Abbey -including whether they would prefer just to attribute it to him.

I don't see a lot of either painter (though certainly more of Edwin than Claude) so this is more a 'circumstantial evidence' rather than 'style' call because it has been put in the 'maritime' box.

Marcie Doran,

Two articles from 1868 mention “Tantallon Castle” (90) by Edwin Hayes at the Fine Art Institute Exhibition in great detail. I have attached extracts and complete pages from the Glasgow Evening Citizen of February 15, 1868, and the Glasgow Herald of February 26, 1868. I have been experiencing difficulties attaching files lately - hopefully these will transmit successfully.

The image facing page 14 of A.G Temple's 'Catalogue of the exhibition of works by Irish painters' (Guildhall Art Gallery, 1904) illustrating Edwin Hayes's 'Tantallon Castle' (cat. no. 31, page 9), on canvas, 41 x 56 inches, and lent by George McCulloch, looks to me as convincingly the painting now at Torre Abbey: see

Laurie above (15/11/2017 23:14) says it also appears in '1905 Great Pictures in Private Collections', apparently with dimensions of 41 x 54 1/2 ins, and as McCulloch's, but I cannot find a link to such a publication.

Unlike Laurie, however, I do not think the painting shown at the Guildhall in 1904 as lent by McCulloch (and apparently now in Torre Abbey) is that which appeared in the Royal Anglo-Australian Exhibition of 1892 at Melbourne.

As we have seen, that one is illustrated on p.5 of the supplement to 'The Australasian' of 5 March 1992:
and it also seems to be the one illustrated in the catalogue titled 'Exhibition of the British art gallery by the Royal Anglo-Australian Society of Artists' at Melbourne in 1892 (which may be the same show under a different heading).

In this it is no. 5 on pp 11-12, priced at £300 (no dimensions) and illustrated on p. 10, (just as badly as in the 'Australasian' review supplement): see

There are many differences between the 'Guildhall/ Torre Abbey' and Melbourne versions, even allowing the spire to left of the castle in the latter looking more like a tower as due to a printing effect: e.g. that version also has differences in the foreground rocks; an element of sloping cliff close-in at far right, and the fact that the distant land stretches nearly across the horizon to the left (not just half way as in the Torre Abbey version) and so on. The Melbourne one looks to have been partly taken from a viewpoint further left, which would account for both the distant land extending further left and the comparative shortness of the right vertical wall of the castle to its intersection with the land behind.

The Melbourne catalogue entry shows that Hayes considered the version exhibited there one of his best, and states that he resisted purchase offers in England before sending it out. We have also been told that in 1893 he also sent out the preliminary sketch or study for it, though without other details.

The contradication here is that it is also claimed (Laurie McCallum, 23/09/2017 08:29) that according to the 'Advertiser', Adelaide, 17 October 1893, George McCulloch bought the version shown in Melbourne, though no link to that report has been provided to determine whether that statement applies to the one of which we have (poor) Melbourne illustrations, or to the 'sketch' that followed it out.

In other words the 1904 Guildhall-exhibited picture, lent by McCulloch, looks like the Torre Abbey one but we have a claim that he bought another in Australia, though lacking better information as to which of two out there in 1892-93 it was.

The only reconciliation of this on current information would be if the Torre Abbey one was the sketch or study and he in fact bought both in Australia, with the location of the Melbourne-exhibited £300 one not now known. That said, the Guildhall/Torre Abbey one does not look like a 'sketch' and if it were it is an unusually full-size and finished one.

This, plus the now copious evidence of other 'Tantallons' that he did back to the late 1860s, is enough to make anyone's head spin.
In a way its all irrelevant to the original question, which was whether the Torre Abbey painting is by Edwin Hayes or his son Claude. Despite slight discrepancy in dimensions (41 x 56 ins = 104 x 142 cm to 103 x 138.5 cm) I think the 1904 Guildhall image looks like what is now at Torre Abbey and the latter is therefore by Edwin Hayes. Even were it a near identical version that would be my view given it was subject he often repeated: we have no evidence of his son copying hin this, not least since mainly working in watercolour.

The other complications of versions and ownership are not easily resolved here, especially without other good images, nor were they the question posed.

Unless anyone seriously disagrees with a reattribution to Edwin, perhaps we could wrap this up.

Laurie McCallum,

Thanks for all the comments over the years! My book "The McCulloch Collection" was published in 2018 and purchased by the Tate Gallery, National Gallery of Scotland, Walker Gallery Liverpool and Royal Academy libraries. My three ring binders of material are in the Walker Gallery Library if anyone wishes to look further.
Glad you concur Pieter that the Guildhall Tantallon Castle and that in Torre Abbey and is by Edwin Hayes. I suspect the view in The Australasian (also in the 1892 exhibition catalogue) is perhaps an artist's sketch rather than a photograph of the painting and thus looks different. Having studied McCulloch and his collection intensively, he did purchase the painting in Melbourne and there is no record of his having had another Tantallon Castle by Edwin Hayes. The black and white blurry sketch in the newspaper also has a clear signature, bottom left. I agree this is all a bit of a side issue to the question about the Torre Abbey painting.
I agree its time to move on but wish to thank everyone for the conversation. Laurie McCallum, Christchurch NZ