Completed South West England: Artists and Subjects 19 Did Mabel Grace Trood (d.1951) paint 'A Taunton Onion Seller'?

Topic: Artist

I have a painting which appears to be signed M. Trood depicting a street scene in Tangier Morocco. The style and period are similar. The painting has a signature and a Windor & Newton stamp on the reverse of the canvas, which reads partly "LONDON, ENGLAND" and "PRIMED".

The collection note:

'Thanks for your enquiry about 'A Taunton Onion Seller'. Just to confirm that the painting 'A Taunton Onion Seller' is signed 'M. Trood./ 1909.' in red paint in the bottom right-hand corner. The signature on Houston's painting looks very similar.

Our researcher Mary Siraut has uncovered some information about M. Trood, who is probably Mabel Grace Trood, youngest sister of animal painter William Henry Hamilton Trood (d. 2 Nov 1893 aged 40). They were two of the children of Taunton potato merchant William Trood and his wife Myra Jane Oliver. Mabel lived with her father in the 1900s at the Nook, French Weir Avenue, Taunton. Sadly she ended her life in poverty in a council flat and died at Musgrave Park Hospital on 19 Feb 1951.'

Houston Lake, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

Edward Stone,

This painting is now listed as by Mabel Grace Trood (1872–1951). The record has been updated accordingly and this amendment will appear on Art UK 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, as well as a biography of the artist.


Jade Audrey King,

It would be interesting if others got in touch who were in possession of other works signed M. Trood, who have more information about the artist, or if any images of works known to be by Mabel Grace Trood came to light.

Oliver Perry,

She was an art student living in Hyde Park Gate, Kensington at the time of the 1891 census:

She also made several trips to the United States before the First World War She arrived in New York on the Mauretania from Liverpool on February 4th 1910, and is recorded on the 1910 US census in
Sausalito, California. She was back in Taunton in time to be recorded on the UK census the following year.

She made two more trips to New York, arriving on the 'Baltic' on January 8th 1912, and on the 'Oceanic' on September 4th, 1913.

Taunton Deane Borough Council,

On 23 Oct 1931 Mabel Grace Trood, then of 28 High St, Taunton sailed on the Baloeran for Tangier in Morocco. It was possibly on or after that trip that she painted the picture of Tangiers mentioned above.
[Ancestry: UK Outward Passengers Lists 1890-1960, being images from The National Archives BT 27]

Taunton Deane Borough Council,

Thank you for your thoughts on the Taunton Onion Seller. It seems quite likely that he was a visiting French onion seller rather than a native of Taunton.

Osmund Bullock,

I agree that the onion seller looks like a Breton - they apparently started coming over from Roscoff as early as the 1820s. We had a regular one in London in the 1950s & 60s, though by then he was wearing the obligatory striped jersey and beret.

I think it's a mistake to suggest that Mabel Trood died in poverty. Living in a council house in 1951 certainly didn't make you a pauper, and Mabel wrote a will and left £314-odd - a modest amount, yes, but more than it sounds. Exact comparisons are impossible, but relative to average earnings it's worth nearly £23K - and on an 'economic status' basis (which puts you on the scale of what the population as a whole owns) it's equivalent to over £30K. In 1951 £314 was close to average annual earnings - and in some parts of town you'd probably have needed well under £1,000 to buy a small, unmodernised terraced house.

Taunton Deane Borough Council,

Osmund, Thank you for your thoughts on Mabel Trood's finances. I think perhaps we overstated the severity of herfinancial situation at the time of her death.Based on your analysis,it seems likely that her financial situation was relatively stable.

Mabel Trood's approximate d.o.b. was 1872 (i.e. 19 at 1891 census, and elsewhere from Google search) so she lived to just short of 80: has a more exact date yet been sighted?

Osmund Bullock,

Mabel's birth was either not registered (it was not compulsory to do so until 1875), or has been mislaid/misread en route to the GRO index.

As often, however, the British Newspaper Archive gallops to the rescue: the wife of Mr Wm Trood was delivered of a daughter at Taunton on January 16th 1872 (see attached).

1 attachment
Osmund Bullock,

In fact I have now found her birth recorded in the GRO index (1st Quarter 1872 @Taunton)...but listed as 'Frood' (attached). This is a surprisingly common occurrence, one of dozens I've found over the years. The GRO seem unworried by this, maintaining it is exceptionally rare - they've also always shown a marked lack of interest in correcting the errors, even when offered full supporting evidence.


Mabel Grace Trood (1872–1951), figure, landscape and still-life painter, was youngest daughter of a Taunton potato merchant, William Trood and his wife Myra Jane Oliver, and was born at Taunton on 16 January 1872. One of her elder brothers was the animal painter William Henry Hamilton Trood (b.c.1853– d. 2 Nov. 1893). At the time of the 1891 census she was an art student living in Hyde Park Gate, Kensington, London, and made several visits to the USA before the First World War including to New York in 1910, then apparently on to Sausolito, California, but was back in Taunton in 1911: she made two more voyages to New York in 1912 and 1913 and in 1931 sailed to Morocco (Tangier): a painting by her of the Sultan’s Palace there has been recorded at sale. She appears otherwise to have lived all her life in Taunton, latterly in a council flat, and died there in Musgrave Park Hospital on 19 February 1951. Taunton Museum has a portrait of an onion seller (probably an itinerant Breton) dated 1909.

Edward Stone,

The collection has been notified of this recommendation.