Completed Portraits: British 20th C, Yorkshire, The Humber and North East England: Artists and Subjects 21 Does anyone recognise this artist’s signature?

Topic: Artist

This portrait is signed and dated ?51 bottom left.

Martin Hopkinson, Entry reviewed by Art UK

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Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. The artist has been identified as Brenda Bury and the date of the portrait confirmed as 1961. The acquisition information has been amended to reflect the sitter’s correct title and spelling of his name. The website will reflect these changes once the Art UK Copyright team have reviewed and approved the record.

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.


The Collection have commented: ‘(The following is from our catalogue entry as it explains just as well as I can). ‘This portrait is of Captain Roland Addy (1892-1963) whose wife donated his collection of paintings to the Cooper Gallery in 1978, known as 'The Addy Bequest'. The painting has been previously titled Colonel Rowland Addy but it has been confirmed that Addy was never made a Colonel. Addy was the owner of many industrial concerns around the Barnsley area including the Carlton Main Colliery. It is not known how this painting came to be in the Cooper Gallery but may have been gifted at the same time as his paintings in 1978.’

The title of the painting certainly needs changing on Art UK [ed: it was previously 'Colonel Rowland Addy (d.1963)']. The date is either 1961 or 1951 and that is purely a matter of opinion based on interpretation. The signature has been inspected a few times but it is difficult to relate it to any specific artist. Addy bought a painting from Fred Elwell who lived in Beverly (the only painting he bought from a living artist) so I did look at the possibility that the portrait was also by him but the signature doesn’t support this theory. In his later years Addy lived in Scarborough so it might be an artist who was local to that area but that is only a guess. Any suggestions for the artist would be appreciated.'

Jacinto Regalado,

The date clearly reads 1961 to me. The initials of the signature appear to be D and R, perhaps something like David Ray. It looks like professional work

Jacinto Regalado,

And Pieter, if this is by Bury, as it well could be, it is better than some of her portraits on Art UK. I especially like the handling of the suit.

Osmund Bullock,

I think that's an excellent call, fact I'm sure it's right. Compare the signature (and the looser brushwork) with that on her 1963 portrait of Kenneth Tynan at the NPG ( Enhanced composite image attached. On closer examination the first letter of our signature has a little wobble of the paint-stroke near the top that hints at an intended 'B' rather than the 'D' it seems to be at first glance. And yes, there's no doubt the date is 1961.

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Trevor Johnson,

The is a profile of Roland Addy at which shows his private address in the years prior to coal nationalisation as Brierley Hall, near Barnsley. Brierley was the birthplace of Brenda Bury and so it would be understandable if someone with links to that area want to commission a portrait would chose a local artist (even though by 1961 he was living in Scarborough and she in London!)

The one I know well, from having seen it regularly, is her retirement portrait of Frank Carr, second Director of the NMM, and it was the signature rather than the image that struck a bell:

Her quality is very variable and makes Frank - who I knew in the 1980s - look a much more saturnine character than he was, though he was pretty bitter at the time she painted him. He had just been forced to retire a year before he expected because his already selected successor (Basil Greenhill) said he would come in January 1967 but not if delayed. He had good reason for saying so but there was quite a row, and (as everyone soon learnt) not all museum directors were then - or ever - as essentially as pleasant as Frank.

John Munday's portrait catches that better - and not surprisingly since John was one of his staff and knew him well (though with typical John wit also recalled him 'as never a man to use one word when six would do!'):

Teddy Archibald (NMM Curator of Oils at the time) told me that the idea for Bury painting the NMM portrait came from the Duke of Edinburgh, then an NMM Trustee and Frank's leading supporter in his 1950s campaign to bring the 'Cutty Sark' to Greenwich, which was a great achievement for both. As Teddy explained it: 'Bury had recently painted a portrait of the Queen, so the Duke suggested her. Poor Frank, its a dreadful portrait: I didn't know the Duke had it in for him!' By the mid 1960s some of the Trustees certainly also did and at just under 20 years he had, in truth, been there rather too long.

Jacinto Regalado,

Well, our picture is significantly better than the portrait of Carr, certainly as a painted image, though I don't know what Addy looked like in the flesh. Perhaps the idea was to be more contemporary or some such, but yes, some artists are frustratingly variable in quality.

If everyone agrees the signature is a match as per Osmund's attachment above @ 25/09/2021 02:53 (when he should have been well asleep!) is there any reason to prolong this?

If not perhaps Art UK could process to a conclusion.

Marcie Doran,

I contacted Brenda Bury and she sent me an email today at 12:30 EST that states: “Yes, I painted that portrait.”

Kieran Owens,

In light of the fact that, while these discussions are ongoing, some artists might still be living, even to the grand age of 89, it might be a wise approach for ArtUK to advise contributors that they might wish to confine their subjective criticism of such artists' works to a different forum and to reserve for these contributions the simple pursuit of facts relating to attributions, identifications and other relevant details. I imagine that it would be quite hurtful for an artist, having been alerted to a discussion involving one of their works, to read negative comments relating to their creative output. It is certainly not an aspect of ArtUK's remit that I would have considered as being appropriate or welcome.

With thanks to all who have contributed to this discussion, the question originally posed has been definitively answered. The signature on the canvas has been identified as that of the portrait painter Brenda Bury, born in Brierley near Barnsley, Yorkshire, and the authorship endorsed by the artist herself, to whom we are particularly grateful. The date inscribed below the signature has been confidently interpreted as 1961 and It is helpful to have the link to the professional profile of the sitter, Captain Roland Addy,

Brenda Bury is already represented on ArtUK by eleven portraits (one of them a group portrait);

Her own website, with an impressive list of portrait commissions across the decades, is here:

Catherine (Daunt) and I, as the relevant Group Leaders, are happy to close the discussion. Our recommendation is that the artist should be recorded simply as Brenda Bury, with the date of the work noted as 1961.

Richard, many thanks. I have emailed the Curator at Barnsley with your Group Leader recommendation seeking approval to update our Art UK record. They are normally incredibly quick at replying, and hopefully will be delighted that a local artist has been established for this portrait. David

The Collection have commented: 'We have been following the discussion and the outcome is very exciting. Please pass on our thanks to those involved. We are very happy for the discussion to now be closed and the Art UK website updated as has been suggested. Please can you make sure that any references to Colonel Rowland Addy are changed to Captain Roland Addy'