Completed Dress and Textiles, Portraits: British 16th and 17th C, Portraits: British 18th C, Yorkshire, The Humber and North East England: Artists and Subjects 63 Further information sought on Nathaniel Cholmley (d.1687) and the Cholmley family

Topic: Subject or sitter

The dates given by Art UK are inconsistent with the marriage in 1683 noted in the National Inventory Research Project entry.

These dates in fact belong to the sitter's son, Hugh, who was an MP.

The UK National Archive states that Nathaniel Cholmley died in 1687.

Art UK adds:
Please find attached a sheet of information from Ferens Art Gallery and a close-up image of the letter. The collection would like to find out more about the sitter and the Cholmley family during this period. Could we find out anything about Gennari’s portrait of Nathaniel’s wife? There is a link in the attachment to Godfrey Kneller’s ‘Portrait of Mary Cholmley (166 –1748), Wife of Nathaniel Cholmley’ (Christie’s sale, 2002).

Charles Matthews, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

Thank you for contributing to this discussion, which is now closed. Unfortunately, from July 2024, Art Detective is being paused until further notice due to insufficient funding to continue running the service. All 887 discussions and more than 22,000 individual submissions remain accessible on the Art UK website, but no new comments can be accepted. This discussion may potentially be re-opened in due course.


Osmund Bullock,

I am pretty sure that the date on the letter is *not* the date of the portrait (as both the NICE entry and the Ferens Gallery's info notes suggest). To my eye it is clearly a later addition to the painting in a different hand, and reads (of the sitter) "Died April [illegible]/1687". And indeed Nathaniel Cholmley died on 20th April that year, as evidenced by both the Cholmley family bible (see and the inscription on his tomb in Whitby Church (

The same book linked above gives extensive contemporary information on the family; but other than telling us that Nathaniel was (as we might suspect) the cousin of his father-in-law Sir Hugh Cholmley, fourth and last Baronet of Whitby, it does not (at a cursory reading) mention his parentage or age. Nathaniel's will was proved on 4th May 1687, but is curiously short and contains little to help us either. The only clue therein is that his brother (and sole executor) was named John. More may be discoverable with work, but the C17th is always challenging and I don't have time at the moment. In any case, if he was born during the tumultuous 1640s (quite likely), the record of his baptism may have been lost or never made in the first place.

Osmund Bullock,

There's more detail of the family at the relevant period in Burke's Extinct & Dormant Baronetcies*; but as neither that nor BLG tells us any more about Nathaniel (d. 1687, husband of Mary and father of Hugh the MP), they don't really help. (*

There is still more to be found in Clay's 'Dugdale's Visitation of Yorkshire with Additions': Clay mentions in a footnote the unknown origins of Nathaniel our sitter; he even hints at the idea that his father-in-law Sir Hugh may have been a little credulous in accepting him as a kinsman, such was his joy at keeping his inheritance 'in the family'.

The quote from Sir Hugh's will - he was "thankful to the Almighty Providence that from the East brought me a man of my owne family and that God has blessed his marriage with such hopeful issue to keep up my name and family" - is intriguing. Whitby is about as east as you can get in England, so perhaps he was referring to the Far East. Both Nathaniel and his brother John were diamond merchants, and in the C17th that meant dealing with India - could Nathaniel have been living there, and perhaps even born overseas? North Yorks County Record Office has a big collection of Cholmley family papers, including Nathaniel and John's account and letter books, etc, 1660s-90s. They might prove informative if anyone fancies doing some serious work:

Osmund Bullock,

Oh, heavens - the Cholmley letters and account books, it seems, are well-known to those interested in the East India gem trade, and much written about. See

Nathaniel went to India in around 1665, while brother John stayed behind to handle the London end of the business. He returned home in 1682, "a rich man". It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife...and also a portrait. He managed the first in October of the year after his return; my guess is that the portraits were commissioned not long afterwards, and possibly even before. I wonder if the date of the letter from Benedetto Gennari that mentions them is known - I must seek out Christopher Wright's 2002 book; and perhaps, too, the two Italian ones also mentioned in the NICE entry.

Kieran Owens,

Volume 10 (1903) of the East Riding Antiquarian Society's "Transactions" carries a detailed account of the portraits and paintings to be found in the family's home. Alas, there is not a full view available online but perhaps other contributors to this discussion might have access to that volume in some library or other.

Osmund Bullock,

Fuller details of the Chomley tombs at Whitby and Crambe are actually given (with a great deal more contemporary info besides) at the link in my first post following the words "...inscription on his tomb in Whitby Church” (

Thank you though, Kieran and Charles, for the E. Riding A.S. list of portraits at Howsham. It does appear in other forms and other places, but this is certainly the most detailed and useful of those I've seen. The relevant part in fact begins three (double) pages later, i.e. at page 41 (as originally paginated).

Our portrait is doubtless #11 on p.42 (it was attributed to Riley until about 30 year ago). The companion work of his wife Mary, now lost, is probably #20 on the next page, also there attributed to Riley. The size seems right – it is “three-quarter length”, i.e. what was in the C17th called a half-length, or approx 50 x 40 in. Our portrait is close to that, allowing for the usual measurement issues and/or slight later reductions. In his letter** Gennari describes hers as “mez[z]a figura” (‘half figure/length’); but as a companion to her husband’s it would be the same size (both are described as seated).

I was worried for a moment by the description of the sitter as a girl; but in Oct 1683 when she married (and I believe the probable year of the portraits) Mary was only just 16, so I don’t think it’s a problem. As to her husband Nathaniel, if he went to India in 1665 he can’t have been born after the early 1640s. If we take 1640 as a feasible year, he would have been 43 at marriage. Perhaps a little older, but not much.

(**The letter extract translated reads ’...a half-length portrait of Madame Chunley [sic] seated... A companion portrait to the aforementioned of the lady’s husband in a chamber robe, seated near a small table on which are some papers and books’.)

Kieran Owens,

Many thanks, it is worth a great deal.

Kieran Owens,

On page 42 of the above mentioned "Transactions", in an extensive and detailed inventory of portraits in Howsham Hall, there is listed a portrait of Nathaniel Cholmley "of London, died 20th April 1687, having married, 16th October, 1683, Mary, only surviving child and heiress of Sir Hugh Cholmley, 4th Bart., of Whitby (No. 1). Painted by John Riley."

In the hall of the house is a "Portrait of a Girl; Mary Cholmely, only daughter and heiress of Sir Hugh Cholmley, 4th Bart., by Lady Anne Compton, his wife; born 21st September 1667, married (1) Nathaniel Cholmley, Esq., (2) Nathaniel Stephens, Esq. She dies 2nd April, 1748. By Riley." This portrait is described in a footnote as being a three-quarter length.

Nowhere on the extensive list of 105 separate portraits is there a work attributed to Benedetto Gennari the younger (1633 – 1715). Could it be that the attribution to Gennadi is incorrect and that this portrait (and the missing one of Mary Cholmley) are actually by John Riley (1646 - 1691)?

Kieran Owens,

Sorry Osmund, once again our submissions have crossed over and (once again) yours is more convincing than mine.

Kieran Owens, links to the NPG's portrait of John Cholmley, brother to Nathaniel, also originally attributed to John Riley.

A collection of portraits at Emo Court, in Emo, Co. Laois, in Ireland, which are currently undergoing restoration by the Office of Public Works, of the Cholmeley-Dering family, are also attributed to John Riley. The works were part of the family portrait collection of the late Major Cholmeley Dering Cholmeley-Harrison, who died in 2008, he having previously gifted the house and its entire contents to the Irish State in 1994.

Jacinto Regalado,

The wig and the sitter's age alone would rule out someone born in 1683, though obviously other evidence excludes that.

Osmund Bullock,

There's no question about the sitter's identity and his date of death (1687), and both the Collection and NICE are fully aware of it (as Ferens' info sheet and the NICE entry make clear) - the dates given for him are just a (puzzling) error here, and as Charles says actually belong not to Nathaniel, but to his son Hugh.

Jacinto Regalado,

Yes, Osmund, it must have been a clerical or technical error or oversight of some kind. The visual evidence given by the picture alone refutes a birth date of 1683, which is clearly too late.

Osmund Bullock,

Kieran, I'm interested in your Emo Court portraits. Major Cholmeley Dering Cholmeley-Harrison was indeed a descendant, through a number of female lines, of our family. In 1677 his distant ancestor Sir Edward Dering, 3rd Bt, married Elizabeth Cholm(e)ley, daughter and ultimate co-heiress of the second Cholmley baronet, Sir William. She was the niece of Sir Hugh Cholmley, 4th & last Baronet, and first cousin to his daughter Mary who married our sitter Nathaniel Cholmley. I'm attaching a family tree that makes all that (and other things) clearer.

It is thus very likely that the Dering family owned versions or copies of some Cholmley portraits, and they may have descended to the Major. However, I am unable to find any reference online to the Riley portraits at Emo that you mention. Do you have a link?

1 attachment
Kieran Owens,

Osmund, I have sent a message to Marion giving her the go-ahead to give you my private email address. It might be a more appropriate method of communicating on this personal matter.

John Forbes,

And for Americans who stumble over the pronunciation of this family name, “CHUM lee” seems to be the consensus. If I this is incorrect, would a native British speaker kindly chime in?

Osmund Bullock,

That's certainly how it's pronounced nowadays, John - probably the norm historically, too, but I'm not sure how consistently.

To confuse things further - and give an idea of just how tricky researching this portrait's sitter has proved - I have so far found seventeen different late 16th, 17th and 18th Century spellings of the name in just this branch of the family: Cholmely, Cholmley, Cholmly, Cholmeley, Chomely, Chomley, Chomly, Chomeley, Cholmbly, Chombly, Chamle, Chumley, Chumeley, Chumly, Cholmonley, Cholmondley, Chomondley and Chomondleigh. Meanwhile the senior (Cheshire) branch, the Marquesses of Cholmondeley, spell it differently again.

Jacinto Regalado,

According to the NPG, John Cholmley died in 1693.

Jacinto Regalado,

The vital dates currently given for the sitter in the Art UK entry are clearly wrong and can be corrected. Perhaps Osmund can provide additional biographical information. There is still some question as to whether this is by Gennari or Riley, but it seems a little too forward for the latter, whose work tended to be softer or more reticent.

Marcie Doran,

The acquisition method should be improved on Art UK and the VADS entry. Here are some background documents about the purchase of this work (on November 22, 1950).

Here is an updated link to the VADS entry.

Marcie Doran,

The book ‘New Paths to Public Histories’ by Margot Finn (2015) gives Nathaniel Chlomley’s dates as 1641-1687 on page 36.

I haven’t read Gennari’s letter that Osmund’s mentioned (25/05/2019 06:11), but I’ve teased out some of the text from the book ‘Benedetto Gennari e la bottega del Guercino’ by Prisco Bagni (1986):

“64. Benedetto Gennari Ritratto di Nathaniel Cholmley Kingston upon Hull, Ferens Art Gallery Olio su tela , cm 123 × 101 Data d'esecuzione : 1685 Nathaniel Cholmley era un mercante di Londra che commissionò al pittore anche un ritratto della moglie ( n . 106 ), non ancora ritrovato. Descritto dal Gennari al n . 107 della lista di Londra : Un ritratto compagno del sudetto del marito di detta signora [in robba da camera sedendo d'un [illegible word] volino sul quale …”

It seems that Gennari maintained a list of his sitters and the portraits of Cholmley and his wife were in the “London list” and executed in 1685.

Jacob Simon,

The Gennari manuscript does not take the form of a letter but a listing he kept of his paintings ("lista di Londra", see above). Bagni, see above, assigns a date to the portrait of 1685, presumably based on his misreading of the date on the letter within the portrait as 1685 whereas it reads 1687.

As Osmund suggest (24/05/2019), the 1687 date may be a later addition and may refer to Cholmley's date of death.

A good deal of valuable historical information is given in the posts made in 2019. Do we think that there is more to be said before closing this discussion?

Osmund Bullock,

I do have quite a lot to add, Jacob - it's a project I worked on in some depth in 2019 (and intermittently since), and I've drawn some conclusions about exactly who the sitter was, and by inference when he was likely to have been born. More later, though much of it will have to await the restoration of our ability to upload attachments.

Jacob Simon,

It'd certainly be good to bring the historical information in previous posts together. And to learn more about the sitter, as Osmund proposes. Lets await developments for now.

On my part, I will look at Gennari's own listing again

Osmund Bullock,

I actually have photos saved - not great, but legible - of the pages in Prisco Bagni's 1986 book that relate to the Cholmley portrait(s).

I took them in a great hurry, and with hindsight should have done many more - in particular *all* the ones covering Gennari's list of works painted in London 1674-88. There are many dozens of them (>124), mostly (I think) not portraits, and it's very possible they're in date order; if so, that may help date our painting, which is no. 107, preceded by the now lost one of his wife at no. 106. Certainly of no. 1, Gennari writes: "The first painting ordered from me by the King's Majesty was the portrait of the Duchess of Portsmouth, his favorite".

In the 'Catalogue Note' by Sotheby's in 2014 at the bottom of this page there is excellent background information on Gennari, his Paris & London years and his 'Raccolta di Memorie', of which the list forms part - there are apparently two versions of this, one a later copy by the artist with additions (but unfinished).

I'll try attaching the image(s) to this post, in case things have been fixed.

EDIT: No, they haven't been fixed

Charles Matthews,

I begin to understand how "Upon the Distinction Between the Ashes of the Various Tobaccos" seemed to Sherlock Holmes to be a good idea at the time.

Jacob Simon,

There are two versions of Gennari's listing of his work. Where they vary, Bagni indicates the variations within square brackets.

In addition to Bagni's listing, the NPG has an annotated typescript transcription of the London listing, which I propose to study.

My memory is that Gennari includes very few dates. And that his pictures are not often dated. Neverless I'm hoping that Osmund (previous post bar one) will make sense of all this in dating the Cholmley portrait.

Jacob Simon,

On the dating of the picture, I have now examined Gennari's listings more carefully. Between his entries nos 101 and 102, he records the death of King Charles II in 1685. Our picture is 107, while Cholmley's wife's picture is 106 (untraced). The picture at 116 can be documented as 1686.

The likelihood, given the position of our picture in the chronological listing, is that it dates to 1685.

Lou Taylor, Dress and Textiles,

I would have no trouble AT ALL in supporting the date of 1685 for this portrait - which matches the style of the wig and the banyan.

Osmund Bullock,

That's excellent news, Jacob; presumably your analysis has confirmed beyond doubt that the list is indeed chronological?

We already knew that the portrait must date to between the second half of 1682 and early 1687 - Cholmley left India for England at the beginning of February '82 (and would have arrived home in late summer, or thereabouts), and he died in Whitby on 20th April '87. But it is very pleasing that the proposed date lies comfortably within those limits. He married Mary, the heiress of the Whitby Cholmeleys, in the parish church there in mid-Oct 1683.

Jacob Simon,

It is beyond reasonable doubt that the list is broadly chronological.

I have not seen the original manuscript so I can't eliminate the possibility that the artist may have updated the list once or twice a year rather than on the completion of each work. So one work could perhaps come BEFORE another rather than immediately AFTER.

The key entry follows picture no 101, where he records the death of King Charles II in 1685. I'm quite confident that entries 102 onwards lie after this event.

Osmund Bullock,

Thank you, Jacob.

First, a couple of attachments. The first is of those few (hurried) photos I took of some pages in Prisco Bagni's 1986 book that relate to the Cholmley portrait(s) and Gennari’s list of London works. Jacob has seen much more of the latter, but they may be of interest to others. The second is that detail from our portrait of the letter he is holding, shown in composite with two further versions of the same image with different degrees of electronic tweaking. I would suggest (as I did in the very first post of the thread) that these show beyond question that the last line is not the date of the painting, but a somewhat later addition reading “Died [or just possibly ‘Dead’] April [ ? ] / 1687”. Nathaniel Cholmley did indeed die in April 1687, on the 20th. I’m reiterating this to show that there is nothing within the picture itself to discredit Jacob’s dating of the portrait to 1685.

Jacob Simon,

Thanks, Osmund. It'd still be helpful to post information on Cholmley and his family, as the discussion question asks. The portrait by Gennari of his wife remains lost. But otherwise we are in a strong position with artist and sitter correctly identified and the date amended to 1685.

On the home straits towards closure.

Osmund Bullock,

That is coming, Jacob, albeit in stages. The good news is that I now have *all* the answers - the last linking pieces of his ancestral jigsaw were finally found in an obscure book on a week ago. However, explaining - at least at tolerable length - the logical steps that prove aspects of it is proving quite a challenge.

Osmund Bullock,

I was for a long time unable (like everyone else in the last 300 years) to find British records that reveal Nathaniel Cholmley’s ancestry and date of birth, but I have now found evidence of the latter in contemporary local records of the Honourable East India Company (henceforth ‘the EIC’ or ‘the Company’) at Fort St George, Madras (Chennai) in south-east India. I also now know who his family and forbears were, but I’ll be covering that rather later.

Osmund Bullock,

Some background on both Cholmley in India, and the sources for information about him. In the early 20th century, a large number of early EIC records, both local to the trading posts and at the company’s London headquarters, were transcribed, edited and published ‘under the patronage’ of the Secretary of State for India. Many of these have been uploaded to and the Hathi Trust, along with other detailed books and contemporary diaries relating to the early years of the British in India, and I've been intermittently working through them in the last few years.

There are dozens, perhaps hundreds of references to the Cholmley brothers – John in London, and Nathaniel in India – and it is clear the latter was something of a thorn in the side of the EIC, operating as a well-funded, highly enterprising, but often lawless independent merchant in diamonds and other gemstones on the Coromandel Coast with the Company’s consent, but frequently and egregiously ignoring the terms of his permissions. Amongst other things, he was accused of dealing privately and illegally in other commodities that were the EIC’s monopoly; of wholesale bribery of local Indian potentates, colluding with them against the Company’s interests; and of failing to report (as he was required to do) the true extent of his lawful diamond dealing, and practising outright fraud as a regular part of it. Within a short time of his arrival he had become involved in the feuds, sometimes violent, between opposing factions of the English traders, agents and other Company administrators, and at one stage he was actually imprisoned on a charge of treason.

As early as March 166⅚ the Council at Madras had suggested to London that Nathaniel should, with others, be “seized and sent home”; and even after he was finally compelled to leave India 16 years later, it was strongly suspected that he and another disgruntled Englishman were responsible for having bribed or coerced two local men into subsequently bringing provably false charges against the Governor and some councillors, in revenge for their expulsion.

Osmund Bullock,

The first sight of Nathaniel in India that I can find is an almost certain reference (though he’s not named) in a lengthy official letter from Fort St George to London in July 1663. See and attached. His appearances mentioned by name begin in Dec 1664 – the same date as the first letter to him in his brother John Cholmley’s surviving letter book – and are continuous and frequent thereafter. Nathaniel eventually pushed his luck too far, and in Jan 1679 the EIC demanded he return to England to explain his conduct to the Company’s General Court, though he managed to resist expulsion until Feb 1682. On his return, proceedings were also commenced against him in England by the EIC in the Court of Chancery.

The evidence of when he was born comes in the records of an earlier investigation of another matter by the Council at Fort St George in late 1677 and early 1678. On Feb 20th 167⅞ a witness deposition was made by “Nathaniell Cholmley aged 40 yeares or thereabouts being duly sworne”. See and attached. The age may look like a suspiciously round number, but those given by other deponents are clearly not, so I think it’s likely it was more or less accurate. This implies he was born in 1637 or very early ’38 - and that falls precisely within a notable gap I’d identified in the sequence of baptisms at All Hallows, Honey Lane, of children born to a London merchant, Nathaniel Cholmley, and his wife Margery née Mansell. I’d already concluded that this man was probably the father of our Nathaniel Cholmley, but could not until recently prove it.

Also attached are extracts from two recent books on gem history that discuss the Cholmley brothers, and mention a few of their English clients - Lady Villiers and the Countess of Pembroke in one, and "my brother Potter" in the other, are of particular significance, and will appear again later in the story.

To be continued.

Lou Taylor, Dress and Textiles,

Just to say a big thank you to Osmund and that I am really delighted to know all these stories about Nathaniel Cholmley. If ever there was proof of the historical value of Art Detective - here it is...

Marcie Doran,

That is indeed remarkable research, Osmund. I agree that Nathaniel and Margery of London were likely his parents. There are certainly a lot of family trees that incorrectly show him marrying his sister.

The baptismal records of All Hallows, Honey Lane are somewhat disordered. I believe that the baptismal years of the Cholmley children are as follows: Elinor 1628, Samuel 1630, George 1632, John 1633, a son with a name I cannot read in 1635, Elizabeth 1639, and Hanna 1641. In that era, the firstborn son would likely have been given his father's name therefore my guess is that Nathaniel was born before 1628. However, your guess is a good one.

Osmund Bullock,

It's not a guess any more, Marcie; he was in all likelihood born in 1637 or very early 1638, as I've already explained. You are wrong to say that "in that era the firstborn son would likely have been given his father's name" - some were, some weren't, it varied from family to family (and even within the same family), and I have clear evidence from his school and university records that Samuel was actually the eldest. It is also known from several sources that John was Nathaniel's elder brother, not younger. But we're getting ahead of ourselves now, as I've not yet provided the proof that this is our Nathaniel's family.

I have everything I need to make my case - including the baptisms of all the children (including Charles, the one you couldn't read, and a still-born child you missed), plus what happened to several of them and to two more children, Anne and Rebecca, who were not christened at AHHL (though I don't know where).

Putting together a great deal of info from many different sources, and drawing it all together in a coherent, lucid and readable whole is (as I mentioned) challenging - this is the most extensive research I've ever attempted, and has taken me some years, off and on. I would appreciate it if you could hold back for the moment on adding material until you know what I am going to say anyway. The process is ongoing: those last two posts were only the beginning, and I have other ones half-written that become even tickier to complete if I have to change them to take account of unexpected late inputs. It's not you fault - why would you not want to add relevant information you've found? - but in the particular circumstances here, I'd be grateful for a little bit of patience and restraint.

Marcie Doran,

You've misinterpreted my comment, Osmund. It was a message of support.

Jacob Simon,

I am guessing, Osmund, that when you are ready, you might headline your findings in one or more posts and bring together the all important backup details in an attachment for the historic record. The details of Cholmley's life and family are so rich that they certainly are worth recording here and more widely.

I'm always a bit cautious in saying that the portrait reveals the man. But in this case...

Jacinto Regalado,

It's wonderful that the sitter and his family are being resurrected, so to speak. It is practically certain this would never have happened if Osmund had not chosen to intervene via Art Detective--not even if the picture belonged to a collection with a much bigger name and the corresponding resources.

Generally speaking, I expect that applies to a great deal of the work AD has accomplished for many art works from many collections, much of which has taken place behind the scenes without public discussions. It would be a pity if such a resource were terminated.

Osmund Bullock,

Not the order of events I’d intended, but since Marcie has raised it, here is a full list of the known children of Nathaniel Cholmley (1600-1655) & his wife Margery née Mansell (d. 1647), along with some basic biographical details of children & parents. Most entries are from the registers of All Hallows, Honey Lane (AH), plus St Helen, Bishopsgate (StH), etc. I’ve inserted ‘our’ Nathaniel and his sister Anne where I think they should lie in the sequence.

1628 Jun 19 Eliner bap. AH
1630 May 14 Samuel bap. AH; died c. 1659 (PCC Administration)
1632 Apr 10 George bap. AH; buried 15 Aug 1638 AH
1633 Nov 17 John bap. AH; buried 2 Mar 1694 Temple Church
1635 Oct ?23 Charles bap. AH; buried 26 Oct 1635 AH
*1637/38 prob. birth Nathaniel*: age 40 in Feb 1678 (EIC records)
1639 Mar 29 Elizabeth bap. AH
1641 Sep 11 Stillborn female child buried AH
1641 Sep 17 Hanna bap. AH
*1642/43 prob. birth Anne*: age 24 in Sep 1667 (marriage licence)
[1643 Dec 1 ?Margaret Bingham, ‘servant to Master Cholmley’ buried AH]

1647 Aug 11 Rebecca buried StH (prob. a child, 'daughter of NC')
1647 Oct 13 Wife Margery buried StH

1655 Jan 20 Nathaniel Cholmley (the elder) buried Brooksby (parish of Hoby), Leics

Nathaniel the elder’s first four children are shown on his signed entry in the Heralds’ Visitation of London in 1634, Samuel’s name being annotated ‘eldest sonn’. I will come to the visitations later. Nathaniel’s apparent burial at Brooksby in Leicestershire was initially a puzzle – the basically redundant but still maintained church lies within the grounds of the Villiers family seat, Brooksby Hall, but the village it once served had disappeared completely before 1600. It was this and other apparent Leicestershire connections for the family that were important clues in tracking his ancestry and family connections.

There are just two weeks left until Art Detective closes to further comments, of which 11 are Art UK working days, though I am working only six of them. It may be helpful to know that those days are 17, 18, 19, 24, 25 and 26 June. I will be on email for four weeks after that, until 26 July.

Jacob Simon,

As Jacinto posted (13/05/2024), "It's wonderful that the sitter and his family are being resurrected, so to speak. It is practically certain this would never have happened if Osmund had not chosen to intervene via Art Detective...".

For my part (13/05/2024), I'd encourage Osmund to bring the headline findings together for the historic record. The details of Cholmley's life and family are so rich that they certainly are worth recording here.

Short of that, I guess that I could attempt a short summary when I recommend closing this discussion next week.

Jacob Simon,

I'll be recommending closure of this discussion tomorrow afternoon....

Marcie Doran,

I'm wondering if anyone has been able to decipher some of the document on the table. The only word that I can clearly read is "opaque". It seems to be a term that is used when discussing diamonds.

Charles Matthews,

Original poster here. (My comment above was about rabbit holes, not meant as derogatory.) This all came up on Wikipedia, and I'd like to write about Cholmley there. The constraints mean I can only use published sources, and this thread wouldn't count.

Jacob Simon,

Marcie, document not decipherable to me.

Charles, "Original poster" where?

Charles Matthews,

I made the original posting here, on Art Detective, on 24 May 2019.

Osmund Bullock,

Jacob, I am still hoping to write up the family origins and connections of the sitter, which are very revealing, before we close down. But because it is the most complex it is the last on my last, and I don't think I'll get to it until Thursday. Perhaps you could wait a day or two?

Lou Taylor, Dress and Textiles,

Dear Everyone interested in Nathaniel Cholmley, I just want to say that the research by Osmond in particular, and Art UK detectives as a whole, is fascinating, important and precious. I know that lots of historians of many kinds would also find it fascinating... I feel certain that Osmund should write an article for publication in an academic journal. The East India company records etc would interest so many people..Were this to happen I would be delighted to offer my penny's worth on his gorgeous banyan...
Osmund, do you have it mind at some point to write your Cholmley research up for publication in such a journal please?

Jacob Simon,

This discussion dating from 2019 concerns a portrait of Nathaniel Cholmley in the Ferens Art Gallery. We are asked, “Further information is sought on Nathaniel Cholmley (d.1687) and the Cholmley family”. At the outset the Ferens provided a good deal of information about the portrait.

This summing up is in two sections, firstly, here, the artist and date of the portrait, secondly, to follow, the sitter and his family.

That the portrait is by the Italian artist in England, Benedetto Gennari the younger (1633–1715), the nephew and pupil of Guercino, is established and correctly recorded. We have been able to confirm the entry for the picture in Gennari’s own listing of his paintings (posts, 25/05/2019, 13/04/2024, 23/04/2024). This makes it clear that our portrait is almost certainly from 1685. In closing the discussion, it is recommended that the date of the work be changed from 1687 to 1685.

A closure recommendation for the sitter and his family will follow, perhaps in two stages.

Jacob Simon,

Summing up on Nathaniel Cholmley and his family in the first of two posts.

We have not been able to locate the portrait of Nathaniel's wife recorded by Gennari in his list of works. We have however been able to establish that Nathaniel was born in 1637 or 1638 from East India Company records identified by Osmund (11/05/2024). It is well established that he died in 1687. So it is recommended that the current ArtUK life dates for Nathaniel, given as 1684-1755, be amended to 1637/38-1687.

I am hoping that Osmund will post further information and then do a summary. I would like to be able to endorse this in my next post but with some uncertainty since I will be on the road depending on access to Wifi on a small screen smart phone. My final recommendation to close the discussion is likely to be succinct.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to Art Detective in the ten years since it was established. The pooled knowledge of this unique congregation of expert, generous and enthusiastic people has led to numerous discoveries and more than 200 new artist biographies – a quite remarkable achievement.

Particular thanks are due to Pieter van der Merwe for painstakingly extracting most of the biographies from discussions; to the stalwart group leaders who have aided and summarised discussions, including all those who have since left (and so kindly returned); and – though virtually impossible and risky to single anyone out – I could not see the site closing without mentioning the massive individual contributions publicly and privately of Osmund Bullock and Kieran Owens.

It is very sad that Art Detective has to be paused due to lack of funds, but Art UK is extremely proud of the success of the service in delivering hundreds of significant discoveries and thousands of small data updates to public art collections around the UK, including a wealth of new information on sculpture.

I hope you will keep an eye out for news of Art Detective on Art UK and return one day to help tackle more art-historical conundrums!

There are many people still to thank in person, who could not be mentioned here. I will be working up to 25 July to try to resolve and update discussions that could not be closed as planned.

I’m sorry that many of you will see this message several times because you follow various groups.

With thanks again and best wishes,

Marcie Doran,

Here is the auction catalogue from 1950 that includes this work.

The acquisition information on Art UK currently reads:
"purchased at Strickland (?) sale, Spencer’s of Retford, 1950".

As I indicated earlier (16/11/2022 02:20), that record could be improved.

The NICE record could be improved, too. It currently reads:
“Purchased from Strickland (?) sale, Spencer’s of Retford, 2 September 1950, lot 361 for 61 gns.."

As shown in those newspaper articles, it was purchased at an auction on 22 November 1950, not on 2 September 1950.

An improved acquisition record might be:
"Purchased on 22 November 1950 at an auction of items belong to Rev. James Edmund Strickland (formerly Marriott) and his wife Anne Strickland (née Price) of Boynton Hall, Bridlington, held by Henry Spencer & Sons of Retford."