Completed Continental European after 1800, Dress and Textiles, North West England: Artists and Subjects 20 If not by Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier, whose work could this be?

Topic: Artist

Note from the collection: "There are no further clues on the back of the frame and it arrived unattributed. The painting was given as part of a large bequest of 127 paintings in 1929 by John Henry Bell. The bequest included work by several European artists."

Martin Hopkinson, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

Jade Audrey King,

This discussion is now closed, and the artwork is listed as being by an unknown artist with the initials 'J. L. E.' or 'J. F. E.'.

Thank you to all for participating in this discussion. If you have any new information please propose a new discussion by following the Art Detective link on the artwork's Art UK page.


Martin Hopkinson,

Very much an Alphonse Legros subject, but very probably not by him, but by an artist tied in style partly to the previous generation - the paint more liquid than one would generally expect from Legros

Martin Hopkinson,

It is closer to Henriette Browne, whose work was popularised in England by Gambart

Martin Hopkinson,

One should also perhaps look through the work of the forgotten Marie Petiet, subject of an exhibition about to open at the Musee de Limoux, Languedoc, although I think that this painting is too early for her to enter the reckoning

Al Brown,

In the first place, if the attribution to Meissonier is based on the work being inscribed J L E M - it would be useful to have a detail of this to be able to judge it's status. It doesn't look like Meissonier and am not aware of any works by him of scenes in Brittany (?) or Normandy (?) - the former's more likely I think.

Dagnan-Bouveret should be in the mix of names as well.

This work is certainly not by Meissonier and the type of headdress is not necessarily Breton - there is no matching white collar. Could the location be somewhere elsewhere in France, or even Germany?

Al Brown,

Is it possible to have a detail of the inscription?

Al Brown,

The institution seems to be right about the format of the signature, ie being different from that indicated in the PCF record. It does seem to say 1873 but are there further characters after the 3?

I have looked around for names that might correspond to the letters suggested but no luck so far. Maybe the theme leader can identify the artist?

Amanda Draper,

This has been a very interesting discussion; thank you to all who have participated. As there has been no comments now for 2 months it is proposed, if all agree, that the discussion is concluded.

To summarise: The Atkinson's records listed the artist only by the initials J L E M and Martin asked if it might be Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier. Discussion suggested it was not and alternative artists were put forward. A fresh study of the painting after cleaning revealed that the initials were either J L E or J F E. No suggestions were put forward about who this artist might be.

The Atkinson's collections manager has indicated that they favour reattributing the painting as being by 'Artist Unknown ?J L E or J F E' .

Martin Hopkinson,

Amanda, please understand that I never thought that this was painted by Meissonnier, but simply pointed out that the initials recorded om BBC Your Paintings corresponded to his. The painting is of decent quality - and I am sure that a specialist on French mid nineteenth century genre painting will eventually provide the name of the artist
It is the sort of work which was regularly exhibited in London at Wallis' French Gallery and other London galleries exhibiting contemporary French pictures in the 1870s

Martin Hopkinson,

A French painter who executed pictures of this kind was Pierre Jean Edmond Castan [1817-92], but I doubt if this picture is by him

Alice Read,

I have amended the artist to: unknown artist and added a description that states 'The signature on this work is either J L E or J F E.' Perhaps we should leave this discussion open now that Martin has contributed further information.

Martin Hopkinson,

Castan exhibited several times in London in Gambart's series of exhibitions of contemporary Continental [mainly French paintings] between 1862 and 1869
No 22 in Gambart's 11th exhibition in 1864 was 'In Church'
He also exhibited several genre paintings relating to the church

Good suggestion, but the close viewpoint in this painting would be unusual for Castan and, unless the signature has been added by another hand, he seems an unlikely candidate.

Al Brown,

Can't get out of my mind the notion that this might not be French. As Frances Fowle has previously wondered, it could be German. Or, to unhelpfully widen the net further, could it be Belgian or Dutch?

Lou Taylor, Group Leader for Dress and Textiles, as made the follwing comment:

"The dress in this painting worn by the young woman is hard indeed to date- 1873 seems a bit late to me. The bodice shape would be different by then- maybe even in the countryside. The young woman in the silk shawl is urban fashionable. What little can be seen - the plain hair style, bonnet, lace collar, check silk shawl - much worn c 1855-65, cloak folded on the chair, also much worn 1855-65, and what little of the skirt shape that can be seen, could indicate c 1865.

The other girl, (her maid??) is in country clothes. I checked Castan, (see attachment one: Pierre-Jean-Edmond-Castan - Les-bulles-de-Savon,' 1878, on the Galerie Ary Jan site.) One woman in this wears a white country bonnet almost the double of the one in the painting under question. I have also not been able to find out where Castan was painting but perhaps this white country bonnet is neither Normandy not Brittany.

Martin Hopkinson,

Dover Museum's painting by Castan [see Andrea's contribution above] may well be the painting by him exhibited by Gambart in 1867 in his 14th exhibition as no 43 'Going Home from Church'. The painting had been exhibited in the Salon that year [NICE paintings] . Gambart quite often showed paintings previously exhibited in the Salon not so long before.
Lou Taylor's comments on the dress of the Atkinson's painting would fit a date of c.1865-6