Topic: Execution date

Can anyone suggest the date and author of this and several other portraits of Garibaldi on glass in British collections?

The Whitaker:

Glasgow Museums:

Southampton City Museums:

Garibaldi was in London for three weeks as a guest of the Duke of Sutherland in April 1864. This may have inspired the making of these images. Many portraits of Garibaldi were made at the time of this visit – no doubt a specialist would be able to say much more about these ones.

There are similar portraits on glass which could possibly depict a young Oscar Wilde at Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Art Gallery ( and Sunderland Art Gallery ( as well as a portrait of Edward, Prince of Wales, also in the Stirling Smith Art Gallery:

Glasgow Museums also owns another portrait on glass of Lord Palmerston attributed to A. Struthers and assigned the date 1895, some considerable time after Palmerston's death:

Are these works all from the same studio? Who was A. Struthers?

Martin Hopkinson, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. It has been established that this is one of several reverse glass painted portraits on Art UK from an as yet unidentified workshop or workshops producing these works on a large scale from images already in circulation. This portrait is probably based on an image from the early 1850s.

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.


Tania Adams,

The date of what looks like a treacle print or 'hinterglasmalerei'[it woudl be intersetibng to know whether the 'oil' is on the front of the glass or behind] and probably after a photograph (or a print) looks more like the time of Garibaldi's three week visit to Tynemouth (Newcastle) in March April 1854 - he looks more youthful and in the correct costume with a manageable (not completely white) beard - red jacket with buttons and chain (but no star) and no hat. His portrait by Watts, seen from the same angle, sitting of 1864 looks of an older man.

Gregory Burgess,

There was a jeweller's called A. Struthers at 54 Leith Street, Edinburgh. I found a mourning band originating from 1888 for sale on a website '' This is very close to the Palmerston treacle glass print. Strong possibility that this is the A Struthers for whom you are looking?

Gregory Burgess,

Edinburgh Post Office Directory 1886-87 reveals Archibald Struthers, jeweller and watch-maker at 54, Leith Street, Edinburgh.

The three Garibaldi portraits at the Whitaker, Glasgow and Southampton are clearly all from the same workshop and from the same source, very similar to the cartes de visite by Z. Bioni in the NPG of 1862. That in Stirling Smith is different but the clothing close to a wood engraving on the Alamy picture library website.

Glasgow’s Palmerston is also close to cartes de visite in the NPG by Mayal dated 1862 (Coincidentally Palmerston of course met Garibaldi in London in 1864). It would be interesting to know where the supposed date of 1895 and the attribution to A. Struthers come from.

The Stirling Smith’s painting of Edward VII when Prince of Wales can be dated to the same period, the early 1860s, judging by his age. Cyfarthfa Castle Museum’s ‘Portrait of a woman in uniform’ (!) is and almost identical portrait of a man in Sunderland, from the same workshop, are surely also of the Prince of Wales: the hairstyle and necktie with stud are very similar in many photos of him in the 1860s.

Note that all are of similar sizes, some identical. So we probably have a mass-producer of glass paintings making images of popular figures in the 1860s, derived from images already in circulation.

Martin Hopkinson,

The reason for suggesting Oscar Wilde as the subject of the portraits in Merthyr Tydfil and Sunderland was the resemblance to photographs of him in 1882 by Napoleon Sarony and others see http:/

but Andrew's suggestions make better sense. One wonders if the 1895 associated with the Palmerston portrait is a mistake for 1865, the year of Palmerston's death. Also could A Struthers could have been an owner rather than the artist?

I support the idea that the Welsh portrait is the prince of Wales. It has been suggested by my director that these portraits may have been done for the Italian community, specifically for Italian ice cream parlours etc. Has anyone any suggestion that their portraits came from this source.

Martin Hopkinson,

Possibly relevant is the fact that the Prince of Wales' 21st birthday was in 1862

Garibaldi and Prince of Wales were working class heroes because the prince was involved in Garibaldi's tour to Britain despite what Queen Victoria thought. Garibaldi was seen as a threat to the monarchy and aristocrats after his successful campaigns in Italy. He was also involved in promoting William Wallace in Scotland and along with other european radicals supported the effort to build a monument to Wallace at Stirling. This is why we believe these images were made for supporters of Garibaldi, Italians and working class people, therefore possibly from Italian establishments.

Kieran Owens,

These reverse-painting images of Giuseppe Garibaldi could all be by the American folk painter William Matthew Prior (1806 - 1873).

On page 19 of their "Folk Art in American Life' (Viking Studio Books, 1995), Robert Charles Bishop, Henry Niemann, Patricia Coblentz remark that "William Matthew Prior became well-known in his later years for his work in this medium (reverse-painting on glass). Prior is known to have done reverse-glass portraits of George and Martha Washington, Lafayette, and Garibaldi, in addition to Abraham Lincoln; they were handsome as well as appealing to the American public's enthusiasm for depictions of political heroes."

Biographical details of Prior's life can be seen here:

and here:

In late 2012 and early 2013, the Fenimore Art Museum and then the American Folk Art Museum hosted an exhibition of his work, at which time a publication was produced entitled, ARTIST AND VISIONARY: WILLIAM MATTHEW PRIOR REVEALED, and written by Jacquelyn & Gwendolyn Dubois Shaw. It would be worth sending the images under scrutiny here for their consideration.

Attached is a composite of images for style comparison, the two in the middle being know works by Prior of George and Martha Washington.

There may have been many artists in the mid-1850s and 1860s who were producing reverse-paintings on glass, but Prior is certainly with considering as the creator of the Garibaldi paintings dotted around the UK. How the arrived in the UK from America would be a question to be considered on another day.

Glasgow Museums,

I hope this information does not come too late. The attribution of A. Struthers as artist as well as the date 1890 on Glasgow Museum's portrait of Lord Palmerston (acc. no. OG.1948.103.a) are both in fact a mistake.

The glass portrait of Lord Palmerston was gifted to Glasgow Museums in 1948 by a gentleman who also gave us a watercolour painting by 'A Struthers', dated 1890. The way information was recorded in our old Paintings register was a bit unclear and when it was transfered to our electronic database, the attribution to A Struthers and the date 1890 were by mistake associated with both the watercolour and the glass portrait. We managed to find the original record from 1948 when the glass portrait was accessioned - it says only "Oil Portrait. Elderly gentleman of the Victorian Era". There is no evidence either on the painting itself or anywhere in our records that would suggest anything about the maker or the date. I have therefore updated the information in our database to "Artist Unknown, 19th century, British".

Kieran Owens,

Are you ending this discussion by way of your database update?

Martin Hopkinson,

another painting which might belong in this group, although described as on board [I suspect that this is simply the backboard] is in Ceridigion Museum described as Portrait of a man (said to be John Wesley).

Edward Stone,

We have amended our records. The portrait of Lord Palmerston in Glasgow Museums' collection is now listed as by an unknown artist. This change will be visible on Art UK in due course.

But can anything else be found about these paintings on glass?

Martin Hopkinson,

Can anything be gleaned about the connections between the men represented? Is there any evidence that some of them were once together in the same building?

Martin Hopkinson,

Garibaldi and the Prince of Wales were both prominent freemasons. Was Palmerston a freemason?

There is a general Wiki article on reverse glass-painting - which seems pretty varied in form though groups of portraits of this 'Garibaldi' type (or other single sitters) don't seem common. Rather more common is the related 19th-c. form in which prints were stuck on glass, the paper scraped away and the outline then painted, and then viewed from the other side: the late Prof. Lesley Le Quesne - a surgeon with Nelsonic interests - did a useful book on 'Nelson Commemorated in Glass Pictures' (Antique Collectors Club 2001), mainly of this sort, based on his own large collection of them.

Martin Hopkinson,

There is some similarity with the portrait in profile of Peter Paul Dobree of 1866 in Guernsey Museum and Art Gallery by the lithographer Paul Gauci

Martin Hopkinson,

Were the ultimate source of these images low cost lithographs printed for the popular market? Have any of the backs been examined for evidence of the paint being applied over prints?

Martin Hopkinson,

We are still awaiting evidence that the backs of the glass have been examined. Can the owners be encouraged to look at them, please?

As it is some time since Marion kindly provided the photographs courtesy of The Stirling Smith Art Gallery & Museum I think it is time for us to reflect on the progress made to date with this discussion and to agree on the way forward.

One option is that the title of the discussion should perhaps be amended as the reference to A Struthers is now understood not to be relevant. Should it be instead, as Martin Hopkinson wrote, "Can anyone suggest the date and author of this and several other portraits of Garibaldi on glass in British collections?"

Or should we consider further the contributions made by Andrew Greg on 12th April 2016, and by Tim Williams and Kieran Owens and others, as sufficient for us to reach the conclusion that as Andrew says 'we probably have a mass-producer of glass paintings making images of popular figures in the 1860s, derived from images already in circulation'.

Personally I favour the latter approach. If the other Group Leaders have views on this further comments would be appreciated in order that we can agree on an appropriate recommendation to close this discussion. Thanks to all.

Barbara Bryant,

This isn't particularlly a discussion for me but I think Grant, following Andrew Greg's estimation, has exactly the right idea to draw it to a close.

Reverse glass painted portraits were very popular in Britain, Europe and America in the second half of the 19th century. They were produced in relatively large numbers to satisfy demand from the general public for images of well-known national and international figures, for example the Prince of Wales, American presidents, and the Italian patriot and republican Giuseppe Maria Garibaldi (1807-1882).

This discussion has focused mainly on a reverse glass portrait of Garibaldi, who visited Northumberland in 1854 and London in 1864. There is little doubt that the visits would have increased demand for images of him in the UK and elsewhere and although specific dates of production are seemingly not documented, it is generally accepted that the majority of portraits of Garibaldi would have been produced during the 1850s and 1860s, when he was at the height of his fame.

As Tania Adams pointed out in her post of 12th April 2016, the Stirling Smith Art Gallery & Museum example depicts Garibaldi in mid life. There is little sign of the grey hair clearly present in Felice Barucco's portrait of 1864 held by Guildhall Art Gallery (see the Art UK link here):

The Stirling Smith example is thus likely to be based on an image from the early 1850s.

Contributors to this discussion have identified that many examples of these reverse glass portraits appear to come from the same workshop although other workshops were also involved in production (see Andrew Greg, 12th April 2016 and 5th October 2017, and Tim Williams 14th April 2016). However, no identification marks have been seen. As Kieran Owens noted on 7th October 2017 one prolific producer of these portraits was the American folk artist William Matthew Prior (1806-1873). Garibaldi was an extremely popular figure in America.

In conclusion my recommendation is that the Stirling Smith glass portrait of Garibaldi, and other similar reverse glass painted portraits of popular figures from the 1850s and 1860s as referred to in this discussion, are from an as yet unidentified workshop or workshops producing these works on a large scale derived from images already in circulation.