Completed British 19th C, except portraits, East of England and The Midlands: Artists and Subjects 13 Is the building in this painting Stiffkey Old Hall?

Topic: Subject or sitter

The two attached photographs show various points of correspondence between the building in this painting and Stiffkey Old Hall, Norfolk.

The collection observes that, in the Mappin catalogue, it is listed as The Old Hall, Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. But there is also the later suggestion that it is, in fact, Stiffkey Old Hall.

Gareth Hughes, Entry reviewed by Art UK

2 attachments

Completed, Outcome

Edward Stone,

This discussion is now closed. The building in the painting has been found to be Stiffkey Old Hall, Norfolk. We have updated the painting's title accordingly and the change will be visible 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.


Well done Gareth - the photographs are completely convincing in my opinion. It is a bit surprising that the collection was hesitant in accepting the identification and referred it for discussion.

Kieran Owens,

The Norfolk Chronicle, of Saturday 22nd September 1849, carries a page 2 report on the the 'Exhibition for the Promoting the Fine Arts in Norfolk and Norwich'. It states that "Henry Bright has some of the most beautiful landscapes in the room....(number) 69, 'Stiffkey Old Hall', near Wells, painted for Lord Charles Townshend, is a fine picture. The bright colouring brings out the architectural details in admirable relief, and the cattle, trees, and every accessory, are delineated with the artist's hand." The description perfectly matches this discussion's painting. Allied to the attached photographs, can there be any doubt about it, that it is as Gareth Hughes has proposed?

Museums Sheffield,

Apologies, we were not doubting Gareth's suggestion of the location. We were just interested in the information a public discussion provides, such as the gem from the Norfolk Chronicle above. Many thanks for everyone's input.

I am aware that hundreds of straightforward corrections to Art UK data have been made through Art Detective and by agreement between Art UK and the collections without becoming Discussions. I am very sorry I treated this identification as so obviously correct that I expected it to have been dealt with similarly. I should not have given the impression that I was criticising Museums Sheffield. Sheffield are of course right to say that discussions often produce a large amount of fascinating new information that is of great benefit to keen and supportive collections like them.

Kieran Owens,

In the context of the very precise information contained in the Norfolk Chronicle report above, may I suggest that Museums Sheffield now rename the picture 'Stiffkey Old Hall' (as opposed to 'The Old Hall', in line with the original catalogue entry (assuming that it was so described in the actual catalogue!). Maybe the Mappin catalogue could be updated or annotated, too, to reflect this definite identification. Perhaps, also, the whole newspaper clipping could be included in the 'More Information' section of this ArtUk entry.

Kieran Owens,

Additionally, it would be important Museums Sheffield to positively distinguish between Stiffkey Old Hall, in Norfolk, and The Old Hall, Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, as one is approximately 115 miles away from the other.

Museums Sheffield,

We will certainly update our records and of course give permission to update the Art Uk record too.

Gareth Hughes,

I've made a couple of corrections to other paintings on Art UK and was surprised (and a bit disappointed) that they were accepted by the collections in question and didn't become public discussions. So I'm pleased that Sheffield Museums have preferred to open it up for discussion - as they say, it flushes other bits of the past history and provenance of the artworks out, even if the original correction of location is obvious.

Perhaps in some of the cases where things resolve without becoming pubic discussions, collections could write them up as brief reports of new discoveries/corrections and ask Art UK to post them as such (?).

Gareth Hughes,

That's a good idea, assuming it doesn't take up a lot of curatorial time that would be better spent (?) elsewhere.
Not so sure about pubic (!) discussions ;)

Kieran Owens,

If all parties to this discussion are now satisfied with the identification as being "Stiffkey Old Hall", can Art Uk please move it to the "Completed" category and moved out of the "Active" list?

I am happy to make a formal recommendation that the painting is indeed of Stiffkey Old Hall, Norfolk, as originally proposed by Gareth Hughes. I am pleased to note that the collection has already accepted this identification.