Continental European before 1800, Dress and Textiles 19 Is this a Flemish portrait from an artist in the circle of Frans Pourbus?

Topic: Artist

This portrait appears to be 17th Century Flemish - circle of Frans Pourbus.

Tim Williams, Entry reviewed by Art UK


Andrew Quick,

Have you considered mid to late 16th century Spanish/Italian? It is somewhat reminiscent of the work of Sanchez Coello, but is perhaps someone else of that ilk.


I don't think it is Flemish at all

William Thuillier,

I agree. Somehow the costume is too elaborate to be even French, and suggests a north Italian artist, perhaps Florentine. Could the sitter represent the young Catherine de Medici?

Robert Simon,

This seems Italian, likely Bolognese, late 16th century. I would look at the portraits of Lavinia Fontana and her contemporaries. Perhaps not unrelated, but the dog resembles the breed known as a Bolognese (cf. the dog in Titian's Venus and the Organist in Berlin)

Jacinto Regalado,

Much more likely to be Italian than Flemish, as already noted, and also looks more Italian than Spanish.

Andrew Quick,

Agreed. It is very likely Northern Italian. Mid to late 16th century. Possibly Cremonese or Bolognese. Bernardino Campi and circle might be worth considering.

S. Elin Jones,

Would it be possible to have a look to see if there’s any more information on the back of the painting please?

In 1939, the gentleman that donated this painting, also gifted another 21 paintings to Southport Town Council. There appears to be very little further information with regards to this particular painting on ArtUK, but could there be additional information on any of the records of the other 21 paintings, relevant to the collection as a whole?

Although born in Belfast in Feb. of 1887, George Preston had lived in the New York area of the United States since he was a very small baby.

Mr Preston and his wife had been residents in the UK country since 1936 and he was serving as a Company Director of the Sutton Heath and Lea Green Collieries Ltd
1940 Colliery Year Book & Coal Trades Direct

They lived at
74 Scarisbrick Road, New Road, Southport

It mentions in a Liverpool newspaper article, that in 1939, George Preston made an offer to Southport Town Council of a selection of twenty paintings as well as some statues and porcelain. (On the ArtUK database there appear to be twenty-two from Mr Preston). It reads as if the Council had their choice of paintings.

“We were overwhelmed by their generosity”
said Sir Ernest and he added that he had no hesitation in saying that it was the most munificent gift of art which had ever been favoured to receive“.
Munificent Gift of Art- Liverpool Evening Express, 8th March 1939.

The article also mentions that “...the Corporations art advisors had inspected them at a mansion, some distance from Southport.”

I think that the mansion in question may have been ‘Bolton Hey’ in Roby. Various members of the Preston family had lived in the house but most were unmarried i.e. Margaret Preston, Mary Jane Preston,Samuel Campbell Preston. the last member of this particular branch died in November of 1938. He was previously a Director of Sutton Heath and Lea Green Collieries Ltd. George Preston had been left shares in the Company by one of the sisters. he had also offered ‘Bolton Hey’ as a gift to St Helen’s Corporation in June of 1939, but they had decided to decline. It was given to a Catholic organisation to be used as a ‘home’ instead. The family that lived in ‘Bolton Hey’ also lived in ‘Monterey’, Deganwy, North Wales. These were not their ancestral homes.

I suspect that George Preston may have been decided to put his affairs in order and time may have been an issue as he may have been quite unwell with suffering from the effects of ‘Renal cell carcinoma’ especially as it had metastasised to both kidneys. He died on the 15th of March, 1940.
(From US document:Report of the death of an American Citizen Abroad)

The article states
“The matter would not come formally before the Arts Committee until next week and nor officially before the Town Council for another month so he had taken that, the first opportunity of expressing their gratitude.

I expect that there could be information of use in the record of the Libraries and Arts Committee of Southport Borough Council, especially as it was such a significant donation and also the fact that they would have had to make a list for practical purposes. The committee would have wanted to ensure that all items that had agreed to, arrived safely.

Is it at all possible that someone may be able to have a look at the minutes for the meeting of the Southport Town Council for the third week of March 1939 (+/- a few weeks either side)?
and the meeting of the Southport Borough Council - (Libraries and) Arts Committee for April 1939. (+/-).

There may be information that has been lost over time and possibly relevant to the other items in the collection.

I think that these would be within the Sefton Council Archives

1 attachment

Elin, I have asked our Art Detective contact at the Collection if the back of the painting could be checked if in storage and if records for Southport Town Council might be able to be checked. Regards, David

Martin Hopkinson,

Xanthe Brooke may know about the collecting activities of the Prestons of Roby, Liverpool and West Lancashire
E L Preston of Abercrombie Square, Liverpool was a correspondent of the sculptor John Gibson
Robert Berthon Preston born 1820 died 1860 was the owner of the version of his tinted Venus, now in the Walker Art Gallery
A short biography of him is in Grace's Guide
He spent some time in Geneva as part of his education

Martin Hopkinson,

Please could the Atkinson provide a list of all the works of art offered to it by the Preston family as the rest of the collection might provide helpful ideas for exploration.
As S Elin Jones the minutes in Sefton Archives must be consulted

Martin Hopkinson,

A view from a costume specialist would be valuable as to the date and as to whether it indicates whether the sitter was Flemish, Spanish or even Italian

Marcie Doran,

Is this the work of an artist in the circle of the Florentine artist Alessandro Allori (1535–1607)?

The attached composite is based on the mystery work and a painting from the circle of Allori that was in a Christie’s auction in 2002.

While I'm not suggesting the paintings in the composite are by the same person, I do believe that there are many similarities, including the bodice, the cloak, and the pearl necklace of each woman. If one enlarges each work, it is possible to see that both dresses have dress fastenings that alternate between small hoop and round acorn-shaped button. Each woman presses a white cloth to her waist.

Martin, information provided by the Curator
'The bequest items are numbered from 865 to 903 and the majority of the paintings are on the Art UK website. Several of these have been the subject of recent Art UK discussions, e.g. and The bulk of the gift is made up of Victorian paintings by artists such as BW Leader, Edwin Hayes and Clarkson Stanfield. There are also a number of Continental sculptures including 18th century examples by Pigalle and Clodion, as well as 19th century bronze and marble Italian sculptures, for example ‘Cupid’ by Antonio Giovanni Lanzirotti. The gift also includes examples of late 18th century Continental porcelain and Chinese ceramics.'

Marcie Doran,

While not by the same artist, I thought this work in an upcoming Bonhams auction looked quite similar (transparent veil, strong jawline and ringed hands) and thought I'd mention it.

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