Topic: Artist

The Leeds Mercury newspaper for 15 November 1845, reported on a recent public meeting held at the Court House, Knaresborough. At that meeting Samuel Powell received a testimonial from the people of the town in recognition for all of his good works over preceding years. At the end of the meeting Mr Powell was presented with a silver salver and a portrait of himself. The article stated that "Mr Howell was the artist selected, the happy effort of whose pencil has produced a most admirable likeness." Surely Mr Powell would have received more than a pencil portrait? The answer may lie on the frame of the painting at Harrogate, as the portrait he was presented with bears the following inscription - "This portrait of Samuel Powell, Esq. presented to him after an honourable career of half a century...." etc. Could the owning institution please check whether the frame of their painting bears such an inscription? If it does then this work can be assigned to the hand of Samuel Howell (1809-1878).

Cliff Thornton, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

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The Collection has commented: ‘Unfortunately, the painting has been reframed so we are not able to identify it by the inscription on the frame.’

Alistair Brown, Art UK has added: ‘The 1845 portrait mentioned by Cliff must refer to Samuel Powell (1778-1859), in which case the sitter would have been 67 years old at the time. So either this is an earlier portrait of him or it is his son Samuel (1800-1883).’ [It should additionally be noted that there is a portrait of ‘Ann Powell, Wife of Samuel Powell’ just before this portrait in the Mercer Art Gallery Accession Register https://bit.ly/3r1OpCD which is the same size. The wife of Samuel Powell (1778-1859), was Ann Bolland (1779-1868)]

Jacinto Regalado,

The dress looks earlier than 1845 to me, but Lou Taylor should be consulted in the matter.

Marcie Doran,

I have attached an article from the ‘Knaresborough Post’ of December 17, 1887, that states that the 1845 portrait of Samuel Powell was a “painting” and a “fine oil portrait” by the artist Samuel Howell.

I have also attached the article from November 15, 1845, from the ‘Leeds Intelligencer’ (likely exactly the same text as cited by Cliff Thornton) for those who are curious about the details of the gifting of the portrait.

“'JEP's' Only Brother” by Samuel Christopher Herbert Powell (1857–1892) was also a “probate purchase from Mr M. J. Clifton, 1983” at the Mercer Art Gallery. https://tinyurl.com/2r457mck. The accession number is HARAG 1084 - just before HARAG 1085, the accession number for ‘Ann Powell, Wife of Samuel Powell’.

The “Powell/Watson” family tree on Ancestry, attached, shows Samuel Christopher Herbert Powell had only one brother - James Ernest Powell (1851–1914) so, very likely, “'JEP's' Only Brother” was a self-portrait with a clever title.

Their father was James Powell (1813–1890) who was the brother of Samuel Powell (1800–1883). The Ancestry tree shows that the father of James Powell (1813–1890) and Samuel Powell (1800–1883) was Samuel Powell (1777–1859). I have ordered the wills of Samuel Powell (1777-1859) and James Powell (1813-1890) - they might mention this painting.

Marcie Doran,

I received today the two wills that I mentioned above and they do reference the painting of Samuel Powell. Please see the attached screenprints:
- an extract from the September 10, 1857, codicil to the will of Samuel Powell who died on April 6, 1859; and,
- an extract from the August 25, 1890, will of James Powell who died on August 29, 1890. This will also mentions the painting of his mother Ann Powell.

Marcie Doran,

Here are two informative articles about the painter Samuel Howell. One is from the York Herald of November 25, 1843. It states that he was a native of Knaresborough and that he was a student at the Royal Academy, London. The other is a long obituary in the Huddersfield Daily Chronicle of October 17, 1876 (Samuel Howell had passed away on October 11, 1876). I have also attached the full page in case the screenprint is difficult to read in some places.

Lou Taylor, Dress and Textiles,

This a really hard portrait to date from the clothes. The clues are probably: in the cravat- worn with a not so high collar as in the 1820s and no bow tie; in the waistcoat which has no revers at all, which would be unusual in the 1840s and 50s but not impossible... and perhaps also there are clues in the rolling collar of the coat. Sadly his hair (or lack of) does not help at all...he has small sideburns. Taking a plunge, bearing in mind that this is not a fashionable man, I can hazard a guess - dating it between 1835-45... .....

Jacob Simon,

This discussion, “Is this a portrait by Samuel Howell (1807–1876)?”, concerns a portrait of the Knaresborough solicitor, Samuel Powell (1778-1859).

We know that a portrait of Powell by Howell was presented to the sitter in 1845. And that this portrait featured in the wills of the sitter and his son, as posted by Marcie (21 October). But can this portrait be identified as the one we are now discussing? I would like to think so.

One way to prove it would be to discover the link between the Powell family and the acquisition by the Mercer Art Gallery at Harrogate. The acquisition method was “probate purchase from Mr M. J. Clifton, Darby & Son, Oxford, 1983”. Can the Mercer Art Gallery locate the correspondence relating to this acquisition in 1983? I would like to think that some explanation concerning the portrait would have been contained within the correspondence.

Marcie Doran,

Despite best attempts, I have been unable to trace this portrait through the family to Oxford in 1983 but I thought I would share my detective work.

As shown above (21/10/2021 13:44), Samuel Powell (1777-1859) bequeathed his portrait [by Samuel Howell, presented in 1845] to his son Charles Powell (1811-1893) (codicil September 10, 1857).

Charles Powell (1811-1893) bequeathed the portrait of his father (will of April 16, 1889)(see attachment) to his son Charles Albert Powell (1842-1925). This will states that his son was to receive “the portrait of my Father [Samuel Powell (1777-1859)] and the four line Engravings also the portraits of my brother Samuel [Powell (1800-1883)] and wife [Agnes Powell née Ingleby (1802–1883)]”.

The will of Charles Albert Powell (1842-1925) states the following: “I give and bequeath unto my grandson James Ralli Robertson the son of Eric Ralli Robertson of Ilkley and Elizabeth (Bessie) his wife the portrait of my grandfather Samuel Powell of Knaresbrough Solicitor painted and presented to him in 1845” (see attachment from will of August 12, 1921). He also bequeathed "2 oil paintings S. Powell Junr and Mrs. S. Powell” to his daughter E. Gertrude Williams (née Powell)(1884-1966), wife of Major William Edward Rees Williams I.M.S. (1883-1970) (see attachment).

On Ancestry, the “Fattorini Family Tree” shows that James Ralli Robertson (1909-1977) was the eldest of the four children of Eric John Ralli Robertson (1879-1938) and Elizabeth Robertson (1883-1972)(née Powell, the daughter of Charles Albert Powell (1842-1925))(see attachment). Note that the painting ‘Charles Powell (1811-1893)’, HARAG 2548, is recorded as a “gift from the Fattorini Family, Skipton Castle, 2013; on display at Knaresborough Castle and Museum”

Marcie Doran,

As shown above (21/10/2021 13:44), James Powell (1813-1890) bequeathed a portrait of his mother [likely HARAG 1085] to his brother Frederick Powell (1824-1895). Frederick was the last surviving child of Samuel Powell (1777-1859) and Ann Powell (née Bolland)(1779-1868). In the December 19, 1893, second codicil to his will (see attachment) Frederick Powell (1824-1895) bequeathed the portrait of his mother to the children of his late brother James Powell (1813-1890). Since his nephew Samuel Christopher Herbert Powell (1858-1892) [likely the sitter in HARAG 1084] had already passed away, his estate would have passed to his niece Elizabeth Susan Powell (1844-1910) and his nephew James Ernest Powell (1851-1914).

Finally, I should mention that I cannot explain why the same portrait of Samuel Powell (1777-1859) [HARAG 1086] was mentioned in two wills (the wills of brothers Charles Powell (1811-1893) and James Powell (1813-1890)).