Completed Portraits: British 19th C, Scotland: Artists and Subjects 16 Is this a portrait of John Trimnell, friend of the artist Thomas Stuart Smith?

Portrait of a Man
Topic: Subject or sitter

Could this be John Trimnell, a little later on from the following portrait, on which there has already been a long identifying Art Detective discussion?

Pieter van der Merwe, Maritime Subjects, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. The sitter's identity remains uncertain.

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.


Kieran Owens,

As per the attached composite, a comparison of the faces show an initial similarity but there are also significant differences between this portrait and the other known portrait of Trimnell by Smith. The nose seems narrower and shorter in this painting and the lips are fuller. Also, the brown eyes in this painting are at odds with the light tone of blue or grey as suggested in the other. However, the hair parts in the same place and they both sport similar side whiskers, but this could just be mid-Victorian fashion. It would be hard to determine this sitter's identity without some additional corroborating evidence.

Osmund Bullock,

Given a bit of artistic variability, it's certainly plausible from the features, Pieter - but I think his colouring is wrong. Not only are the eyes much paler, as Kieran points out, but his hair is much fairer in Smith's watercolour. In fact looking at the latter again - the tone of all his hair, including eyebrows and sideburns, pale eyes, pale lips - I think John Trimnell could easily have been a redhead.

Thanks both: good points, esp the last even if not demonstrable. It just seemed worth floating but for other views but not worth spending more time on.

Jacob Simon,

This discussion, “Is this a portrait of John Trimnell, friend of the artist Thomas Stuart Smith”, has attracted three comments, all dating to 2018. The comments suggest that the identity remains uncertain. As the new Group Leader for 19th century British Portraits, I suggest that that the discussion should now be closed. Michael: as Scotland: Artists and Subjects Group Leader would you be content for me to recommend that this discussion be closed?


Further to Jacob Simon's summary of this discussion from 11 October, would you be kind enough to indicate any thoughts on this discussion and Jacob's proposition that this discussion should now be closed. Thank you.

Jacob Simon,

Apologies to Michelle for getting her name wrong in my 11 October post. Do we have tacit agreement that this discussion now be closed?

It's unclear whether the collection was contacted about this discussion in early 2018. I've asked if they could add anything before we close it.

After (belatedly) reviewing these comments, I agree with Jacob's recommendation to close this discussion. Unless the collection responded to Marion with any new information?

Michelle, thank you for your message.

There was no response to an email sent to the collection in January. I've tried again this morning, but will close this discussion after another week (15 March) unless significant new information comes to light this week.

I've left this open past the stipulated date, because I've recently heard from a new contact at this collection. We're having a Zoom meeting to chat about Art Detective next week, so it's only fair to hold off until she has had time to look at this and other submissions.

Jacob Simon,

Marion, did your Zoom meeting with the collection in March put a rocket under this discussion?

Jacob Simon,

The time has come to close this discussion. As I reported on 11 October last year, the comments suggest that the identity remains uncertain.

Since no change is being suggested to the current description of the portrait, I recommend that exceptionally we close this discussion without input from the collection which has not been forthcoming.

Jacob Simon,

More than a year since the collection was contacted.