East of England: Artists and Subjects, Portraits: British 19th C, Portraits: British 20th C 6 This portrait of Thomas Musgrave Francis is signed ‘C. H. B.’. Whose initials are these?

T. Musgrave Francis (d.1931), Chairman of the General Committee (1923–1931)
Topic: Artist

C. H. B. are the initials of the well-known East Anglian etcher Charles Henry Baskett (1872–1953). Baskett studied with the landscape painter Frank Mura, but did he paint portraits?

Martin Hopkinson, Entry reviewed by Art UK

6 comments

The collection comments:

‘Thanks for the enquiry. I am afraid we don't know any more about this painting or the artist. We do know that a ward at the hospital was named after Musgrave Francis in early 1931 but not much more than that.’

On Art UK both this portrait and the Wellcome Collection’s watercolour ‘Sister Duncan’ are given to ‘C. H. B.’. On the Wellcome Collection’s website 'CHB' is recorded as a monogram. It seems unlikely that this is the same ‘CHB’ (if read correctly in that order) who painted the oil portrait of T. Musgrave Francis at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, who signed 'C. H. B.' in block capitals. We may be able to obtain an image of ‘Sister Duncan’.

As indicated above Charles Henry Baskett was a noted East Anglian artist in etching and especially aquatint. He did paint the very occasional portrait but the one oil I have seen (from 1912) is an accomplished piece of work with excellent colour and it is signed in full, not just CHB. I think we need to be looking elsewhere for the artist of this particular portrait. It appears that Thomas Musgrave Francis, who was a lawyer, was born in either 1850 or 1851 as he is recorded in the 1901 Census as then being 50 years of age.

Kieran Owens,

• Sitter

Thomas Musgrave Francis was born in Cambridge on the 3rd April 1850.

Wellcome Collection,

The CHB monogram (if that is what it is) on the watercolour of 'Sister Duncan" is very different. The watercolour is unillustrated on ArtUK at https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/sister-duncan-243659/view_as/grid/search/works:sister-duncan/page/1

Regret I only have a very low quality screenscrape of it, but it shows the form of the monogram in the lower left corner: see attached.

Can't see either monogram in Peter Nahum's invaluable Victorian painters' monograms, Slough: W. Foulsham, 2005.

William Schupbach

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