Completed East of England and the Midlands: Artists and Subjects, Portraits: British 19th C, Portraits: British 20th C 12 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

Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. The search for the artist has been inconclusive, but we have enhanced the title with the sitter’s first name and date of birth.

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.

11 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

1 attachment

Kieran’s post on 27 July 2020, gives Thomas Musgrave Francis’s birth as 1850. If Francis is portrayed at the age of 65 to 70, then he was painted c. 1915-20. I cannot find mention of the presentation of such a portrait to the hospital in Cambridge newspapers available in the British Newspaper Archive. I wonder if buried in the hospital's records is documentation relating to such a presentation.

It is clear from various posts that it has not been possible to make progress on the identification of the artist with any confidence. Subject to the Group Leaders of the other two groups into which this portrait falls, I would suggest that this discussion could be closed as inconclusive.

Jacob, thank you. I will follow up with the collection, as the wrong person may have been contacted. The telephone number given for them goes to the voicemail of someone different who has no Art Detective account.

Louis Musgrove,

Could that be a G instead of a C ??? George Henry Boughton ?

The collection suggests that we should not spend further research time on its portraits of gentlemen of standing, as they would prefer to update their profile with more of their contemporary collection in future and they have not been able to find out anything more about that older collection since the PCF photographed it. The list includes four portraits with unknown artists: William Mortlock, Thomas Turton, John Newling and Alexander Scott-Abbott.