Completed Portraits: British 19th C, Portraits: British 20th C, Yorkshire and the Humber: Artists and Subjects 26 Who is the 'Mayoress' depicted in this portrait? Can she be identified?

NY_SMG_PIC024
Topic: Subject or sitter

Does anybody know who the subject of this painting might be? Furthermore, please does anyone have any further information about her?

Scarborough Collections, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

Jade King,

The title of this work has been changed to 'Ida Cartwright Slarke (1897–1990), Mayor of Scarborough (1972–1973)', the artist detail updated: Stella Lane/Stella Marie C. Langrick, née Boon (1915–2002). An execution date of c.1972 has been added to the record.

These amends will appear on the new version of the Your Paintings website in January 2016. Thank you to all for participating in this discussion. To those viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all comments that led to this conclusion.

25 comments

Jade King,

The PCF would also be interested if anyone can provide any leads on the artist of this work, Stella Lane.

The PCF's copyright team thought they had traced the artist, currently showing work on this website: http://www.art4arnold.com/gallery_profile.php?artist_id=18 however the Stella Lane of Arnold Art Society says the portrait is not her work.

Cliff Thornton,

Will Scarborough M&G please say how it knows that the artist's first name is Stella? There was a Stella Lane working in the Scarborough area in the 1960s (?) but her pieces were mostly still-life.
The portrait has been set in Scarborough Council Chamber, with the panelled walls forming the background, whilst the Mayor, in her role as Chairman of the Council, signs off the last set of minutes.

Osmund Bullock,

Well, it would help if the collection could get us the names of Scarborough mayors in the (probably mid-)1960s - there can't be many female ones**, surely? Though the council's online list of mayors only goes back to the mid-70s, there is apparently a a big board with them all in the Town Hall, or was in 2006. Similarly, unless someone gets very lucky, I think the collection may be in a better position than us to access something from the relevant council archives/minutes - the mayor and portrait are too late to feature in any newspaper uploaded by the BNA.

(**I'm assuming she is herself the elected mayor rather than the mayor's wife - I think the regalia supports that.)

Scarborough Collections,

We've asked the question as we are unaware whether the subject was the elected mayoress or wife of the elected mayor. Consequently, we hoped someone may recognise her. Our records do not list the provenance. We are not a local authority organisation but it might be possible to discover more from the Scarborough Borough Council records. I will update the thread if I do manage to find anything about the painting. Many thanks for your comments.

Tim Williams,

Presumably the elected Mayor as the chain of the spouse is smaller.

Osmund Bullock,

Indeed, Tim. Although the depiction here is fairly loose, the 'spouse' mayoress one has such a different design I don't think there can be any doubt. For a more detailed view of it see the attached image of a 1960s(?) Scarborough mayoral wife. It would in any case be unusual to find a portrait of a mayor's wife hanging in a Town Hall.

On reflection, considering the age of the sitter, I think it's more likely to be late 1960s or early 70s (and possibly later if she is wearing a favourite old dress). The only mayoral incumbent prior to 1974/75 I've so far managed to rule out is the one in 1967/68 (who was definitely a man).

Osmund Bullock,

I phoned Scarborough Town Hall this afternoon, and Lesley, the very helpful civic receptionist, checked the past Mayors board for us: the only female Mayor in the right time frame seems to be Ida Cartwright Clarke (1972-3). After her the next one was Mrs E. ('Liz') McKenzie in 1981-2, which is probably too late. I cannot find any mention of Ms Clarke elsewhere, however, except as the addressee of an inscription by the author in a 1973 book for sale on Abebooks! Lesley suggested I contact the Mayor's Secretary & Civic Officer, Irene Webster, who may be able to tell us more (and perhaps access photos), and I have just emailed her. She is out of the office until Tuesday, but I'll report back in due course.

I did find a 2010 story with a clear photo of the then 94-year-old Mrs M(a)ckenzie, but with a gap of nearly 30 years since her mayoralty a useful comparison is not really possible: http://www.thescarboroughnews.co.uk/news/local/sixth-sense-lets-dog-cheat-death-1-2006823

Osmund Bullock,

Scarborough's equally helpful Civic Officer Irene Webster has contacted me, and knows all about the sitter. She is in fact Ida Cartwright SLARKE (not Clarke), Mayor 1972-73, and the portrait hangs in the Members’ Room just off the main civic reception in the Town Hall, where it was placed by Scarborough Collections (or Museums Trust). She has some further notes on Miss Slarke's background which she will scan and send, though I've dug out a bit already. I hope there may be something there about the artist.

Ida Slarke was born 13/12/1897 in Sutton Coldfield, the eldest daughter of a carpenter, and died at Scarborough in November 1990. A scholarship-winning student, she chose a career in teaching. In 1928 she joined the staff at Scarborough Girls' High School as a French teacher, later rising to become Deputy Headmistress. Of no real relevance, but I cannot resist the attached photo of her (marked '4') taking her girls on a trip to France by air, quite rare at the time - it was, though, apparently the lack of meat and butter rationing that caused the most excitement during their visit! Apparently something of a Francophile, she had herself lived in France - even allowing for the good manners of school magazines, the tributes paid on her retirement in 1961 after 33 years' service suggest she was an exceptional teacher: http://www.sghsoldgirls.org.uk/School history/ARCHIVE/1961mag.pdf

As well as being a very active member of the Methodist Church, she became involved in local politics from around 1950, when she stood as Liberal candidate in a municipal by-election - however I suspect this was not when she succeeded in becoming a councillor.

Osmund Bullock,

Yup, copy and paste - the system doesn't seem to like the per-cent symbol.

Oh, one more thing, Scarborough Collections. Irene Webster emphasized that a female Mayor is never a "Mayoress", which specifically means a Mayor's wife. She, like her male counterpart, is always called "The Mayor".

Osmund Bullock,

The further notes I mentioned have arrived - a biography of Ida Slarke apparently prepared when she was elected Mayor in May 1972 (attached). There is a bit more detail - she was only the second lady Mayor in Scarborough's history, and had first become a councillor in 1962. Her sister acted as Mayoress. There nothing about the portrait, however, and there's no more useful information in the accompanying hand-written notes. My thanks again to Irene Webster at the Civic Office.

That would seem to be that, unless someone can dig out anything about our elusive artist 'S(tella) Lane'. A response from the collection to Cliff's request about the certainty of the first name would be appreciated.

Scarborough Collections,

I'm afraid I cannot confirm the Christian name of 'Stella' at the moment as my predecessor was involved in providing information to the PCF and I cannot currently locate where she obtained the name 'Stella' as it is not recorded on our database. The only artist we have recorded with the name 'Stella' is a Stella Steyne. I will have to delve into the paper records to find where that name was found.

Osmund Bullock,

Thanks for that. Though the portrait is not without merit, the poor perspective of the book/table-top suggests an untrained artist, quite possibly amateur. The (also probably amateur) Stella Lane mentioned by Cliff, a couple of whose flower pieces (in oils) have appeared recently at auction in Scarborough, signed with her full name, and her work has nothing discernible in common with our portrait. I fear we won't get any further with this without a safe first name, and even then I doubt it'll be possible. For what it's worth (very little), there was an 'S M Lane' in Scarborough telephone directories from the mid-70s, living about 10 mins' walk from Ida Slarke's address; but I've been unable to associate him or her with anybody more identifiable.

On the positive side, at least the collection's original question has been comprehensively answered!

Jenny Wood,

Hello the artist in question was my great aunt on my mothers side. Her real name was Stella Langridge she was a self taught artist and lived in Scarborough although she was originally from London she was one of 4 daughters my maternal grandmother was her younger sister. She lived in Yorkshire for most of her adult life and had 3 sons one who emigrated to Australia in the 70's one who lived in Southend and the other who moved to Dorset and who died a few years ago.
in the latter years of her life she moved to Eastbourne to live near my mother her niece and later moved to a nursing home in Southend.

Jenny Wood,

As an additional point she also painted a portrait for the playwright Tom Stoppard and I have a large collection of her work in my possession she mainly painted still life's and exhibited several times around the North

Many thanks, Jenny. That information is enormously helpful. Your note that Stella Langridge/Lane painted mainly still lifes ties in with Cliff Thornton's comment near the beginning of this discussion. I wonder if you can clarify one point: was the name Lane acquired by your great-aunt through marriage or was it a name simply adopted for her activities as an artist?

Jenny Wood,

Hello no Langridge was her married name she used Lane as a pseudonym for her painting. She also taught art at a local college but I do not know which one.

Scarborough Collections,

Dear Jenny,

Many thanks for the fantastic information; I am extremely grateful. I can now add all of the information gathered through the discussion to our database. This has been such a useful exercise as we had almost no information connected to the painting in our records.

Kind Regards,

Jennifer.

I think we are on the point of closing this discussion, but it would be good to have birth and death dates for Stella Langridge/Lane -- for the 'Your Paintings' listing. I wonder if Jenny can help with these? If not, it should be possible to find them through the usual online resources.

Osmund Bullock,

I'm afraid "the usual online resources" have not been forthcoming. I think 'Lane' must be a complete pseudonym rather than Stella Langridge's maiden name, unless the marriage took place abroad - in fact I can't find a likely UK marriage of a Langridge to a Stella (or similar) of *any* surname. Even allowing for the overseas possibility, I have drawn a blank - and I've tried from every angle, including the sons. I've traced back every male Langridge who died in Dorset 1987-2007, and none seems to have had a mother called Stella or similar (but perhaps he died post-2007). Nor is there any telephone directory listing for a 'Langridge' in Scarborough or nearby between 1970 and 1980 (but they may have been ex-directory). And finally I cannot find a likely death for Stella Langridge herself up to 2007, at least not in the Southend or Eastbourne areas - but of course she may have re-married before she died.

I think we do need Jenny's help.

Osmund Bullock,

Hold on, no we don't...Jenny, I'm afraid you have the name wrong. After many hours of dead ends, as a last-ditch effort I tried repeating everything with a name that is commoner in the East Riding of Yorkshire, and I've finally found her: Stella's married name was not Langridge, it was LangRICK.

Stella Marie C Boon, born Camberwell, London, on 7 Feb 1915; three sisters, Eva (elder), Monica and Phyllis (both younger)...plus ??possibly Mary; married 1945 Kenneth Langrick at Scarborough; died Southend-on-Sea Sept 2002; living at Eastbourne Oct 2001 (2002 Electoral Roll). Three sons all born Yorkshire - Roger A (1946), John K (1948) and Quentin M (1952). John K Langrick (b before 1950) living Southend 2002-14 (Electoral Roll); Quentin M Langrick (b 1952-56) living at Sherborne, Dorset Oct 2001 (2002 Electoral Roll) - died at Zagreb, Croatia, 2002. It all fits - Roger must be the one who moved to Australia. Both Roger and Quentin married at Scarborough in the 60s-70s before moving abroad/south.

So there is the last piece of the jigsaw: our artist is Stella Lane (Stella Marie Langrick née Boon) 1915-2002.

I had found four possible Stella Langridges, none of whom quite fitted the bill. However, thanks to Osmund's astonishing patience and perseverance, we do indeed have the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle. I am sure my fellow group leaders will agree that we can recommend to the PCF that the title and artist details be amended to include as much of the following as possible:

Portrait of Ida Cartwright Slarke (1897-1990), Mayor of Scarborough 1972-1973
Stella Lane (pseudonym of Stella Marie C. Langrick, née Boon; 1915-2002)

Suggested date: c.1972

Perhaps the painting could also be listed under the artist's real name -- with a cross-reference?

Many thanks again to Osmund! The remainder of his information will no doubt be of great value to the collection.

Jade King,

Many thanks. I have contacted the collection...

Jade King,

The collection are happy for this discussion to close: they will update their records.