Completed Scotland: Artists and Subjects, Sculpture 121 Who is the sitter in this sculpture by Alexander Brodie?

EDI_HSE_DH1998_10-001
Topic: Subject or sitter

The sitter cannot be Edward VII (1841–1910). Apart from the fact that this looks nothing like Edward VII, the marble bust was sculpted in Aberdeen in 1861 when the Prince was only 20, and he was clean shaven until at least his marriage in 1863.

Several of Alexander Brodie's works are listed on 'Mapping Sculpture': https://bit.ly/2w36Tu3

This work is inscribed 'Abdn / 1861'. Brodie exhibited a sculpture of ‘Col Leith-Hay CB’ in 1861. This refers to Colonel Alexander Sebastian Leith-Hay (1818–1900) of Rannes and Leith Hall, Aberdeenshire. Could this discussion’s work be that sculpture, perhaps commissioned in honour of Leith-Hay’s retirement from the army, which was effective 21 December 1860, and completed the following year when he was 43?

This sitter’s robe is adorned with what appears to be a Scottish regimental medal with a thistle in the middle. cf. Medal of the Royal Scots: https://bit.ly/38l1ixJ (but it’s neither this, nor the badge of the 93rd Highlanders in which Leith-Hay served)

Leith-Hay was made a Commander of the Order of the Bath, Knight of the Legion of Honour and of the Order of the Medjidie, but the medal pictured here is apparently not any of those (but I am no expert) – see attachment detail. Leith-Hay’s medals are shown in this 1868 portrait by John MacLaren Barclay. https://bit.ly/2ON4r1o

The 1861 sculpture of Leith-Hay may be a red herring. Could anyone confirm this sitter’s identity please?

Marion Richards, Art Detective Manager, Entry reviewed by Art UK

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Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. This sculpture has been identified as a portrait of James Duff, 5th Earl of Fife (1814–1879).

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the discussion. To anyone viewing it for the first time, please see below for all the comments that led to this conclusion.

120 comments

Bill Ellson,

The 'adornment' is the star of the Order of the Thistle (photo of c. 1780 star attached), i.e. the man depicted was a Knight of the Thistle (KT). The Order of the Thistle is the greatest order of chivalry in Scotland https://www.royal.uk/order-thistle

There are only 16 Knights at any one time. A list of Knights of the Thistle here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Knights_and_Ladies_of_the_Thistle

There is a resemblance to Archibald Montgomerie, 13th Earl of Eglinton https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archibald_Montgomerie,_13th_Earl_of_Eglinton

(Edward VII was not made a KT until 1867, definitely not him.)

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Meagan Blyth,

I think Bill's case for Archibald is a strong one. It might just be me, but the formation of his beard for one seems consistent with the shape of it in other illustrations, most notable to compare being this mezzotint of the Earl. http://onlinecollection.nationalgallery.ie/objects/647/archibald-william-montgomerie-13th-earl-of-eglinton-and-win;jsessionid=B9D75C960BB977A2049C8897C1EB4BC0?ctx=ae80ce51-15c6-4524-8584-a9ac151be466&idx=5

The wikipedia article Bill linked shows a fully bearded and moustached earl - as he was shown in Illustrated London News October 19, 1861. Vol 39. No 1113 as a supplement to his obituary found on page no. 409; after a photograph by 'John and Charles Watkins of Parliment Street'. This photograph may be of some use to identify the features in the sculpture versus the man himself.

It seems his death was fairly sudden. He died in 1861, the same year of the bust's creation. https://archive.org/stream/illustratedlondov39lond#page/408/mode/2up

Osmund Bullock,

If it's intended for the Order of the Thistle (and on balance I suppose it must be), it's a surprisingly poor representation of it in several ways. Most significantly, the angles of the main rays and bars as carved imply there would be five or six of each on the full star, instead of the correct four. Had the artist never seen one - or did he just want to show more of it, and cheated the angles?

Jacinto Regalado,

Eglinton had a cleft chin, which is not present in the bust.

Kieran Owens,

Marion, could you find out where it is exactly that this bust is to be found? Would Historic Environment Scotland have any further details regarding its accession into their collection?

Kieran Owens,

Also, please be so kind as to post a hi-res image of the decoration.

Kieran Owens,

Oops, ignore my last request Marion! I have just spotted your initial attachment.

Is the bust signed? If not, is the collection sure that it is by Alexander and not his brother William?

Osmund Bullock,

The bust is clearly signed 'ALEX.R BRODIE / SCULP.T ABD.N / 1861' - see image #4 of those on Art UK.

You are right, though, Kieran, to draw attention to the supposed bust of the 5th Earl of Fife in the same collection, as Lord Fife is in fact almost certainly the correct subject of *our* bust, not the other. If you look carefully at the image (#4 again) of the signature on the other, 'Fife' one (https://bit.ly/39vnK7i), you'll see an old label inscribed 'King Edward'. I feel sure the two busts had a common source, and their identities have inexplicably become confused. Inexplicably because there is a label, because it looks like the Prince of Wales, and because Lord Fife was never a Knight of the Garter (as shown on the bust). He was, though, a Knight of the Thistle which he received in 1860 at the age of 46.

The circumstantial case is however much stronger than that, as I will explain shortly (but need a while to pull it all together).

Jacinto Regalado,

I was so focused on the sculptor's signature (J. Steell) that I ignored the paper label on the nominal Earl of Fife, but yes, he could be a young Edward VII as Prince of Wales. He looks like his mother.

Bill Ellson,

Perhaps the discussion of the 'Earl of Fife' bust should be separate. It does not appear to have any relevance to the Brodie bust.

Jacinto Regalado,

If Osmund is correct, Bill, as I expect he is, the faux Fife bust is quite relevant to the investigative process here, and may indeed have been a key clue to the identity of the subject of the Brodie bust (though no doubt Osmund will explain further).

Osmund Bullock,

I beg your pardon Jacinto - it was you, not Kieran who pointed out the (not) Lord Fife bust.

It is definitely Steell's bust of the Prince of Wales. The original marble was carved for the Royal High School, Edinburgh, which the Prince had attended some years earlier, and exhibited at the (London) International Exhibition of 1862. See attached woodcut from the Illustrated London News. There's also a small photo of it in situ at the school's Assembly Hall here: https://bit.ly/37rNQ9Y.

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Bill Ellson,

There are a number of portraits of the 5th Earl of Fife that are consistent with Prout's 1863 photograph.

Fife had a mustache and full beard as a continuous mass of hair, not the clearly separate mustache and carefully trimmed beard of the Brodie bust above.

I have put forward evidence, if others want to allude to 'circumstantial cases' that they 'need a while to pull it all together' then that is up to them, but I am leaving this discussion.

Osmund Bullock,

I take your point, Bill, but I don't think we'll need another discussion in an open-and-shut case like this - Marion will inform the Collection of the correct (P. of Wales) identity in due course. Meanwhile, however, as Jacinto correctly suggests, it is the mixed-up identities of *both* busts (or so I believe) that adds considerably to the case for our one being Lord Fife.

Osmund Bullock,

If you were to stay, Bill - and I'm sorry you feel you have to go, this is nothing personal - you would indeed hear my case, which is pretty strong (but like yours, only an opinion). I will also give reasons why I think Eglinton is less likely, along with a plausible explanation for the difference in Lord Fife's moustache and beard shape. I may not manage to post it tonight, I'm sorry, but it's 4 a.m. and I occasionally need to sleep.

Re: https://bit.ly/3bBEpbg
There's no need to discuss the identity of this bust in the same collection (currently misidentified as 'James Duff, 1814–1879, 5th Earl of Fife'), as it is definitely the Prince of Wales. I'll inform Historic Environment Scotland about the cataloguing error and correct it on Art UK.

A brief intervention at this point from your Moderator:
I think the bust in question is probably at Duff House, north east of Aberdeen, the only period house of its kind in the holdings of Historic Environment Scotland.

I would also like to say that research is never a race to a finish, and all sorts of interesting, incidental things turn up along the way. Let's wait for all your good searches to be completed, and then I, if I may, will sum up.

Jacinto Regalado,

However, if one looks at the background of the images for both busts under discussion, it is evident that they are both in the same place, possibly in the same room.

Kieran Owens,

The Aberdeen Press & Journal of Wednesday 10th July 1861 carried the following notice:

"Art - A marble bust of the Earl of Fife by our townsman, Mr. A. Brodie, is at present to be seen in Messrs. Hay & Lyall's window, Market Street. The likeness of the noble Earl is very good, and the drapery is admirably simple and effective. The general opinion seems to be that this is the best work of the rising artist."

Ten days later the Aberdeen Herald reported thus:

"We observe, in one of Messrs. Hay & Lyall's windows, a very fine bust in marble, by Mr. A. Brodie, of Lady Anne Duff, eldest daughter of the Earl of Fife. The artistic skill displayed in furnishing the drapery, as well as in the principal parts of the bust, is very great."

The Peterhead Sentinal, of the 15th November 1861, noted:

"The memorial to be erected by his tenantry in memory of the late Duke of Richmond has taken the shape of a statue, to be erected in the market square of Huntly. The execution of the statue, which is to be of colossal size, has been entrusted to Mr. Alex. Brodie, a rising and talented artist, whose busts of the Earl and Countess of Fife were recently on view here....."

If the whereabouts of the busts of the Countess and Lady Anne could be established perhaps a comparison of their styles might help in confirming this bust's sitter.

Alexander Brodie died on the morning of Thursday 30th May 1867. The Dundee Courier carried the melancholy news that "at the age of 37", and following a recent weakening of his mind, "on Wednesday morning he made a rash attempt to take his own life. Although proper medical attention, promptly applied, gave hope of recovery, that hope, we deeply regret to say, has not been realised, for Mr. Brodie expired on Thursday morning."

Jacinto Regalado,

Our bust, of course, is dated 1861, which is not conclusive proof but certainly suggestive that it could Brodie's known bust of the Earl of Fife. We await Osmund's presentation of his case.

Jacinto Regalado,

I meant that ours could *be* Brodie's 1861 bust of the Earl of Fife.

Osmund Bullock,

Sorry, Jacinto, I'm just very busy at the moment - I expect Kieran will have found everything before I manage to produce my promised post!

The bust is an interesting find. I suppose it might be the one of Lady Ann(e) Duff (or that of her friend Miss Gordon Cumming of Altyre, modelled at the same time during a visit to Duff House in the autumn of 1860 - both works exhibited at the RSA in 1861); but it seems surprisingly immodest for an aristocratic portrait. One of the reports I was/am going to post has a brief description of it, I think; and I also have a number of of photos of her from Aug 1863, so we can compare features...but that'll have to wait a day or two as well.

Kieran Owens,

In the vast majority of references to her, the daughter of the 5th Earl of Fife is named Anne.

Jacinto Regalado,

No problem, Osmund. I am sure your report will be worth the wait.

Jacinto Regalado,

I suppose the female bust linked above might be a character rather than an actual person, which would explain the relative immodesty.

Jacinto Regalado,

There are many works by William Brodie on Art UK, but this is the only one by his brother Alexander.

Kieran Owens,

William Brodie's long list of works shown at the Royal Scottish Academy appears here, which a mention in 1868 of his completed bust of Queen Victoria as begun by his brother Alexander:

https://bit.ly/2SLvmfc

Strangely, there are no exhibition submissions listed for the RSA under the name of Alexander Brodie.

Kieran Owens,

Jacinto, I have searched ArtUK for the name William Brodie and no results are returned. Would you mind letting me know how you searched for him?

Jacinto Regalado,

Yes, Andrew, and as all too often, many works have no image, which rather defeats the purpose of Art UK, even if it is better than no listing at all. For larger collections, there are typically a significant number of entries like that, which really should be corrected (though no doubt there are staffing problems and competing priorities).

Kieran Owens,

Thank you both, I do not know why that failed to work for me as easily. Anyway...

William Brodie showed 260 works at the RSA and there are only 36 shown on the ArtUK website. There are many more to identify.

Also, although on the Scotland's People website there are Banff birth records from William (10th February 1815), a Janet (20th August 1816) and John (24th April 1819) as the children of John Brodie and Mary Walker, there are none for Alexander in 1829 or 1830.

It would appear from the 1851 Scottish census that Alexander had a sister Elizabeth, who is listed as having been born in 1827, although there is no (obvious) official record for her birth as one of John and Mary's legitimate children. Alexander and Elizabeth were living with their widowed father John (a "retired seaman") at 8 Catto Square, Aberdeen in that year.

As John's wife Mary died aged c.60 in April 1846, she would have been born in 1786. This means that she was 41 when Elizabeth was born and 44 when Alexander was born, a little old, perhaps for having children in that era. I wonder if Elizabeth and Alexander were adopted in some way by John and Mary.

Jacinto Regalado,

Kieran, I expect a great many of William Brodie's works, especially busts, are in private hands or not in art institutions.

Jacinto, concerning the missing images, I’d like to explain that Art UK’s Sculpture Project is ongoing, and not due to be completed until the end of 2020. The funds raised meant that only a certain percentage of the sculptures in collections could be photographed. Art UK will work towards adding more photography (even if it's archival or record/not studio based) after the main project is concluded.

Jacinto Regalado,

I understand, Marion, but my comment was not limited to sculpture. The same applies to art objects in general. Again, I realise there are probably staffing limitations and other priorities at the various collections, since no doubt everyone would ideally want and benefit from all entries on Art UK having images.

Osmund Bullock,

Re two points raised by Kieran yesterday; when you say there are no exhibition submissions listed at the RSA under the name of Alexander Brodie, I would guess that you are looking at the 1917 'The Royal Scottish Academy 1826- I916'. Unfortunately that work basically lists only works exhibited at the RSA by associates & academicians (or artists who later became one). William Brodie (a better artist) was, from 1852 & 1859 respectively...but not Alexander.

The information on Alexander's exhibiting at the RSA came from the 'Mapping Sculpture' website: https://bit.ly/2HxmfJV. And though you are right that the name of the 5th Earl of Fife's eldest daughter is normally (and doubtless correctly) spelled 'Anne', the listing there is as 'Lady Ann Duff'. The mistake may be the website's, but it is equally likely that it was the RBA's - that was all I was reflecting when I wrote 'Ann(e)'. I am hoping to get to the Heinz Archive this week to look for more images of possible sitters (especially Lord Fife), and I'll check the full 'Royal Scottish Academy exhibitors, 1826-1990' book (1991) while I'm there.

Osmund Bullock,

I did get to the Heinz yesterday, but was ejected two hours earlier than usual as they had a tour group booked in. As a result I wasn't able to finish, which was...annoying.

I did a good chunk of the necessary, though, and was busy collating notes and images back at home when I realised that one thing I'd photographed - a card (see attached) detailing a 1996 catalogue entry for Brodie's bust of Lord Fife - was not, as I'd assumed (I hadn't bothered to read it properly), the one for our bust or another at Historic Environment Scotland, but for a different one at Aberdeen Art Gallery. Aberdeen have a version of Alexander Brodie's 1861 bust of the 5th Earl of Fife, given to them in 1993...or perhaps it's the only one, and ours isn't of him after all! See https://bit.ly/2vHS40h.

Frustratingly, though, there is no image - they have a digitising programme, but it hasn't reached Lord Fife yet. I will nevertheless spare you my reams of research into him and Lord Eglinton for the time being (and perhaps permanently), as we may be able to knock this on the head with a quick digital snap or two.

Marion, could you ask Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums if they might be able to oblige?

Jacinto Regalado,

The Brodie bust of Fife at Aberdeen has no entry on Art UK, and neither do other works by the same sculptor in that collection.

Kieran Owens,

Marion, can you please ask Historic Environment Scotland to tell us where exactly are the two busts by Alexander Brodie, both as discussed here? If they are not in Duff House nor are in Aberdeen Art Gallery, they must be somewhere, the significance of which place might unravel this mystery.

In the meantime, I attach aphotographic composite for everyone's consideration. If the star on our bust is the Order of the Thistle, here are its eleven recipients for the ten year period up to 1861:

1852 - March 25th - Alexander George Fraser, 16th Lord Soultoun (22nd April 1785 - 18th July 1853). Age 76 in 1861.

1853 - June 18th - Archibald William Montgomerie, 13th Earl of Eglintoun (29th September 1812 - 4th October 1861). Age 49 in 1861.

1853 - October 28th - Thomas Hamilton, 9th Earl of Haddington (21st June 1780 - 1st December 1858). Aged 78 in 1858. Dead three years before 1861.

1853 - October 28th - George Augustus Frederick John Murray, 6th Duke of Atholl (20th September 1814 - 16th January 1864). Aged 47 in 1861.

1953 - October 28th - Fox Maule-Ramsey, 2nd Lord Panmure of Brechin (22nd April 1801 - 6th July 1874). Aged 60 in 1861.

1856 - May 2nd - George Douglas Campbell, 8th Duke of Argyll (30th April 1823 - 24th April 1900). Aged 38 in 1861.

1857 - July 6th - George William Fox Kinnaird, 9th Lord Kinnaird (14th April 1807 - 7th January 1878). Aged 54 in 1861.

1859 - March 7th - Archibald Kennedy, 2nd Marquess of Ailsa (25th August 1816 - 20th March 1870). Aged 45 in 1861.

1860 - March 2nd - James Duff, 5th Earl of Fife (6th July 1814 - 7th August 1879). Aged 47 in 1861.

1861 - July 1st - Thomas Dundas, 2nd Earl of Zetland (5th February 1795 – 6th May 1873). Aged 66 in 1861.

1861 - July 1st - Robert Montgomerie Hamilton, 8th Lord Belhaven (1793 - 22nd December 1868). Aged 68 in 1861.

Some of the above were too old in 1861 to be the sitter for this bust and some were already dead. Of the remainder, could one of them be a better contender for identification than James Duff?


Jacinto Regalado,

I meant Aberdeen, obviously. It is our bust whose location is not clear.

Louis Musgrove,

Having looked at images of all the receipients as per Keiran, I would suggest that the 6th Duke of Atholl is also a strong contender for this sitter.

Kieran Owens,

Jacinto, so far we have this bust which is still identified as Edward VII and the now-renamed bust of Edward VII that was, until recently, identified as being of the Earl of Fife. What confidence can one really have that the Aberdeen Art Gallery bust will turn out to actually be of that latter gent? Obviously the photograph of that bust will help to resolve that issue, but the question still remains. Where exactly are these two Historic Environment Scotland busts of "Edward VII" and the "Earl of Fife"?

Jacinto Regalado,

Ah, I had forgotten about the faux Fife bust by Steell which was really Edward VII as Prince of Wales. I thought you were referring to our bust and the one by Brodie said to be of Fife at Aberdeen. I suppose it is still possible that both of the busts you referenced are at the Edinburgh headquarters of Historic Environment Scotland, but they would have to confirm or clarify that.

Osmund Bullock,

We have already asked Marion to try and find out exactly where our bust and the one of the Prince of Wales previously misidentifed as Lord Fife are (and indeed if Historic Environment Scotland have any record of where it/they came from) - I think we know her well enough by now to be confident she'll already have made that request, as she has to Aberdeen Art Gallery for a digital snap of their Alexr Brodie 'Lord Fife'...and did so on the same day (Friday) that she was asked!

Thanks for the Knights of the Thistle list, Kieran, though in fact a full list of them, with their lifespans and dates of election or installation, was linked to by Bill Ellson at the very top of the discussion; and that one has the advantage that almost all the knights' names hyperlink you to their Wikipedia articles. Note, though, that the list has a caveat that it is "probably incomplete".

I didn't really want to get drawn into long discussions and comparisons at this juncture, because (as I said before) it is quite likely that we'll get our answer from Aberdeen, and pretty soon if it's on display - if it's in storage, though, it will obviously be more complicated. But I might as well add a few things, since I already have the information. Most I'll do tomorrow; but to be going on with, attached is a selection of newspaper stories about the Duff House busts (one already refererenced by Kieran) that shows that the (clay) modelling of the portraits was done in Oct & Nov 1860, the marbles being carved later. In fact, I think that Lady Anne's bust was exhibited as a plaster, with a note that a marble version would follow. There's also mention there of two other male busts that Alexr Brodie did or was about to do in 1861 - Lord Lovat was a KT, but not until 1865; the other (posthumous) sitter, Sir Thos Blaikie, was a commoner and certainly wasn't (all KTs in the C19th were peers).

Of only marginal relevance, but I now think that the 1861 female bust by AB that Jacinto found (15/02/2020 22:58) probably *is* that of Lady Anne - the newspaper description fits it well, and the facial features are fairly consistent with hers in contemporary photos. See attached composite.

Kieran Owens,

Osmund, thank your for observations on my contributions. Indeed, I did ask ask Marion on the 13th February if she could ascertain the whereabouts of this discussion's bust. Any frustration or impatience is not with her (which could never be the case!), but with Historic Environment Scotland for taking so long to respond. If they have already received that request, their's is another example of what would appear to be a chronic problem shared by many other collections of whom the same sort of request, regarding a variety of other artworks, has been made over many months and years, and from whom no reply has been, as yet, forthcoming.

I am aware of Bill Ellson's link to the list of Knights of the Order of the Thistle. My extractions above were drawn from William Arthur Shaw's 1970 edition of "The Knights of England - A Complete Record..........". Firstly, I imagined that I could trust the use of the word "Complete" and secondly, I imagined that Brodie would not necessarily have sculpted the head of a holder who had received that award any earlier than 1852 and certainly not after the end of 1861. By showing the resulting eleven contenders with their ages in 1861, or their dates of death if before that date, I imagined that it would provided commentators with a less cumbersome selection to navigate than the one available through Wikipedia. The artist could, of course, have been depicting a Thistle Knight from a much earlier era. I'll have to stop imagining and just look for and rely on factual confirmations.

Osmund Bullock,

My very real apologies, Kieran. Blithely ignoring your how consistently thorough I know you to be, I assumed you'd used the Wikipedia list and added further date detail. The Shaw book is clearly a much more reliable source, and it's very good to have that version to work with. Thank you.

I of course share your frustration with slow/non-responding collections, but I think it's hard for us - as people for whom these discussions are often near the top of our priorities - to appreciate fully how much else they have to do, and how few people they generally nowadays have to do it. I also suspect that such curatorial staff as they still have may sometimes be exasperated as we are at the politicization of their roles - the investigation of portraits of old, posh, straight, white males by even young and not-posh straight white males is doubtless deemed low-priority at a top-down, systemic level. One can only keep plugging at it...and perhaps three weeks was indeed time for a gentle nudge.

Incidentally, it did occur to me that the KT could conceivably have been carved into the marble later - it might help explain why it's depicted so poorly. Adding decorations is common enough in painted portraits (though obviously much easier to do). Is it possible - what do you think? That really would take us back to square one! The 1861 date is still with us, though; and with so much press coverage of the Duff House portraits, and mention of others, I tend to think that another portrait by Brodie of a senior Scots nobleman (such as Lord Eglinton) would not have escaped the notice of local papers.

Osmund Bullock,

And I should have added that the ages you provided (which I'd missed) and exact date of KT award were and are very useful. The fact that Lord Fife received his at most 6-7 months before he decided to be sculpted with his family for posterity must sway things rather towards him as sitter (and relieves us of any need to believe in an added-later decoration).

Jacinto Regalado,

From the looks of it, I tend to doubt the KT decoration was added later, Osmund. We will have to wait for further evidence from Aberdeen and Historic Environment Scotland, especially the former.

Kieran Owens,

Osmund, I blush at the graciousness of your response. You are undoubtedly correct in your understanding of the difficulties faced by the curatorial staff of many of these collections. I believe that we all share the same ultimate goal, so onwards, with the hope that our collective efforts will serve that purpose, no matter how long they take to be acknowledged.

Louis Musgrove,

So the Antiques Roadshow has just finished. The medallion on this sculpture is not quite right for the order of the thistle- as has been noted above- anyway the last item on the Roadshow- the two sets of admirals medals- and at the top of the displays is a medallion similar in shape to this medallion- as far as I could see - and it was the Order of the Bath-awarded to very senior officers-- which after a bit of googling seems to have many forms . Any experts on the Order of the Bath?

Osmund Bullock,

Um, sort of: my father was a Companion, my grandfather a Knight Commander, but both civil, not military - the stars (and badges) are different. In addition the two different grades of knighthood, Knight Commander (KCB) & Knight Grand Cross (GCB) have different stars. The ones seen on AR were both military, but one was a GCB, the other a KCB - the man who had the rare (but not unique) five bars to his 1847 Naval General Service Medal had the (lesser) KCB.

Despite the different designs, all stars and badges of the Order of the Bath have three crowns to the centre, not a thistle. The star shapes are all different to ours, too. But it's the thistle on our star, plus the square-ended cross bars (there should be four of them in a saltire), that make it all but certain that the Order of the Thistle is intended, despite the poor representation.

Jacinto Regalado,

Duff House, of course, was the seat of the Earls of Fife. Odd that this bust is not listed under Duff House on Art UK.

Osmund Bullock,

Thanks for the update, Marion. So Katherine was right...but how odd and thoroughly confusing that it, the other bust of the P. of Wales formerly misidentified as Lord Fife, and perhaps others** are not among the sculptures listed on Art UK as being at Duff House.

Our bust's presence at the house I suppose increases the likelihood of it being the 5th Earl of Fife; it's frustrating, though, that Historic Environment Scotland were apparently unable to tell us anything of its origins - did it actually came with the house and contents? However, I remain optimistic that Aberdeen Art Gallery will come up with a quick snap of their bust for us - though whether or not that'll be possible before Covid-19 closes down the whole country remains to be seen...

**I suspect that this fine bust of William Adam, on loan to HES from Nat Galleries of Scotland, is at Duff House too - he was the house's architect: https://bit.ly/2IWShQ1]

Osmund Bullock,

You're certainly right, Jacinto; and I'm pretty sure that this other one at Duff House, also by George Edwin Ewing, is not Edward's wife Alexandra either (she was much slimmer of face): https://bit.ly/2Wls5qq . Even odder is the description of both as C20th - Ewing died in 1884. Trying to figure out who they actually are is less straightforward, and I agree that a new discussion would be the place to address the question.

Kieran Owens,

AAGM's record states that the bust was "Presented in 1993 by Miss Lorna Bell." Unless she was in some way connected to the house (though there is no reference to her on any other record on ArtUK), this suggests that the bust did not come originally with the contents. If this is the case, the mistaking of its identity could have occurred before it reached the collection.

Jacinto Regalado,

Yes, Osmund, I had noted the "Alexandra" bust and thought it was another woman, and obviously the busts cannot be 20th century unless they are copies, which is unlikely. I dug up even more interesting information, but that will have to wait till my proposal becomes a public discussion.

Osmund Bullock,

Kieran, I'm a bit confused: are you suggesting that Aberdeen Art Gallery's (unillustrated) bust of Lord Fife is in fact our one, on loan to Duff House? I think hitherto we've been working on the theory that either it's another version / copy, or that Aberdeen’s is the real Lord Fife and ours is someone different. However it is certainly possible that they're one and the same – the artwork loans to Duff House are said to be primarily from NGS, but not exclusively. See https://bit.ly/2Wt4JiH

Jacinto Regalado,

I thought our bust could not be the same as the AAG bust because the latter is on a red granite base, but apparently that refers to a plinth, not the socle. However, the measurements for the AAG bust are 74 x 60 x 28 cm and those for ours are 73 x 52 x 24 cm. Of course, the given measurements for one or both busts may be inaccurate.

Kieran Owens,

While waiting for a photo from AAGH, I am suggesting that, useless and all as its worth might be. Additionally, as Miss Lorna Bell is most likely still alive it might be worth asking her about the donation of the bust, especially if it proves to be the same as or a duplicate of this discussion's one.

Kieran Owens,

Usefully, if the AAGM's bust is not the same as this one, it limits even further the options as to who its subject might be, assuming that it was fashioned by Brodie after a live sitter.

Jacinto Regalado,

She might be alive, Kieran, but it is now 27 years later, so the odds are not necessarily good (though of course it is a valid idea).

I have been trying without success for at least 3 weeks to obtain an image of the AAGM bust. Unfortunately the curator was on holiday before the Coronavirus shutdown, and my conversations with members of staff outside the curatorial team possibly didn't reach the relevant staff members before chaos descended on us all. Today I contacted someone who may have remote access to the database.

Art UK has no record of this object among the items photographed for our sculpture project, which is mysterious.

Jacinto Regalado,

Resourceful as always, Kieran. The bust to the left of it is the faux Fife which turned out to be Edward as Prince Wales by Steell and has now been set right on Art UK.

Osmund Bullock,

Well-spotted Kieran. Whether or not our bust is the Aberdeen one on loan, the history of Duff House suggests it is unlikely that it came with the house. See https://bit.ly/3aa7r0m and https://bit.ly/2QAB7fw

The Duff family left in 1903, giving the building and part of the estate to Banff Burgh three years later. After a life of many functions – hotel, sanatorium, and then wartime requisitioning as an internment/POW camp, and later military HQ and billet for troops – it was acquired in very poor condition by the Ministry of Works in 1956, and some restoration took place thereafter. The original contents had apparently been sold at the time the family moved out; and though it is not unusual for some less valuable artworks to remain when a great house changes hands, it would be surprising if, after 50 years of neglect, other uses (army occupation was notorious for the damage it wreaked) and bomb damage, anything of note had survived in situ. Not impossible, though.

What happened to the place in the 39 years between 1956 and its full restoration and re-opening in 1995 as a 'country house gallery' for NGS is not clear. But it seems probable there was at least a degree of further neglect for the best part of four decades, and that must increase the likelihood that our bust is a relatively recent arrival.

Osmund Bullock,

Actually I think I may have identified the ‘Miss Lorna Bell’ who presented the Earl of Fife bust to Aberdeen Art Gallery in 1993. Although I don't think she was connected to the Duffs, her family background gives us a quite plausible reason for how she acquired it. Unfortunately she died in June 2013, aged 85 - but there are nephews/nieces who seem to have been close, and they may know more if I can track them down. More later.

Kieran Owens,

Osmund, you might have already seen this but if not it gives a very clear idea of the splendours that were to be found in Duff House during what must have been its heyday:

https://archive.org/details/catalogueofportr00fife/page/n10/mode/2up

There is also an extensive history of the various branches of the family, including that of the Earl of Fife, in 'The Book of the Duffs":

https://archive.org/details/bookofduffs01tayl/page/n509/mode/2up

and

https://archive.org/details/bookofduffs_02tayl/page/n5/mode/2up

Osmund Bullock,

Thanks, Kieran.

There was a two-part article, ‘The Duke of Fife’s Collection at Duff House’, in The Connoisseur in Sep/Oct 1904. There’s no mention, alas, of the bust of the 5th Earl of Fife. However, there is a drawing reproduced of exactly the same corner of the hall seen in Kieran’s composite image (https://bit.ly/3aoxXU3)...and there sitting on a commode is a female bust that the text tells us on the previous page is a marble one “of the Duke’s eldest sister, the Marchioness of Townsend”, i.e. Lady Anne Duff – doubtless Alexander Brodie’s one of 1860/61, though the depiction is cursory (but not inconsistent with the one found by Jacinto - https://bit.ly/2UCLPU4 - that I think is of her). See https://bit.ly/2xvu94U, and attached.

So it seems likely that the three busts, including Lord Fife, were still there up to the point that the family left Duff House. I have more on that, and what may have happened to the contents, which I’ll post in the next day or two.

1 attachment
Jacinto Regalado,

The depiction of the bust is cursory but quite consistent with the real bust: she has a diadem and loose, flowing hair.

Louis Musgrove,

And just as an afterthought- the 5th Dukes wife was Princess Louise- who looks rather like the marble head in the other discussion about Duff House ,where it was thought to be the Princess of Wales - Perhaps????

Jacinto Regalado,

However, the entry says it is 132 cm high, which is much higher than our bust, so it must be unrelated.

Kate Eustace has said that NGS will check the Duff House box files (7 boxes worth) for information on the possible loan of the Brodie bust of the 5th Earl from AAGM, but obviously not any day soon.

Meanwhile, Osmund has more to write on the contents of the house (no rush!).

The Head of Collections, AAGM is in contact with the HES Collections Access Manager responsible for Duff House about loan records. I'll post the outcome of that discussion.

Osmund Bullock,

A brief aside to explain a source of confusion for many about the the Fife title, especially in the light of its slightly misleading article on Wikipedia.

Between its creation in 1759 and 1885, the correct name for the 'modern' Fife title (as opposed to the mediaeval one) was, technically-speaking, 'Earl Fife', not 'Earl of Fife'; and it was created, confusingly, in the Peerage of Ireland. However, in 1885 the 6th Earl was additionally created Earl *of* Fife in the Peerage of the United Kingdom (and four years later, on his marriage to Princess Louise of Wales, Duke of Fife).

Nevertheless, throughout the entire existence of the title (now extinct) the Earl & Countess were far more frequently known as the Earl and Countess *of* Fife, even in royal and official circles. I did 'exact searches' in the BNA from 1759 to 1884 for "Earl Fife" and "Earl of Fife", and also for "Lord Fife"**. 'Earl of Fife' is found nearly eight times as often as 'Earl Fife', and even 'Lord Fife' is over twice as common. And in 'The Times' archive before 1885, which includes Court Circulars and other official announcements, the difference is even more marked: 30 to 1 in favour of 'Earl of Fife' versus 'Earl Fife', and 7.5 to 1 for 'Lord Fife'.

(**'Lord xxxx' is a common and perfectly correct familiar form for any peer except a Duke - Viscount Gort is 'Lord Gort', the Earl of Snowdon is 'Lord Snowdon', the Marquess of Bute is 'Lord Bute'...but the Duke of Norfolk is never 'Lord Norfolk'.)

Kieran Owens,

Attached is a composite of this discussion's bust with a coloured drawing of the Earl of Fife, taken from a photograph album, once owned by Lady Mary Georgiana Caroline Cecil Filmer (1838 - 1903), of Sutton Park, Staplehurst, , which is now in Harvard University's collection. While not identical, there are similarities and the presence in both images of the badge of the Order of the Bath might help in coming to any conclusions.

The photographs in the album date from 1862 to 1888:

https://www.harvardartmuseums.org/collections/object/317527

Several photos of the Countess of Fife, Lady Anne Duff and Lady Alexandrina Duff are included in the album (word search Duff), as are those many others.

Jacinto Regalado,

Barbara Bryant found a photo of the vestibule of Duff House from the 1870s, showing three busts (see below):

https://d3d00swyhr67nd.cloudfront.net/_source/duff-house-in-1870s-copy.jpg

The one at left appears to match the one under discussion, while the one at right could be the presumed Lady Anne linked previously:

http://mcpherson-day-gallery.co.uk/details-of-item-for-sale.php?i=61

The center bust might be of Agnes, Countess of Fife (d. 1869), though that is more speculative.

Osmund Bullock,

Barbara, I wonder if your Duff House interior photo came from the Country Life article on the house in Sept 1995 (i.e. after its restoration was finally complete*, and it was re-opened as a 'country house gallery'). Unfortunately we non-academic mortals have no access to the main CL magazine archive - I did do a search in the CL photo archive, but no Duff House images are listed. There's also a booklet published by NGS in 1995, 'Duff House', by Ian Gow and Timothy Clifford, which might be where you found it - there was a very cheap copy on Abebooks, so I've ordered it anyway!

[*An interesting quote from the late John Cornforth about the problems besetting restoration work on the house over the decades in his 1974 ‘Country Houses in Britain, Can They Survive?’: “As in England, guardianship is not the answer: it has been proved in Scotland at Duff House, which is still not completely restored after 20 years for reasons of cost and the difficulty of finding craftsmen in such a remote place.”]

Osmund Bullock,

Thanks for the excellent Harvard picture of the 5th Earl, Kieran. The star of the Order of the Thistle (rather than the Bath) is in fact depicted more accurately there than on our bust (see attached 1). Lord Fife's portrait looks to be the pair to that of Lady Fife in the same album (hers is used on two different pages) - see attached 2. And hers is the same as a coloured lithograph in the Royal Collection, after a portrait by James Rannie Swinton - there are two images on their website, https://bit.ly/2X5UAsw (already shared by Barbara in the other discussion) and https://bit.ly/2JFujcF (an 1894 photograph of it). The latter is detailed enough to show the signature and date of 1863 (not 1865 as inscribed on the mount). So it is likely that Lord Fife’s portrait (the Harvard one) is of much the same date...which is annoying, as we already have images of him, fully bearded, from 1863 and after! The hair, however, is useful, as it matches that on the bust pretty well (allowing for a little flattery) – as does the moustache shape and general physiognomy.

Unless and until a digital snap of Aberdeen AG&M’s bust of him by Alexr Brodie appears (which could, of course, be this one, on loan from Aberdeen), what we badly need is an image of the 5th Earl c.1855-60** – the hypothesis being that he only grew the full beard, including front of chin, after the clay was modelled at Duff House in Oct/Nov 1860. I did find at the Heinz Archive another portrait of him by Francis Grant dating from c.1847 – the year is deduced from the date of a rare or unique mezzotint after it – and I attach a composite of a face detail, along with other, later portraits & photos, including our bust.

[**Note that until he inherited the earldom in March 1857, Lord Fife was called James Duff, MP, of Delgaty Castle]

Osmund Bullock,

Frustratingly, Lord Fife probably sat for a photographic portrait in 1859, and there may be a copy of it in the National Archives. A copy photograph of his wife Agnes in the Royal Collection (https://bit.ly/2UFYG91), the original of which (by a local photographer and chemist, Alexander Rae of Banff) is dated 1859, seems to have been one of a pair of the Earl & Countess registered for copyright by Rae in Oct 1868 – see https://bit.ly/3aR6URg. The NA catalogue description is confusing: on the one hand it says that there is “no copy of photographs annexed” (to the registration form)...but on the other it has a note saying where “this entry form and photograph” are to be found, and the ‘physical description’ given is “photograph(s)”.

When things change I am happy to go along to Kew and check – meanwhile, if anyone comes across an early-looking, vignette bust photograph of an unidentified gentleman wearing a tartan jacket and waistcoat, let us know.

Jacinto Regalado,

Osmund, I think that 1859 photo of Agnes is the same as the photo to the right of the central marble bust in Barbara's photo of Duff House, which goes along with the idea of a "shrine" to Agnes. If one enlarges Barbara's photo by 300%, it is easier to tell.

Osmund Bullock,

Yes, I did indeed mean James Duff (not Fife), thanks for spotting that, Jacinto. Now corrected.

Jacinto Regalado,

It was Kieran who spotted that, Osmund, but what do you think about my photo idea?

Osmund Bullock,

D'oh...I'm so sorry, Kieran. The virus (which I may have, though very mildly) seems to be getting to my brain cells. Jacinto, I haven't had a chance to look yet - will do later. I'll also put up a couple more, probably final (you'll be relieved to hear)'background' posts that I've been promising for a while - one about what happened to the Duff House collection, the other on the donor of Aberdeen's Brodie/Lord Fife bust.

Osmund Bullock,

Hmmm...not sure about your photo idea, J. Her white collar in the 1859 photo is so much paler than her face that I think it would show up in the Duff House image...but in truth the resolution is so low, one can't be sure either way. Comparison attached.

1 attachment
Jacinto Regalado,

Yes, it's hard to be sure either way. Thanks for the comparison.

Osmund you were right about the photo. I was being *very careful* not to say where for reasons you might guess. Still trying to find the original source for a better image. I hope you are not too poorly. Your brain cells are needed on Art Detective!

Jacinto Regalado,

Good brain cells are needed everywhere, as they're in short supply.

This discussion led to an independent one about other portrait busts at Duff House, Banff, with which it became rather entwined. To these I shall return shortly, but let us conclude on the findings about the bust posted on 12 February 2020:

Sitter: James, 5th Earl of Fife Kt (1814–1879)
Lord Lieutenant of Banff
Sculptor: Alexander Brodie (1829–1867)
Marble, signed and dated 1861
Acc. No. ABDAGO10783 (Presented by Miss Lorna Bell, 1993), Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums; on loan to Historic Environment Scotland, Duff House, Banff.

Investigations were hampered by our not knowing the location of the bust, nor yet its collection, and by an unfortunate misidentification in the documentation, a ‘clerical error’ or glitch as sometimes happens with electronic data, which proffered the bust by Steele of Albert, Prince of Wales as a red herring. The breast star of the Order of the Thistle was noted, and offered up some possible leads, which lead to James, Earl of Fife, of Duff House, Banff. He was made a knight companion of the Order of the Thistle, Scotland’s premier chivalric royal order, in 1860. Kieran Owens clinched the identification with a quote from the P&J for 10 July 1861. There was quite a lot of discussion about the brothers Alexander and William Brodie, and it is clear that in the early death of Alexander in his late 30s Scotland lost a sculptor with virtuoso skills and potential.

As to the current location, Duff House was confirmed as the place where the bust is on display, on loan to HES from AAGM.

Photographs in the 1995 Guide to Duff House show the bust in situ in the Vestibule in the 1870s (Ian Gow & Timothy Clifford, p. 49)

Another identity happily retrieved and records set to rights.
Thank you everyone.

Jacinto Regalado,

In Katharine's third attachment above, in the lower photo, after one clicks on the image to enlarge it, it now appears that the photo on the table to the right of the central bust is the 1859 photo of Agnes linked and discussed above, as one can now see the white collar which could not be made out before. Again, the 1859 photo:

https://bit.ly/2UFYG91),

The photo to the left of the central bust is probably also of Agnes, though that is more speculative. Thus, presumably, the central bust is the "lost" Ewing bust of Agnes, Countess of Fife.

Kieran Owens,

It is interesting to note that, in the c1870 pair of photos, the two female busts have swopped places. The top photo, being the clearer one, might allow for a better identification of the sitters.

Jacinto Regalado,

I expect, Kieran, that your (coloured) photo was taken before Agnes died in 1869, and the other photo was taken after her death, hence the "shrine" to her memory.

Osmund Bullock,

Hmm...I'm not sure that the (?)artificial colour helps much, and in fact I think it's the lower picture that has very slightly better detail in the faces of all the busts. Yes, you were right about the accompanying photo, Jacinto. That it is indeed the Countess's bust is also supported by the wording in a newspaper cutting describing her funeral (previously posted, but attached again): "The head of the beautiful bust, by Brodie, of the deceased Countess, which was in its usual place in the vestibule ...".

What is surprising is that the (presumed) bust of the Countess and its immediate support are so different in shape to those of her husband's - they make an odd pair. I suspect that what we are looking at is the original plaster, not a finished work carved in marble - in fact it may never have been. We know that the busts of Lord Fife and Lady Anne *were* so carved, as during July 1861 both marbles were exhibited at the shop of Hay & Lyall in Aberdeen (https://bit.ly/3e9ypHO). But there is no evidence that that of Lady Fife ever was - and it is often only as a marble that a bust acquires a socle.

Jacinto Regalado,

Well, Osmund, this discussion's task is done, and you were right all along. I expect you are also right about the bust of Agnes, wherever it may be now, assuming it still exists.

Kieran Owens,

An interesting report on the visit to Duff House by the Aberdeen Philosophical Society appeared in the Aberdeen Evening Express, of Saturday 25th June 1887. One of the paragraphs reads:

"In the vestibule there are marble busts of the late Earl and Countess of Fife, the former by Alexander Brodie, the latter by Macdonald, of Rome."

The latter artist is Lawrence Macdonald (1799 - 1787), of whom William Brodie was a pupil.

The Countess's bust could, of course, be a mis-attribution. The attached article, however, describes in detail the artistic riches that were to be found in the house in 1887.

Kieran Owens,

In fact, the same attribution to Macdonald appeared in an earlier extensive report of a visit to Duff House, by the British Association, which appeared in the Banffshire Journal and General Advertiser of Tuesday 22nd September 1885.

Kieran Owens,

The relevance of these two reports is that they both confirm that there was a marble bust of the Earl of Fife by Alexander Brodie in the vestibule in 1885 and in 1887.

Further to the above, just to add here, although it is also appropriate to the parallel discussion, are the comments of Ian Gow in the Duff House guidebook by Gow and Clifford (which I have now fortuituously, albeit belatedly, located on shelves at home).
Ian Gow explicitly says on p. 48 regarding the second photo on p. 49 (as Kate has posted above from the same guidebook) ".. . the photographer re-arranging the furniture to highlight the bust of Countess Agnes by Brodie flanked by her photographs, framed in deep black borders. The bust was elaborately decorated on the day of her funeral at Duff." Gow must be following the same contemporary articles cited above by Osmund and Kieran but presumably he also looked at the bust and saw it was signed by Brodie.

Jacinto Regalado,

Kieran, is this HES document about what came with the house? Our two busts are obviously not mentioned in the sculpture section.

Osmund Bullock,

Jacinto, the very informative document (thank you, Kieran) is perfectly clear: nothing came with the house. Read from page 18 (as paginated), and also see pp.7-8 "The paintings and furniture were sold in 1907" and "The collection of furniture and paintings exhibited in the house do not directly relate to the Duff family’s occupation of the house, but were chosen to create the impression of what it could have been like when occupied". It's all there.

Jacinto Regalado,

Yes, I see, Osmund. Fortunately, the Brodie bust was photographed in situ before it left and later returned.

Jacinto Regalado,

It is curious, though, that as far as I can tell from the HES document (which, admittedly, I have not read in its entirety) there is no mention (and possibly there was no awareness) of our Brodie bust being of the 5th Earl Fife (whereas painted portraits of the 2nd, 4th and 6th earls are specifically mentioned). Thus, it would appear that AD may have rescued the 5th earl and restored him, as it were, to Duff House.

Jacinto Regalado,

So how, out of curiosity, is this bust listed in Stephen Lloyd's ‘Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture at Duff House’?

Osmund Bullock,

Jacinto, you're reading far too much into this: the report is not intended to be a full and up-to-date catalogue, nor indeed a catalogue at all. The items mentioned - and nowhere is it stated that it's a comprehensive list - were those present when the report was written. That was in 2015 at the latest, and in all probability based on the situation long before - I would guess on Stephen Lloyd's 1999 catalogue.

So the most likely answer to both your points / questions is not that the bust was lying there unrecognised, but that its loan from Aberdeen took place after the Duff House full catalogue was drawn up in 1999.

Osmund Bullock,

A few final points (much truncated - really!) relating to what happened to the bust after it left Duff House.

The donor of the bust to Aberdeen AG&M in 1993 was almost certainly (Miss) Lorna Stewart Bell (1927-2013), an Aberdonian from birth to death. She had no discernible connection with the Duff family, and most probably inherited it from her father William Smith Bell (1897-1973) and/or grandfather John Bell (1869-1913). Both men were Aberdeen Fine Art & Antiques Dealers – John founded c.1899 “one of the most important antique dealers in Scotland”, John Bell of Aberdeen, later with branches at Glasgow and Braemar, and his son William succeeded him in the business: https://bit.ly/3a6ggY9. Their customers included top aristocracy (up to and including the late Queen Mother), and the debts due to John's estate in his will inventory show they already had dealings with the great and the good before the First World War. A herculean effort finally tracked down a living nephew a few days ago, and I’d just written him a letter to see if he or his twin sister (who lived with her unmarried Aunt Lorna in the mid-1970s) remembered the bust...but Katharine’s revelations mean I can save myself the cost of the stamp!

Osmund Bullock,

The Duff family did not in fact fully leave Duff House until 1906, not 1903 as widely given and repeated by me. Unlike his father the 5th Earl, who enjoyed its remoteness, the 6th Earl spent little time at Duff House; and after his marriage to Princess Louise in 1889, the newly-elevated Duke and Duchess were infrequent visitors. In fact they normally spent less than a fortnight a year there in late summer, before proceeding to Mar Lodge for the autumn and the shooting. In 1905, to the consternation of local tradespeople, they failed to make their usual visit; but at the end of July 1906 they were back again for 12 days. They gave, as they usually did, a huge fête in the grounds for 3,000 local children and 1,000 adults...but that was the last time.

In Nov that year the house and grounds were given to the burghs of Banff & Macduff, amidst great local rejoicings; but a year later the burghers had become far from sure they actually wanted it – the Duke then wrote them a stiff letter saying that if the town councils continued to argue about its value to them they could give it back! Most or all of the artworks had been moved out over the winter – some to the family’s other houses (before he married in 1889 Lord Fife had owned at least eight other substantial houses and castles in Scotland, and a London home in Cavendish Square), and some down to London for auction. The latter took place at a major sale at Christie’s on 7th June 1907, while the remaining contents had already been sold in a two-day auction in the grounds on 24th-25th April. The busts were certainly not in the Christie’s sale (https://bit.ly/3cmP759); and while there is no obvious sign of them in advertisements for (and reports of) the local one, I haven’t seen a catalogue and it's possible John Bell acquired one or more of them there. See attached.