Photo credit: City of London Corporation
Thank you to Martin Hopkinson for pointing out that this painting is signed upper left. A detail of the signature and date is attached.
It looks like ‘D. Jender-Davidson’/ FECIT MCMXXI'.
We would be grateful for any information about the artist and/or the sitter.
This discussion is now closed. The artist has been identified as Daniel Pender-Davidson (1885–1933). The sitter’s name has been amended to Athro Charles Knight and his life dates added (1878–1958). Knight was painted in black cloth court dress to mark the culmination, in 1921, of his first period as Under Sheriff of the City of London. This is the only known work by Daniel Pender-Davidson in a UK public collection.
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.
Where is the attachment?
So the year is 1921
An Arthur Charles Knight was a great nephew of Jane Austen.
The picture was presented to the Guildhall Art Gallery by the sitter's grandchildren in 2008. The collection must have some relevant information on file regarding the donation.
David Pender Davidson (1855-1937)
There is also a Daniel Pender Davidson an artist.
Daniel Pender Davidson (1885-1933) was born in Camelon, Scotland. He studied at the Glasgow School of Art and later in Munich and Brussells.
I suppose this could be an actor or someone in ceremonial or fancy dress, but again, the collection should know who this was.
Marion, when you have a moment, please be so kind as to attach the above-mentioned attachment.
Sorry, I did try twice earlier. I will try again now.
There's a pretty good match for the signature of Daniel Pender-Davidson on this picture also from 1921:
I assume the sitter was one of the City of London Corporation's numerous oddly named officials - hence the lace-bestrewn clothing.
Daniel Pender Davidson was a Scottish Impressionist & Modern painter who was born in 1885. Daniel Pender Davidson's work has been offered at auction multiple times, with realized prices ranging from $504 USD to $5,814 USD, depending on the size and medium of the artwork. Since 2014 the record price for this artist at auction is $5,814 USD
I suspect that David and Daniel may have been father and son.This is the 1901 Census for the Schoolhouse, Falkirk.First name(s) Last name Relationship Marital status Sex Age Birth year Occupation Birth place
Dd Davidson Head Married Male 57 1844 Headmaster Elementary Fife, Scotland
Christina Davidson Wife Married Female 47 1854 - Midlothian, Scotland
Davidina R Davidson Daughter Single Female 18 1883 Student Of Medicine Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland
Daniel P Davidson Son Single Male 15 1886 Architects App Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland
Maggie McFarlane Servant Single Female 17 1884 Servant (Domestic) England
In the Falkirk Herald 1908 there is a long article about the father David Pender Davidson who was headmaster of the Camelon Public School for many years. The article mentions his son Daniel Pender Davidson a very promising artist who exhibited at the Falkirk Art School Exhibition and the Christian Institute, Falkirk.
Does it say Arthur Charles, Knight? I have noticed this on other names, where the Knight is after a comma and indicates a titled gentleman.
Daniel Pender Davidson married Yvonne Pauline McBean by licence at St Mary's Battersea in 1919. He gives his occupation as artist.
He goes on to marry a Violette Noble in Chelsea in 1927. A year after his death Violette C Pender-Davidson marries a Job Churchley.
Usually when Knight appears after a name it is abbreviated to Kt, so I suspect it is his surname. It only tends to be done in odd circumstances and normally Sir in front is the standard format:
I've been trying to work out which City position Knight held and is dressed for. It's not one of the more prominent ones as there are lists of those linked from here:
Looking at the various uniforms and I suspect the closest match is probably the City Macebearer, formally known as "The Common Cryer and Serjeant-at-Arms". The job includes reading out various formal proclamations (including announcing a UK General Election) so that might explain the piece of paper in the hand. The dress normally involved a legal-type wig, but maybe not indoors.
Mark. what makes you think the dress relates to the City of London? To me it looks like one of the many forms of Court Dress, for example 'old-style velvet', which were still worn on certain state occasions in the 1920s & 30s (and beyond) - it is still occasionally worn, most notably by High Sheriffs. See https://bit.ly/39B4yVy.
However ours does not seem to be velvet (and the buttons are not silver), so I'm veering towards another type: the 'legal (cloth) court dress' worn by senior legal figures (QCs, judges, etc) on very formal occasions. Similar ones are or were indeed worn by Serjeants-at-Arms, but not only of the C.of London - see https://bit.ly/2xz4wjt. It is also similar to the one worn by the sitter, the Judge Advocate General, in another discussion here: https://bit.ly/2ymq9E7. In that thread Barbara Bryant noted that the odd shape behind the sitter's neck (also seen here) is "...a 'wig-bag', an essential element of traditional male court dress worn at the back of the neck where it attached to the coat so it hung over the collar." By the late C19th, with long-tailed wigs long gone, it had become (according to one contemporary description) "an elaborately made rosette of black ribbon".
It seems likely to me likely that we are looking for a senior barrister, a judge or perhaps even a politician holding a governmental legal position.
There was a Sir Arthur Charles a judge, but he died in 1921 in his eighties, so probably not him.
I agree with Osmund's line of thought. ..including his view of the black ribbon at the back of the neck. The clothes in the portrait are very very close to those my father, Lord Elwyn Jones , wore, when he was Lord Chancellor,1974-74 during Wilson/Callaghan years. The gold lace trimmed robe largely hid these and he wore a full judge's wig...No sword though. Could it be a ~High Sheriff uniform? It seems very possible that a person performing such duties might well want a portrait showing him in this uniform.
More on Jane Austin's great nephew, Arthur Charles Knight (1833-1905):
Osmund & Lou, my assumption that it was City Corporation related was simply that it was in their collection and had been accepted fairly recently (and possibly with condition issues). There must have been some reason for that - even if they now appear to have forgotten it. Collections don't normally accept portraits of random grandfathers - though admittedly there's some strange stuff on the Guildhall's listing on ArtUK.
I agree completely about the similarities to court and especially legal dress, but the City's formal dress tends to be very similar coming out of the same roots (with a few of its own odd extras like the Sword Bearer's Muscovy hat). And of course there's overlap with some officials, such as the Recorder of London also being senior judges. In fact a lot of the City officials are legally qualified, but the sword made me wonder if it was one of those more minor positions that (at least nowadays) are carried out by ex-military. Admittedly many lawyers in 1921 would be ex-military as well.
I think if Arthur Charles Knight had had some senior or political role, there would be more of a digital footprint for them (the Austen relative died in 1905) and the portrait appears to be of quite a young man. It may well be that there's no link but the City seems a good place to start looking.
A photograph of Daniel Pender Davidson can be seen here:
Also if his grandchildren could be identified and contacted (as they are probably alive, given that the donation was made in 2008), it might resolve the issue of who exactly is the sitter. One must presume that there is some record of the donation somewhere in the Guildhall Art Gallery's archives.
Kieran, the donors were the grandchildren of the sitter, not the painter. But yes, the collection must have relevant information.
Kieran's europeana portrait photo of the artist Daniel Pender Davidson (1885-1933) is also in the Wellcome Collection, where he is described as being seen "at his desk in the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum carrying out the accessioning of prints, drawings and paintings". So he was a curator as well as a practicing artist and was working in London.
Yes, he was responsible for the prints, paintings, drawings and photographs in what is now the Wellcome Collection. The collection still has extensive runs of accessions registers and catalogue cards written in Pender Davidson's hand (see attachment for the register of prints and drawings accessioned June-September 1928), and still has the copy of Michael Bryan's Dictionary of painters and engravers, London: G. Bell and sons, 1903-05, one volume of which he has open on the desk in front of him (see other attachment). The image in Europeana is a scan of the photograph in Wellcome.
William Schupbach (one of Daniel Pender Davidson's successors)
Jacinto, with hand on heart, I did think that I was referring to the grandchildren of the sitter, be he Mr. Charles or Mr. Knight.
It hardly matters, Kieran, but I believe you; it's just that judging strictly from that comment, it implied you were referring to the grandchildren of Daniel Pender Davidson.
Thanks, William. It's interesting to see Pender Davidson's neat hand. And Bryan's Dictionary well-spotted. He was clearly doing his research in those non-internet days.
I think this must be Arthur Charles Knight (1878/79-1958) who was Under Sheriff of the City of London from 1919 to 1921. The portrait was then painted on his departure from the post. Lou spotted the Sheriff's ceremonial dress.
Attached are some snippets about the sitter, including from Who Was Who. He had only one daughter so it makes sense that her descendants gave the portrait in 2008. I am sure the curators at the Guildhall can fill in the blanks about Knight's career once the doors open again.
This portrait by Pender Davidson (1885-1933) is a rather nice one and shows the influence of Lenbach and the Munich School. The theatrical approach raises it above the usual commemorative portrait depictions. Its condition, however, could be improved.
I'm not group leader here, but since there isn't one at the moment, I suggest the discussion is closed as we've now given an identity to sitter and artist. Thanks to Martin who initially spotted that this portrait was worth further research. Pender Davidson was a prolific portraitist, as Wendy told us he originated in Glasgow, trained there and in Munich, eventually conducting his dual career as curator and artist in London until his early death.
That's a great find Barbara, but it looks like we've all been mislead by a mistake in the Guildhall records. He's not Arthur Charles Knight, but Athro:
Which explains why he was quite difficult to find. The first name was clearly a family one from his father, but you can see why he might have got tired of people getting it wrong and chosen to use his second one more.
If it is his second name. There are records in the 1881 and 1891 Censuses for Athro B Knight aged 7m and 10y respectively. Maybe there's some editing of age as well - perhaps so a qualification could be obtained that needed a minimum age. Someone with better census access and skills than me might be able to ferret the story out.
The Under Sheriff isn't quite the equivalent of the High Sheriffs in other counties - that the Sheriffs in the City (usually an Alderman in line to be Lord Mayor). Instead "[...] day-to-day running of the Old Bailey is in the hands of a salaried officer known as the Secondary and Under Sheriff".
I suspect a hundred years it might not have been salaried, though no doubt a useful networking opportunity for a City lawyer. And it explains the similarity of dress.
(Obviously that should be "a hundred years ago")
I'm not sure that I would describe Pender Davidson as a prolific portraitist though, at least in the usual sense. Most of examples I can find seem to be of young women and more decorative than commemorative, so this picture of Knight is unusual in his oeuvre.
Presumably his work at the Wellcome both took away the time he could devote to painting and gave him more freedom to choose his subjects. I'm not sure when he started there, but the Knight portrait might arise from a personal link rather than a commission.
(Incidentally the Wellcome Collection entry: https://wellcomecollection.org/works/fczmebjc has a typo with his birth date as 1855 rather than 1885, which seems to have been copied to a lot of other places)
Ok Mark very good. This refines. I thought Athro was just the father. It would have been clear if I had more than that little snippet to work from! Date of birth now known to be 1878. As to Pender Davidson, I've seen a number of portraits, but we need not quibble about adjectives. He's our artist and it is down to the Guildhall to take these matters further. Case closed (to use legalistic language)!
Athro Alfred Knight was born in Bethnal Green in January 1852. In Shoreditch, in 1877, he married Ada Maund Wood. The East London Observer, of Saturday 6th October 1877, announced their marriage:
"Knight - Wood - On the 15th September, at St. Paul's. Dalston, by the Rev. F. Pearse Pocock, Athro Alfred Knight, youngest surviving son of G. J. Knight, Esq., fifty years Principal of Albion International College of Mile End, and now of the Broadway, South Hackney, to Ada Maund Wood, eldest daughter of Mr. Charles Wood, formerly of North Hill, Highgate."
In the following year, on the 1st September 1878, Athro Charles Knight (ACK for short in this discussion) was born. The London Evening Standard, of Saturday 7th September 1878, carried his birth notice:
"Knight - Sept. 1, the wife of Athro Arthur Knight, of Albion Commercial International College, The Broadway, South Hackney, London N.E. of a son."
According to the Clifton Society, of Thursday 1st August 1901, Ada Maund Knight pre-deceased her husband on the previous 23rd July, at Knightsville, 80, Lewisham High Road, Brockley, she having been the Founder and Principal of Knightsville College, Lewisham High Road, and Herne Bay. In 1902, compiled by Erumie S. Oram, a book entitled "Memoir of Mrs. Athro Knight, Founder and Principal of Knightsville College: Notes and Outlines of 'Talks With Girls' and Numerous Favourite Extracts Found Among Her MSS".
Athro Arthur Knight continued running the school and, in 1906, Knightsville College for Girls, which then housed around 75 boarders, moved from their previous home in what is now called Lewisham Way and was established at Wyberton House, in Lewisham.
In the mid-1880s, Athro Arthur Knight., B.A., was chairman of South Ward Liberal Association, and vestryman of St. Paul's, Deptford and later in the 1880s was the Hon. Treasurer of the Ragged Schools of the Hackney Juvenile Mission (aka The Mission and Ragged Schools of Lyme Green, Hackney). In December 1888, he put himself forward as a County Councillor of the Deptford district "as a resident Independent candidate for one of the seats, standing entirely on non-political sounds." (St. James' Gazette, Monday 31st December 1888).
Athro Alfred Knight, of 2, Stone Buildings, Lincolns Inn, Middlesex, and of Memorial Hall, Farringdon Street, London, died died at Charing Cross Hospital, on the 15th November 1926.His estate was valued at £68.
All of the above is by way of contextualization. As for the son (this Discussion's subject), Athro Charles Knight was married on the 5th August 1905. The Globe, of Wednesday 9th August 1905, featured their marriage announcement:
"Knight - Turner - On the 5th inst., at St. John's Church, Herne Bay, Athro Charles Knight, son of A. A. Knight, Esq., of Brockley, to Violet Evelyn, daughter of the late J. B. Turner, and Mrs. Turner, of Herne Bay College."
According to the 1911 UK Census, ACK was living at Holydale, Church Road, Forest Hill, London, and was described as a "Solicitor and Commissioner". After five years of marriage, he and his wife had had no children. Any daughter must have been born after 1911.
In the columns of the Londonderry Sentinel, of Saturday 27th July 1929, at the installation of Coleraine's first Charter Mayor, there is a reference to "Athro Charles Knight, J.P. F.S.A."
In 1932, ACK is described as being a solicitor, and in 1935 it is mentioned that he was a member of the firm of Mackrell Ward and Knight, solicitors, of 33, Walbrook, London.
ACK, of Herne Place, Sunningdale, Berkshire, died at Princess Beatrice Hospital, Kensington, London, on the 10th May 1958, aged 79. His estate was valued at £18,699. He is buried at
Holy Trinity Churchyard, Sunningdale, Berkshire.
Violet Elizabeth Evelyn Knight (née Turner) died at 9, Cottage Place, Brompton Square, London Sw13, on the 13th February 1978, and left an estate valued at €47,973. She is buried with her husband.
In all the newspaper entries and genealogical records for him, ACK's first name is given as Athro. The mistake of using Arthur might have been an administrative one at the Guildhall or at ArtUK. I have not (yet) found any evidence of the sole daughter's details.
Barbara, my apologies, I was compiling while you were concluding.
No problem,Kieran. Your excellent research is always welcome! We probably can't officially close until Monday anyway!
Barbara, all I really meant was that his output isn't quite what you would normally expect of a 'prolific portraitist' in the 1920s - endless stiff businessmen, military types and mayors. As you said this has a charming slight theatricality, which made me wonder if there was a personal connection, rather like that Mayoral portrait discussed on Art Detective recently (https://www.artuk.org/artdetective/discussions/discussions/is-this-a-portrait-of-joseph-ball-lord-mayor-of-liverpool), that turned out to be painted by the sitter's brother-in-law.
Kieran thanks for clearing that up and all the other information. The other Athro must just have been a coincidence, but it's such an unusual name it made me wonder. Apparently it means teacher or professor in Welsh, so it's not unique - and very appropriate for this sitter's father.
Could I just ask if there is anything further to add on Pender-Davidson as a painter or otherwise (eg. training/ exhibition record/ family/ dates he was at the Wellcome -or what art dictionary he features in) before this closes down
Marion at ArtUK has otherwise asked me to leep an eye on 20th c. portraits -though 'not really my thing' - but if we can just fill out DP-D a bit more I think that might be useful before this concludes.
Mark, Athro B. Knight is Athro Bernard Knight, who was born in Hackney in 1880, the son of William E. Knight, a rent collector. In 1891 his father was a "builder's clerk". During WWI Athro B. was in the Royal Engineers, described on his 1916 attestation papers as an "architectural stone and marble carver". Athro B. died at 110, Croham Valley Road, South Croydon, Surrey, on the 5th June 1940. He left his wife Grace an estate worth £937. If there is a connection to Athro C. it must be a distant one.
Pieter, something on Daniel Pender-Davidson.
His father, David Davidson, was, from 1888 until at least 1908, headmaster of Camelon Public School. The Falkirk Herald, of Wednesday 19th August 1908, ran an extensive article on him, detailing his long career as a Scottish educationalist. In his personal life, he had two sons and a daughter. His eldest son, Randolph Davidson, was an M.S., B.Sc, of Edinburgh University, and was a lecturer in botany at the Agricultural College in Cairo, as well as at the Technical College, Plymouth, and was at one stage an assistant demonstrator to Professor Grieg Wilson, in Queen's College, Belfast.
The second son was Daniel Pender Davidson (1885 - 1933) (DPD for short). About 1903 he was a student at the Falkirk Science & Art School, and by 1908 had visited Venice, Rome and Florence, all with the aim of perfecting his study of art.
The only daughter was Etta Davidson, a doctor of medicine, with a degree of M.B., Ch.B, from Edinburgh University. In 1908 she was the resident medical attendant in Paisley Parochial School.
All three of David Davidson's children had attended their father's school, followed by George Watson's College, Edinburgh, and finally the Edinburgh University.
A review of an exhibition of DPD's paintings, which appeared in the Falkirk Herald of Saturday 25th August 1906, mentioned that the artist had studied at the Glasgow School of Art "for the past four years (i.e 1902 - 1906), and this winter he will proceed to Bruxelles to study under Professor Delville there."
On the 28th July 1919, the 34-year-old Daniel Pender Davidson, artist, was married, at Battersea Parish Church, to Yvonne Pauline McBean, the daughter of Major General Basil Nutman McBean.
The 1929 edition of 'Who's Who in Art' had the following entry for him:
"Davidson, Daniel Pender - Painter of portraits, landscapes, decorative figure compositions and still life in oil, scenic artist and painter of period panels for interior decorative schemes; b Camelon, Scotland, 2nd October 1885..."
The London Studio (Volume 7, 1934) carried an obituary for DPP, recording that he died suddenly on the 4th November 1933 at 7, Clarendon Road, Putney, London. ArtUK researchers with access to the full contents of that publication might oblige by posting the full text.
Wendy, please forgive any repetition of your entries above.
Well done, Barbara and others. I think the clothing is nevertheless still "legal cloth court dress", rather than anything specific to the office of under-sheriff - certainly it is distinct from the silver-buttoned velvet version of the High Sheriff; and from further reading I now gather that it would at the time have been the proper court dress, steel-hilted sword and all, for any lawyer not entitled to wear a gown - i.e. contrary to what I said previously, it is not for those of particular, gown-wearing eminence in the Law, e.g. judges and senior legal officer of the Crown like Lou's father. The gowned fraternity specifically did *not* wear the sword. This is gleaned from the 1921 edition of 'Dress and Insignia Worn at His Majesty's Court' https://bit.ly/2UBtHLy - and see illustration the previous page.
I'd like to think that the Guildhall would wish (and have the staff) to fill in the blanks about Knight's career, Barbara, but their Art Detective track record doesn't inspire confidence. We're still awaiting a response to the successful conclusion of this discussion https://bit.ly/2RKYNyg, 4-6 years on!
As ever, point taken, Osmund. And I daresay you are right in your last paragraph!
Sorry, Pieter, I did not know until this morning that you were moderating this group. Over to you, then, to manage it.
Thanks for the DP-D details Kieran: from those and anything further added before this shuts down I can add him to the 'potted biography' tally generated by these discussions (which is now about 40), but I agree with Barbara that there is no need to prolong this one further: the original questions have been answered.
Sitter: Athro Charles Knight, 1878-1958, painted in his first period as Under Sheriff of the City of London (1919-21; the second was 1924-5).
Artist: Daniel Pender-Davidson, 1885-1933, (signed and dated 1921, upper left)
No apology necessary Barbara: its just an (I hope informal) watching brief until ArtUK can resolve a more suitable solution, when I will cheerfully jump ship, but this particular one can now dock.