Photo credit: y Gaer Museum, Art Gallery & Library
This artwork is at present in the Court Room of y Gaer in Brecon and the artist is unknown. Having attributed other works in the Court Room it would be good to have this one also linked to an artist. I suggest the date would be about 1860 and perhaps marks his taking the title of Baron Tredegar in 1859.
The other portraits in the court room are mostly the result of public subscriptions but I have found no record of any appeal in the local press. There are several other portraits of Sir Charles Robinson Morgan in Tredegar House but no record of this one or of an engraving based on it.
Can anyone help?
This discussion is now closed. The portrait has been identified as a posthumous commission of 1876–1877 by William Gale (1823–1909), based on an 1874 lithograph by George Black. The title has been updated to include '1st Baron Tredegar'.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to the discussion. To anyone viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all the comments that led to this conclusion.
In August 2022, Martin Hopkinson suggested Eduard von Heuss, comparing this with the recently attributed portrait of the Duke of Cambridge at St Bartholomew's Hospital.
The Senior Curator at y Gaer has replied: 'I checked our records and conservation records as we added backs to all the portraits before they were installed – sadly nothing was recorded for this portrait. And it will be some time before they are next taken down from their permanent home in the Court room.'
Here is an interesting article in the ‘Brecon County Times’ of Saturday, October 20, 1877, about the unveiling of the portrait. The artist was a man and the portrait was based on a “small photograph”.
A long article (not attached) about the decision to commission a portrait of the late Lord Tredegar is in the ‘Brecon County Times’ of Saturday, November 18, 1876. The Rev. Charles Griffith stated that the portrait should be “in oils” and be “hung up in the Grand Jury Room at the Shire Hall”.
Here is an 1863 photo https://bit.ly/3ObKUFr for comparison
The reticence about actually naming the artist seems rather odd, unless it is an example of the philistinism we have been told was once the prevalent norm. Still, it is frustrating.
Could this possibly be by Millais, assuming he would have accepted such a commission?
Could it be by John Charlton (1849–1917), who painted Lord Tredegar’s son?
I do not think so, Marcie. Charlton was never a "name" painter and still a young one when this picture was done. He was not primarily a portrait painter and more associated with military scenes.
There's a portrait of this Lord Tredegar by Richard Buckner at Tredegar House, which suggests he could be a contender.
Buckner was indeed a portrait painter, more so of fashionable women. His portraits of men appear less successful and relatively undistinguished, and I doubt this one is by him.
Thank you for your responses so far, Very helpful newspaper articles that didnt come up on my searches through National Library of Wales.
How extraordinary that the artist is not mentioned. Am asking if the National Trust at Tredegar House possibly have a copy of the engraving. From Poole's History we have the attached line illustration which is clearly based on the y Gaer portrait but also has no attribution attached . It is shown with thanks to Lord Tredegar's son so perhaps there was an engraving made. This was commonpractice with subscriptions,each donor was given a print.
As for Heuss, that seems unlikely. He did not work in England, and his style was rather more German than British, with a heavier, less sensitive hand than that shown in this picture.
I suppose another possibility would be Sir Francis Grant.
While not bearing on this artist-identity issue we have had two other discussions in which the Morgan/Tredegar family has come into play, (1) most recently a later member - Evan Morgan, 2nd Viscount Tredegar from 1934- as a patron of Charles Freegrove Winzer (2) much earlier -in all senses - in sorting out the provenance history of the two Violante Siries portraits of Admiral Sir Edward Hughes (d.1794), both of which passed through Morgan family ownership -including that of the present sitter - with one still at Tredegar House (NT).
Regarding Heuss, I should have said he did not work in the UK.
Is there any photograph of higher resolution, especially one for the quadrants lower right and lower left? I'm guessing they're very faint lines there and there might be a signature. I have a couple of possible matches based on style, but I would like to see first a better photo of the lower part.
Possibly off topic, but an obituary for W. E. Jones in 1877 says he painted Lord Tredegar and it was owned by Crawshay at Cyfarthfa: https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000915/18771019/006/0002 (and attached)
That's this artist on Art UK: https://artuk.org/discover/artists/jones-william-edward-18251877
I think maybe one of the ones of Lord Tredegar at Tredegar House currently listed as 'British (English) School' could be the one by W. E. Jones: https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/sir-charles-morgan-robinson-morgan-17921875-3rd-bt-1st-baron-tredegar-156460
Additionally, on Marcie's newspaper cutting, it mentions Sir Joseph Bailey presented the work under discussion. His own portrait in y Gaer is by John Collier: https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/joseph-russell-bailey-18401906-1st-baron-glanusk-178136
Although the two portraits are over 20 years apart, might Bailey have commissioned Collier for this one too? The earliest portrait on Art UK by Collier is dated 1877, but it's of the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, so he was painting well-known sitters that early: https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/search/actor:collier-john-18501934/sort_by/date_earliest/order/asc/page/1/view_as/grid
A brochure of Cardiff City Hall also lists Collier's 'Firelight' as dating to 1875: https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/firelight-158991 (in p...18 of this guide https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/read/42419635/cardiff-city-hall)
Andrew, our picture is definitely not by Jones, but at least one of the portraits you link from Tredegar House could well be (the standing one). I'd thought of Collier based on the portrait you link from this collection, but I tend to think ours is the work of an older painter without Collier's German influence (Collier studied in Munich starting in 1875, and that is very evident in his Shaftesbury portrait).
I, too, have been rather drawn towards the idea of Collier, and I think there's a good case to be made for him. There's the later Bailey connection, of course; but it's also worth observing that just a few years later, in 1881, he painted a (much smaller) posthumous portrait of Francis Dukinfield Astley that looks to have been based on a photograph: https://bit.ly/3V62ooP. The sitter had been drowned in Canada in August 1880.
Actually, the Astley one looks far less like our portrait than many of Collier's do, but that may be a matter of size and perhaps being a direct copy of a photo: although a "small photograph" was used in painting our work, the wording in the 1877 press story rather implies this was to give the artist a guide to the sitter's appearance rather than anything more wide-ranging in the portrait's composition. The important point for me is that it shows Collier was at the time not above doing a posthumous job with photographic input - despite the fact that (according to the ODNB) two portraits he had exhibited at the RA in 1877 (Major & Mrs Forster) had "... attracted attention and helped establish him as a society portrait painter." His first RA exhibit had been in 1874.
I do think there is similarity in many of Collier's works on Art UK - he was certainly keen on seated male portraits, and was clearly comfortable working on a 50 x 40 inch canvas even early in his career - and seems to have stuck to that exact size at a time when many artists were using non-standard canvases (I suspect our one's measurements have been unhelpfully altered or approximated to a nice round metric size). I note, too, Collier's apparent relish in depicting polished wood - something that our artist seems to share.
Re his training, Munich may have been a relatively minor part of it. The DNB states, "With the encouragement of his father ... Collier then studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, London, under Edward John Poynter. He remained there for three years after which he went to study in Munich and then in Paris under Jean Paul Laurens. His father also introduced him to Lawrence Alma-Tadema and John Everett Millais, from whom he received guidance and encouragement." They also note that, "Collier's methodical and faithful rendering of his subjects has led to comparisons with the work of Frank Holl, but some of his more imposing portraits are clearly reminiscent of Millais's statesmen." There are also circumstantial points I might make to do with connections via the House of Commons...but they're not that strong, and I must leave this for now.
In any case, the answer to whether or not it's Collier may lie with the manuscript 'Register of Paintings of the Hon. John Collier' (1100 of them, including 800+ portraits), a copy of which is held by the NPG / Heinz Archive & Library. The ODNB calls it his sitter book, and says it covers the years 1874-1934. I may be able to get there next week.
PS Although I can't see anything bottom left, like César I think I can see what could be initials or a cut off signature in the bottom right corner. See attached tweaked detail. Marion, as a first step, could we please see the highest-res you have easily available of that area?
Sorry, meant to give this link to the Collier Register of Paintings in the Heinz/NPG library catalogue: https://bit.ly/3hS1nTc
Wil try and get higher resolution fromy Gaer.
I particularly like the crumpled waistcoat. Not a detail that comes from any photograph of the sitter that I have seen. Also note the wheat/barley on the table which is perhaps a tribute to Sir Charles as a keen agriculturist. His father's statue in Newport by John Evan Thomas has reliefs of Ceres on the chair (perhaps by William Meredyth Thomas the artists younger brother)
Thank you, William. Our image is too poor to be any use. It seems to me less clear than you get by right-clicking on Art UK's image to open it in a new tab.
Perhaps the collection could check the corners again with a torch, although I believe it was inspected in June 2021.
According to the ‘Hereford Times’ of Saturday, October 20, 1877, the artist was “Mr. William Gale”.
How very interesting, Marcie. Gale, a pre-Raphaelite, painted some portraits, but he was and remains better known for other types of pictures. See https://victorianweb.org/painting/gale/index.html
I thought this was too delicate or soft for Collier.
Thanks, Marion - yet another example of the Amazing Disappearing Inscription. I was quietly confident this time...you'd think I'd have learned by now.
Well, well, well...Marcie, you've done it again! And a name we'd never have guessed: a prolific artist, but of his 170+ exhibits at the RA, BI & Suffolk St, just two are certain portraits in our sense - 'Portrait of a Lady' (SBA 1851) & 'Mrs Henry Peck' (RA 1853). He did, though, show many studies of heads, and numerous paintings of individuals from his travels south and east, along with ones titled with just a single female name (e.g. Maggie, Kathleen, Daphne, Zara) that could possibly be real women.
I think I read every 'Tredegar' article on the BNA in the last 24 hours.
Here's some information about William Gale. A very helpful family tree on Ancestry is the 'Challenor/Steel' family tree.
At the time of this commission, Mr. Gale was likely residing at 19 Belsize Crescent, London. That was his address in articles from November 1877 about the murder of his eldest son William Joseph Gale in Haifa in September 1877.
It is a lovely portrait, and does not look or feel like "after" a photograph, or I would not have suspected that. I think it is a good addition to his known oeuvre.
Well done Marcie for this discovery and to everyone for their contributions. The picture now hangs alongside Collier's painting of Lord Glanusk in the refurbished Court Room at y Gaer in Brecon close to the Jury Room in which it originally hung. Hope you will come and see them. I attach a rather more readable transcription of the article in the Hereford Times.
When our new curator arrives in the next couple of months I am sure she will be dekighted withthis latest update to the records .
Thanks to Marcie's great research we have the conclusive proof we need to attribute the work to William Gale. With the definitive date, artist, and sitter your new Curator should hopefully be able to dig up some more information. The Art Journal reveals Gale exhibited at the Winter Exhibition at the Dudley Gallery and Mr. C. Deschamps's Gallery, Bond Street in 1877, but gives no further details about the works on view. Thank you to everyone for all your contributions. Feels good to close the discussion with such a positive outcome.
The curator at Tredegar House responded very helpfully to my enquiry about a possible engraving of the portrait of Lord Tredegar held in their collection as suggestred by Poole in his History and has sent an image which I attach. It is clearly based on the portrait . From a detail of the signature it is by G B Black who has many engravings of portrits in th BM . Strangely it has no details about the original and surprisingly it is dated 1804. Sir Joseph Bailey in the newspaper articles of 1877 about the presentation states that the decision to commission the portrait was made after Lord Tredegar's death (1875). It is possible that the commission was actualy made in 1874 but that Lord Tredegar was too incapacitated to sit for a portrit and so the photograph was used.
Gale's exhibition record presents a couple of puzzles worth asking about before this closes.
He is only noted as visiting Italy in 1851, then Palestine and Syria twice in 1862 and 1867.
His last RA Italian subject in 1861 was however 'Naples, 1859' which
suggests a possible later Italian visit and he also showed several Algiers subjects at the in 1876-80. If his Holy Land trips were by sea it is at least possible it was via Algiers, but 'Poland, 1863' (RA,1864) seems way off any route recorded for him.
An exact 1851 marriage date would also be useful.
Oops '... several Algiers subjects at the RA in 1876-80...'
The print appears to be a lithograph and may have been based on a photograph as opposed to our portrait.
Here is the article about the commission (‘Brecon County Times’ of Saturday, November 18, 1876).
Here is background information about William Gale’s marriages. His Census information will follow.
Finally, here is the Census information. Note that in 1881 he was visiting the sculptor Thomas Brock. My apologies for all the blurry items.
Pieter, do you have access to the long article in the ‘Western Daily Press’ of Monday, February 9, 1914, about the Bristol Art Gallery’s loan exhibition on William Gale’s works? For example, it mentions that he "made two expeditions to Algiers". I have attached a shorter article about the loan exhibition that was in the ‘Clifton Society’ of Thursday, February 12, 1914.
Thanks Marcie: some puzzles there. The census addresses don't tie up well with his exhibiting addresses;
1851 (census) 16 Harcourt St, Marylebone [his father's home]: (RA exh. address) 5 Bulstrode St.
1861 (census) MInerva Villa, Ealing: (RA exh. address) Langham Chambers
1871 (census) 7 Prince Consort Rd, Hampstead/ Belsize Park . That one matches his RA exh. address at the time
1891 (census) 'visitor' at 29 Exbury[?] Rd /'The Hawthorns' on Catford Hill, where Helen Trumper was head of household with her sister Rebecca, both single and of 'independent means' and where he had clearly been at least associated since 1889, His RA exh: address, was 'The Hawthorns' from 1889 until it changed to his last one, 7 New Court, Lincoln's Inn, in 1891.
In 1901 he was also still a 'visitor' with the Trumpers, but at 3 Netherton Road, Twickenham, so it looks like a very long association.
The 1891 census was on 5 April and given that his wife died at 2 Brunswick Villa, Weymouth on the 27th of that month with a prior address of Leckhampton Villa, Avenue Road, Weymouth, one is left with the possibilities that
(a) she had long been there, perhaps for her health, and perhaps with him save when a 'visitor' in London for professional purposes, or (b) whatever her state of health they had also been separated in marital terms for some time, perhaps in the wake of the murder of their son in 1877. Gale was not one of her executors, though the fact that a solicitor called Gregory Haines was suggests a family connection in the firm with the William Haines who was one of the witnesses at their marriage.
Barring coincidence, his second wife must have been a cousin of some sort, perhaps though his paternal grandfather.
I don't have access here to the 'Western Daily Press' item of 9.2.1914: the wording of the 'Clifton Times' one suggests (as I have) that the call(s) at Algiers might have been going to or coming from the Levant. The Mediterranean by then had many steamer 'bus-routes', not least serving the longer distance traffic east and west via the Suez Canal (from 1869). Unless there are clear references to specific visits to Algiers and when, its probably safer to assume it was 'en route'.
Here is the article from the ‘Western Daily Press’ of Monday, February 9, 1914.
An article in the ‘Marylebone Mercury’ of Saturday, May 14, 1859, mentions the artist [Thomas Frank] Heaphy of 5 Bulstrode Street.
Langham Chambers is the longtime home of a sketching club.
Yes, William Gale and his first wife Mary were likely separated for many years. Here are her Census entries for 1881 and 1891.
Thanks again Marcie: I suspect there are a few 'artists' houses', studios etc in his considerable list, with the final Lincoln's Inn address likely to be his solicitor's office. The apparent marriage breakdown may have been linked to the murder of their elder son in Haifa in November 1877: you mentioned articles on that so perhaps you could fill in some detail, or post whichever best does so and perhaps says why he was there.
I have attached an article about the tragic loss of William's eldest son William Joseph Gale.
An article about an art exhibition is also attached – hopefully it will show that William was able to move forward with his life and create beautiful artworks, including "between thirty and forty paintings of Orchids".
Here is an image of one of his works from 1853, 'The Wounded Knight', that sold at auction for £30,000 in 1995. According to the article, the art dealer David Mason considered it "William Gale's finest work".
I’m not worried by the apparently anomalous 1874 date on George B Black's lithograph. Either, as Jacinto suggests, the lithograph was based on the same photograph that Gale used for his portrait; or - and I think it's at least as likely - the "small photograph" Gale was using was in fact a photo of the print. This is not as strange as it seems: the BM notes that Black “worked on portraits from life”, and C19th lithographic portraits of this type were often made ad vivum for a very limited distribution, sometimes just family, and not published in the public sense – indeed some are known to have been unique impressions. With at best only a handful of them in existence, it’s understandable they might not have wanted to risk sending an (or the only) original to the portrait painter...or perhaps the committee dealing with the commissioning could not get access to it.
Either way I’m quite sure the lithograph is *not* after our portrait: (a) because the press reports make clear that the subscription for a memorial only commenced after Tredegar’s 1875 death, and an oil portrait was only decided upon at the Nov 1876 meeting; and (b) because I think it’s unlikely a lithograph copying a portrait painted just a short while earlier would show such substantial changes to the composition – note particularly the completely different chair (and resulting fall of the coat-tails), the bow tie, and the much-altered thigh length. See attached comparison. I *can* imagine, on the other hand, that a significant artist asked to paint a posthumous portrait using a recent image of his subject as a guide might well have wanted (and perhaps was even encouraged) to play around with it a bit to create a better painting.
To be frank, though, the head/face almost looks like a different man, presumably because the image Gale was working from was too small to gauge the physiognomy accurately. A lithographer copying the painting would surely not have been so inaccurate?
Thank you for all the contributions, before and after Ruth's recommendation to close this. It's taken off again very fruitfully, so I'll wait awhile.
In answer to Pieter's wider question about Gale's travels, the Art Journal of 1874 contains a feature article that refers to the pots he collected in Jerusalem and Nazareth. While, the AJ of 1876 refers to the proceedings of the Graphic Society, of which he was the 'able Secretary', being covered by another artist as he was at that time in Algiers. Please see attached.
The image from Tredegar House was a little distorted , obliquely taken on a phone, not straight on so this may explain some of the differences to shape of head.
So can we conclude that an original lithograph was made in 1874 by George Black using the photograph for some details (crumpled waistcoat)? Was this possibly a commission from Newport which had erected a bronze statue of Lord Tredegar's father by John Evan Thomas (note the rivaly between Brecon and Newport hinted at in the article Nov 1876 that Marcie has discovered). The pose is very similar to other works by Black with hand on a book on a table
In 1877 William Gale is commissioned by Sir Joseph Bailey and others to create a portrait of Lord Tredegar for Brecon. He uses both photograph and lithograph to help him. Takes pose from litho and adds in certain details , as Osmund suggests, such as chair, tail coat and knees but also spray of barley on the table perhaps picking up on stalk held by Tredegar in photograph and maybe at Bailey's suggestion to emphasise Tredegar's interest in improving agriculture. Cost of commission about £150 (about £20,000 today)
Then in 1888 Poole uses Black's litho as basis for illustration in his History
Attached is a more solid account of Gale than the Wiki one currently linked under Art UK 'profile', with thanks for the contributions above on which it is based. Corrections and further comments/additions welcome of course.
Pieter, thank you for the biography, which is now on Art UK. Please email further comments or additions to firstname.lastname@example.org