Completed East of England and The Midlands: Artists and Subjects, Portraits: British 20th C 40 Who painted this portrait and is this a different Arthur Carlton?

Topic: Subject or sitter

The sitter's grave is in Smallcombe Garden cemetery in Bath. His family can be traced from this and maybe they know who the artist was.

Roger Pritchard, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

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Whilst the record previously recorded a death date of 1931, which led to linking this record to the theatre manager Sir Arthur Carlton (1865-1931), the painting clearly shows a sitter in mayoral robes, as one might expect for the Collection. The list of mayors of Worcester shows that an Arthur Carlton was mayor between 1916 and 1919 and 1922 to 1923, so this appears on first sight a different Arthur Carlton. The painting is signed and dated [?1918) in the bottom right hand corner, see attached image.

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Bill Ellson,

Different Arthur Carlton?
The theatre manager Sir Arthur Carlton was Alderman Sir Arthur Carlton CBE.
One and the same person, but an easy mistake to make.
The Era 27 May 1931 clears up the confusion.

Bill Ellson,

Sir Arthur presented a portrait in oils of himself to the City on 11 April 1921.
Unfortunately the report in the Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette 16 April 1921 (attached) makes no mention of the artist.
~ ~ ~
In 1917 Sir Arthur presented his predecessor Alderman H.A. Leicester with a portrait. (Birmingham Daily Post, 4 July 1917, attached)
Alderman Leicester promptly handed it back to the City. (Mrs Leicester was presented with a copy, so the original being handed back sounds pre-arranged).
Is the portrait of Ald. Leicester still in the Worcester Guildhall collection?
Is it, given the portraits are 1917 / 1918, possibly the same artist?

S. Elin Jones,

Attached is a photograph (although not the best quality) of Arthur Carlton in his robes of Office.

i) The New Mayor of Worcester - Rugby Advertiser, 20 October, 1922

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S. Elin Jones,

Could it be that this portrait was painted by Leon John Sprink?
Does the signature say Leon Sprink?

The following is from some research I did last year…..
Leon John Sprinck was born in Rue St. Honour, Paris in abt 1865 (according to the naturalisation papers). It appears that his personal information can is sometimes be mixed up with the details of his father.
Leon Sprinck was the Son of John Louis and Wilhelmina Sprinck. John Louis was a Russian born, St. Petersberg trained Painter, who was also allegedley the Professor of Painting to the Imperial Court in St Petersberg.
Leon Sprinck was also a citizen of Norway before being naturalised as a British Citizen in 1898, as were his parents.*naturalisation papers attached*
He married His wife Emilie in 1898 and lived in Hampstead Heath, London.

Leon Sprinck was more well known for his oil portraits but also exhibited work pastels (his father had written pamphlets/books on using the media.

Jacinto Regalado,

Sprinck seems quite likely. The date, of course, is not "mid-20th C" as currently given.

S. Elin Jones,

Funnily enough, I have research for the Alderman Leicester portrait, as the information that was included in the above post was a part of the submission sent in in Sept 2019 as supporting evidence, for a proposal that the portrait of Alderman Leicester by an ‘Unknown Artist’ had been painted by Leon Spinck.

Leon Sprinck's signature is distinctive, An example from 1909 is here:
(with an acute accent over the 'e' in Leon).

An example from 1915 can be seen here:
(possibly with an acute accent).

In the detail image of the signature posted by David at the head of this discussion I discern a characteristic 'Sprinck', although not obviously the 'Leon'.

I think there is scope for re-examining Sprinck's birth date given as c.1862 on ArtUK and elsewhere. This presumably derives from Sprinck’s death record in the fourth quarter of 1948, in the Croydon registration district, where his age is stated as 86. Self-evidently, the number was not provided direct by Sprinck. However, the age of 33 as given in his naturalisation papers of 31 January/5 February 1898 is undersigned by Sprinck himself and the age of 44 on the census return of 1911 is written in his own hand and undersigned by him. To be 33 in January/February 1898 means he would have been born in 1864 or 1865, while to be 44 in (presumably June) 1911 means he would bave been born in 1866 or 1867. Although the naturalisation and census ages are unfortunately not consistent, I suggest it is more likely that Leon Sprinck was born between 1864 and 1867, than in c.1862.

In the census return of 1911 Sprinck signs himself with an acute accent over his first name. it is possible that he dropped the acute accent as the years passed.

S. Elin Jones,

I submitted much of the biographical information mentioned above for the Alderman Leicester painting. Should I post it again for this discussion?
I’ll have a check of the dates in my files.

Marcie Doran,

I have attached the record for Léon John Sprinck in the “England, United Grand Lodge of England Freemason Membership Registers, 1751-1921” (on Ancestry). Initiation June 11, 1906. Age 39. Born in about 1867.

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Thanks, Marcie. If Sprinck was 39 by June 1906 he would have been born in the second half of 1866 or the first half of 1867. I note the accented 'e' in his first name as recorded then.

And thanks, Elin: it would be interesting to see here your findings on Leon Sprinck. Despite his professional success, he features only slightly in the usual reference books -- largely, I think, because he rarely showed at the big public exhibitions.

Marcie Doran,

To assist those who do not have access to Ancestry, I have attached the 1898 naturalization record (Leon John Sprinck) mentioned by Elin (2 files) and the 1911 Census of England return mentioned by Richard (Léon Sprinck).

Thanks, Marcie; and to Oliver for that fascinating record of the interview with Sprinck published on 19 November 1927. The most likely year of the artist's birth now seems to be 1866.

The article refers to Sprinck's first showing at the RA in 1893. That was a single exhibit - no.527, 'Louis Ries, Esq.', submitted from 4 Langham Chambers, Portland Place, London W. Not only was this Sprinck's only exhibit ever at the RA, but it would appear to be the only work he showed in a public exhibition in London. However, between that year and 1903 he did exhibit two items at the Walker Art Gallery (presumably in one or two of the Liverpool Autumn Exhibitions) and one work at the Royal Hibernian Academy [information from the Johnson/Greutzner dictionary].

‘A Guide to Pastel Painting’ by J. L. Sprinck (the artist's father), mentioned in the article, was published by George Rowney & Co. (supplier of artists' materials) in 1889, with many subsequent editions. By the time of the sixth edition, 1910, a chapter by Leon Sprinck, 'How to Paint a Head in Pastel’, had been added [information from Abebooks].

Joy Lister separately emailed Art Detective with this biographical information on Carlton: 'Arthur Calton came to Worcester in 1903 as a lessee of the Theatre Royal. He had interests in several Theatres throughout the Country and was a pioneer in early cinema. A keen supporter of amateur dramatics. He also favoured the use of Theatre in fundraising activities, notably for the Worcester infirmary. He became Mayor of Worcester in 1916 and served three consecutive years in office, devoting much of his energies into supporting the war effort, for which work he received the CBE in 1920. He was appointed Mayor again in 1922 for a fourth term. He spent a great deal of his time promoting Anglo-American friendship, largely through sporting activities with Worcester Massachusetts. Arthur Carton was knighted in 1924 and died in 1931.'

Further useful details would be
- the maiden surname of his mother, possibly Orfa if the same as her reported stage name ('Madame Orfa' -also not imediately apparant as such on the web)
- date of his parents' British naturalization
- maiden name of his wife, plus her dates, and date of marriage
- places of residence (28 Willow Road after marriage and 19 Friern Park Road, N. Finchley in 1911 -with two children, so was that all?- but if his studio was in Chelsea in 1927 that suggests a move south unless he commuted
- did he in fact go and work in the US as then suggested he might
- anything more in the 1930s and 40s, inc his exact date and place of death in 1948.

Marcie Doran,

Three articles with information are attached: the death of John Louis Sprinck on July 23, 1896, the marriage of Léon Sprinck to Emily Margaret Macdonald on August 22, 1898, and the death of Emily Sprinck (née Macdonald) on Saturday, January 29, 1949. If Emily Sprinck passed away “six weeks after her husband”, he must have passed away in December 1848. The name of her father is incorrect in her obituary.

Marcie Doran,

Emily Margaret Sprinck was born on March 13, 1866, according to her record in the 1939 England and Wales Register, attached. Her parents were Francis Bienfait Macdonald and his wife Georgina Macdonald (née Canty) (see attached marriage record).

Please see the attached records for the three Sprinck children:
1. Donald Bienfait Sprinck was born on March 29, 1900, and passed away in 1985.
2. Margaret Wilhelmina Sprinck was born on October 9, 1902, and passed away in 1990.
3. Hugh Léon Sprinck was born on September 16, 1904, and passed away in 1975.

As shown on this record on the website of the National Archives of Ireland, in 1901 Léon Sprinck was a visitor in Ireland.

Marcie Doran,

The attached probate record for Emily Margaret Sprinck shows that she passed away on February 1, 1949 (not the date from the news article).

The attached 1881 England Census record for John Sprinck and Marie Sprinck (Marie Sprinck-Orfa” in Hampstead indicates that he was born in Livonia, and she was born in Denmark.

A notice in the ‘Hampstead & Highgate Express’ of October 23, 1886, attached, informs the public that “Mdme. Sprinck and M. Léon Sprinck ... conduct Drawing and Painting Classes for children and beginners every Wednesday and Saturday afternoon from three o’clock to five p.m.”

A notice in the ‘Hampstead & Highgate Express’ of February 12, 1887, informs the public that “Prof. Sprinck continues to hold his Drawing and Painting Classes for Ladies on Wednesdays and Saturdays”.

The first notices that I could find for Marie Sprinck were in 1875 when she was known as “Mdlle. Orfa, the Russian contralto”. I have attached an extract from an article in the ‘Chelmsford Chronicle’ of April 22, 1887.

Marcie Doran,

Those drafts look very good, Pieter. An interesting family, for sure.

Leon Sprinck’s wife Emily wasn’t the daughter of Sir William Russell Macdonald (unless a family secret was revealed in her obituary). As shown in her marriage record (16/11/2021 17:37), her father was Francis Bienfait Macdonald of 45 Netherhall Gardens, Hampstead. This is confirmed in the 1901 England Census, which shows that Emily and baby Donald were staying with her parents, her sister Georgina (who later married Frank Ernest Griffiths-Letts), her widowed aunt Emma Macdonald, and five servants in Hampstead while Leon was in Ireland. I have attached that record as well as the probate records for her parents.

I would use the date February 1, 1949, for the passing of Emily Sprinck (née Macdonald) since it was on her probate record (17/11/2021 13:15) rather than the date from the newspaper article.

Thank you: so much for believing what's written in the papers - the 'Norwood News' obituary of Emilie/Emily is clearly as mistaken about her father as her husband's (non-existent) professorial positions in Russia and Oldenburg. As probably apparent, I don't have home access to Ancestry etc or BNLA, so can't immediately check things that need that.

Marcie Doran,

Those are just about perfect, Pieter. Thanks again.

I would probably have copied your sentence in the John Louis write-up about Leon and his mother giving art classes to children and beginners into the write-up for Leon. And, the death of Emily Sprinck was on February 1 not January 1.

The top ad in that extract from the ‘Hampstead & Highgate Express’ of February 12, 1887, shows that a business in Hampstead was offering language lessons and translating many languages including Danish! The languages listed were French, Italian, German, Danish and Swedish. Was this the Sprinck family?!

Good point: fits OK at end of penultimate paragraph.

'...In the late 1920s, when his studio was in Chelsea, he developed a strong visiting American clientele and was reported as considering going there, though whether he did so is not yet known. Sprinck sometimes signed both documents and pictures with his first name accented as Léon.

Sprinck died in mid-December 1948....'

Victoria Holton ,

The signature is most likely (Imho) Frank C King, active 1902 - 1955.
He has form for portraying mayors of this period. I can also illustrate this theory with images of his signature and paint handling on, amongst other areas - the spectacles - but this website is still not allowing me to upload jpegs.
(Any suggestions on this issue greatly appreciated)

Victoria, apologies. I am just back after a week's holiday - I will email you now and hopefully we can resolve the issue here. Regards, David

There are several portraits by Frank C. King on Art UK. On one of them, linked below, his signature is clearly visible:

Although Frank C King painted portraits of mayors during the early 20th century and later, I think the signature on the portrait under discussion is that of Leon Sprinck. My reading of the artist's signature on 'our' painting is that the surname begins with an S and ends with a K.

I suggest there is no good reason for not accepting that this portrait is by Leon John Sprinck (1866-1948), for whom Pieter has produced an excellent collation of the biographical information provided in the discussion (covering also the artist's father).

Stylistically the portrait matches accredited works by Leon Sprinck, including those on ArtUK and others which have appeared on the art market. I have also had the opportunity of examining recently a signed Sprinck portrait of c.1917 in a private collection. Sprinck was not shy of painting portrait heads fully frontally, as here. And, like Grant, I interpret the assumed second part of the signature as ‘Sprinck’, albeit that ‘Leon’ is not clearly visible.

The above factors are supported by the following circumstantial evidence. In July 1917 Alderman Arthur Carlton presented a portrait of his predecessor as Lord Mayor of Worcester, Alderman Hubert Aloysius Leicester, to the sitter, who immediately handed it to the city, and this would seem to be the painting now belonging to Worcester City Museums and featuring on ArtUK as by Leon Sprinck:

It is unlikely that Carlton would have chosen a different artist to paint his own portrait – to be presented by him to the city on 11 April 1921 – unless he were dissatisfied with Sprinck's portrait of Leicester, which it would be reasonable to assume he was not.

Richard, many thanks (and similarly Grant), and apologies for my tardiness in not picking this up earlier. I have now passed your comment on 11 May as the Group Leader recommendation for this discussion to the Curator at Worcester and await their reply. Regards, David

S. Elin Jones,

Another portrait was recently accepted as the work of the artist Leon John Sprinck. It is a portrait of ‘Lieutenant-Colonel Sir William Abraham Edward Wayland (1869-1950), Mayor of Deptford’ and was not included in Mr Sprinck’s portfolio of work on ArtUK when the portrait of Arthur Carlton was being discussed on the forum, as it was still listed as an unknown artist.

I think that comparing the two may be of use, as I feel that that there are a number of similarities to the portrait of Arthur Carlton. Elements such as light conditions, combination of brushstrokes and colour, paint with a glassy luminescence, position in the studio, (incl. lines of the wood panelling) as well as the lines and shadows around the lips and nose.