Photo credit: Dumfries and Galloway Council (Annan Museum)
An extract from the will of Helen McKenzie states:
'My dear Father’s two naval swords to be sent to the Provost of Annan – for the Public Library – in memory of Admiral John Erskine Douglas and Catherine Anne Griffith his wife … Also their portraits … painted in 1830–1831 by a first class Italian female artist at Rome. I cannot remember her name, but her portrait is at Florence among those of contemporary Artists.'
Could anyone suggest who might have painted this elegant and accomplished portrait?
This discussion is now closed. Although the artist remains unknown, much new information about the family has been found, while the missing pair to this portrait, that of Admiral John Erskine Douglas (1757–1847), also dated 1830/1831, has been identified in the same collection. The title has been updated to ‘Catherine Ann Douglas (1795–1878), née Griffith, formerly Mrs White’.
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.
Historically Matilde Malenchini (1779-1858) would fit as being an accomplished portrait painter, female and in the right places at almost the right times - but stylistically?
A Touring exhibition of self portraits by female painters in the Uffizi collection was held in 2010 . The catalogue by Giovanna Giusti Galardi ' Autoritratte: artiste 'di capriccioso e destrissimo ingegno'
There is also a 2007 publication ' Artists' Self Portraits in the Uffizi', Skira, Milsn
both publications are in the British Library
The 2007 publication was for an exhibition at Dulwich College Picture Gallery
The fullest recent account of Malenchini is by Marijke Schillings in Nationaal Biografisch Woordenboek, 21 , Brussels , 2014 cols 697-709
This is on open access in Humanities 1 in the British Library
In 1830-31 Malenchini was apparently in Florence, not Rome, but I cannot be certain of that. The style of this picture, however, would seem similar to that of this earlier portrait by her:
Ada Malenchini was an artist who exhibited landscapes in Florence and Genoa in 1906 and 1907. I imagine she may have been the grand-daughter of Matilde.
Società di Belle Arti, Florence, 1906, nos. 29, 237
Società di Belle Arti, Florence, 1907. n.163
Società Promotrice, Genoa, 1906, nos. 26,27
Società Promotrice, Genoa, 1907, nos. 170,223
Personally this reminds me very much of the best portraiture of Francesco Hayez.
I feel there are a number of useful threads here which need knitting together.
The quality is certainly very good, reminiscent of Vigée Le Brun by way of Ingres, albeit not quite as relaxed. Where is the companion portrait of her husband by the same artist? Has this Annan Museum portrait been thoroughly examined for a signature?
Yes, this is a lovely portrait. The dating of c. 1830 appears to be spot on as far as the clothing goes; indeed Catherine Douglas would seem to be a very fashionable woman.
As good progress is being made so far in the discussion, it would be well worth having a look at the back, if the collection can oblige.
In addition, we do need to establish if Mathilde Malenchini is represented at the Uffizi.
Malenchini's portrait may be in the Uffizi, but so could portraits of other Italian female painters of the same period, meaning her presence in that collection would not establish authorship. However, it would still be of interest as possible supporting evidence.
Yes, I think the way to approach it is to find all the female painters in the Uffizi's collection of artists' self-portraits who were Italian and who were active from about 1810 to 1850. This should give a workable list of possible artists of this portrait.
A search at the Uffizi website for Malenchini yielded no results.
As it happens, Barbara, that is just what I did yesterday - I used the search facility here http://fotoinventari.uffizi.it/it/ricerca-opere. The results were not very helpful.
There is but one work by Matilde Malenchini listed - a church interior of unknown date - and a search for self-portraits of vaguely the right period and style by women artists, Italian or not, was equally unproductive. As far as I could tell, the search engine doesn't allows either artist gender or even the period of the painting to be specified (or even ordered in the result). A search for 'dipinto' [Oggetto] and 'autoritratto' [Soggetto] produced 1,340 results in an infuriatingly random(ish) order, and they all had to be scanned visually. There were I think 60 or 70 women artists, but most were late C20th works, many resulting (I fear) from a desperate catch-up attempt by the curators in recent years.
Since there are said to be "about 1,700" self-portraits in the collection, it is clear that several hundred are not in the online catalogue at all. And while 65 out of 1,700 represents less than 4%, an informative article on the 2010 exhibition says that in fact 7% of the collection are by women - that would be around 119 in total, meaning that perhaps 50 or more female self-portraits are missing from this catalogue. See https://bit.ly/2Tdzkwa.
Does anyone know if there are any other (unillustrated, perhaps) Uffizi catalogues available online?
More to follow on some nearly/just-possibles from the search, but I need to eat some supper first.
One (probably slim) possibility may be Elisa Counis, whose portrait is definitely in the Uffizi and featured in the exhibition referenced above by Martin.
Counis (born 1812) was based in Florence, not Rome, and would have been rather too young in 1830-1831 to have painted this portrait.
Elisa Counis was certainly the only one I found (in the Uffizi self-portrait search) who was remotely feasible stylistically (though still wrong); but like Jacinto, I could find no suggestion anywhere that she ever worked in Rome. I also agree that this seems too accomplished a work to have been painted by an 18 or 19 year-old.
Ida Botti Scifoni (1812-1844) was at least working in Rome until around 1833, but her age would still be a problem even if we'd never seen her work. As it is, her recently-restored self-portrait of 1839 is pleasant enough, but shows no sign of the skill and sophistication we see in our portrait of 8 or 9 years earlier: https://bit.ly/2DwRlQy
The English-born Luisa Grace Bartolini (1818 – 1865) was clearly far too young, didn't live in Rome and was artistically even less skilled and sophisticated: https://bit.ly/2UfDunj
And that's it, I'm afraid.
The style and skill shown in the 1813 portrait by Matilde Malanchini found by Jacinto (https://bit.ly/2FYhQ30) suggests she might have been capable of our portrait 15 or 20 years later. This 1813 work seems likely to be the portrait of Madame Le Bon described here https://bit.ly/2FHEhdp. But three other works of the early to late 1810s - one a self-portrait while painting her lover the writer and revolutionary Louis de Potter - are less convincing: https://bit.ly/2HwC8mR, https://bit.ly/2Ht332z and https://bit.ly/2FQcpnA.
There is also the problem of her residence. Because of his political activities she and de Potter had to leave Rome (for Florence) in 1820 or 21; he went back to his native Low Countries in 1823, and she followed the following year. After their relationship ended in 1826 she did ultimately return to Italy, but to Florence, not Rome (where she was still persona non grata). It is recorded that for financial reasons she took up painting portraits again towards the end of the decade, but the few visits she made to Rome were sporadic and brief. Nevertheless, as Racinto implies, it is not impossible that she may have painted the Douglases on one of them. Or of course 80 years after the event their daughter's memory of exactly where the portraits were done may have been mistaken, especially if her parents visited both cities, as is very likely.
Marion, might we be able to see high-res images of the bottom left and bottom right? There are marks there that could be inscriptions, especially on the left - generally these turn out to be nothing, but it's worth a shot.
A 1923 publication ‘Gli autoritratti femminili delle RR. Gallerie degli Uffizi in Firenze’ is available via https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/010251017 but only with limited access. None of the libraries in my region has it, maybe one of you has access?
Osmund, close-up images of the corners are too blurry to be any help. Those areas are clearer on the original image I added above. I have asked the collection to check for a signature and to send us pictures of the back.
Thanks, Marion, and sorry - I'd missed the higher-res you'd already posted for us, and on that one I can no longer see anything that might be a signature or inscription.
Andrea, that's a good find. There seems to be a copy in the National Art Library, which is quite near me in London. However I don't think I can get there until after the deadline for filing my tax return on the 31st!
Yes, some library work needed on several fronts. The publication of 1923 looks promising. The catalogue by Giovanna Giusti Galardi cited by Martin early on is out to a reader at the BL. Maybe an Art Detective.
The painting is at Annan Museum which is closed for the winter season, but the next time a member of staff is there they will take photos for us, which should be within the next month.
This portrait is too accomplished not to be by a "name" artist, at least at the time. Even Malenchini, who's the best candidate so far, seems too marginal. Of course, as Osmund notes, it's not out of the question that Helen McKenzie's recollections or information could be faulty. Perhaps we should be looking at prominent portrait painters in Rome ca. 1830, whether male or female.
We should be wary of the information from the donor as Admiral Douglas was married in 1818 to a Mrs White, unless he married twice. A second marriage is not mentioned in A Naval Biographical Dictionary of 1849 by William Richard O'Byrne . John Erskine Douglas [1758-1847] became Vice Admiral in 1825 [after he retired in 1817] and Full Admiral in 1838. Is the sitter his daughter ? Or was there more than one Admiral Douglas at this period? John Erskine Douglas came from a branch of the Marquess of Queensbury's family
We need to look at Burke's Peerage and other such sources
G Harvey Johnston ,The Heraldry of the Douglases, Edinburgh and London, 1907 should help too
Douglas was her second husband . She was Mrs White, wife to Major White. They married in 1818 before he became an admiral according to Johnston p. 27 . Her father was a John Griffith
Could the portrait be earlier and be a marriage portrait? Could the donor have got Francesco and Francesca muddled? Could it be by Hayez, who in the second decade of the century was in Rome and Naples? Hayez's memoirs were published in 1882 and among Fernando Mazzocca's many publications on him is a 1994 catalogue raisonne
It so happens that there is a large Hayez exhibition in Milan at the moment at the Galleria d'Italia
The portraits of Hayez tend to have sharp edges which are sometimes harsh, as opposed to the notable softness of the features in this picture (his portraits of men are probably better than those of women). Also, he was in Rome from 1809 to 1814, then went to Naples and from about 1820 was based in Milan.
No, the portrait cannot be significantly earlier. Barbara noted above that "the dating of c. 1830 appears to be spot on as far as the clothing goes", and she is absolutely right - the huge sleeves in particular are very specific to the period, and at the earliest very late 1820s.
While there is nothing to be lost by looking at possible men, I tend to feel that the sitter's daughter is more likely to have been mistaken about the artist's nationality (and perhaps the city where the portrait was taken) than she would have been about her sex. A good portrait by a female artist was a rarity in England in the 1830s, and would have been the subject of much interest and discussion - that, and its beauty (and beautiful clothes), would I suspect have made the information stick firmly in the mind and memory of 12 year-old girl.
Of course you are right about the clothing, Osmund
Douglas left £40,000. Only daughters and a sister survived him . His house was Swallows, near Watford
His will of 1847 in the Public Record Office might provide information on the pair of portraits PROB11/2060/349
Douglas' only surviving daughter seems to have died on 6 April 1853 at 24 Chester Square, Belgrave Squire - she was Helen Catherine Douglas who married Lt Col Coiin Mackenzie in 1843 as his second wife
The source for my statement above was incorrect . She was still alive when her husband died and 6 works by her are recorded in the British Library including a life of her husband [1806-81] who became a Lieutenant-General in the Indian army. There is a very fine portrait of him by James Sant of c.1842, full length in Afghan dress , He is in OBNB
She was Douglas's eldest daughter and is probably the Helen Mackenzie of the will at the start of this discussion.
Her name seems to have been spelt with an a - Mackenzie
She illustrated at least one of her books
There is some superficial incongruity in the union of the Admiral and Catherine. He was born in 1757, so was 61 on their marriage in January 1818, while Catherine or (Catharine-Anne as she is sometimes called) was 22 (she died aged 83 in 1878). There were two daughters: Helen Catherine born 1819 and Louisa born 1821. Helen married Colin Mackenzie in 1843 (he of the extraordinary portrait by Sant) and she had her parents' portraits. She wrote books on, among other topics, life in India.
Following on from comments about who the artist might be, I do think it would a very unusual statement to refer to a woman artist whose portrait was in the famous Uffizi gallery of artists' self portraits. I agree with Osmund: a mistake in the city where it was painted or the nationality of the artist is more likely. But let's agree that the reference to the trip to Rome is very specific, as occurring in 1830-31, so I think we are dealing with someone who had a pretty good memory.
I should have said Catherine was in her early 20s on marrying in January 1818.
The first thing to be done is for someone to go to the Public Record Office in Kew
I do agree that what we know about Helen Mackenzie supports the information which she supplied is very largely accurate
- but where is the companion portrait? Lugt should be checked for sales
Yes, the elder daughter Helen Catherine (born 2 Mar 1819) was the testatrix of our will.
Admiral Douglas's will, made exactly nine months before his death in July 1847, is short and simple, and as usual does not specify any particular chattels; indeed the stock phrase beginning "all my household goods..." continues "...and furniture books trinkets and articles of the like description" - pictures don't get mentioned at all! Not that I think that is of any significance. They were all left to his widow absolutely.
The widow and our sitter Catherine Ann (sic in the probate record) evidently moved (?back) to Edinburgh at some point after her husband's death. Her will, written in 1854, received confirmation (the equivalent of probate or administration in England) in May 1878. See attached.
In Scotland an inventory is still considered part of the court's legal documentation and is public (unlike England where it is seen only by HMRC). Having said that, individual items are (despite the name) often not recorded. But there is hope...especially as I find that my account at Scotland's People just happens to contain exactly the right number of credits, unused since April last year, to view both will and inventory!
I will take one for the team and report back - and then I *must* get back to my tax return.
Osmund, many thanks for this. Let's hope your credits are put to good use.
Sadly not, Barbara! No mention of any specific chattels in the inventory/valuation, apart from "silver plate &c. at Messrs Hoares Bankers, Fleet Street, London" (£85-13-6). The rest is just covered by "Household furniture, silver plate and other effects ... in the house at No. 5 St Margaret's Rd" (£537-10). The personal estate (i.e. excluding any real property) totalled a modest £3,180. Her Edinburgh house was and is a fairly substantial one (see attached image) overlooking the gatehouse of what was in her day St Margaret's Convent - I don't think it would have had too much difficulty housing a pair of portraits slightly over Kit-cat size (is that a standard continental one?), two naval swords and another portrait by George Richmond.
Nevertheless it is notable that in the will nothing is left to Helen, nor is she mentioned in any way - "all the rest and residue of my estate and effects whatsoever I give ... to my daughter Louisa Douglas for her own benefit ...". This was perhaps just a matter of presumed need - Helen was married and supported, Louisa not - and Helen and her husband were in India much of the time until the early 1870s. In 1854 Catharine herself was in fact receiving an income at least nominally from her son-in-law Colin Mackenzie, though it probably came from his wife's marriage settlement plus more inherited by her on her father's death.
I might as well attach the will & inventory, and while I'm at it Admiral Douglas's short will, in case I'm missing anything.
Although it is the subject of a different discussion that I initiated and that is now closed ( https://bit.ly/2CP5Cqp ), could the portrait at Annan Museum of who is supposed to be Admiral Sir Pulteney Malcolm actually be the missing one of Admiral John Erskine Douglas? It seems strange that in the will of Helen MacKenzie it states that the two portraits of her parents were to have been bequeathed to the Provost of Annan for the Public Library and that only this discussion's portrait has now ended up in the Annan Museum, especially as there is only one other portrait of a naval officer in that collection. Perhaps Annan Museum could clarify how the Malcolm portrait (Accession number ANNMS:91) came into its possession, which is not mentioned on the ArtUK entry for the work.
The attached composite shows two known portraits of Sir Pulteney Malcolm (the miniature on the left and the Samuel Lane on the right), flanking the Annan Museum portrait. While the first two mentioned bear a great similarity, which the square face and heavy jawline, the Annan portrait seems to show a man of more refined features. It would be good if someone knew the whereabouts of the George Richmond watercolour of Douglas, as mentioned in the will, which could be used for comparison.
Also attached is a composite of the two Annan portraits, of Catherine Anne Griffith (Accession number ANNMS:41) and the supposed Pulteney Malcolm. Could they be by the same artist?
I hate to have to undo the already closed discussion on the portrait of Sir Pulteney Malcolm, but as we are in pursuit of the truth in these matters, any change of opinion has to be respected.
In regards to Admiral John Erskine Douglas's naval career and achievements, perhaps Pieter could take another look at the portrait in the centre of the composite and give some further consideration to the medals shown therein, especially as compared to those as worn by Malcolm in the Samuel Lane work on the right. Could they have been awarded to Douglas?
The closed Malcolm discussion is here: https://bit.ly/2B8pC7a
In 1830, Douglas would have been about 72, and the Malcolm portrait shows a younger man. Also, it is not on the same level as the portrait of Catherine Anne Griffith.
The missing portrait of Admiral Douglas is a puzzle, since it should have been given to Annan Public Library, along with his swords and (I think) the Richmond watercolour portrait. Perhaps the Collection could tell us if they have any record of it - and indeed if they have the other items.
I would add the caveat that it is not unknown for people to try and bequeath things that are not theirs to dispose of - my own gt-grandmother made various rather wild bequests of things from her late husband's family that were only hers for life, having been bequeathed in his will to specified descendants thereafter. I suppose the admiral's portrait might already have been promised to a nephew or cousin of his.
Even if it's since left the family I'm not sure Lugt would be much help, as I don't think you can search for individual lots within the catalogue database, can you...or has that changed? But it would certainly be worth looking in the sitters' boxes (and the unillustrated card index) at the NPG Heinz Archive. I can probably do that at the end of the week or next.
Kieran, I have actually tracked down exactly when and by whom the portrait of Sir Pulteney Malcolm was donated - it is certainly him, not Douglas, and Pieter listed the medals in detail in the previous thread (the apparently different star in the Lane portrait is merely the higher-grade GCB vs his earlier KCB). The gift was in 1907, and was actually not to Annan but to Langholm Town Hall, where in fact it still is, alongside those of his three brothers given earlier by the same donor (Sir Pulteney's son).
I was writing it all up when the thread closed, but Marion has full details and will be including the new information as part of a story on the discussion. You will be pleased to hear that the artist is also mentioned, and though slightly mis-remembered by the 90 year-old donor as 'Stewart', we agree it confirms beyond reasonable doubt the attribution to Stewardson as per your original suggestion. But I mustn't say any more here, it is wholly off-topic.
Many thanks for the above responses. 'Twas just a thought.
The Hampshire Chronicle, of Monday 13th April 1818 reported: "Married, at the Parish of St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, Rear-Admiral Douglas, Commander-in-Chief of that station, to Mrs. White, eldest daughter of J. Griffiths, Esq., of Jamaica."
Well done - I wondered if it was in the W. Indies, as the only UK census appearance I can find for Catharine Ann (1871, living in Edinburgh with her daughter Louisa) gives Jamaica as her birthplace; and of course Douglas was known to have been C-in-C on the Jamaica Station at much the right time (prob early 1815 - the end of 1817: sources disagree on the dates)
Ah, yes, here she is - baptism at St Elizabeth, Jamaica, June [?17] 1795 of Catherine-Ann, Daughter of John William Spencer Griffith Esqr. and Catherine Campbell his wife, born May 28 1795. Oh, and here's a surprise - it looks like Rear-Admiral Douglas may have fathered a child by one of his black slaves in Jamaica, Diana Prince. Certainly the boy was named John Erskine Douglas, his father was white, and conception took place when Douglas was in Jamaica. He was christened (with his mother) at St Andrew's parish in August 1817 - he'd been born on 17th October 1816. Images of both entries attached.
It would appear that Douglas was not the only one indulging his natural urges in Jamaica. Linked to below is a biographical detail of Catherine Ann Griffith's first husband, James White (1775 - 1814) and his father, the Hon, Dr. John White (1743 - 1821), of Whitehall Pen, St. Elizabeth, Jamaica.
It would appear that James (and, presumably, Catherine Ann's) infant son, John James White, was buried at Long Hill on the 3rd April 1815. In Dr. John White's will (proved in 1822) he ordered the purchase of a mulatto girl, the daughter of his late son James White, living on Barton Isles estate in St Elizabeth.
James White's death notice appeared in the Liverpool Mercury of Friday 13th January 1815. "[Death] At Whitehall, in St Elizabeth's, Jamaica, on the 18 Nov (1814), Jas. White, Esq. son of the Hon. John White, Custos of that parish, and nephew of Mr James White, of Liverpool."
Of the Griffith family of Jamaica, the Royal Gazette of 11th October 1794 reported: "At Hodges, in St. Elizabeth, J.W.S. Griffith, Esq. of Long Hill, in that parish, to Miss Shakespear, daughter of David Shakespear, Esq." Is this the same man who married Catherine Campbell?
Colonel John William Spencer Griffith was appointed Adjutant-General of the Jamaica Militia on the 7th March 1823.
In the Hampshire Advertiser of Monday 16th February 1824, the following notice appeared: "At the house of her daughter, Mrs. General Cooke, Dix's Field, Exeter, Ann, widow of the Rev. J. Griffith, and mother of J. W. S. Griffith, Esq., of the island of Jamaica.
In 1839, J. W. S. Griffith was Master-in-Ordinary of the island of Jamaica.
A rather tragic story relating to Catherine Ann's sister, Eliza, can be seen here:
Kieran and Osmund, great work on the family history even if some of it is disturbing and sad.
I wonder whether Maria Cosway does not fit? Right dates, Italian woman artist (but British and American linked). Self-Portrait hangs in the Uffizi.
Can paint superbly, too, on a good day, loved turbans, and had a life that caps many in this thread. Needs to be considered at least. This would have to be one of her better works though, as some works attributed to her seem dire (but I am no judge).
Also, is there not some kind of signature, bottom left on the red, under high light? Perhaps I'm just imagining.
To put into context the style of life the Catherine would have lived, here are some further biographical details:
The Caledonian Mercury of Saturday 11th June 1814 carried the Admiralty Office announcement, of June 4th, that John Erskine Douglas Esq. had, by the Prince Regent in the name and on behalf of his Majesty, been promoted to the rank of Rear-Admiral of the Blue.
The same paper, of Saturday 28th January 1815, reported: "London, Tuesday 24th January - Rear-Admiral John Erskine Douglas is appointed to command at Jamaica, void by the resignation of Rear-Admiral Rolles. The Warrior, 74, Captain Rodd, is sitting at Portsmouth to receive his flag, to convey him to Port Royal; she will sail with convoy."
The Hampshire Telegraph and Naval Chronicle of Monday 13th April 1818 carried this news: "Married, on the 20th January, at Kingston, Jamaica, Admiral (sic) John Erskine Douglas to Mrs. White, relict of --- White, Esq., formerly a merchant at that island."
The same issue of the last-above-mentioned paper carried a detailed report relating to the Admiral's departure from Jamaica, a copy of which is attached.
On the 12th August 1819, the Admiralty Office announced that Douglas was to be appointed a Rear-Admiral of the White.
The Hampshire Telegraph and Naval Chronicle of Monday 8th March 1819 reported the following birth: "On Tuesday, at Cavendish Square, the Lady of Rear-Admiral J. E. Douglas, of a daughter."
In February 1827, Rear-Admiral Douglas was one of the Committee charged with the erection in St. Andrew's Square, Edinburgh, of "the Monument, nearly a facsimile of the celebrated column of Trajan at Rome" to the memory of Lord Viscount Melville.
The Observer, of Sunday 25th July 1830, reported that Douglas, then a Vice-Admiral of the Blue, was to be appointed as a Vice-Admiral of the White.
The Morning Post, of Thursday 8th October 1835, relayed the following news: "Died - On the 3rd inst., at her house in Chapel Street, Belgrave Square, Miss Catherine Maxwell Douglas, daughter of the late David Douglas, Esq., and sister of Rear-Admiral John Erskine Douglas."
In January 1837 it was announced that Douglas, then a Vice-Admiral of the White, was to be appointed a Vice-Admiral of the Red.
In June of 1838, the Admiralty further announced that Douglas was to be made an Admiral of the Blue. In November 1841 he was made an Admiral of the White, and in December 1846 he was promoted to the rank of Admiral of the Red.
On the 6th April 1853, the Hampshire Telegraph and Naval Chronicle carried this death notice: "Douglas - On the 6th inst., at 24 Chester Street, Belgrave Square, Miss Douglas, last surviving sister of the late Admiral John Erskine Douglas."
Admiral John Erskine Douglas is buried to the rear of the chapel on the north west side of Kensal Green Cemetery.
James: well, yes, I considered Maria Cosway - her self-portrait in the Uffizi is pretty well-known because of her interesting life (and even more so now, as everyone scrabbles for female artists to celebrate). But I fear "can paint superbly" (good day or bad) is pushing it, and no work of hers I've seen suggests she was capable of painting a portrait (of which she seems to have done relatively few) as accomplished as this. Her style and paintwork are really completely different, and I don't think she was painting much or at all as late as this - I've certainly never seen one, and my understanding is that by the 1830s (when she was over 70) she was almost entirely concerned with running her school in Lodi (near Milan).
I also initially thought I could see a possible inscription bottom left (see comments above 4+ days ago); but after examining and playing with the higher-res image attached to the introduction (which I'd missed), I concluded there was nothing there.
I had also looked into Cosway, and found nothing by her on this level.
Possibly worth looking for are contemporary diaries written by English and American visitors to Italy - apparently the first Mrs Longfellow's Italian diary has just been published which contains important references to contemporary art. It may be to late for us - but it is a pointer as to a direction to follow.
Mrs Longfellow was then Fanny Appleton
Fanny Appleton was, I think, Longfellow's second wife, not his first. But before her marriage, Fanny did indeed record "her European experiences in six manuscript journals, describing museum visits, Parisian opera, and presentations to royalty" during an extended family tour of Europe in 1835-37 - a little late, as Martin suggests, but not by much. It was on this trip she met Longfellow, in Switzerland.
From the finding aid to the catalogue of Frances Appleton's papers (https://bit.ly/2RYAnmV), the Appletons seem to have been in Italy in the spring of 1836 - certainly at Rome, Pompeii (April) and Florence (where she posed for a marble bust by Lorenzo Bartolini). She and her sister Mary sat for a miniature by Jean Baptiste Isabey - probably at Paris in early 1837, where it was exhibited at the Louvre.
Selected letters and journals of hers were published in various editions during the late 1950s, and are widely-held; I can't find mention of any new publication, though.
I agree that contemporary diaries and letters could in theory be a way to go; but to seek them out and scour them for possibly relevant references would be a herculean research task more suited to a substantial academic thesis. Some (much older) "selected" editions have been published online, and may be word searchable - but it's hard to know exactly what to search for.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who's already fruitlessly searched Archive.org, Google Books and the Hathi Trust for any reference at all to the Douglases in Italy, let alone one in the context of a portrait. Without their names one is looking for references to any suitable contemporary portraitist in Rome (or at least Italy), and that is far more challenging.
Someone like Vincenzo Cammucini or his circle could fit. Here's his portrait of the young Rossini:
The Uffizi Autoritratte exhibition catalogue sadly has no list of all the female self portraits in its collection and only one painting reproduced is of the rough period of our problem picture , - by Elisa Counis mentioned above
there is a list of female members of the Florentine Accademia which includes quite a few who fill within our period - but there is no indication as to which were portraitists.
When I have more time I will list the
It is of course possible that the artist was not Italian , but a national of another country then resident in Rome - French might be possible
Does one of you know the work of Maria Hakewill? Her self-portrait is in Florence and she repeatedly exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1808 and 1838 as well as at other institutions. In 1816-17 she travelled in Italy with her husband James who also visited Jamaica in the early 1820s according to wikipedia, so there may be a connection to our sitter https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Hakewill
I found only little information about her online and nothing that places her in Rome in the early 1830s: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_C._Hakewill and https://bit.ly/2CY2KYl . I also could not find another example of her work, only her self-portrait, which is displayed in low-resolution at the Uffizi website. You can find it by searching for “Hakewille Browne” (sic) here: http://fotoinventari.uffizi.it/it/ricerca-opere
Interesting idea, Andrea. Let's look into it further.
The Hakewill is in the Autoritratte catalogue
Are there any 19th century guides to the Uffizi which list the self portraits?
There is nothing by Hakewill on Art UK or in the NPG. I rather doubt that would be the case if she could paint a portrait like this one.
Hakewill's Uffizi self-portrait is not impressive. The draughtsmanship is clearly inferior to that in the picture under discussion.
Two of the Accademia' s female members of the period can be found through the fotoinventari search form - Irene Duclos Parenti, and Chiara Spinelli
The portraiture styles of the first two belong to an earlier generation
To judge by Malenchini's pictures on Wikipedia, she looks worth following up for other works by her. Some of her portraits are in the Museo Civico di Livorno and a self portrait is in the Accademia di San Luca, ROME
There is a 1939 catalogue of that collection by Vincenzo Golzio in BL - it includes some illustrations
Although Camuccini's portrait of her can be seen online on the Accademia' s website. her self portrait cannot be
The Livorno Museo website does not yet record Malenchini. Lists of the works of art in its collection were published in 1920 and 1935, but major British libraries appear not to hold catalogues of its collection
Before the discussion strays into albeit fascinating speculation, I think it is worth considering that the will of Helen MacKenzie reads as though it was written by an acutely articulate and thoughtful person, and in that context her very specific reference to the fact that the two portraits were painted in 1830 and by a "first class Italian female artist at Rome" (and not from Rome) are worth serious attention. This wording, to me, is very precise, and suggests that the Douglas's were in Rome for the sitting to this artist in that exact year. That she knows that the artist's self-portrait is in Florence must confirm that the works were not painted by a man.
Additionally, the Gazetta di Milano, of the 4th October 1829, recorded that Admiral Erskine Douglas arrived in that city from Geneva on the 2nd October. This places him, and presumably, therefore, his wife, in Italy no later that three months before the year during which the portraits were said to have been painted. They could easily have travelled from Milan to Rome to sit for their portraits early in the following year.
And as an additional family history note, The Newfoundlander, of Thursday 24th January 1833, carried the following notice: "Died, at Falmouth, England, on the 9th November last, aged 21 years, the much beloved wife of Lieut. Smith Griffith, RN, Commander of HM Packet Swallow, daughter of the late Port Major Green and sister-in-law of Admiral John Erskine Douglas. The deceased has left a truly affectionate and fond husband absent at the Brazils ........".
Kieran, the painter's self-portrait being at the Uffizi does not, in itself, prove the artist was female, since the great majority of self-portraits in that particular collection are of men. However, if the lady's memory was accurate about the painter being a woman, then that is another matter.
Jacinto, I never suggested that because it was at the Uffizi it proves that the artist was female. I am solely emphasising Helen MacKenzie's very believable statement that the portraits were by an Italian woman and that that woman's self-portrait was in Florence (and presumably, as it was among "those of contemporary artists" that it was and is still at the Ufffizi). I was proposing that suggestions of names of male artists are a potentially time-wasting excise, at least until such a time is reached that the identities of all the Italian female artists, whose portraits are in the Uffizi and that fit into the relevant time period to have been working in Rome in 1830, are investigated.
I think it's by Louise Marie-Jeanne Hersent-Mauduit. She seemed to specialise in portaits of women wearing turbans. An almost identical turban can be seen in her portrait of Joséphine Louise Hortense Soult.
Actually that's by her husband Louis... possibly one of them though!
More likely Louis. See attachments.
Louis Hersent's work was seen in 1993 at an exhibition at the Musee de la Romantique with a catalogue written by Anne-Marie de Brem. This can be found in BL and several other British libraries
The Bowes owns two of his wife's portraits.
A range of works by Hersent can be found on the French museums' website Joconde
He looks a promising candidate, but was he in Rome?
No, he seems to have been firmly based in Paris - the portraits would almost certainly have to have been painted there. And there seem to be no paintings by or of him in Florence. The idea of an artist whose wife was also a portraitist is attractive – it might just conceivably explain a muddled memory of the artist being a woman; and I suppose the Douglases might well have returned from Italy via Paris. But I feel that Paris vs Rome is one discrepancy in the story too many.
In any case I don't think it’s quite right for him stylistically. If you look at some of the very high-res images of his work on the Chateau de Versailles website - e,g, https://bit.ly/2MI9wFW (1824), https://bit.ly/2HS34O6 (1828) and https://bit.ly/2sX52lP (1834) - you can see that Hersent has a hard-edged, almost forensic exactness in his depictions of sitter and accoutrements; our portrait is a little softer in the face, the hands less precisely defined.
"...it might just conceivably explain a muddled memory of the artist being a woman". Why a muddled memory, Osmund? That Helen MacKenzie cannot remember the artist's name is one thing, but her other statements clearly shows that that she knew these works to be by a "first class Italian female artist at Rome" and that that artist's self-portrait was in Florence. Where is the muddle in that? Surely suggesting at this stage that work should be considered to be by a male artists distracts from the quest of narrowing down the search for a suitable female candidate.
At this point in the discussion contacting http://advancingwomenartists.org
to see if they are able to suggest a possible attribution may be an idea. There is a contact form on their site.
Unfortunately the 'A Space of Their Own' database
is not yet live but it may be worth the collection attempting to contact the team compiling the database directly. They are based at the University of Indiana
Florence is where you would generally expect self portraits to be collected - but they were also collected in Rome at the Accademia di San Luca see above, which is said to have Malenchini's self portrait - posted c. 2 days ago
There is a small catalogue of the collection of the Accademia di San Luca which a friend promises to send to me.
Giovanni Incisa della Rocchetta, La collezione dei ritratti dell'Accademia di San Luca, 1979 copies in the Warburg Institute and the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum
OK, we are making progress. Ideas suggested and countered (agree, not Louis Hersent and seemingly not Louise). Some research needs to be done and we have some avenues to go down. I will make some efforts this week, as time permits.
A visit to the Witt Library is probably required
The catalogue mentioned above of portraits in the Accademia di San Luca seems to be in the BM's Greek and Roman library not in P & D
In the Warburg there is also a 1970 Palazzo Carpegna, Rome exhibition catalogue Mostra di ritratti di accademici del Settecento e del Ottocento [ from the San Luca collection] at COC 150 , the same press mark as the 1979 publication
Helen Catherine Douglas was born on the 2nd March 1819 and would have been 11 years old when the portraits of her parents were been painted. These paintings remained in her parents and subsequently her own possession until her death. There is no reason to believe that, throughout her teenage and young adult life, she would not have been aware of the origin of these works. The focus of this discussion should be on a first-rate female Italian artist working in Rome in 1830, whose self-portrait is in Florence. Until this line of enquiry has been exhausted, all else is, surely, a distraction.
It is possible that Luigi Malechini , of the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio in Florence , belongs to the same family of Livorno origin to which Mathilde belonged.
The Livorense Marchese Luigi Malenchini acquired what is now the Palazzo Malenchini Alberti at 1 Via de Benci and on the Arno close to the Ponte alle Grazie in 1895 . The very considerable literature on this building should lead one to works on the family.
If the artist did belong to this noble family, there must be possible that some of her paintings are still owned by members of it.
Mathilde had connections both with Florence and with Rome. She was an Honorary Professor of the Accademia di San Luca, where she studied after studying at the Accademia in Florence. It would be very good to find images of the portraits in the Livorno Galleria, and her self portrait in Rome, What is known about her career would encourage one to expect them in a style partially related to early 19th century Belgian neo- classical painting, given her close friendship with the painter Francois - Joseph Navez , and her marriage to the Belgian poet Louis de Potter.
Can anyone trace what happened to the collection of General Francois de Miollis, the French Governor of the Papal States, who acquired 18 of her works.
Correction to the above , she married Louis de Potter, although they had a long relationship
Kieran, quite right. I said as much earlier in the discussion (see my comment at 6 days ago). That is the track we should be on.
There is a 1961 biography of the General by Henri Aureas 'Un general de Napoleon: Mioliis'. In the British Library - and several other leading libraries in Britain.
Barbara, it is those comments of yours from six days ago that I am echoing, but other hands on the wheel are pulling this particular jalopy on to a different road, and I just don't feel that the first class female artist in Rome and Florence has been sufficiently explored to the logical end of its journey.
The British Library unfortunately ceased to subscribe to the Nationaal Biografisch Woordnboek referred to about near the start of this discussion before 2014.
The Uffizi has published catalogues which may or may not include the autoritratti which can be consulted at the BL and NAL - the earliest being 1863 in the NAL
If the Admiral Douglas who is repeatedly recorded in London in 1830 and 1831 is our man, it is possible that we can narrow down the possible date[s] at which he was in Rome - but there possibility that our sitter was in Rome without her husband
Martin, perhaps you did not see my posting from five days ago:
"Additionally, the Gazetta di Milano, of the 4th October 1829, recorded that Admiral Erskine Douglas arrived in that city from Geneva on the 2nd October. This places him, and presumably, therefore, his wife, in Italy no later that three months before the year during which the portraits were said to have been painted. They could easily have travelled from Milan to Rome to sit for their portraits early in the following year."
I am sorry that I missed that important discovery
I visited the exhibition in Milan today in which were featured a large number of Hayez's paintings. Two in particular were reminiscent of this discussion's work.
As per my earlier post above I contacted http://advancingwomenartists.org/ via their website over the weekend and received the following reply today,
Thanks for writing. A very interesting quest indeed!
I've sent your query on to several scholars and art historians with whom we work, and will let you know
if we get any 'bites'. I hope to be in touch soon,
All the best,
Which is very encouraging in a 'watch this space' kind of way.
What on earth’s going on, Kieran? A few days ago you were berating “other hands on the wheel” for pulling the discussion off-track by considering male artists – your position, expressed forcefully and repeatedly, was that (for the time being at least) *any* consideration of artists who aren’t female and didn’t work in Rome c.1830 is a time-wasting distraction from what we should be researching. Now here you are showing us images of two works that you find particularly “reminiscent of this discussion's work” – both of them by a (previously discussed) artist who (a) was a man and (b) apparently left Rome permanently for Naples (and then Milan) 16 years before the portrait is said to have been painted!
Does this mean other people are now permitted to raise the subject, too - and perhaps even re-address the hard question of how reliable Helen Mackenzie’s memory in old age might actually have been?
Malcolm, Mathilde Malenchini (née Meoni) was only a Malenchini by marriage - and although she continued to use her married surname for the rest of her life, the couple apparently separated soon after their marriage in 1796, when she was just 16. So even if her husband was of the noble family, I rather doubt that they would have acquired any paintings by her during the period we're interested in, which was decades later.
I tend to think we should eliminate the women artists of c.1830 in Italy before other avenues, but we can look at other possibilities just to get a sense of the styles of the period. Hayez may be reminiscent but his works are more hard-edged, so he's not really a candidate for this portrait.
Thanks, Dave, it's good to pursue that avenue. I've sent off a query to another expert and will hope to do more checking in the next week.
What is going on, on earth, Osmund, is that I availed of being in Milan and of visiting the exhibition, wherein the Hayez works are to be seen, to send images that address both Paul's and Martin's earlier suggestions that this discussion's work could have been by him. I felt the attached works would give some substance to Jacinto's comments that Hayez's works were different in style to this painting, a sentiment that I see Barbara echoing above. And please forgive me but I did not berate anyone. I smilply clearly (though not intentionally forcefully) stated, as again Barbara has echoed, that it might be more beneficial to firstly discount all those female artist candidates before widening the net to include male artists as well.
Kieran and Dave Evans are both right in thinking that the answers to our research lie in Italy , given that there is so little of use to us for solving matters in the UK - sadly the British have shown very little interest in Italian painting of this period - so both our libraries and photographic libraries are very ill stocked. On the ground work in Italy is likely to be rewarding.
Incidentally I do not think that Paul was suggesting that Hayez is the answer - more that there is some similarity . Nor having looked through the Hayez catalogue raisonne closely do I think that he is. I am not a specialist in this area at all
1,074 autoritratti [very few of course by women] are recorded and illustrated in the Uffizi's massive 1980 catalogue by Luciano Berti and Caterina Cavena' s Catalogo Guida , pp. 784- 1044. None of these are remotely like the portrait for which we are looking for the artist. Only one is by a Italian woman painter of the requisite period - Elisa Counis [ 1812- 1848] , which can be seen above. That painting is of course several years later in date, but it would take some imagination to believe that she painted like this when she was a teenager.
Malenchini is represented in the Uffizi's general collection, but not by a self portrait, but by 'Il ritratto di una giovane' 95 x 80 cm on canvas a 'busto' - unfortunately not illustrated in Eugenio Pieraccini, Guida della R. Galleria Antica e Moderna [ the name for the Uffizi of the time] , 1893, p.151 - nor is a date given for it.
However, this does not appear in the 1980 catalogue - possibly it was moved to the Galleria Pitti which has housed 19th century Italian paintings.,
A quick look in the Witt Library did not prove any help - no Counis paintings and only 3 by Malenchini, none of which are portraits
The Soprintendenze both in Florence and in Rome, both have very useful large photographic libraries
Malenchini may have in Rome in 1830 as she was a friend of Antonio Capece di Minutelo , Prince of Canossa . I do not have a Flemish dictionary to translate columns 705 and 706 of Marijcke Schillings article cited above = which includes a substantial bibliography
In her long bibliography Schillings mentions J Fortune, L Falcone edd., Invisible women . Forgotten artists of Florence , 2010, pp. 111-9, 212
and Galleria d'Arte Moderna di Palazzo Pitti. Catalogo generale , II . Livorno, 2008, pp. 1306-7
The Jane Fortune and Linda Falcone volume may be American - I cannot find it on Copac
The National Library of Scotland has a copy of the Pitti catalogue
The Invisible women volume was published in Florence by the Florentine Press , which at via dei Banchi 4 - firstname.lastname@example.org
It may still be in print . So could someone persuade the National Art Library and /or the British Library to buy a copy!
also of possible relevance is Malenchini's correspondence with Louis de Potter 1829-33 in the Rijksarchiev Brussels; de Potter's Souvenirs Intimes, Brussels , 1900 and Schillings' unpublished thesis on Malenchini, Catholic University Nijmegen , and a dossier in Rome in the Fondation St Julien des Flamands, Trinite des Monts covering 1830-31 on the Prince of Canossa
Best of all would be to find Dr Schillings and ask her to look at this portrait
Dr Schillings is on the staff of the Department of History at the Huygens ING, Amsterdam - I have emailed her for her opinion
A recent source for information on General de Miollis' collection is in her bibliography too - but these belong to a period before our interest
There is a three volume 1971 book by Wolfram Prinz 'Die Sammlung der Selbstbildnisse in den Uffizien' , Mann, Berlin - copies in the Courtauld University, Warburg Institution and Bodleian Library which I have not seen
There is also a book of 1934/5 on Elissa Counis' husband by Ernest Naef 'Salomon-Guillume Counis [1785 - 1859] Peintre de S.A.I. la grande-duchesse de Toscane', impr. S.A.D, A.G, which surely will say something about Elissa . Copies are in BL and NAL
Of the thirty artists that are listed in the 1923 publication "Gli Autoritratti femminili delle RR. Galerie degli Uffizi in Firenze", as referenced above two weeks ago by Andrea Kollman, only four artists are listed that could possibly fit the bill for the creator of this discussion's work, of whom all have already been mentioned:
• Élizabeth Louise Vigeé Le Brun (Paris, 1755 - Paris, 1842)
• Maria Catherine Hakeville (sic) (aka Maria Catherine Hakewill-Browne) (England, 1780 - Calais, 1842)
• Ida Botti Scifoni (Rome, 1812 - Florence, 1844)
• Eliza Counis (Florence, 1812 - Florence, 1847)
The full list of artists featured in that publication is presented here, in chronological order from their birth dates:
01. Anguissola, Sofonisba (1532 - 1625)
02. Fontana, Lavinia (1552 - 1614)
03. Robusti, Marietta (1554 - 1590)
04. Varottari, Chiara (1584 - 1663)
05. Paladini, Arcangela (1599 - 1622)
06. Sirani, Elisabetta (1638 - 1655)
07. Fratellini, Giovanni (1666 - 1731)
08. Carriera, Rosalba (1673 - 1757)
09. Casalini Torrelli, Lucia (1677 - 1762)
10. Lama, Guilia (1681 - 1747)
11. Fratellini, Rosalba (17th century)
12. Arizzara, Terese (18th century)
13. Siries, Violante Bartriz (1710 - 1783)
14. Gozzi Baldacci, Maria Maddelena (1718 - 1782)
15. Bacherini Piattoli, Anna (1720 - 1788)
16. Maria Antonietta, elettrice di Baviera (1724 - 1780)
17. Benwell, Mary (1739 - c.1800)
18. Kaufmann, Angelica (1741 - 1807)
19. Spinelli di Belmonte, Chiara (1744 - 1823)
20. Duclos Parenti, Irene (1754 - 1795)
21. Vigeé Le Brun, Élizabeth Louise (1755 - 1842)
22. Di Waldstein, Marianna (1763 - 1808)
23. Hakeville, Maria Catherine (aka Maria Catherine Hakewill-Browne) (England, 1780 - Calais, 1842)
24. Botti Scifoni, Ida (Rome, 1812 - Florence, 1844)
25. Counis, Eliza (Florence, 1812 - Florence, 1847)
26. De Ribbing, Sophie (1835 - 1894)
27. D'Affry, Adele (1836 - 1879)
28. Collart-Henrotin, Marie (1842 - 1911)
29. Nemes, Eliza (1843 - 1899)
30. Schwartze, Terese (1851 - 1918)
If, for the moment, one takes as true the description in the will, only Scifoni and Counis qualify as (first class?) Italian artists, the other two being French and English. If a reassessment of the works by Scifoni and Counis still does not elevate them to the highest rank of artists, or as old enough to have painted with such assumed quality, the widening of the search should inevitably take place. One specific question needs to be answered, however, which asks whether the 1923 list of 30 female painters was an exhaustive of the names of the female artists whose self-portraits were then held in the Uffizi.
I do not think that the 1923 publication provides a complete list
I must admit, I haven't read the thread as carefully as most of you but I believe that many of the painters listed above were extraordinary artists. Angelica Kauffman was certainly a most impressive artist. To my eye her brush work is looser (to my mind a surer hand), one of her beautiful self portraits shows some striking similarities with the discussed portrait.
Kieran, One of the most greatest and most dramatic works in the Uffizi, is by the famous Artemisia Gentlischi, I wonder why it's not listed in your catalogue, was it not purchased until later by the Uffizi? I wonder how they could have omitted such an important work. https://www.uffizi.it/en/artworks/judith-beheading-holofernes
Laura, Angelica Kauffman is of an earlier generation - she died in 1807, while our portrait dates from circa 1830. Artemisia Gentileschi is not listed in Kieran's catalogue because the book from which the names are taken is only about the female *self*-portraits in the Uffizi.
A week or so ago I had two or three partly-written posts in gestation. Some of the content was about why I was now retreating from my earlier belief that Helen Mackenzie's detailed recollections of the artist should be considered in the main reliable – sorry, Kieran, I know how certain you are (or were) that they must be – and some was about a possible alternative artist...but a male one, and mainly active in Venice. Not wanting to get into a heated debate about whether or not these were helpful directions for the discussion to pursue at present, I decided to bin them and lie low – and it will probably be safer to continue doing so until I feel sure it won’t cause annoyance.
However, I do have a couple of points to make that I hope are non-contentious. The first one is important: in her will, Helen does not say that the artist's portrait at Florence (“among those of contemporary artists”) as a *self*-portrait at all; that was our assumption because of the famous Uffizi collection...but perhaps we were wrong. The other is minor, but perhaps worth mentioning in case it affects possible future ideas about artists: Admiral Douglas (perhaps with wife, perhaps not) in fact left Milan for Genoa just five days after he arrived there from Geneva in Oct 1829. See attached.
Of course Osmund you are right . All of us may have been pursuing a false trail after self portraits. I am looking forward to looking through the Pitti Galleria catalogue in the hope that some painting in a similar style can be found there
Laura, I should add that the Gentileschi painting you rightly so admire *may* in fact be a self-portrait. But even today that reading is not universally accepted (and in any case is not the theme of the work, at least not the public one); in 1923 I doubt it had even been considered - it was not proposed in print until the late 1980s.
Kieran, wow, what a list! Thank you for taking the time to do this. Yours and other recent posts reveal that there is much interest in this portrait yet hard facts are eluding us. We are at a loss with the collection closed so cannot get any more information about the painting for the time being. That might change soon, as a view of the back is essential. Also, we don't know what happened to the pair to Mrs Douglas, i.e. the Admiral's portrait, apparently given at the same time to the Public Library in Annan. Just to refresh our memories, here attached is the exact wording of the will. I must say it sounds like the the portrait of the woman artist is a self-portrait, and that it is in the Uffizi, the main collection in Florence, but let's keep going with all possible ideas.
Travelling from Geneva to Milan and then on to Genoa certainly puts Admiral Douglas heading in the correct direction for Rome. He could easily have also stopped in Florence on the way.
Regarding the 1923 list, Martin, who do you believe is missing?
I do not have the Uffizi and Pitti catalogues in my own library, I am afraid. Undoubtedly some paintings were moved.
Nineteenth century paintings have been the province of the Palazzo Pitti for some considerable time. From 1922 it has included Grand Ducal, State and municipal paintings in the Gallery of Modern Art in c. 30 rooms in a wing separated from the famous Old Master collection. The will does not specify the Uffizi and the portrait referred to may well be in the Pitti. The will is ambiguous - it could refer to a portrait of the artist, rather than a self portrait 'her portrait' not 'her self portrait'.
Marco Chiarini's 2001 Pitti Palace should clarify as to when paintings were moved to the Pitti from the Uffizi. The Pitis undoubtedly has 19th century portraits - but these even if some are self portraits, do not form a separate collection of self portraits
Generally speaking, we should all freely disagree with and even refute each other's ideas, as appropriate, but I suggest we refrain from even appearing to impose or exclude a given line of investigation. It is better to miss the mark than to be inhibited from attempting to hit it.
Jacinto's comment has emboldened me to post: please feel free not to be derailed by the musings of a complete amateur.
Approaching the problem from the rarity of having a female portraitist of considerable quality painting in oils in 1830, and with no obvious Italian candidate having yet emerged despite considerable effort, the name I come up with is Mary Martha Dutton (nee Pearson). There is no record of her being in Rome at the relevant time (although there is a biographical reference via Wikipedia to a Rhine landscape painted from life about a decade earlier, so she had travelled to the continent) and her record of exhibiting at the RA circa 1830 might suggest her presence then in London. It does however seem possible to me that the 11 year old Helen McKenzie would not have accompanied her parents on the trip to Italy and that her recollections as set out in her will at age 90 of what she was told nearly 80 years earlier may not have all been completely accurate.
For comparison I suggest these portraits of Lady Caroline Hill and (not formally attributed, but with Wikipedia stating that she painted her portrait) a possible portrait of Lady Mostyn, plus the self-portrait above the article in the Lady's Monthly Museum.
I had not heard of Pearson and of course do not know her work. The purported Lady Mostyn picture is "circle of Lawrence," so it is more "painterly" and less Ingres-like than ours. The Postal Museum picture is certainly competent, particularly the face, but not as fine as ours--harsher and slightly crude, especially the fabrics, and the color is a tad garish. Two portraits of men shown in her Wikipedia entry show a similar sharpness and a certain stiffness, again compared to our portrait, whose accomplishment she does not seem to have attained.
Of course I can't dispute that judgement, but other of Pearson's works look of potentially better quality - I picked those 3 particularly for their similarities of subject and pose. This does rather point up the problem, though, as being one of finding any female portraitist of the time capable of producing the Catherine Anne picture, as opposed to having to choose between a number of candidates.
The other mystery is that if the portrait of her husband was of the same quality how has it gone so comprehensively missing in the last 100 years? The subject, even though of greater fame, would not have the same appeal I suppose, whatever the quality of the picture. Looking for a half-length portrait in oils of an elderly man facing to the left, painted circa 1830 and possibly wearing an admiral's uniform, would not be easy.
Fascinating discussion. Osmund, many of Artemsia's works are indeed self portraits. It is certainly her face in that work presently at the Uffizi-as are the faces of many of the women in her father's works (Orazio gentileschi, la felicità pubblica trionfa sui pericoli, 1623-25 in the Louvre). I found this portrait of Anna Agneta Smissaert online. It is similar on several levels to the work we are discussing above, although not as fine. I cannot seem to find the name of the artist of that work either.
I suspect, Alison, that the "missing" portrait of Admiral Douglas is in private hands, and it may well be less distinctive than his wife's.
Although John Erskine Douglas was appointed a Vice-Admiral in 1825 and a full Admiral in 1838 (and therefore this could be a reference to different gentleman), the Dublin Morning Register and The (Dublin) Pilot of Wednesday 30th September 1829 report that "Admiral Douglas and family are gone to Italy." While the regionality of these papers might have caused a mis-reporting of his official rank, it opens up the possibility that this is our man.
How interesting to learn of Mary Dutton Pearson. Thank you, Alison. We'd need to know if she was in Italy c.1830.
Kieran, we know Douglas was in Geneva then Milan by early October. But your Dublin Post reference does clearly state that he was travelling with his family, ie. children, as well as his wife, so that gives us a bit more evidence (and perhaps lends confirmation to the accuracy of daughter Helen's memory of that trip). This is most helpful.
Martin, for a complete list of artists' self-portraits at the Uffizi (from the official 1897 catalogue) see here:
By my counting, there are only about 21 female artists included, nine short of the list that I posted above, which latter works must have come into the collection between the two dates of 1897 and 1911, when the "Gli Autoritratti femminili delle RR. Galerie degli Uffizi in Firenze" seems to have first been published.
That is very helpful, Kieran - when next I have a chance I will see what other female self portraits appear in Luciano Berti's and Wolfgang Prinz's books, but it may be a little while because of grandparenting duties
Of course the 1897 catalogue has quite a number of errors as to names
It was and remains perfectly normal to refer to Rear/Vice-Admirals informally as just 'Admiral' - it doesn't need any provincial misreporting. And there are plenty of newspaper references to Erskine Douglas between 1815 & 1837 that describe him thus, mainly as 'Admiral J E Douglas', but also as plain 'Admiral Douglas' (though those are indeed harder to separate from possible namesakes). However, the perfect fit of the late Sept 1829 date of the reference now found by Kieran with the early Oct date when he arrived in Milan (also Kieran) strongly suggests this is our man (and his family).
A curator from Annan Museum will be able to photograph the painting on 19 February.
That's excellent news, Marion. The back, though, may reveal little - I've just realised that it is said to be on board. I think I'm right in saying that a European painting of this size and date is overwhelmingly likely to have been painted originally on canvas; so if it really is on a board support, I suspect the canvas has been cut from the stretcher and pasted on to (probably) plywood in later years. And looking at the position of the sitter within the composition, I wonder whether it wasn't reduced in size at the same time, perhaps to fit an existing frame. If the curator is able to check this at the same time, that would be helpful.
5 works by Elisa Counis are reproduced and 7 recorded by Ernest Naef, Salomon - Guillaume Counis ..., Paris, 1935, pl XIX-XXII p. 106 - the earliest dates from 1835 . None of them are like this painting.
I think I can banish any lingering doubt about which Admiral Douglas had “gone to Italy” with family. As far as I can see – but perhaps Pieter could confirm? – from the ‘List of the Flag Officers and other Commissioned Officers of His Majesty's Fleet’ published by the Admiralty on the 1st Jan 1831 (https://bit.ly/2SKoWyX), and from the navy list(s) of 1827/28 on Findmypast, there was almost certainly only one other Admiral Douglas (of any grade) alive in 1829: the near-contemporary Admiral James Douglas (1755-1839), a full admiral from 1810. (One other, Rear-Admiral Stair Douglas, had died in 1826).
James Douglas’s only child, a son James born c.1798, had died in India in 1818. So if we take the phrase “Admiral Douglas and family” to mean with wife and child(ren) – as opposed to, say, with nephews/nieces/cousins – then there is really no question that this is John Erskine Douglas, as the timing in any case suggests. The other Admiral Douglas is also recorded as being in London (at his house in Bryanston Square) in May 1830.
Enrico Castelnuovo ed., , La pittura Italiana.,L 'Otoocento, II, Electa, 1991, p. 895 includes a biography of Malenchini noting that she was in Rome in 1830
Of course it should be Ottocento - my fingers frequently betray me
The entry (see attached and please excuse the dreadful quality!) for Elisa Counis (Florence, 16th November 1812 - Florence, 15th December 1847) in Bice Viallet’s 1911 ‘Gli autoritratti femminili delle RR. Gallerie degli Uffizi in Firenze’ catalogue of the female self-portraits at the Uffizi, a copy of which is in my possession, reads (roughly translated) as follows:
“Elisa Counis is an unknown and if her effigy, made by herself in 1829 (sic), now appears among so many of the illustrious, she owes it to her father, who after her death had taken care in the same year to send her self-portrait as a gift to the Gallery.
"Salvatore (sic) Guglielmo Counis of Geneva (1785 - 1859) was involved in enamel painting, in which he worked in Paris until 1810. He was a pupil of Girodet Fraison, a devoted disciple of David, who (Counis) gave the Gallery a collection of works.
"It was only after this collection was accepted that he offered the portrait of his daughter ‘mon unique enfant, qui elle meme avait en peinture un talent si fin et distingué (my only child, who herself had in painting so fine and distinguished a talent)’, according to his words. And they are the only words that could be traced to know the artistic value of this painter.”
An additional biographical reference to Elisa describes her thus:
"Elisa was born in Florence on November 16th 1812. In 1815, while her father left Florence, she remained at first in Tuscany, in Santa Brigida, entrusted to her maternal Gargiolli uncles, but then rejoined her parents in Geneva and Paris, before returning with them to Florence in October 1830.
"Her father instructed her in music and painting, and the few graceful works that exist by her show her to be a faithful follower in the clarity of the drawings, in the range (rather dark and dull) of the colors of the oils, in the polite romance of the watercolours. Two of the latter, of Apennine landscapes, dated 1835 and 1838 (a similar third is from 1843), are her first known works - they are described by her father's biographer, Ernest Naef (1935), and are in the Guillermin collection in Geneva.
"The self-portrait in oils from the Uffizi, where Elisa includes a cameo to the neckline with the figure of the grand duchess, from whom she received her name, dates from 1839, while slightly more youthful she looks like one of those in Burnat's drawing in Vevey. She is also credited with a drawing depicting her father, in old age sitting in an armchair, in the Maillart-Gosse collection in Geneva.
"Another drawing, which represents the family friend Jean-Bernard Sancholle-Henraux, and which is kept in the castle of La Chûte (Indre-et-Loire), is dated Florence, July 1844.
"On September 16th, in the same year (1844), Elisa married the Genevan merchant François-Louis Le Comte in Florence, by whom she had a daughter, Lysine, who was raised by her maternal grandparents. Elisa died in Florence on December 5th (sic), 1847."
The only one co-incidence in this story is that the Douglas family were recorded as travelling in 1829 from Geneva to Milan and then on to Genoa. Could they have met Counis father and daughter on their way, either in Geneva, or while (and if) they were somewhere along the way to Florence and Rome?
Also, it must be noted that Viallet's entry for Elisa Counis describes her self-portrait as having been executed in 1829, when she was 17, whereas the Uffizi and other sources state that her signature and the date of 1839 (when she was 27 years old), are to be found on the easel in the work. Does the self-portrait by Counis depict a mature teenager or a young woman close to thirty years of age?
It would be good to have absolute confirmation from the Uffizi that the portrait is clearly dated 1839. However, if on inspection it was discovered that the portrait was actually dated 1829, it would change the possibilities radically.
Finally, it is worth considering that if there was any chance that the Douglas portraits were by a Counis, perhaps it was a collaborative effort between father and daughter in 1830. In this regard, see the composite of our painting with the accomplished 1820 oil-on-canvas known to be by Salomon Guillaume Counis. (Am I coming half-way to meet you, Osmund?)
Malenchini being in Rome in 1830 is of considerable interest. I find her much more likely a prospect than Counis, but we need to see more portraits by her for comparison.
On the face of it that's quite a plausible hypothesis, Kieran - it's a pity that the Counis family didn't return to Florence from Geneva (and/or Paris) in Oct 1829 instead of 1830, or they and the Douglases might have been fellow travellers. But re-reading your translation of the Viallet biog (for which much thanks), there are two things there that suggest the '1829' date first given for the self-portrait (which might indeed change things) is just a typo. First, Viallet says himself later in the piece that it dates from 1839. And second, in the previous para discussing her art work, he states that "Two of the latter [watercolours], of Apennine landscapes, dated 1835 and 1838 ... are her first known works." If he was right in that then the self-portrait cannot date from 1829 - and she cannot possibly have painted any portraits, let alone one of such accomplishment as ours, in 1830/31, with or without her father's assistance. Note, too, that since she was born at the end of the year 1812 (16th Nov), she was only 16 for most of 1829 - and either 17 or 18 when our portrait(s) was/were painted**.
Incidentally the self-portrait seems to have been recently rather over-cleaned - there is a clear 'halo' round her head showing that she originally painted herself with much "bigger" 1830s hair, perhaps with large bows or bonnet atop. Such large hairstyles were just coming *in* to fashion at the end of the 1820s, and going rapidly *out* in the late 30s, which tends to add further support for the 1839 date.
**Admiral Douglas was back in England by early Sept 1831 - at a Royal Levee at St James's Palace on the 7th, Vice-Admiral Douglas was presented to the King by Sir James Graham (Morning Post 8/9/1831).
Martin, I've managed to do a Google translation of the Marijcke Schillings article you linked us to. It's not really a huge help, as the period we're most interested in is the least well covered; but it does confirm the 1830 (or rather 1830s) visits to Rome: "In the late 1820s Matilde lived mainly in Tuscany and worked there, also on commission. In Rome, where she could happily return with a visa, a confidential friendship with Antonio Capece di Minutelo, Prince of Canosa, arose in the 1830s." Nothing, though, specifically about later portraits. To avoid further very long posts on the thread I'm attaching it as a Word document. I've corrected/adapted some of the more egregious phrasing fails, and tried to format it exactly as the original pdf, so anything still confusing can more easily be compared with the original Dutch.
The two images (in the original pdf) of Matilde's (?early 1820s) portrait of De Potter, and the self-portrait while painting it, are the best versions so far, but still pretty poor - I'm attaching them separately to this. I must say they don't really impress - his is better than hers, but it's still rather clunky and unsophisticated in both design and detail (inasmuch as we can see it). She seems to have gone backwards, not forwards from the 1813 work we thought showed promise (https://bit.ly/2FYhQ30), and on that evidence it seems unlikely she'd have achieved our portrait's heights less than a decade later.
those small portraits may be of c. 1818 - date assigned to them in Nicolas de Potter and Rene Dalemans, Louis de Potter. Revolutionnaire belge de 1830, Charleroi , 2001, pp. 130-1 where they are reproduced in colour . These are probably much smaller.
The other portrait measuring 60.5 x 46.5 cm sold at Tajan , Paris as lot 214 on 4 November 2011
Osmund, you are right in assuming that it was this portrait originally posted by Jacinto that led me to consider Matilde, I wonder about the reading or accuracy of the date in ink on the back of this portrait, which may not be in her hand - however you are right to be sceptical.
We need much more evidence of her style.
Osmund, just to clarify one point from my posting above, Viallet's reference to 1829 comes from the entry in the 1911 female self-portrait catalogue. The second biographical reference that I included is not by Viallet but comes from a rough translation from the comprehensive Italian biographical listing for her father here:
Therefore, there is still a possibility (though I do admit that it is very unlikely) that 1829 is the date on the canvas and not 1839. A request to the Uffizi for verification might immediately resolve this question.
Regarding Elisa Counis's youthful talents, it is worth reproducing a description of the painter Artemisia Gentileschi, part of which is quoted from Mary Gerrard's 1989 'Artemisia Gentileschi: The Image of the Female Hero in Italian Baroque Art':
Artemisia was introduced to painting in her father's workshop, showing much more talent than her brothers, who worked alongside her. She learned drawing, how to mix color, and how to paint. "By 1612, when she was not yet nineteen years old, her father could boast of her extraordinary talents, claiming that in the profession of painting, which she had practiced for three years, she had no peer".
There are several other know examples of artists like this who learned their skills at a very early age under the guidance of a talented adult. The possibility of a collaboration between father and daughter, therefore, should possibly not to be too readily discounted.
To see the listing at link above go to http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia and initiate a search for Counis
For Counis and her paintings including the self portrait see Naef cited above
Fascinating to watch this superb detective work.
If photos are to be taken, I wonder if close-ups could be taken of areas where there might be a signature/monogram. I attach a picture of one such that I think still needs to be checked out, bottom left, and there may be something in the red, there, too. Also, might the walls, basements and attic be checked for anything resembling an Admiral's portrait?
There is a 2013 monograph on Ida Botti Scifoni . The painter and the paintings, Santa Croce in Pink. Untold stories of women and their monuments, Artecelata, Florence - it is by Donata Grossoni edited by Linda Falcone
This publication may be a small semi private one. It does not seem to have reached the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Roma!
Is there an Edinburgh reader of Art Detective who could go to the National Library of Scotland to check their copy of Galleria d'Arte Moderna di Palazzo Pitti, Catalogo generale especially Volume II , pp.1306-7?
I came across an Italian female artist of the right age who is also represented on ArtUK: Anna Muschi ( https://bit.ly/2E6EqFb ); also Anna Mushi, Mucchi or Anna Muochi ( https://bit.ly/2DDXCIX ) and after her wedding with Abraham Teerlink in 1836 also Anna Teerlink ( https://bit.ly/2DK3alB ).
There are two paintings on ArtUK both of them copies, two more are listed on vads.ac.uk (link above). They were all commissioned by “Mr Douglas” or “Mrs. Cecilia Douglas” in 1826 and bequeathed by Mrs Douglas in 1862. https://bit.ly/2tt3wZ7. In “Invisible women. Forgotten artist of Florence” ( https://bit.ly/2TLt0w1 ) the artist’s dates are given as 1825-1858, which neither matches her (presumed) wedding date 1836 nor the inscription on the back of two of the paintings “Head of the Madonna” (inscribed: “Anna Mushi f Roma 1823/B”) and “The Cumaean Sibyl” (inscribed “Anna Muschi f. Roma 1823 Per ordine[?] di Mr. Douglas”)
But apart from copying she also produced portraits, one of which (the only one I have found so far) is of Canon George Frederick Nott, painted in 1829 in Rome (it is in Winchester now). A black and white reproduction is shown in a recent Italian article which can either be accessed via academia.eu https://bit.ly/2E9C3BH or researchgate https://bit.ly/2E9S9vf on page 847 of the pdf (free download is possible on both pages)
Do you think she is a contender?
Well done indeed, Andrea, in finding an online publication of Invisible Women - and of course the association of 'Douglases' with Muschi is very intriguing, but we need to find more portraits than that of Canon Nott to see if her style changed quite a lot.
Heavens, so many ideas to cover - we could fill half a dozen separate threads, each devoted to one suggested artist!
I fear Scifoni (1812-1844) is even less likely than Counis. As I wrote above, though Ida "was at least working in Rome until around 1833 ... her age would still be a problem even if we'd never seen her work. As it is, her recently-restored self-portrait of 1839 is pleasant enough, but shows no sign of the skill and sophistication we see in our portrait of 8 or 9 years earlier: https://bit.ly/2DwRlQy."
Yes, we are in danger of being overwhelmed with bibliographical references, etc. It will take a lot of time to absorb all this, but let's keep going.
The Cecilia Douglas referred to above by Andrea was Mrs. Cecilia Douglas of Orbison, the daughter of John Douglas, merchant, of Glasgow. She died on the 28th July 1862, aged 90, and therefore was born in c.1772. Her brother was Sir Neil Douglas and she was married to Gilbert Douglas in January 1794. Her husband died in 1807, without issue. The Mr. Douglas who commissioned the copy by Anna Muschi, of the work by Domenichino that Andrea references above, might have been her brother.
Details of Cecilia's family history and of her generous art bequests to Glasgow Corporation can be seen in the footnote of the following genealogical file:
I do not believe that she has any direct connection to Admiral John Erskine Douglas.
I think Andrea's suggestion of Anna Teerlink (nee Muschi) is stylistically well worth pursuing.
She also seems to have had friends among the British expatriate community in Rome and her husband's pupils were mostly English. Florence Nightingale paid her a visit in 1847 https://bit.ly/2SUTVbT
Just to add to the confusion over the spelling of her name even further Nightingale spells it 'Moschi' and Abraham Teerlink also went by 'Alexander' as a first name.
The pair of small portraits of Malenchini and her lover may be copies of larger portraits by the Belgian artist Francois Joseph Kinsoen [1770-1839] for whom see de Gruyter, 8, 2014, pp. 289-90 for the Louis de Potter portrait by Kinsoen in the Musee de Bruges has exactly the same composition as the Malenchini see Maurice Boulogne, Louis de Potter. Histoire d'un banni de l'histoire, Liege, 1954 where it is reproduced
The portrait in the Accademia di San Luca's portrait collection mentioned above turns out to be OF Malenchini as a young woman NOT by her. The artist is Vincenzo Camuccini [1771-1844] . So it is irrelevant to our discussion.
Martin, I feel sure that the identical ‘other’, larger (do we really know that?) portrait of De Potter illustrated in Maurice Boulogne’s 1954 work is one and the same painting, and that the attribution to Kinsoen was just a guess. The reason for that emerges when you see this listing for a black and white photo of the De Potter portrait taken in 1943, and held by the Belgian Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA): http://balat.kikirpa.be/object/95031. At that time the artist was apparently unknown (‘onbekend’) – my guess is that her identity only emerged later (and after 1954) when the Groeningemuseum in Bruges became aware of the privately-owned self-portrait of Malenchini actually painting it.
The museum group holds several portraits by Kinsoen, and none is of De Potter; their current listing for the work (as Malenchini) is here: https://bit.ly/2S2VjEP. The sizes given, both in 1943 and currently, are virtually identical; and the wording of the museum listing suggests that is indeed how they deduced her authorship: “A private collection in Bruges holds a painting of the same size, in which a woman is painting this portrait of De Potter. Stylistically, the two works are so similar that the painting with the woman can be considered a self-portrait. Presumably she is De Potter’s mistress, the Italian painter Matilde Malenchini-Meoni...”.
Though I can’t make the zoom work properly for the museum site’s colour illustration, that for the 1943 photo enlarges well. It produces much the highest-res image I’ve seen of the portrait so far, albeit in black and white, and it can be downloaded. I attach it, along with three small, but quite clear colour images – one from the useful Europeana website through which I found both listings (http://www.europeana.eu/portal/en), the others from a website with images of the 2001 Dalemans de Potter biography you referenced. The latter’s c.1818 date for the work must be wrong, and Schillings’ early 1820s right, as it was not until 1821 that De Potter moved to Florence to work in the De' Ricci Library (in which both he and she are shown – note the identical floor).
Many thanks, Osmund, for sorting this out!
I have just discovered that the famous scholar of The Macchiaioli , Dario Durbe[accent grave ] is a direct descendant of Malenchini. He must be very elderly if still alive. I will try to find out
Malenchini had a British patron, Lady Robinson , for whom she painted an interior of the Primaziale di Pisa' c. 1827-9, when she was in Livorno.
She also exhibited a portrait of the Grand Duchess of Tuscany in Livorno in 1827 [Gazetta di Firenze, 57, 12 May 1827] This should be locatable, if still in existence. The sitter was Maria Anna of Saxony [1799-1832]. She had married the future Grand Duke in 1817
In 1829 the Pitti had a 'giovane donna alla finestra' by Malenchini - this may have been a copy after a painting by Jan Victors of 1640 in the Louvre INV 1286
all this from Sandra Pinto., Cutura neoclassica e romantica nella Toscana Granducale ...' Palazzo Pitti, 1972., pp. 205-6
More light on the giovane donna can be found in Chiara Pezzano, La Galleria d'Arte Moderna di Firenze. Il luogo, le collezioni (1784-1914), Florence, 2000, pp. 208, 211
It measured 1.12 x 1,172 when it was described in an inventory of the Palazzo della Crocetta as a portrait of a young woman at a window and the rest of the description fits the figure in the Victors.
It was transferred from the Palazzo della Crocetta to the Palazzo di Siena on 16 September 1854 - I have not located the latter palazzo , The former is now the National Archaelogical Museum in Florence
This painting may be that in the 1893 Uffizi catalogue by Pieraccini referred to about a week ago above - but the measurements 95 x 80 seem to be different - possibly explicable if the earlier measurements include its frame?
The Lady Robinson reference is interesting, but inconclusive - Italy was seething with semi-resident Brits at the time, and it would be a surprise if any active artist did *not* paint a picture for one at some point or other. I would dearly love to see the 1827 portrait of Maria Anna, Grand Duchess of Tuscany – or indeed an image of any portrait by Malenchini *at all* dating from after her return to Italy in 1826/27. Without one (or of course a specific reference to her in connection with the Douglases) we are really flailing around here.
I've been aware of the Jan Victors copy for a long time. Painted when Malenchini was at Paris for a short while in 1825 or 26, Dr Schillings talks about it in the 2014 Biographical Dictionary entry I translated for you. It *is* in the Pitti (Galleria d'Arte Moderna), and I attach (alongside the original) a 1972 B&W photo of it from the Uffizi photo database (http://fotoinventari.uffizi.it/it/ricerca).
I didn't bring it up before because to me it seemed (and seems) not terribly relevant to the question of whether or not Malenchini could have painted a portrait like ours. Competent Italian copyists were two a penny in the C19th (we had a discussion devoted to one, Michele Cortazzi, a couple of years back) – painting a really good portrait from scratch is far more challenging, something we also need to bear in mind with regard to Andrea's suggestion of Anna Muschi.
"The portraits were painted in 1830 - 1 by a first class female artist at Rome. I cannot remember her name, but her portrait is at Florence among those of contemporary Artists."
Just over fifty years ago, at an age not so different from the young Helen Mackenzie in 1830, I attend an exhibition with my parents that featured works by Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichenstein, Mary Martin, Jim Dine and Robert Indiana, along with those by many other extraordinary international artists. It was the impact of this show that ignited my enduring passion for art. Why would Helen MacKenzie's memory of the painter of her parents, whose portraits she possessed for all of her life, be questioned, especially if she might have been present on the family journey to Italy in 1829/1830 and perhaps might have even met their creator and witnessed their execution? In another twenty years I might not remember the exact names of those who painted many of the works that saw all those years ago, but that will not necessarily invalidate my recollection of the time when and the place where I saw them.
Please note that she did not say that the portrait was a self portrait -although she may have meant that, but it may be by another artist
Is it possible that the seated lady in blue is a self portrait?
Kieran, since you last expressed (one of several times) your firm conviction on this subject, the bulk of the detailed work here has been in accordance with your wishes: it has focused on the extremely small group of female artists who fulfill most of the criteria set by Helen Mackenzie's recollections in her will, notably Matilde Malenchini. Out of respect for you and Barbara, and an acceptance that I can be wrong, I have done my share of it – despite an increasing suspicion that it is a blind alley. Yes, Jacinto gently expressed his feeling that being proscriptive about lines of research was in general undesirable; and emboldened by that, Alison suggested the name of an English woman artist – probably not our painter, but the contribution no less interesting for that. I just don't understand why you feel the need to restate your case – with or without a personal anecdote that does nothing to strengthen it, since it can be instantly countered by other stories that point in the opposite direction!
So please explain what more you would like us to do – or even better, come up with some more possible female Italian artist names yourself (you have left out the word 'Italian' from your quote from Helen's will). I've failed so far to find any, despite my best efforts, and I don't see any of the names so far discussed as very convincing – and that includes Malenchini, now that we can see much more detail of her early 1820s portrait of De Potter (in black & white https://bit.ly/2Gw4SKR).
A lot of heroic work is being done on this discussion by all contributors. Although after much spadework we are no closer to an Italian woman artist working c.1830 whose portrait (whether self or otherwise) was in Florence "among those of contemporary artists", some very interesting ideas have come forward. We don't want to dampen anyone's enthusiasm for this project and any good idea should be aired. I think too that we are best sticking primarily to the material posted and not the person who posted it (unless of course it is to shower praise on them!)
We still have not ruled out conclusively the idea of Malenchini which was suggested by Keith as the first of some 163 comments. It it would be great to see an image of her portrait of Maria Anna, Grand Duchess of Tuscany (1827).
Might someone, for convenience, attach an image of Canon Nott by Muschi.
Difficult to find images of works by Malenchini however this one does look in quality and other elements similar to the portrait we are discussing of CSG (I apologize about the quality of the image)
It is very good to see the entry by Federica Giacomini which scotches my misapprehensions.
Thanks, Laura. I think we have already seen the young lady in blue (Madame le Bon) but your image is much larger so is better for comparisons.
Here's an image of the 1829 Muschi portrait of the Rev. Nott, screen-grabbed from the paper Andrea linked us to (https://bit.ly/2E9C3BH). Its size is not given, but the proportions are virtually 1.3: 1 - this is slightly taller than a British kit-cat, but within the normal range for continental, or at least French portraits (see https://bit.ly/2IhX3ug).
Many thanks, Osmund. As an old black and white image, there's not much to go on, but the portrait does have a softness to it which is closer to the portrait of Catherine Douglas than some of the stylistically harder edged ones we have seen.
Hah...well, I was just about to write that I think the brushwork is *too* soft to bear comparison with ours!
For those confused (as I was for a moment!) about who Federica Giacomini is, she's the author of the detailed paper on Malenchini's 'Mme Le Bon' (the young lady in blue) referenced above.
The angle of the face, even the sharpness of the nose are so similar between the 1829 Muschi portrait and the portrait of CAG.The placement of the eye's iris as well. I wish we could see that painting in color. Intriguing though!
An off the wall suggestion - could the portrait in the Florentine collections referred to in Helen Mackenzie's be a miniature and thus be in a part of the collections which we have not yet searched?
Marion and Barbara, the posting of images of the back of this painting and its frame would be most appreciated. However useless they might turn out to be, they will at least close down one avenue of enquiry.
It is perhaps worth remembering that this is a period when artists were commissioned to execute drawn portraits too - it was not just Ingres who was producing these
I believe a curator is hoping to take photographs for us tomorrow.
Yes, the photos, which I asked for some time ago, are in hand for tomorrow, so we should have them soon.
The linked Muschi portrait may be somewhat misleading due to poor image (or reproduction) quality. The handling of the face is rather good, better than Malenchini's portrait of de Potter, and justifies looking for other images of other portraits by her for comparison.
Five days ago James Fairhead drew our attention to something intriguing, but did it so discreetly (and with such an unclear image attached) that we completely ignored him – a portrait on the wall of the Annan Museum, above the left end of an ornate fireplace, and next to the one of Catherine Douglas that we are researching. We should not have ignored him, and I hope this post may be noticed before the curator goes there shortly to take photos (and if possible investigate the nature of our painting’s support).
Anyway, I’ve managed to find a slightly clearer image of this other portrait (though it’s annoyingly distorted) – see the attached composite with enlargement. Pieter van der Merwe will correct me if I’m wrong, but it looks to me like the sitter is wearing the 1830-43 pattern uniform of a flag officer (i.e. Rear-Admiral and above), with its distinctive red trim at the collar. Although his hair, at least, seems quite youthful for a 73 year-old, Helen Mackenzie remarked on her father’s vigour in later life. I suspect very strongly this is the ‘missing’ portrait of Vice-Admiral J.E. Douglas...hiding in plain sight next to his wife!
Why the portrait doesn’t feature among Annan Museum’s collection on Art UK I can’t imagine (and the C18th gentleman to his right is also missing). It is in a different frame to ours, and apparently a little smaller – the result, perhaps, of differing degrees of cutting-down for different situations. But if the curator there today can be contacted in time, photos and an examination of this portrait as well would be immensely helpful – not to mention any information the Collection may hold on it.
Paul Nicholls tells me that Dario Durbe died 4-5 years ago and MAC Maja Arte Contemporanea in Rome is where to enquire about his archives.
Regarding Osmund's point, I did look at the male portrait next to Catherine Douglas's and thought the man looked the wrong age and the frames didn't match. But as we are trying all possibilities, this one too should be examined more closely.
Photography update: the curator at Annan will be interviewing today and another member of staff will visit the paintings on Tuesday 26 February. Osmund, I will pass on your request about the picture of James Fairhead.
Here is a slightly better image of Osmond's missing 18th century gentleman, the one that does not appear on ArtUK's Annan Museum page, who sits to the left of John Sawyer, Provost, and to the right of the possible Douglas portrait. Annan might like to record it and add it to their online inventory. It would be interesting to know what is the document that he is holding.
Sorry Osmund. The predictive spelling curse has struck again.
A few years ago I put together what I could find on Anna Muschi intending to amend the entries on Muschi/Mushi for NICE Paintings on VADS. There is also in Glasgow Museums, but not on Art UK, a copy by Muschi of The Mater Dolorosa by Carlo Dolci, (1616-1687). This was also probably commissioned by Mrs Cecilia Douglas during her stay in Italy.
"Anna Muschi was a well-known copyist working in Rome in the second quarter of the 19th century. She made an illustration for an Italian translation by her uncle or grandfather Patrizio Muschi of James Thomson’s famous poem The Seasons, published in Florence in 1826. In 1829 she painted a portrait of George Frederick Nott (1768-1841) now in the private apartment of the Dean of Winchester. In 1836 she married the Dutch artist Abraham Teerlink (1776-1857), who had settled in Rome in 1810. She featured on the studio circuit of Rome in the 1840s and was visited by English travellers such as Gladstone and Florence Nightingale (in 1847).”
As a well-known copyist patronised by English tourists, she may well have been commissioned to paint portraits. One can imagine a similarity between the portrait of Catherine Griffith and her 'prettified' copy of the Cumaean Sybil.
Andrew, are you aware of any kin relationship between these two Douglas families, i.e. that of John Erskine Douglas (1758 - 1847) and his wife Catherine Griffith (1795 - 1878), and of Gilbert Douglas ( - 1807) and his wife Cecilia Douglas (1772 - 1862)?
Also, attached are the relevant pages from Heinrich Keller's 1830 edition of the "Elenco di tutti i pittori, scultori, architetti, miniatori, incisori in gemme e in rame, scultori in metallo e mosaicisti : aggiunti gli scalpellini, pietrari, perlani ed altri artefici i negozj d'antichita' e di stampe....(etc)", which lists the professional history and portrait painters working in Rome in the year of the Douglas family's visit. It will take a while to identify all of the female artists, but those that are immediately obvious have been marked in red. So far the are eight:
Sofia Alar (Francese)
Luigia Bersani (Romana)
Ida Botti (Romana)
Anna Pescatori (Romana)
Contributors to this discussion might be able to identify others.
What her entry shows is that Ida Botti, at the age of 17 or 18 (having been born on the 7th November 1812 and who died in 1844, aged 31) was a recognised and listed painter. Her self-portrait (dated to 1839) is one of those to be found in the collection of the Uffizi. See the attached composite. Could she have been good enough to paint John Erskine Douglas and Catherine Douglas? It would be good to compare her self-portrait with the one potentially of Admiral Douglas that Osmund has just identified.
Equally, it could be that, from the above list, one of the other female painter's portraits is in Florence, but just not a self-portrait and not in the Uffizi. An analysis of all of their painting styles will take a while
My apologies, Barbara: "completely ignored" was the wrong phrase to use. I, too, looked at the tiny, fractured image of the adjacent portrait that James attached, and initially rejected it for the same reasons as you. It is only since seeing the slightly better one that I've changed my mind. Here's a portrait of another junior admiral wearing what I believe is much the same 1830-43 uniform: https://bit.ly/2SdRGMa (the date of this one must also be c.1830-1, when the French artist Innocent-Joachim-Louis Goubaud [not Gaubaud] is known to have been in London).
Andrew, do you know the size of the Nott portrait, which I think is not mentioned in the paper from which our only image came?
Re any Douglas-Douglas link, I have gone back several generations, and could find no connection between Admiral Douglas's family and Cecilia's Douglas ancestry on either paternal or maternal sides – Douglas is an extremely common name in Lowland Scotland. (Not that the lack of connection per se diminishes the likelihood of Anna Muschi being the artist.) I did not mention this before as the same thing had already been concluded; this is already an exhaustingly long discussion, and I fear all but impenetrable for the newcomers the PCF is keen to attract to AD!
Unfortunately,Malenchini's portrait of the Grand Duchess with Maria Ferdinanda were destroyed in Livorno in World War II.
She had been in London from June till September 1825 according to Marijcke Schillings . The painting was in the Pinacoteca Giovanni Fattori
She has not yet given me her opinion on the Annan portrait
There are well over 1000 miniatures in the Uffizi. I have not yet found a published list of them - in Italian they are ritrattini. There was an exhibition at the Bargello in 1988 with a catalogue by Silvia Meloni Trkuja, a copy of which is in the British Museum in its British, European and Prehistory Library SR 10C ITALY F, which I hope to see next week
That is disappointing news about the curator's aborted visit to Annan Museum, Marion. I worry slightly that "another member of staff" may not be familiar with paintings and their supports, canvas glued to panel/plywood, signs of cutting down and the like. And do they have any plans to take the pictures down (which really takes more than one person to be safe) to look at/photograph the backs, or are we just talking about a few snaps taken from the front in situ?
One volume of an intended series by Maria Bernardini , Ritrattini della vecchia Firenze was published in 1984
Osmund, I found the same image of the Nott portrait in the same source https://bit.ly/2TUAInz p.847 Unfortunately the otherwise informative caption does not give the size!
Anna Muschi's 'Violin Player' was sold at auction in March last year:
The biographical note attached to the sale reads:
"On a note on the back - Siena, 1800 - 1885 'Violin player', Oil on canvas, 69cm X 55cm. Exhibitions: Raffaellesca International Exhibition, Urbino 1807. The work, executed with elegant mastery, a copy by Sebastiano del Piombo (the original kept in the Uffizi Museum in Florence ). Anna Muschi, from Castel del Piano, wife of the Flemish landscape artist Teerlink, was a passionate and talented painter, dedicated to copying the masters, who brought her to very frequently the Palace of the Corsini family and their famous gallery, as suggested by Silvia Pedone in her publication 'Looks and Copies - The Corsini masterpieces seen by nineteenth century painters (Rome, 2016). It seems, among other things, that some of the most quoted copyists or miniaturists active in Rome in the nineteenth century also appear on the small list of the Corsini collection. Anna made three copies of the 'Madonna with the Child' by Murillo, two versions of 'Erodiade' by Guido Reni, six 'Madonnas' by Carlo Dolci, two copies of 'Ecce Homo' by Guercino and finally a 'Holy Family' by Barocci - one of his works by Guido Reni - in the Church of Saint James in Thornes, West Yorkshire."
Quite what the reference to the 1807 exhibition in Urbino, when she was 7 years old, is yet to be worked out.
As Andrew has mentioned above, in 1826, a copper-plate engraving of Anna Muschi's 'The Seasons', which she had painted in Rome, appeared as the frontispiece of Patrizio Muschi's translation of 'Le Stagioni di Giacomo Thomson'. (See attached). Anna was Patrizio's niece.
A range of works by her can be seen here:
Her 1823 interpretation of the 1622 'Cumaean Sibyl' by Domenichino, now at Galleria Borghese, alongside the portrait of Catherine Douglas, can be seen in the attached composite.
Re the Rev Nott's portrait by Muschi, a friend is putting me in touch with someone of consequence in the Winchester Cathedral hierarchy who is also involved with the arts. Would you like me to pursue this, in the hope that we can access measurements, and perhaps a better and/or colour image of the portrait? I don't want to double up if contact with the Deanery is already in hand by Barbara, Andrew or anyone else.
Some of the female artists so helpfully unearthed by Kieran may of course be concealed by their husband's names
Is it possible that the two portraits of the Rev. George Frederick Nott, as they appear in the article referenced above ( https://bit.ly/2E9C3BH ) have at some stage had their labels, or their assessment in the preparation for those labels, mistaken for each other? The first portrait in the article (on page 797) is said to depict George Frederick Nott at aged 25 in 1794, and depicts a balding man, whereas the second portrait, on page 847, supposedly painted by Anna Muschi in 1829, shows a younger-looking man with a full head of hair, at a time when he is supposed to be 60 years old. (See attached composite). Am I missing something here? One thing is for sure. If the bald man is 25 in 1794 and the man with the full head of hair is 60 in 1829, I would like to get my hands on whatever hair restorer he was using! The possibility that Nott is wearing a wig in the second portrait is, of course, a possibility.
If there is a chance that these portraits have be mistakenly captioned as the one for the other, then the bald-headed man is the one painted by Anna Muschi, as she was not alive in 1794, she supposedly having been born in Sienna in 1800.
There were 2 separate portraits in 1826-7 not a double portrait. The Maria Ferdinanda of Saxony portrait by Malenchini was a second work. She was the elder sister [1796-1865] and was Grand Duchess from 1821-4 and on the death of her husband Ferdinand III [1769-1824] ,her husband 's son Leopold [1797-1870] became Grand Duke. All very complicated as Maria Ferdinanda became her younger sister's step mother-in-law! At least that is how I understand it.
Forgive me Martin, by whom and to which two separate or double portraits are you referring?
These are the lost portraits by Malenchini which were in the Livorno Museum , but were destroyed in WW2. I mistakenly thought that there was only one Grand Duchess painted, then that the portrait was of the two sisters together, but it seems that she painted them separately . You can understand my total confusion and then I discovered the bizarre events referred to above!
I have contacted the Museo Giovanni Fattori asking if any photographs survive of the portraits which were taken before their destruction.
Malenchini's own very complicated and racketty life can be read on wikipedia!
Osmund, by all means, go ahead with Winchester. And thank you.
Will do - waiting to hear back from him now.
The dates given to the two portraits of Geo Fredk Nott at Winchester are indeed a bit surprising, but there are a few pointers that suggest that they are nevertheless the right way round. (1) If you block off the hair, I do think that the bald ('1794') one has a younger face. (2) '1794' is in a more C18th style, notably the painted oval format - this had gone right out of fashion by the 1820s for oils. There are doubtless late examples (and it may have lingered longer on the continent), but I think they're rare. Barbara's huge fund of knowledge will give her a better handle on that aspect than me, though. (3) Clearest of all for me is the sitter's clothing. Note the heavier, more structured jacket in '1829', and (especially) the height of the wing collar - this really could not be as early as 1794. And the bow-knotting of the cravat in '1794' is very typical of the 1790s.
So yes, I imagine he must have been wearing a wig (and again the brushed-forward hairstyle is much less likely in the 1790s). I wonder whether the sitter (?Admiral Douglas) in the portrait at Annan Museum had one too. Ah, vanity.
I'm attaching a slightly fuller composite of both portraits, as the painted oval is clearer on this.
The problem remains that the Winchester portrait looks too young for a man of 60, and it does not at all look like he's wearing a wig but rather like natural hair, while the 1794 portrait shows a man who is prematurely bald. Also, compared to all other images we have seen here of Muschi pictures, the Winchester portrait seems to be by a better painter.
Of course, Jacinto, a prematurely bald man is the most likely to want to wear a wig; and I'm not sure how one can tell false from real hair in a portrait, as any embarrassing deficiencies would be tidied up by a portraitist who wanted to get paid. Facially he seems less than 60, yes; but not absurdly so, allowing for lucky genes**, artistic flattery of a vain man, and very poor image resolution (tending to smooth out skin features) – you can’t see any canvas texture, unlike the 1794 one (which must have been glued to a board later). There may also be some over-painting, as significant damage was apparently done to the canvas during a burglary in Sep 1992, and must since have been repaired. As to artistic ability (and indeed style), I think it's very hard to compare Muschi's only known original portrait with the smooth finish of of old masters copies done to order. Which doesn't mean that I think our portrait of Catherine Ann Douglas is by her – but I am fairly comfortable with the idea that this is her 1829 portrait of Nott. Anyway, let’s hope my Winchester contact can facilitate something clearer.
**The attached was me (in another life) at 59+ – not so old if you take away the ‘tache and thinning grey hair. It’s the neck that gives you away, and high collars and cravats neatly cover that up.
It is certainly interesting that the pose of Catherine Douglas is so similar to that of 'The Cumaean Sibyl'. Muschi's little copy of the Mater Dolorosa by Carlo Dolci *is* on Art UK, but hard to find, as is the copy of Domenichino's 'The Last Communion of Saint Jerome' that NICE suggests may be by her too. Much of the latter is covered by protective paper, however: https://bit.ly/2SUZqrC & https://bit.ly/2ShJCu3
I would have thought that by 1829 men no longer wore wigs, except, I suppose, due to considerable vanity, which would be rather out of place in a Winchester Cathedral canon. Presumably, of course, which does not make it impossible.
Also, if Nott displayed his baldness as a young man of 25, why would he cover it up as a man of 60? Again, it is not impossible, but curious.
The more I look at the Elisa Counis portrait, the more it reminds me of CAG. Are there other images of paintings by Elisa Counis available. I can't find any online.
Well, as he ascended the clerical ladder, gained ever more lucrative preferments, and mixed more and more with the beau-monde, perhaps he just became more worldly and vainer - senior C of E clergymen of the 18th & early C19th were seldom known for their modesty, humility and simple tastes, as many a Bishop's portrait of the period will tell you. Oh, hang on - I see that while superintending repairs to Winchester Cathedral in 1817, he fell a distance of thirty feet, and sustained "severe injuries to the head, from which he never wholly recovered". Some nasty dents and scars really would explain it.
Actually, I suspect cosmetic wigs for older men were a lot commoner in the C19th than most of us realise; and on further investigation, I'm not sure they *were* considered particularly vain. George 'Beau' Brummell - who detested and helped banish the filthy old wigs of the C18th, and the powdered hair that replaced and imitated them - was certainly vain; but immaculate, perfect taste was his thing, not ostentation, and he'd have shuddered at the thought of looking ridiculous. He was already wearing a beautifully-dressed wig to cover thinning hair by 1832 (when he was 48); and in 1836 the amount he still spent on scented oils for grooming it caused much annoyance to the friends who had paid to get him out of a French debtors' prison. When in 1839, his mind and body all but destroyed by syphilis, those friends came to take him away to an asylum, it was not that he had a wig that was remarkable, but that he had stopped wearing and caring for it.
It would seem that the basic difference between these wigs and the sort that you rightly say were long gone in 1829, is that the earlier type were more like hats, and designed to be recognised for what they were; by this period they were seen as an adjunct to good grooming for the ageing male - or perhaps in this case a disguise for disfigurement - and meant to look like the wearer's real hair.
Sorry, I've written more on this than I meant to - but it may prove relevant also in the context of the dark-haired portrait in Annan Museum that may, or may not be the 73 year-old Admiral Douglas.
I've not seen any other works by Elisa Counis at all, though landscape drawings and watercolours are recorded. As far as we have ascertained, no portrait by her is known apart from the self-portrait of 1839; and two of the watercolours (Apennine landscapes), dated 1835 and 1838, are apparently her earliest known works. As I calculated many post back, she would have been just 17 or 18 when our portrait was painted in 1830 or 1831 (not later than August). Surely she must be out of the equation?
Artemisia Gentileschi painted her first Susanna at 17....
If Muschi could paint portraits as accomplished as our picture, is it plausible that she would have been largely a lowly copyist?
Yes, Laura, she did - and look at the quality of works she painted over just the next decade, let alone later, and that have survived precisely because they were so good. If Counis painted the highly-accomplished Catherine Douglas in 1830-1, why are there no other known portraits by her - perhaps even any oils at all - apart from one (to me) less-accomplished work, in a (to me) rather different style, 8 or 9 years later? Her father was immensely proud of her talent, and distraught at her early death - it's why he presented the self-portrait to the Uffizi. Would he not have striven to make sure as much of her her work as possible (and her reputation) survived and was recognised?
Re Muschi, Jacinto, I entirely agree, and the circumstantial case is also weak for everyone else so far suggested. I was only arguing on behalf of the authenticity of her only known portrait of Nott, and to an extent playing devil's advocate (as I have in truth been doing for some time). I have yet to see a work by any of the (female) artists discussed that remotely convinces me that one of them could be our painter.
For that reason it's probably time for me to withdraw from this discussion, at least until we are able to see or hear more of the portrait in the physical sense, and ditto (especially) of the one at Annan Museum that I believe is likely to be her husband. I am worried, though, that we may not get many of the answers we need from Tuesday's visit, or any time soon. Fingers crossed.
For what it may be worth: Vincenzo Camuccini, whom I have mentioned above and happens to have painted Matilde Malenchini (and was himself drawn by Lawrence), was a prominent painter of neoclassical subjects and portraits in Rome in the first half of the 19th century. I ran across this bit of intriguing information about him: his brother, an important art dealer, secured for him the patronage of English aristocrats on the Grand Tour.
Dr Schillings has found no evidence to support the idea that Mathilde Melanchini ever met John Erskine Douglas and his wife, and as a historian, not an art historian, does not feel able to comment on an attribution of this portrait
Jacinto, to put it the other way around, if Muschi could paint works as accomplished (to my eye) as 'The Cumaean Sibyl' of 1823, as well as "three copies of the 'Madonna with the Child' by Murillo, two versions of 'Erodiade' by Guido Reni, six 'Madonnas' by Carlo Dolci, two copies of 'Ecce Homo' by Guercino and finally a 'Holy Family' by Barocci - one of his works by Guido Reni - in the Church of Saint James in Thornes, West Yorkshire." it is surely plausible that she would have been respected as much more than a lowly copyist, and that she could have been sufficiently capable (if not easily so) of painting this discussion's work.
However, she was not just one of a few but one of quite a few talented female painters and copyists working in Rome in 1830. In the above-referenced 1830 edition of Heinrich Keller's "Elenco di tutti i pittori, scultori, architetti, miniatori, incisori in gemme e in rame, scultori in metallo e mosaicisti : aggiunti gli scalpellini, pietrari, perlani ed altri artefici i negozj d'antichita' e di stampe....(etc)", it is worth noting that Muschi, aged c.30 in 1830, was a member, since her election at the age of 24 on the 25th July 1824, of the 'Accademica d'Onore di S. Luca'. To add to my list above of plausible female artists living in Rome in 1830, in that same edition, several other female painters, also members of the 'Accademica d'Onore di S. Luca', though listed as miniature painters and painting copyists ("copie di quadri e pitture"), are to be found. These include:
Clelia (sic) Valeri
See https://bit.ly/2Ey85HU for the Academy's chronological membership list from 1801 until 1834.
In addition, there are several other female artists listed, though not as members of the 'Accademica d'Onore di S. Luca'. They are:
It is not unreasonable to believe that one or two of the above-listed female artists were actually plausible contenders as the painter of this discussion's work. Working as miniature painters or copyists does not exclude them from being able to paint a decent portrait, as Anna Muschi's career already suggests. They cannot all have been lowly or talentless when it came to their standing in the artistic community of 1830's Rome.
"Lowly" was used in a relative sense, Kieran. A successful portraitist would always be ranked higher and I expect paid rather better than a copyist (whose work was not taken for original). A professional copyist must be skilled for obvious reasons, just as an engraver of paintings, but a good reproductive engraver is one thing and a Robert Nanteuil is quite another.
I have been wondering about this portrait for quite a while and have a small question. There may be a perfectly reasonable explanation.
I see this as a formal painting. A painting about status and about somebody's place in society. She is clearly a lady of great wealth but as we know Catherine Douglas was not a lady born of noble birth and neither did she appear to have inherited a title when she married the Admiral. She just seems to be described as Mrs Douglas in all sources even in a transcript of her statement from Court, she is still Mrs Catherine Anne Douglas. No title.
If Mrs Douglas has no title, then why is the the lady in the painting sitting on an ermine lined robe? A sign of nobility and divinity. Is this Mrs Douglas? Could it be someone else? or did Mrs Douglas have any other title through her husband?
I have looked through countless examples of ermine in portraiture, they do solely appear to be reserved for portraits of Queens, Duchesses, Countesses, Marchionesses, even the Lady of the Chamber. Whether the ermine has been worn, attached, draped, touched or pointed to, the sitters tend to all have a title and be a member of the nobility. It's a pattern and it's a style and it's used as a device in order to emphasise their status. The ermine is there for a reason. It didn't seem to be the done thing to use, when not entitled to.
If this is Catherine Douglas, then why is she sat on her ermine lined robe?
There are a few general examples attached.
Hmm, interesting question. She is not only sitting on it, but it appears to be a robe or cape, as it is also partly around her shoulders. One could say it was a studio accessory used by the particular painter of this portrait. We all agree this is skillful and elegant work. The painter may have had props and fabrics in the studio for embellishing her portraits. One might also consider if there are different practices on the continent and/or traditions associated with ermine.
I expect a British portraitist familiar with the social conventions of the upper classes would have avoided the perceived impropriety of draping Mrs. Douglas in ermine, but an Italian painter wishing to cultivate wealthy British clients would probably have operated differently, meaning rather more freely. The sitter was apparently a beautiful and elegant woman, and the painter may have been inspired to make her look as grand as possible, with more regard for visual effect than anything else.
Perhaps the ermine is a clue, then - there can't have been that many of such a rare fur knocking about Italian artist's studios in Italy at that time, can there?
The paintings at Annan were photographed this week. The member of staff concerned said that unfortunately the visit did not unearth any more useful information regarding the painting of Catherine Griffith or the two portraits of Admiral Douglas. She could not see any signatures on either of the oils but photographed the fronts, backs and corners. She suggested that signatures could have been painted over, as the paint looks quite dense, but a specialist would need to take a look to determine this. She does not think that the painting of Catherine has been reduced in size, but cannot be sure. An accompanying staff member mentioned that it looked as if there might have been a larger frame covering more of the painting at one point. The frame sealing tape on the back of the frame has been removed, so they could open the back up next time they are there to see if that tells us anything further.
I will post a selection of images next (there are too many to post them all).
Thank you very much to Lydia Costello for these excellent photographs of the paintings of Catherine Griffith and Admiral Douglas.
The first 10 are of Catherine Griffith.
Photographs of the oil painting of Admiral Douglas at Annan Museum.
A first batch of photographs of the watercolour of Admiral Douglas at Annan Museum.
The oil portrait of the admiral looks unfinished, especially the dress. In any case, it is clearly not on the same level as that of his wife, though his head is done well enough.
Yes, thank you indeed, Annan and Lydia - those are very good; I apologize for doubting that we'd get to see such a helpful group. Your close-ups, though, have unfortunately *just* missed most of the area where James Fairhead thought two weeks ago there might be a monogram or signature, and which still looks to me possible (though far from certain - and these things usually turn out to be nothing significant). See the attached crop of one of your whole-picture shots (105305-1). At the right-hand edge of one of your close-ups (105452-1), you can just see the beginning of whatever it is.
Does anyone know about the Portrait of Emily Mary, Viscountess Palmerston when Countess Cowper; almost whole length; full face, seated; wearing evening dress, seated on ermine fur? The dress, the necklace, the ermine, the period are all very close to the portrait of Catherine Anne Griffith.
The listing from the British Museum lists 1860 as a date which would be late for the portrait of CAG, but I thought it might be worth mentioning since there are some interesting similarities. https://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details/collection_image_gallery.aspx?assetId=1612931604&objectId=3629423&partId=1
The difference in frames that (along with the dark hair) led Barbara to doubt that the other one could be Admiral Douglas is now explained. His looks to be a C19th one, albeit covered in cheap gold paint, while hers is a modern replacement made up from standard commercial moulding with a narrower rebate; it is certainly much more recent than the date of presentation. As previously surmised, both canvases must at some point have been cut from their stretchers and laid (i.e.glued) on to board. If the hardboard showing at the back is the support, then this has happened recently; but it's possible that the hardboard has another older board behind it, though the rear views suggest there is little room for one. All rather sad.
I also hope there wasn't anything helpful written on the outer part of his old label, now obscured by the wide tape attaching it to the hardboard.
Laura, 1860 is the date of the print's acquisition by the BM, not that of the print (and still less that of the portrait from which the print was taken). Your first instinct was right - Lady Cowper's portrait by Lucas is of a very similar date to ours. You might like to check if it was exhibited at the R.A....no, don't worry, it was - in 1833. It is actually on Art UK, it's at Petworth House (National Trust): https://bit.ly/2HaBWHU
Hi Ms. Schwendinger.....Not sure if you've seen them, but there are a few portraits that you may find interesting on the attachment on my last post. There is also an image of the Countess in colour.
So is John Lucas a possibility? It even looks more convincing when you see the work in color.
Not really, Laura...unless we are now abandoning not just the idea of a female and Italian artist, but that it was painted in Italy at all! It's important to realize that similar clothes, hairstyles, props & settings, and similar painting styles & colouring do not necessarily - in fact, rarely - mean the same artist: they usually just mean that both artists were painting at the same time in the prevalent desired style, and the sitter was fashionably dressed and otherwise presented. The same is true of Janet Blake (for whom you've also suggested Lucas), I'm afraid.
I agree with Jacinto that there is something very odd and/or unfinished about parts of the Admiral's uniform. The reflections in the glass confuse matters, but on his right shoulder (left as we look at it) there is no sign of an epaulette at all - and the one on the other side is very poorly painted, seeming not to lie on the shoulder properly at all, and with (to my eye) signs of overpainting in its vicinity.
Something now occurs to me. The red detail on the collar that I've previously mentioned is *only* to be found on senior RN uniforms from 1830-1843. I don't know the date on which the order for the change to red facings was made (Pieter - HELP!), but assuming it was not before 1830 then we have a problem. Admiral Douglas and family left for their long visit to Italy at around the end of Sept 1829, so he could not then have been possessed of an 1830 pattern coat. I suppose he might have become aware of the change while in Italy, and have had his coat altered locally. But it also seems possible that he tried to have the portrait adjusted, perhaps by a much less competent artist, in England - he might even have told the original artist in Italy to leave it unfinished so the right details could be added later. It's also possible that the portrait was damaged much later on (probably after the sitter's death in 1847), and an even more incompetent artist made a dog's dinner of the restoration. Without a full and detailed examination - or at least a clear high-res image without glass in the way - we shall probably never know.
I suggested that Janet Blake was painted by René Théodore Berthon, and perhaps John Hayter, not Lucas. There is more than period outfit, ermine, and coloring. To my eye there is an angle of the neck and other elements that could suggest they were painted by the same hand. That doesn't mean I don't agree about the Italian possibility, I am just making observations and being part of a discussion.
No photograph exists of Malenchini's portrait which was destroyed in Livorno during WW2. However, the museum was able to confirm that Malenchini painted a double portrait, not a single portrait
Thanks, Martin, and well done for finding out. Disappointing, though.
Laura, I'm sorry about the Hayter/Lucas error - two top-flight, highly fashionable London artists and contemporaries called John, both painting (like dozens of others) the upper-crust in the same sort of sub-Lawrence romantic manner, are easy to confuse in one's mind when you don't have the other thread open. But I should have checked.
I'm also sorry if you found the rest of my reply unfair or condescending. You're fairly new here (and extremely welcome!), and I naturally know little of your knowledge, your experience or how good your 'eye' is. All I can go on is what you *write*, and respond to that. In drawing our attention to the 'interesting similarities' in the portraits (I agree), the only points you actually mentioned were that they are both almost whole length, seated, full face, wearing evening dress, ermine beneath, and then more generally the dress, the necklace, the period and (by implication) the colouring - i.e exactly the points I addressed. Forgive me if I did not guess that there were other artistic elements that had led you to make your suggestion.
Unless some very keen eyed contributor can find tellingly similar portraits by an Italian artist in auction catalogues or elsewhere on the art market, we seem unlikely to make any serious progress without help from an Italian versed in the period
I agree, Martin. Italian input would be highly useful.
Surely these portraits are not by the same hand.... which seriously questions the credibility of the daughter's recollections.
Unfortunately, Italian 19th century painting is a relatively obscure or neglected area where only Italian specialists are likely to know much.
I agree with Tim's view - are the portraits even of the same date?
Tim, I'm not sure it has been established that the portrait of the Admiral is the pair to that of Catherine. As you say, they are almost certainly not by the same hand. His portrait may be another one entirely with the right one (i.e. by the Italian woman artist) is now gone.
It would be distinctly odd if a pair of portraits had such different shapes
The will is also not clear due to the space hyphen space followed by a single digit....does it mean 'painted in 1830-1' or '1830. 1 by a first class female....'
Seems unlikely that there's another missing pendant, as the Richmond watercolour is present and accounted for.
Following the death of George IV on the 26th June 1830, and in accordance with regulations that the new king, William IV (the 'Sailor King', who was appointed as Britain's Lord High Admiral in 1827), was planning as a response to the over-elaborate and excessively expensive uniform decorations that had developed during his elder brother's reign, the Hampshire Advertiser of Saturday 10th July 1830 carried this notice:
"Portsmouth, July 10th - An alteration in the naval uniform is expected to take place, by substituting scarlet facings instead of white as is now worn."
The Morning Advertiser, of Monday 12th July, elaborated:
"The Naval uniform is again altered. Red collars and cuffs are to be substituted for the present white facings, and the buttons at the flaps formerly worn are to be revived. The trowsers (sic) are not to be worn with lace. It is in fact the same uniform worn before the introduction of white facings, with the exception of the red collar and cuffs."
The London Evening Standard of the same date elaborated further:
"His Majesty has taken the earliest opportunity to exhibit his feeling respecting those injuriously expensive dresses and decorations required to be worn by public servants during the late reign. He has commanded the orders requiring officers of the navy to wear white breeches, white stockings and white sword belt, at the drawing rooms, to be annulled; and still further, that the facings of the uniform coats shall in future be scarlet instead of white, and the gold lace on the trousers (sic) altogether discontinued."
The attached Admiralty Office notice, of the 10th July 1830, gives the specific instruction.
Some few days later, the Admiralty Office announced that Vice-Admiral of the Blue John Erskine Douglas, was to be made a Vice-Admiral of the White.
These dates do lend support to Osmond's suggestion, of yesterday, that perhaps, having sat for this portrait in early 1830 during the family trip to Italy, Douglas might have, on the painting's eventual arrival in England, commissioned a local artist to make the appropriate alterations to reflect the new King's updated naval regulations. If this possibly is the case, then only the faces of James Erskine Douglas and his wife Catherine should be examined when trying to make a determination as to whether or not they were painted by the same artist. In this regard, and on inspection of the attached composite, is the application of the dot of white paint on the iris of each eye in anyway indicative of just one artist's work being identifiable in the two portraits?
Tim, I interpreted the wording of the will as being that the portrait was painted in 1830–1831, but this is an interesting point. I will try to find out whether there is a '2', referring perhaps to another picture, on a later page of the will.
This is the full text of Helen Mackenzie's will. Thank you very much again to Siobhan Ratchford, Curator at Annan Museum, for her constant attention to our enquiries and demands for ever more detail.
These pictures of the back of the watercolour of Admiral Douglas show a pencil inscription and a stamp or impression in the wood.
So, the file will-3-2.jpg (page 482) in Marion's mail just now, also mentions these portraits. "That of my dear father in oils [margin, done in Rome 1830-1] to John Residt at Thurs Island. Thus the portrait was double bequested, and went to one John Residt (typo?) of Thurs Island (where?).
I think that these entries to the will are done at different dates, and this is probably the earliest mention.
The margin note on the file will-3-2.jpg (page 482) that is mentioned above resolves one issue raised by Tim Williams yesterday. Helen MacKenzie's recollection is that the portraits were painted in 1830/1831, and not that they were painted in '1830. 1 by a first class female....'.
The actual legal will (dated 13 Mar 1902) is just the first four pages (478-481 as paginated in the document), along with a short codicil dated 6 Sept 1907 (p.488). The rest of it – and everything that relates to chattels – is in a series of about a dozen informal memoranda, instructions for her executors, apparently dating between ?1896 and 1910 (the dates and arrangement are very confusing). The memos are clearly transcriptions of handwritten notes, with original omissions, corrections and crossings-out reproduced, and the majority were made during the last couple of years of Helen’s life – she seems to have written new instructions, and altered existing ones, as the original legatees died (or lost touch and/or fell out of favour). I’m attaching a PDF – no, it’ll have to be split in two, it’s too big – of the whole document to aid reading it as a whole. I’ve attempted to divide and mark things up to show the different notes, but some divisions may be non-existent or incorrect. I’ve also marked (in pink) sections of interest / relevance.
And here's the second half.
The last memo is of early 1910 but undated (she died at the end of March) – it is the one we’ve been looking at throughout, which leaves various items (including the portraits) to the Provost of Annan for the Library. Mrs Douglas does seem (pace Kieran) to be showing a few signs of confusion – in the penultimate memo (Jan 1910) she leaves two different amounts to her (step) grandson in the same sentence; and in the last, as well as being seemingly unable to recollect when her mother had died, she leaves her father’s two naval swords to Annan Library at the beginning, and then also leaves them to her two (step) grandsons at the end. There is a post-death deposition by an executor and lawyer confirming her authorship of the memoranda, but it is noted that almost all of the last one is (unlike the others) not in her handwriting, though signed.
The original bequest (or informal instruction acting as one) of Admiral Douglas’s portrait was to his cousin, The Hon John Douglas, CMG, former premier of Queensland, Australia, and at the date of writing (1902) Government Resident and Magistrate at Thursday Island. He died in 1904, so it is no surprise that the picture had to go elsewhere. Our portrait of his wife was at the same time bequeathed to ‘Germaine’, whom I take to be the Adelaide Germaine Catharine Douglas mentioned elsewhere (her husband’s cousin, b.1833), then living in Scotland. She did not die until 1917 (in England), but the bequest was nevertheless superseded in the final memo. It must all have been a nightmare for the trustees to sort out...
Has the portrait of the Admiral been cut down?
The very long white shawl that was described as having been used as a turban was presumably included in the painting of Helen MacKenzie of the two 1843 marriage-era portraits of herself and her husband Colin.
I wondered about that, Kieran, but decided it was more likely to be the one in our portrait. Its background colour is sort of white, and most people's memories (though I know yours is unusually accurate) can get details surprisingly wrong. The point being that in 1896 (which I think is the date of the memo) she wouldn't have had the picture with her at her west coast house, and indeed would have seen it only very intermittently in the preceding 50 years. She almost certainly inherited it after her sister Louisa died in Oct 1901 and the Edinburgh house was sold (which triggered her new will of Mar 1902 and extensive memo of May the same year). See attached 1.
Before that Helen was from the 1840s mainly in India, London and (I've discovered) Germany and Switzerland, and visited her mother and sister (in Scotland from c.1860) only occasionally. At some point after her husband Colin Mackenzie's death in 1881 she too moved up to Scotland (she was there by 1891), but to a house on the other side of the country, 70 miles and more from Edinburgh. She and her husband seem to have had the far more transportable Geo Richmond watercolour - his name is on the back, along with the name and address of the East India agents & merchants J Cockburn & Co of New Broad St, London. See attached 2.
Which leads me to think that Louisa Douglas's Will may (if she was anything like her sister) just possibly hold some information on the portraits of her parents. Unlikely, but I suppose it's worth a shot: when I've time I'll buy some more credits at Scotland's People and get us access to it.
Martin, that's something I've been wondering for a while. I've more to say anon about the state of both portraits, but they've certainly been cut from their stretchers and glued to boards, and sizes may well have been altered more significantly at the same time. We don't, of course, actually know the dimensions of his, but it's clearly somewhat smaller than hers.
The white shawl painted as turban could also refer to her husband‘s portrait. Especially as she goes on to write about another striped shawl „painted as girdle“.
Osmund, no offense taken! Also for all those of you who are interested my opera about Artremisia Gentileschi will be premiered in NY Thursday and Saturday, at St. Paul's. All are welcome, the cast and orchestra re superb. Times Arrow Festival. https://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Trinity-Church-Wall-Streets-Times-Arrow-Festival-to-Focus-on-Female-Artists-20190213
Siobhan Ratchford, the curator of Annan Museum, has kindly shared this blog about the conservation of Colin Mackenzie's jacket by the University of Glasgow's Centre for Textile Conservation. https://bit.ly/2ToDDbr
Toi toi toi, Laura...or as a nod to Artemisia, 'In bocca al lupo'.
Andrea, I think you're right: the proximity of the two shawl/painting references in Helen's notes strongly suggests to me that both are to her husband's portrait by James Sant, not ours of her mother. Incidentally, though rather off-topic, there are two small errors in the description of the Sant work on Art UK which need correcting.
First, the 'c.1842' date. According to the very full timeline of Mackenzie's life in Helen's 1884 biography 'Storms and sunshine of a soldier's life', he did not leave India until March 1843, arriving in England in June (they became engaged in July)**. The portrait was exhibited at the RA summer exhibition from the spring of 1844, so 'c.1843' or '1843/44' would be a deal more accurate.
Second, the surname of the 1961 donor of the work to the NAM is given as Clogstown [sic]. His name was actually T(om) O(swald) Clogstoun (1897-1987), spelled with a 'u'. He was the nephew of Colin Mackenzie's grandson, Cuthbert Clogstoun (1858-1932), mentioned several times in Helen's will. Tom himself was the soldier-sitter's great-grandson.
**See https://bit.ly/2SVSZzB and https://bit.ly/2TJDK1e
Just to clarify, the two shawl/painting references are in Helen Mackenzie's will & notes page 4, in a memorandum of 1896 (or possibly 1902). I am attaching a detail of the relevant section.
Osmund, I was intrigued by your reference to the will of Louisa Douglas and bought some credits to download them. Unfortunatley, there is only a short reference to the portraits (highlighted on the second page of the will). And the inventory is not helpful either. In case I missed something, both documents are attached.
Thank you, Andrea, and also for earlier comments by Osmund. The commitment to this discussion is admirable.
A belated response to E. Jones’s comment that the ermine-lined cloak she’s sitting on implies a titled sitter. Although in earlier ages ermine was indeed a sign of royalty and subsequently nobility, this association relaxed somewhat during the C18th. This may have been partly a result of its use with the Turkish (and later Grecian) style dress fashionable from the early part of the century; and partly because as the century wore on, the huge explosion in middle-class wealth began to break down the idea that to be aristocratic meant you had to be titled. Remember, too, that unlike Continental titles which descend as courtesy titles to all descendants, male and female, in Britain any courtesy title is limited to the children of the title-holder: even a grandchild of the monarch is often just plain Mr or Miss.
Whatever the reason for the change, from mid-century many leading artists like Cotes, Copley, the miniaturist John Smart and especially Reynolds were routinely painting untitled, but still aristocratic ladies in ermine-lined or trimmed garments. See, for example, https://bit.ly/2UxS8a4, https://bit.ly/2TuilKf, https://bit.ly/2F2uHAk, https://bit.ly/2HHCANd, https://bit.ly/2W8nvs2, https://bit.ly/2EQgjtJ, https://bit.ly/2SYxZbr, https://bit.ly/2STSru5. And this link re a Copley example specifically discusses the fashion, and mentions five other American portraits by him where the sitter wears it: https://bit.ly/2VTnmc7 – see pp 55-58 of the pdf (40-43 as paginated).
By the C19th the fashion had rather passed; and as ermine became (in Britain, anyway) a rarer accoutrement in portraits altogether, it did perhaps regain something of its former noble connection. But because the break had previously occurred, it seems clear that it was quite acceptable for any ‘lady of quality’ to be seen with it – especially when (as here) she or her husband was descended from a titled family, though untitled themselves.
It's been rather a long while since I have come back into the discussion but I wonder if by any chance this could have been painter by the Scottish artist David Martin. Perhaps the discussed painting is a little bit later than Martin, but I just wondered if someone had suggested him.
The discussion has slowed, but just to address your point. We know the portrait dates from c.1830 and that it was painted in Italy. Our original motivation was to find an Italian woman artist active in Rome in the 1820s and 1830s, as that is what the documentation indicated. Unfortunately that would rule out David Martin on several counts, as he died in 1797 and did not travel abroad. It can be difficult to keep track in these long discussions but a word search is one way to navigate.
PS I hope the opera was a great success!
Sorry to be late joining this discussion. All I can do is to confirm that this portrait dates from c 1830-33 at the latest. Fashion styles that confirm this are the hair, the full blown balloon sleeves tightening below elbow, the wearing of two matching bracelets, the fashion for draping long gold chains and the SIZE of the oriental turban- Such oriental turbans were by no means new, but the extra large size fixes it at these dates too. I am pretty certain that the colour black here isa fashion colour, not a mourning choice. Such Paris styles were widely worn by fashionable women right across Europe and elsewhere though her ermine cloak is very intriguing. I attach 2 slides which show these features and are of the same date.
1: The Marquise de Béthisy by Carl von Steuben, 1833,
2: Unknown woman pointed on ivory miniature, Jean Henry Roust, 1831
A "British School" portrait, c. 1830, for comparison (though I am not suggesting it is by the same artist):
That really is a very good analogue, Jacinto - she even has the ermine. Though ours has perhaps a rather softer edge to the finish, I certainly wouldn't rule out the same artist being involved; but annoyingly that of Mrs Arbuthnot's portrait is not recorded either. I've checked Graves's Royal Academy Exhibitors (and also the British Institution), but she's not listed there as a sitter.
I wonder if she too travelled to Italy in the late 1820s/early 30s? The family had certainly returned from India by then - her 9th-13th children (heavens, she looks good on it) were all baptized in London between 1824 & 1833. Incidentally, the Collection has her dates slightly wrong - they should be 1792-1834. See https://bit.ly/2Nopedl and https://bit.ly/2LozPm5.
Our picture looks more French, or more Ingres-like, whereas Mrs. Arbuthnot looks more British to me, more Lawrence-like (only harsher and stiffer than Lawrence).
And yes, there are nearly eight thousand "British School" pictures on Art UK, not to mention well over twenty thousand pictures by "unknown artist" without any further attribution.
Jacinto, I am so glad someone else wrote that impression. To me this has looked ore French all during this discussion. It does remind me of Ingres. I wondered about Louis-André-Gabriel Bouchet (attributed to) (French, 1759-1842). Too early and less loose than too early for Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun. But I do wonder about the possibility of Marie-Guillemine Benoist. This portrait of Portrait of Baron Larrey, reminds me of the discussed portrait.
Ingres, of course, had a significant connection with Rome and worked there both before and after this picture was painted. However, that does not preclude an Italian artist for this portrait.
I know it's been quite a while since the discussion, but am visiting Oberlin College and saw this canvas. Portrait of Eleanor, Lady Wigram, c. 1815-16Sir Thomas Lawrence (English, 1769-1831). The similarities, in the way the ermine is painted as well as the color palette is striking. Could Lawrence be a possibility?
Thanks, Laura. But I think it is more a case of any artist working in the first 3 decades of the 19th century looking at the success of Thomas Lawrence (who was after all President of the Royal Academy and well known throughout Europe) and trying to emulate that. Lawrences's oeuvre is very well catalogued and the painting under discussion does not appear in that literature.
Lawrence died in 1830, and he would not have been in Rome to paint this. Also, this is not painterly or brisk enough to be by him.
I think I have found another portrait of Catherine-- entitled "Retrato Feminino" by or after or circle of " John Hoppner"
I do not think so, Louis. Your lady has sharper features, and the eyes, especially, are quite different. Catherine had peculiarly "soft" eyes, akin to those of Queen Alexandra, and those of your lady are rather more ordinary.
A similar portrait by a Belgian painter based in Paris (he has other works on Art UK). He does not appear to have worked in Rome:
Jacinto, The dress and necklace are similar, yet the quality is not quite as fine, or the technique as fine. Interesting though.
With a view to closing this long discussion, I might add that last year I corresponded with a scholar of Italian art and former curator at the Uffizi. I asked if she thought Melanchini was a likely artist for our portrait since we were searching for a woman artist represented in the Uffizi. She wrote:
"among the artists present in the collection of self-portraits of the Uffizi is not a self-portrait of Matilde Malenchini, enrolled as Professor in the Accademia del Disegno in Florence on September 26 1821 (Atti 1807-1827 c. 226) and now present with three works (Fanciulla alla finestra, Inv. Acc 410; Interno della chiesa di San Miniato al Monte, Inv. 1890 n. 6331; Interno di conservatorio con basmbine monache, Inv. O.d.A. 1911 n. 270) at the Gallery of Modern art in Pitti Palace. All this is known to you however…..None of the artists present in the Uffizi's self-portraits collection seem to me to correspond in time and style to the author of that beautiful portrait."
I recommend closing this discussion which must surely be the longest ever on Art Detective. I won't summarise all the comments here except to say that there has been an heroic commitment by everyone (Osmund, Kieran, Jacinto, Andrew, Andrea, James Fairhead, Martin, and many others) to identify the artist of this portrait. I would say that Melancini's small whole lengths, in carefully described interior settings, are in a different mode entirely to our portrait. Anna Muschi is closer but not close enough (see Andrew Greg's account at 19/02/2019). The available documentation has not allowed a precise identification. Much more work would need to be done, so regretfully after 289 comments, the 290th must close this discussion as unresolved. It has, however, brought forward much information about the family concerned (not least the missing pair to our portrait, that of Admiral Erskine, also 1830/31) which gives important context to any future evaluation of this portrait of Catherine Ann Douglas (nee Griffin, formerly Mrs. White). For now, it remains Unknown Artist, c.1830.
Thanks for your thoughtfulness Barbara. It was most interesting. I think that the fine quality of the portrait has inspired all of us to want to know who the artist is. it is indeed exciting to read such an exchange inspired by the beauty of a painting and the desire to know more about the artist.
Thank you, Laura. It is wonderful when everyone enjoys a discussion, even if the result is inconclusive!
Annan Museum's Curator writes: 'Many thanks to everyone for all their efforts and I am happy that you now close the discussion. It is a beautiful painting - maybe one day we will find out who the artist is.'