Completed Portraits: British 20th C, South East England: Artists and Subjects 18 Who painted this portrait of Colonel Oscar Vaughan Viney (1886–1962)?

Colonel Oscar Vaughan Viney (1886–1962), of Hazell, Watson and Viney Ltd
Topic: Artist

The painting is signed, bottom-left. The collection remarks:

It looks like 'E. W____ing'. To date, we have not managed to find any record of the name of the artist. The portrait is similar to a formal Director's photograph in a book about the company Hazell, Watson and Viney and so it is possible that it was done by a local artist from the photograph. The painting was found in a skip, cut from its frame when the company's buildings were demolished and was donated to the museum many years later. I'm attaching an image of the signature in case it can be recognized.

Martin Hopkinson, Entry reviewed by Art UK

1 attachment

Completed, Outcome

Edward Stone,

This discussion is now closed. This painting has been found to have been painted by William D. Dring (1904–1990), between 1950–1958.

Thank you to all for participating in this discussion. To those viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all comments that led to this conclusion.


Osmund Bullock,

I don't think this was painted from a photograph - an odd position for me, as I'm usually the one suggesting it. There's real character there, and it's just too free, confident and, well, good. In fact I'll stick my neck out and say I think it's by a very decent professional portraitist who may well have had a proper training. It may be unfinished, and is surprisingly small for a 40s/50s boardroom portrait - perhaps just a preliminary study? I would guess it dates from about the time Viney became Chairman of Hazell, Watson and Viney, i.e. c.1950, when he was 64. Perhaps a little earlier, but certainly post-war.

Of course if the photo mentioned is very close indeed to the image, I may have to eat my words - if the Collection have access to the relevant book, is there any chance of a scan? Oh, and - as ever - is there anything on the back (though obviously the original stretcher's lost)?

Osmund Bullock,

Paul Viney, Chairman of Woolley & Wallis in Salisbury, may know more - Paul is the sitter's grandson.

Osmund Bullock,

Aha...I've cracked it, I think. (Dennis) William Dring, RA (1904-1990). Prolific and very successful portrait painter, studied at the Slade under Tonks. Official war artist to Ministry of Information, Admiralty, and Air Ministry. As well as many works on Art UK, a large number of wartime works in pastel at the IWM and NMM. Frequent exhibitor at RA and elsewhere (including presumably the RP, of which a member). Extensive Wikipedia article, and much else online such as here:

Composite of comparable signatures attached.

1 attachment
Osmund Bullock,

You beat me to it by eight minutes, Grant!

Well done Osmund. This was an easy one for me as I have known this artist's work intimately for more than thirty years. The painting is by William Dring RA, no doubt about it. A painting by Dring titled 'Col. O. V. Viney, T.D., D.L.' was exhibited at the Royal Academy as number 183 in 1958. The extract from the Royal Academy exhibitors book is attached by way of supporting evidence. In the circumstances, unless anyone else has anything to add to the discussion, I am proposing to submit a recommendation summarising our findings in order to bring this discussion to a close.

Was this a case of no-one looking at the picture very quickly because it just didn't seem very inspiring as a 'thumbnail'? Its been up for grabs rather longer than it took to solve. What did the Colonel's firm do before his rapid demotion from Chairman of the Board to fortuitous skip salvage?

Osmund Bullock,

For my part, Pieter, I got waylaid by the Viney genealogy, and then *that* got waylaid by pre-Easter tasks. My family knew well a very nice man called Laurence Viney (Paul's father), and I suspected from the facial resemblance he and Oscar must be closely related...but I ran out of time to investigate. I didn't really look at the signature till last night - though Dring's name was unfamiliar, after figuring out it was probably 'William' it wasn't too long a search.

Incidentally, to knock a hole in Sargent's famous quip about a portrait being a painting where there is always something not quite right about the mouth, it was my familiarity with the Viney mouth that first flagged that this was a good portrait painted ad vivum - Dring has captured it perfectly, and in a manner that manages to make it move, and the man live. I wish he'd painted my grandfather.

The Viney family firm were once important printers and publishers in London and Aylesbury:

Thanks Osmund: I regret I didn't look before since I might also have got it fairly fast on the signature rather than style. One could certainly do a lot worse as far as boardroom 'phiz-mongering' goes and its interesting -given his WAAC stuff is more familiar -to see (from the RA list) that he appears to have done quite a lot.

Kieran Owens,

Edward, could it be that Sandwich Guildhall's painting of Henry Burch, Baron of the Cinque Ports, Mayor (1945–1946) is by William Dring as well, rather than by Willing Oving? I can find no mention of a William Oving, painter, anywhere.

The Royal Academy's list for Dring for 1954 includes a work of the same name, under exhibit number 297. If there is a signature on the Burch painting, perhaps it could be compared to Dring's by way of Osmund's composite above. It would not be difficult to mistake Dring for Oving.

Osmund Bullock,

There is indeed a signature bottom right, Kieran, but it's very small in the image - attached is the best tweak I can manage. It looks promising, though, and with the evidence of the RA exhibit seems highly likely. Well spotted. By contrast I've found one given to Dring that clearly isn't by him: .

However, when he gets back to the office (he's away till Tues 10th) I suspect Edward will ask us to raise these as new discussions.

1 attachment

Thanks Osmund. The portrait of Charles Arthur Ansell is clearly not by Dring. It appears to be signed D Wacey Hart. An earlier Wacey Hart was a painter of Devon views which perhaps shows a Hart family connection with Devon and thus to the sitter. I am not sure that this should be the subject of a new discussion as it appears that there has been an administrative error in ascribing the painting to Dring. My feeling is that Edward can discuss the matter with the collection who can then change the artist details if they are satisfied that such a change should be made.

Many thanks Kieran for your comment of yesterday in regard to the portrait of Henry Burch which I am confident is by William Dring and not by a William Oving That is a great spot! As with the portrait noticed by Osmund I think Edward will probably elect to discuss the Burch portrait with the collection who can then make the necessary artist amendment if they are happy to do so.

Osmund Bullock,

It's actually 'J Wacey Hart', Grant - the first initial is a 'J' formed with a loop (see attached) - and he is the very one with the Devon connection. As you say it's probably an admin error - Devon County Council also have portraits of the sitter Charles Ansell's three predecessors as Chairman, and all of them *are* by Dring.

I actually wrote a post about John Wacey Hart (1915-1985) a couple of days ago, but binned it as being too off-topic. I also thought a new discussion seeking any more information than the little I've discovered might be useful - the Devon CC portrait of Ansell will be the first work by him on Art UK, and there is almost nothing about him elsewhere online. If on his return Edward thinks it unnecessary I can post here instead.

Buckinghamshire County Museum,

Thanks for all of the comments and information. Really pleased that we can allocate the Viney portrait to William Dring, RA. I also thought that the portrait dated from 1950s. I'll update our museum database and am happy for Art UK to amend their entry.
Despite it's cut from frame state it was on display at the museum during our WWI exhibition of Duty and Service in 2014.