Continental European before 1800, Dress and Textiles, Portraits: British 18th C 83 Who painted this portrait of Edward Longdon Mackmurdo?

Edward Lloyd (Longdon) Mackmurdo (1756–1817)
Topic: Artist

Does anyone have any information that might help us establish the artist of this work?


Jacinto Regalado,

Fashion-based dating should be a good starting point. Lou Taylor could help with that.

Lou Taylor, Dress and Textiles,

I think this portrait dates from c 1775-80.. The style of the hair is very particular and appears in a good few portraits of men at this date- be it in UK, Europe or USA. The style and narrowish depth of the turned down collar of this tailored wool coat and the use of large buttons could well be from 1775-80. (By the 1780s/90s the rise of the collar became higher and higher.)The elegant striped silk waistcoat with its cream-coloured satin revers and the touch of lace on the cravat made this outfit suitable for smart wear. It is not the everyday tailored suit for country use on an English estate.

See for comparison:
1: Alleyne FitzHerbert by Franciszek Smuglewicz; c 1775 WIKIMEDIA.
2: James Christie by Gainsborough, 1778 Getty Centre no 70.PA.16.
3: The Right Honourable Charles Philip Yorke (1764–1834); 1779-80;
National Trust, 207768.
4: Sir Henry Bate- Dudley by Gainsborough 1780; Pinterestr.

Sadly our website would not accept these 4 images but they are all available on Google

Jacinto Regalado,

The sitter would have been 24 in 1780, so c. 1780 seems about right.

Jacinto Regalado,

Hugh Douglas Hamilton moved to Italy (Rome) in 1779, where he began working in oil and became a successful portraitist of Irish and British visitors. He remained there until 1791, when he moved to Dublin. Does the collection know if the sitter visited Rome?

Jacinto Regalado,

Of course, it is possible that Hamilton used oils on occasion while he was based in London before going to Italy. The picture I linked above appears to be one such example.

Jacinto Regalado,

We need more information on the sitter, but he looks like a young man who could have gone on the Grand Tour, which would certainly have included Rome.

William Buist-wells 01,

Could this be by Francis Alleyne who was painting up to 1790 and used this small oval format ?

Jacinto Regalado,

This portrait strikes me as above Alleyne's level (as Hamilton was), though he is not out of the question.

S. Elin Jones,

In 1936, Frank Brangwyn and Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo donated
“ a gift to the Borough of Walthamstow of the nucleus of an art collection to be founded there in the Memory of William Morris.”
The collection was to be kept in Water House which was to be called the ‘William Morris Gallery’ when the building was due to become available.
i)Mr Brangwyn’s Gift - The Scotsman, May 2, 1936
Tribute to William Morris - Chelmsford Chronicle, 15 May, 1936
Exhibition at Walthamstow - Chelmsford Chronicle, 15 January, 1937

Does the museum have access to the original documentation or accession files of the donations from Frank Brangwyn and Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo, to the Borough of Walthamstow?
Even though this painting was transferred from Walthamstow Library, I expect that it may have come from the same source as other items already in the Vestry Museum and the William Morris Gallery. Over time, It may have become separated from the main part of the collection to other sites within the Borough.

The sitter in this portrait is Edward Longden Mackmurdo of Hackney, the grandfather of Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo. (The birth and death dates also correspond with the official documents, but there is no mention of the name Lloyd.)

There are also two more portraits of Edward and Ann Mackmurdo in the Collection of the Vestry Museum. These are the portraits of A.H. Mackmurdo’s parents.
There were a number of generations of Edward Mackmurdo’s. A. H. Mackmurdo also had an older brother called Edward Longden Mackmurdo.
ii) Mackmurdo family documents

S. Elin Jones,

The surname Longdon appears to have inexplicably changed throughout the text above as Longden. The name, as seen in the majority of official documentation is correct as Longdon, although the name of Ann Mackmurdo (other portrait in the Vestry Museum) is officially recorded as having an e.

Christopher Foley,

This looks close to Henry Walton (1746-1813). Compare his portraits of Sir Edmund Bacon (Emmanuel Coll) and Sir Robert Buxton (1753–1839), 1st Bt (Norfolk Mus. Serv.) - both on ArtUk. Richard correctly identifies the pastel-like tonality which does indeed call to mind Hamilton's pastels, but, in oils, is typical of the much under-rated Walton.

Marcie Doran,

Is it possible that the painting was by Joseph Wright of Derby (British 1734-1797)?

Lyon and Turnbull auction house stated in the Joseph Wright entry (lot 223) for its Nov 18, 2020 auction:
“Joseph Wright is one of the most successful artists of the Age of Enlightenment, known primarily for his atmospheric paintings using chiaroscuro in order to emphasise the contrast of light and dark. Born to a prosperous family in Derby on 3rd September 1734, Wright moved to London in 1751 with ambitions of becoming a painter. For two years, he studied under the portrait painter Thomas Hudson, who also counted Joseph van Aken and Joshua Reynolds amongst his students. Wright then returned to Derby, and besides some notable periods away such as Liverpool from 1768 to 1771 and Italy from 1773 to 1775, he always found himself called back to his hometown, where he lived until his death in 1797.”

I am attaching:
Portrait of Henry Flint (face, curls, neckerchief, collar, lace)
Portrait of Old John Tonson Head Waiter at the King’s Head Inn, Derby (face, curls, neckerchief, collar)

I have also attached A Portrait of Joseph Wright of Derby held by the Yale Centre for British Art that is presently attributed to Richard Hurleston (British, active 1763-1780) but which used to be attributed to Joseph Wright of Derby.

Please google Portrait of Hugh Wood (collar, striped waistcoat with folds).

Vestry House Museum,

I am writing from Vestry House Museum, thank you all for your interest in this painting and your help to identify the painter. We have checked the labels on the back of the work but they provide very few clues as to identity of the author.

I have attached images here of the front and back of the framed painting and details of each of the labels. There is also an inscription on the back of the canvas which can be seen but is very faint and hard to read.

Please let us know if you are able to decipher the text on the back of the work, from what I can tell it reads 'Edw' Longdon Mackmurdo Esq'/painted at Se*** S*****/for £179/****** 21x25'

Jacob Simon,

Brilliant to have these images, thanks to the museum. The inscription reads along the following lines:

Edwd Longdon Mackmurdo Esqr [final d and r raised up]
painted at Ge**** [Geneva?] S?*****
in 1779
Octor 21 a 25 [final r raised up]

Jacinto Regalado,

If this was painted in Geneva in 1779, it raises the possibility of the artist being Jean-Étienne Liotard.

Jacob Simon,

I don't believe this is by Liotard, nice though it is. Nor do I think the inscription says Genoa. It is just possible that the second line ends with a two word name of the artist, I suppose. The date of the picture, 1779, fits well with Lou's dating of the costume (6 June). I suspect that the costume is English, brought by the sitter on his travels.

Louis Musgrove,

Whats that trick they use on Fake or Fortune to read marks on the back of paintings? Was it Ultra Violet light???

Marcie Doran,

I suspect the painter’s name was near the top of the verso (starting where the smudges are).

In defence of the painter being Joseph Wright of Derby, please see the attachment. It is from the website “JOSEPH WRIGHT OF DERBY, English, 1734-1797, Portrait Of A Man., Oil On Board, Oval 11¼" X 9¼" Sight. Framed.”

The verso shows the same short “1” for the “1795” and the same style of “7”. It also shows a similar word plus two number combination (“aetate 46.47”. The word “aetate” means age. Therefore, I believe that part of the inscription is not the date starting with “Octor” but “Aetate 21.25”. This would make sense given that Edward was born in 1756.

1 attachment
Jacob Simon,

I wonder if the second line of the inscription reads:

"painted at Geneva Geneva"

The first 'Geneva' being indistinct, it was repeated in larger, clearer letters. It's not easy writing on the reverse of a canvas if you lack experience.

Jacob Simon,

On the basis that this portrait was painted in Geneva, who might be the artist? A search using the term "portrait" of the collection of the Geneva museum of art and history throws up a number of possible candidates, which I list on the quickest preliminary assessment in a sort of order for consideration. Not that I know about portraiture in Switzerland at this date. Yet one has to start somewhere.

Jean-Pierre Saint-Ours (Genève, 1752 - Genève, 1809)

Jens Juel (Gamborg Figen ou Balslev, 1745 - Copenhague, 1802), who was in Geneva in 1779

Guillaume-Henri Potter (Genève, 1760 - Genève, 1839)

Louis-Ami Arlaud-Jurine (Genève, 1751 - Genève, 1829)

Jean Preudhomme (Peseux, 1732 - Neuchâtel, 1795)

Louis Musgrove,

Jacob- I have been looking at the work of the artists you list. Louis Jurine seems to have a similar style ,but only seems to paint miniatures.
I have come across Jean Liotard who did oils,but prefered pastels-who's work looks very similar.
And of course Angelica Kaufmann was Swiss, but where she was in 1779 I don't know.

Marcie Doran,

For your consideration, a French printer named Pierre-Michel Alix produced works based on the work of painter Jean-François Garnerey. See for example the following print of many in a museum in Geneva:
“Portrait de Jean-Jacques Rousseau”
Pierre-Michel Alix ( Paris, 1762 - Paris, 1817 ), graveur
Jean-François Garnerey ( Paris, 1755 - Auteuil, 1837 ), auteur modèle
Marie-François Drouhin ( Périodes d'activité : Paris, 1791 à 1813 ), éditeur
DIMENSIONS feuille: 272 x 234 mm (ovale)
MATÉRIAUX aquatinte, impression en couleurs au repérage
MENTION OBLIGATOIRE MAH Musée d'art et d'histoire, Ville de Genève. Ancien fonds

Pierre-Michel Alix also produced prints based on the work of Charles Philippe Amédée Van Loo.

Here is one of Van Loo’s works at the National Gallery of Art, in Washington, D.C.
“Soap Bubbles, 1764”

Note the curl on the middle child’s head matches the curl in the mystery painting.

Jacob Simon,

A message for ArtUK

This portrait was painted in Geneva in 1779. On this basis I suggest that the portrait should no longer be in my group for 19th century portraits. It might be added to the group for continental paintings.

What has happened to the image of this portrait at the head of this discussion?

I wonder if the inscription on the reverse should be read as 'painted at Genova Genova' (the Italian name for Genoa)? Genova was a well-established point of entry into Italy for British and Irish Grand Tourists arriving by sea and it seems more likely that Mackmurdo would find himself there than in Geneva. If the portrait was indeed painted in Genova, in 1779, this would bring British and Irish artists back into consideration, as well as allowing for the possibility of an Italian hand. It is worth noting that Hugh Douglas Hamilton moved to Italy in 1779 (and stayed there, mainly in Rome but also in Florence, Venice and Naples until 1792), as stated by Fintan Cullen in the Oxford DNB and other publications.

The Imaging team have restored the image, apologies for any inconvenience. The discussion has been added to the Continental before 1800 Group and removed from 19th Century British Portraits.

Jacob Simon,

The inscription on the reverse of the portrait is in English so I think “Geneva” is more likely than “Genova” (Richard’s post, 12 July).

It would be worth contacting “Collections des Musées d'art et d'histoire” at Geneva for advice as to the artist. There is an email address on their website. I can do this next week unless someone signals in the meantime that they are on the case.

Martin Hopkinson,

Chris Rumelin might be able to advise as to which of his colleagues would be the most appropriate contact there

Jacob Simon,

Very helpful, Martin. I have his email address so can do as you suggest

Martin Hopkinson,

it might be worth asking Duncan Bull at the Rijksmuseum for his

Jacob Simon,

I have now e-mailed Chris Rumelin at the Geneva museum.

Oliver Perry,

The problem with the inscription reading "Geneva Geneva" is that the writing is neatly centred, which would seem to make the idea of a correction unlikely . The more I look at it the more I see the second word as "Street"

Jacob Simon,

Oliver raises the question of the inscription. I suspect that it was written in two parts. Firstly, "Edwd Longdon Mackmurdo", centred, and in a stylish hand. Secondly, the remaining details. ‘Street’ is worth considering but personally I don’t think this works.

I have had a helpful response with suggestions from Christopher Rumelin at the Geneva museum. On the artist, he has suggested two colleagues to approach which I shall try to follow up but this will take time. On whether there might be a record of the sitter in Geneva, he writes:

“Unfortunately there is - to my knowledge - no record of people visiting Geneva during the 18th century. If there are any records, this might be at the Archives de l'Etat (state archive), please see their website:

There is another source: the manuscript collection (including private papers) at the municipal and university library, it is always worth checking with them as well:

I don't think you will find anything in the municipal archives, they are too young (founded only mid 19th century).”

On a quick search, I’ve had no luck with the two collections above

Vestry House Museum,

Here are some more photographs of the inscription on the back of the canvas, including some close-ups and different angles. The text is still very hard to decipher though!

Marcie Doran,

Jacinto and Louis both mentioned that this might be by Liotard. I am wondering why it could not be by him.

Christie’s had a pastel by Liotard (“Portrait of Philibert Cramer”) in an auction in January 2021. There are two photos and a long write-up about Liotard on that entry. The write-up states: “The portrait of Cramer is thought to have been made around 1758, shortly after Liotard’s return to Geneva from Holland, when Philibert was about thirty years old.”

“JEAN-ETIENNE LIOTARD (Geneva 1702-1789)
Portrait of Philibert Cramer
with period frame and glass
pastel on blue paper, mounted on canvas
25 x 211⁄4 in. (63.5 x 53.8 cm)”

Despite the work being a pastel, the sitter has frothy white lace below his collar that is very similar to the lace in the MackMurdo portrait. The photo of the verso shows the date “1779” - its appearance is very similar to the “1779” on the verso of the portrait of MackMurdo. In addition, the flourishes on the names seem to match the style used for MackMurdo’s name (the flourish on the “L” of “Longdon” is like the one on the P” of “Philibert”). And, the artist did not sign his name in that section of the verso. Finally, the spacing of the lines of text seems to be quite similar.

I have attached composites to assist with the comparison.

My third attachment is the failed attachment from my comment of 17/06/2021 @ 18:15

Jacinto Regalado,

The two words following "Painted at" remain uncertain, and the first word may not be Geneva.

Jacob Simon,

I revert to my post of 10/07/2021 that as this portrait is dated 1779, it should no longer be in the group for 19th century portraits. It might be added to the group for continental paintings since it was painted in Geneva or elsewhere on the Continent on the basis of the inscription on the revese.

Of the five artists working in Geneva listed by Jacob two years ago (18/06/2021) I think it would be worth considering Jean Preudhomme or Preud’homme (Peseux, 1732 - Neuchâtel, 1795) – if only because in 1774, five years before the date of our portrait, he certainly painted a British traveller, while in Geneva. The sitter in question was the young Douglas, 8th Duke of Hamilton, who appears in Preudhomme’s portrait (National Museum of Scotland) alongside his tutor DrJohn Moore and the latter’s son, also John, with Lake Geneva glimpsed through a, window in the background:

Works by Preudhomme seem to be rare but here are two portraits by him of unknown male sitters, said to date from 1777 and 1781 respectively, in the Musée d’art et d’histoire, Geneva:

Martin Hopkinson,

Chris Rumelin should have a verey well informed view on Richard's suggestion For he was a curator at Geneva for quite a number of years. He is now in Nuremberg , and I may see him online on Tuesday evening
I personally wonder if this artist under discussion painted miniatures
Perhaps Stephen Lloyd at Knowsley might have a view?

Jacob Simon,

I like Richard's suggestion of Preudhomme.

I was in touch with Chris Rumelin about this picture in August 2021. I will forward his email to Martin. What follows is an excerpt. Because email addresses for his two suggested contacts were not available, I let the matter rest.

"Thank you so much for this intriguing question and bringing to my attention this lovely portrait. What puzzles me a bit is the inscription in English, which - at least to me - clearly indicates another hand than the painter itself. But this would not be totally strange either.

Unfortunately there is - to my knowledge - no record of people visiting Geneva during the 18th century. If there are any records, this might be at the Archives de l'Etat (state archive), please see their website:

There is another source: the manuscript collection (including private papers) at the municipal and university library, it is always worth checking with them as well: . I don't think you will find anything in the municipal archives, they are too young (founded only mid 19th century)

However, there are probably two collegues who might be of help:

Anne de Herdt, former Keeper of drawings and specialist in Saint-Ours. ......

Or Mrs Renée Loche. She is one of the authors of the Liotard Catalogue raisonnée and knows very well portraiture in Geneva at the time. .....

However, I will pass on your mail to Estelle Fallet, Keeper of watches and miniatures, maybe she has another idea.

I hope you don't mind if I do not dare to suggest an attribution, there are more competent colleagues. If there is anything else, I can do, please do let me know."

Martin Hopkinson,

The sitter was involved in cases of the Court of Chancery in 1804 and 1821 - v Janet Wimperley, and v Stephen Emerson and his wife, Thoms Matchwick and William Grove [National Archives]
He was a linen draper of 1 Bread Street, Cheapside insured in 1790 with the Sun Fire Office [London Metropolitan Archives]
The very neat dress may be connected to his profession
He was living in Bread Street in 1796 when his daugter Isabella was born
Paine family tree gives his dates 1756 - 1817
Macmurdo & Hicks calico printers were at 2 Bread Street in 1794
Kent's Directory for the year 1794

Martin Hopkinson,

It might be worth looking at the footnotes inChristian Simon and Lee Mitzman's article on 18th century calico printers in the International Review of Social History, 39, supplement 2, 1994, pp. 115-44

Martin Hopkinson,

There is a history of the Worshipful Company of Drapers of London, 1989 - and an earlier one 1914-22
also 1804 The Memorial of the Journeyman calico printers ...

I've attached further attempts to make the inscription clearer and an image of the painting that may be better than the online one.

Whoever the artist is, the abbreviations in the inscription suggest a native speaker. Someone newly arrived from Italy (for example), full of the experience and recently immersed in the language, might well choose to use original place names though.

Jacob Simon,

To try to answer Martin's question in the last post but one, the frame was made for the picture. The details of the frame reverse posted by the collection on 17/06/2021 are largely obscured by paper but one of them may show oak grain, possibly indicating a continental origin. The pattern is not a classical one of the sort that one might expect to find on a portrait of this date. I don't have the knowledge to say that this frame is - or is not - Swiss.

Martin Hopkinson,

The Victoria and Albert Museum's curators of dress might be able to say whether the costume is of a Swiss cut

Martin Hopkinson,

some British parents sent their children to Geneva for their education for a Protestant rather than Catholic teaching

Lou Taylor, Dress and Textiles,

I made my comments on our site about the really elegant and fashionable clothes in this portrait on 6/6/21. I have not changed my mind since.....

Martin Hopkinson,

The design of the costume is distinctly different from the dress in the four portraits mentioned above, although it is generically related
Does the Geneva museum have a costume historian?

Martin Hopkinson,

can someone find a good comparison for the waistcoat?

Jacob Simon,

My sense is that we have a portrait here of a young man on the Grand Tour but probably staying in Geneva for a time, whether for pleasure or education or, as Martin asks, business He could have acquired his fancy waistcoat in London, in Paris on the way through France or in Italy. Even if we find a good comparison for the waistcoat, I don't think that it will take us very far to answering the question posed in this discussion as to who painted the portrait.

Lou Taylor, Dress and Textiles,

Martin, I did just that on this discussion two years ago!!! see Lou Taylor, Dress and Textiles, 06/06/2021 20:32

Martin Hopkinson,

Thank you reminding me of this, and Jacob for your reasonable comments

Osmund Bullock,

Edward Longdon** Mackmurdo (1756-1817) seems unlikely to have been a Grand Tourist in the normal sense. His family background was non-conformism, trade and hard work, not established aristocratic wealth. They did well and gradually accumulated capital and some real estate during the C18th, but there is no suggestion of great wealth, and certainly not during his youth - not least because the family habit (normal among dissenters) was to distribute the property after death equally among all the children, male and female. His father Gilbert Gibson Mac(k)murdo (1727-1760) was a successful City grocer of the Salters' Company, with premises close to St Paul's; his short and straightforward Will suggests both his wife and mother had brought modest dowries with them, but the family continued to live simply in London, possibly above (and certainly close to) the shop. GGM also had property in Essex, probably inherited from his father Gilbert (d.1737), but seems not to have lived there, and this along with the rest of his estate was ordered to be sold and the proceeds ultimately divided among all his surviving offspring, "share and share alike".

[**The middle name, his mother's maiden surname, is universally recorded as Longdon or similar – 'Lloyd' must be the remnant of a cataloguing error or misreading at some point.]

Osmund Bullock,

By the late 1780s ELM had followed his father into trade - initially as a linen draper in the City, later (as Martin has shown) a calico printer, with works and bleaching fields at Old Ford on the River Lea, then as a Blackwell-Hall factor in the City (significant as that business required considerable capital, though he seems to have got involved during its declining years - see, and finally as a manufacturing chemist based in Stratford; and he is also just listed as a 'merchant' in the heart of the City in many directories from the 1780s through to the end of his life. His multi-faceted business was clearly very successful, and he built up significant wealth during his lifetime (including a home and perhaps estate at Clapton). But like his father before him, he chose to distribute this wealth equally to all his children and their families (he had married in 1789), so no great fortune was established in one branch; and he remained true to his dissenting roots throughout his life.

I am still working on him. There's a great deal discoverable (and inferable) about him online, but so much that the process is proving unusually long and arduous - more a subject for an academic thesis than a straightforward AD summary biog, but I'll plough on and write up further details as and when I can. I haven't even started on newspapers! There are ways in which he might perhaps have been linked with Geneva, but as yet there's no actual evidence for it at all. His Will of Aug 1816 (and Sep codicil) is, as is usual, concerned only with cash, investments and real estate - there is no mention of pictures even in general terms among household goods, let alone references to specific ones. Nor is there any hint of overseas business, property or connections, past or present.

The sermon in his memory noted by Darcie would doubtless elucidate matters - I guess that it will reveal financial generosity to the wider community, not just his family.

Marcie Doran,

Thank you for the very interesting summary, Osmund. Last July, I checked the wills of the following people for this portrait without success: Edward Longdon Esq. (d. 30 April 1866), Edward Mackmurdo (d. 9 March 1872), Longdon Mackmurdo, Esq. (d. 1 October 1880), and Walter George Mackmurdo (d. 25 Aug. 1894). Earlier today, I ordered the wills of Frederick Thomson Mackmurdo (d. 22 October 1928) and Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo (d. 15 March 1942).

In an article entitled ‘Cotton Manufacture in Switzerland and Southern Germany,15th-18th Centuries’ (i.e. before the Industrial Revolution), Ulrich Pfister writes (page 5), in connection with calico printing, of 'the establishment of a number of production sites along the eastern border of France from the late 17th century onwards, the most important centres being Strasbourg, Mulhouse, Basle, Neuchâtel and Geneva, but also Augsburg and Zurich' -- where 'important calico printing sectors' were developed 'in the course of the 18th century'.

It would seem that Mackmurdo’s continental tour was indeed not one of sites of art and culture, but of calico printing works, in preparation for development of his own textile business. There is thus every reason to accept that his portrait was painted in Geneva, as indicated by the inscription on the reverse. The repetition there of 'Geneva' might well have been intentional from the outset, to indicate the city of Geneva in the Canton of Geneva.

Nicole Quellet-Soguel, a curator at the Musée d'art et d'histoire, Neuchâtel, published an article ‘Jean-Pierre Preudhomme (1732-1795), premier peintre neuchâtelois, et sa clientèle suisse et européenne’ in the exhibition catalogue ‘Sa Majesté en Suisse : Neuchâtel et ses princes prussiens’ of 2013. I shall try to contact her. Even if Preudhomme is not our artist she may have other suggestions.

At the very least I think we can now say that our elusive artist was almost certainly Swiss.

I have not been able to contact Nicole Quellet-Soguel at the Musée d'art et d'histoire, Neuchâtel, by e-mail as she has recently retired from her position there. However I have written to her privately by traditional post and hope to report back soon.

Meanwhile her successor at the museum, Diane Antille, has kindly supplied a copy of Madame Quellet-Soguel’s article on Jean-Pierre Preudhomme of 2013, mentioned in my post of 09/07/2023.

From this we learn that the Neuchatel-born Preudhomme trained in Paris under Leprince and Grueuze. He returned to his home city, where he was based thereafter, while necessarily working elsewhere, including in Geneva, since Neuchâtel alone could not provide sufficient patronage to support him. He knew and greatly admired Rousseau, whose portrait he offered to paint.

The author discusses Preudhomme’s patrons in various distinct categories. Most interestingly, in a paragraph headed ‘Personnalités du négoce et de l’industrie‘ (Figures in trade and industry), we learn that the artist’s portrait sitters included members of ‘plusieurs grandes familles d’indiennes’ – meaning the proprietors (and their families) of factories where textiles were painted or printed in the Indian style. The ‘indiennes’ were big business in Neuchâtel and the region in the eighteenth century - in other words the calico printing activity described in Ulrich Pfister”s article. The captains of this industry and their families who sat to Preudhomme were the kind of local people Mackmurdo is most likely to have met on his assumed fact-finding tour of calico printing works. It is thus possible that through one of their number Mackmurdo came to sit to Preudhomme (if indeed he is our artist),

Osmund Bullock,

Sorry, Marcie, I see I called you 'Darcie' on here three or four weeks ago. It was half a spoonerism - Darcie Moran is a very plausible name, in fact there's a real one online! - but | think unconsciously influenced by a review I'd just read comparing Pride & Prejudice screen adaptations.

Marcie Doran,

Hey, no need to apologize, Osmund! Glad you're back posting again.

My apologies for not reporting back sooner on this but I have been busy with other projects. I did succeed in contacting Nicole Quellet-Soguel and she has provided a very full and helpful response, for which we are grateful. Her initial impression was that the portrait is not by J.-P. Preudhomme and after careful consideration she confirmed this assessment (unless, by chance, the work were to be an atypical one for the artist), making the following particular points:

1. She knows of no example of a front view among Preudhomme's portraits. They are usually profile or three-quarter views.

2. Here the canvas texture is exposed because the paint layer is relatively thin whereas in Preudhomme's portraits the paint covers the canvas more completely and the weave of the latter is not visible.

3. Mackmurdo's face is painted with fairly vigorous brushstrokes demonstrating a certain freedom and directness of touch – particularly in the way the pale pink is applied under the left eye and at the corner of and above the right eye. The same is true of the pale pink reflecting light across the bridge of the nose. On the other hand, in Preudhomme, who was fully mastering his art in the 1770s, the faces are painted with great finesse, the colours melt into each other, the brushstrokes are barely visible, and there is a great concern for the finish. For an example of the refined technique of Preudhomme, especially in painting the face, Mme Quellet-Soguel directs us to his portrait of M. Pierre-Henri de Meuron, of 1780, in the Neuchâtel museum:

Mme Quellet-Soguel suggests for the authorship of our picture perhaps Jean-Pierre Saint-Ours, who occasionally painted portraits from the front, or almost the front, and with a rather dynamic touch. See the online collections of the Musée d'art et d'histoire de Genève: pierre saint ours

Younger than Preudhomme, Saint-Ours was in Paris in the 1770s, then in Rome, and did not return to Geneva until 1792. Could he have been in Geneva in 1779 (when aged 27)? Mme Quellet-Soguel suggests the opinion of Anne de Herdt, a leading specialist in Saint-Ours, would be worth seeking - as well as for other possibilities in Geneva. She suggest Danielle Buyssens as also being very familiar with Geneva's eighteenth-century cultural scene.

I do not have e-mail addresses for Anne de Herdt or Danielle Buyssens but, one way or another, will attempt to make contact with them.

Thanks to Marion, I have learned that Anne de Herdt died in November last year. However I have managed to contact Danielle Buyssens through the Institut national genevois (INGE) and received an interesting and helpful response – albeit perhaps a surprising one – for which we are most grateful.

‘Ce portrait est magnifique!’ is the immediate reaction of Mme Buyssens. However, to her eyes it looks very English. She cannot see it, if a work of 1779, as being by any of the known Geneva painters. Preudhomme, despite his talent, would not be convincing, nor would Liotard since the portrait does not demonstrate the latter’s very particular kind of realism. Jens Juel could be considered but something about the flesh tones is not right for him and he likes ‘mises en scène précieuses’.

She advises us to continue searching for an English artist travelling on the Continent and not to discard too readily the possible interpretation of the place name inscribed on the reverse as ‘Genova’ (= Genoa). Perhaps the apparent repetition of the name could actually be ’Savona’ but she would not wish to press this suggestion too far. In any case, our possible interpretation of the double ‘Geneva’ as meaning the city within the canton of the same name cannot be correct, if the inscription dates from near 1779, as Geneva was not then part of Switzerland and the canton of Geneva did not exist until the nineteenth century..

Jacob Simon,

Edward Longdon Mackmurdo (1756-1817)

Despite diligent research by Richard Green, Osmund Bullock and others during the last three years, the authorship of this fine portrait remains a puzzle.

THE INSCRIPTION. I continue to think Geneva is the most likely reading. I suggested that the last line reads “Octor 21 a 25 [final r raised up]” (17 June 2021). But this is open to review.

THE ARTIST. Despite consulting continental experts we have failed to make progress. Short of a fortuitous breakthrough I suspect that it will be difficult to make further progress.

THE SITTER. Osmund has identified our man as not the usual Grand Tourist but possibly on business (8 July 2023). Could the way forward be through the sitter? One would like to think that there may be family papers or that our man may have been mentioned in Geneva newspapers or other documentation. But this is a demanding route to follow. On family papers, I could find nothing obvious in the standard online archive listings. On Geneva newspapers I drew a blank using the online, E-NewspaperArchives.CH.

Sad not to be able to identify the artist of this attractive portrait.

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