British 20th C, except portraits 31 Who painted this work? Is any more known about Stanley Jackson (b.1917) or E. Jackson?

WAR_NMAG_64
Topic: Artist

I'm pretty sure that the signature here must read 'S. Jackson', for Stanley Jackson. The single canvas credited to Stanley Jackson on Art UK is at the National Army Museum and is another Madras subject in a similar style, dated 1943: http://www.artuk.org/discover/artists/jackson-stanley-b-1917

Post-war, Jackson's art underwent a massive shift into a kind of abstract surrealism – see the posts on my blog, here – https://richardawarren.wordpress.com.

The collection comments:

'This painting was purchased by the Museum on 12th May 1970 from the artist. The name of the artist is listed in our accession register as "E. Jackson" and the address given is in Nuneaton.

We've taken a closer look at the signature. Unfortunately it is partly obscured by the frame but the initial does appear to be "E" rather than "S".'

Art UK has not been able to find further information on either Stanley Jackson (b.1917) or E. Jackson and would welcome any leads.

Richard Warren, Entry reviewed by Art UK

31 comments

Oliver Perry,

Just saw your question about Stanley Jackson on Art Detective.He's listed in "Who's Who in Art" for 1962. This is teased out from successive snippets on Google Books, and there might be a few errors that need to be checked with the printed version, but here goes:

JACKSON, Stanley, R.B.A., A.I.A.; Mem., C.I.A.D.; artist in oils and gouache; b 26 April, 1917; s of Frank Jackson m Ruth Pearl, leader of Jacques String Orchestra ; one s. Educ.: Ongar Grammar School; St. Martin's Art School. Exhib.: R.A , R.B.A., United Artists, Derby, Bournemouth, etc., and various travelling exhbns. Work repro....Publications: Baku, Lalya, Selen and Perak, etc. (children's books). Address: Burleigh House, Crawley Down, Sussex. Signs work: "Stanley Jackson."

The listed childrens books are a bit elusive, but Stanley Jackson did illustrate May Wynne's Indian-set "Little Brown Tala" stories in c.1948. No sign of any Nuneaton connection.

Richard Warren,

Oliver - many, many thanks for this. I'm most grateful for your detective work. This certainly does seem to eliminate the Nuneaton painting, and I'll just have to put that down to coincidence. I've found an image of the "Little Brown Tala" cover on eBay, and this is definitely the Jackson I know. I wasn't aware that he'd done children's books. I notice that Ruth Pearl's obituary says that "In 1949 Ruth made her first trip to New Zealand, which became her next home." Seems that 1949 was a trip, and not permanent. Maybe it became her "next home" after Stanley's death in 1961?

So, this seems to wrap up the Art Detective debate, which turns out to be a red herring of my making. But this does help me massively personally with my own chasing after Jackson, so once again, many thanks!

Osmund Bullock,

Re the actual artist: 'Who's Who in Art' and a couple of other reference works might oblige, and I may check next time I'm at the National Art Library. Other than that I have tried various genealogical ideas for finding him/her - people travelling to/from India, for example - but without success.

[comment edited]

Fascinating in itself but a strange coincidence that the subject appears to line up with the Eastern ones that Stanley Jackson was known for pre-1940s. I'm not an Indian boat-building guru but its also hard to work out whether that's really what's going on and, if so, what technique and to build what type of boat. The classic Madras type is a masula, or surf-boat, but traditionally that's a sewn boat and what seems to be in train here is a chap hammering planks much more regular in shape than normal for such boat- building on some enormous sort of frame fixed in the ground (making just half a boat supposing the long stringer at bottom right were a keel - which it doesn't look like) and with another man standing on 'ribs' splaying out behind the hammerer. This is not how any boat I can think of is built, let alone a sewn form like a masula, so at the moment I'm not convinced its quite that straightforward, though the huts and other general appearances might otherwise fit India. If that's what a label says -assuming original- then I'm wrong, but it might be worth checking the signature by de-framing: Also -though perhaps now unanswerable- why was it bought if by an unknown artist or at least without some greater back-story (inc. being sure it was bought 'from the artist' not some relative)?

Richard Warren,

Thanks for this, Pieter. The Gallery have been pretty clear that the signature looks like an "E", and that it was bought from the artist in person in Nuneaton in 1970. But the question - why? - is a good one, especially if your knowledge of the subject casts some doubt on the identification. It may be that records have been lost over the years - not unknown. So can we ask Nuneaton - exactly what records they have for this?

I told a former colleague, Dr Eric Kentley, that this scene foxed me as a way to build surf-boats in particular and asked for his more expert opinion, since he spent some time out in the Madra (now Chennai) area studying local craft. This was his answer:

'Me too... At first glimpse I though it looked exactly like how a surf boat is built, but on closer examination it clearly isn't: there are proper frames and it does look like the chap is hammering something, and of course there's no sign of sewing. The boat looks a bit like one of the flat-bottomed heavily-framed backwaters fishing boats (generically called a dhoni). It's not likely to be the city-formerly-known-as Madras (were there are no real backwaters and the sea is too rough) but somewhere in the vast area known as the Madras Presidency. I've seen boats like this north and south of Chennai (and I'd suspect the north, in what is now Andhra Pradesh, but that's only a guess). I haven't seen one of them built, but it's not impossible to do it this way... especially if the builder also makes surf boats!'

I think the only way this will go further is by absolute confirmation of the signature initial from the collection (by deframing). If it is 'S' then it did not come direct from the artist (Stanley Jackson) despite its apparently being of a subject he could have painted by being in that area: if it is 'E' then we have a case of an obviously competent and practised painter of similar style and Indian familiarity who is otherwise as yet a mystery save that he/she ended up in the Nuneaton area. Can the collection double-check? If not and there are no further suggestions on an 'E. Jackson' still around in 1970 then this had better wrap up, with note of the caveats on exact location and what is being shown mentioned above.

Eloise Hendrick,

Hi Richard,

Your post has stirred up great intrigue with me. I have a great interest in an artist named Stanley Jackson, and possess many of his artwork, including a self portrait, see attached. This artwork would be in the same style as the artwork of the boat makers in Madras and that of the soldier. I was not aware of him illustrating childrens books, but he was a great writer, however, and did pen some of his own childrens literature. I am unsure if this was ever published.
I do know that this Stanley Jackson was in India during the same period that these pictures were painted.
The Stanley Jackson that I am talking about was actually born in 1910, however he did doctor his passport to change the year of birth to 1917 in order to make him appear younger.
Richard, I would like to speak more with you, and see what else you have managed to find out about this man. Would you please email me on [email protected] so that we may discuss him further?

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Mark Gray,

Sorry to be a pain, but is it definitively an E? George Jackson (1898-1974), a Yorkshire artist, had a very similar technique.

Hi all,

The record we have at Nuneaton Museum & Art Gallery is an accession register entry. As discussed above, the line in the accession register states that the painting was bought directly from the artist in May 1970. It gives a local address but without evidence that the artist is deceased we are unable to confirm this address.

The painting wasn’t formally accessioned into the collection until 1977 so it may be that information about the piece was lost in this time. The accession register does however clearly state “Source: Artist”. We completely understand that this lack of information regarding the artist and artwork is frustrating and far from desirable.

Unfortunately we don’t have the conservation expertise in house to remove the painting from its frame. Should any researchers wish to view the painting (in its frame) they are welcome to make an appointment to do so by contacting the museum, details found here https://www.nuneatonandbedworth.gov.uk/museum

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this painting.
Nuneaton Museum & Art Gallery

Osmund Bullock,

Ah well, that's scuppers the genealogical/biographical route. Jade, it might be wise to remove my post above before the Information Commissioner's Office notices that we have divulged the name and 40+ year-old address and telephone number of someone before we know they are dead. I imagine the consequences could be serious. There are other discussions where we might be vulnerable, too - gosh, what a minefield it all is.

Richard Warren,

Well, I think the mystery may be solved at last, following an email exchange with Eloise Hendrick and a fascinating chat on the phone with her mother Jackie, granddaughter and daughter of the Stanley A Jackson who certainly painted the Madras portrait in the National Army Museum and also (in my view) the boatbuilders painting at Nuneaton which sparked this discussion. To cut a (very) long and complex story short, Stanley A did not die until the 1980's, and, though he travelled widely, could well have been the source of the Nuneaton painting, directly or indirectly. Quite another person, it turns out, is the Stanley Jackson who - see Oliver Perry's posts above - married the musician Ruth Pearl, started a new life in New Zealand in the late forties, and died in 1961. Their painting styles are not too dissimilar, and there's a surprising number of coincidences that helped to create the confusion! (Both gave 1917 as their birth year, both worked as commercial artists, both also had musical inclinations, both were in the London area at the same time in the 'forties, etc.) When I've done a bit more work on both the Stanleys I'll put a summary up on my blog and post a link here. I'll also pass on to Nuneaton a bit more info on Stanley A, the likely painter of their Madras picture, once I have it sorted.

That's very encouraging and I look forward to seeing what you do: please keep a note of your sources (inc 'personal information' ) since one of the things becoming clear is that these Art Detective discussions are producing the possibility of 'potted biographies'of artists who so far have none; but to be of lasting credibility one needs to know where information cited came from.

Jim Rowe,

Hi i have found a Stanley jackson painting in New Zealand and am considering purchase. I have a photo of his signature and the painting. can anyone please help me verify if it is actually one of his. I can txt the pics directly
Thanks
Jim

Richard Warren,

Jim, I've emailed you, following your comment on my blog post. I should now be able to tell the two signatures apart - anyway, see your emails. Thanks! RW.

Malcolm Fowles,

The British Library holds a complete set of Electoral Registers since 1947. Some local archives also keep copies. If the collection has an address, they may be able find the *full* names of all persons at that address easily enough.

Richard Warren,

Malcolm, I wouldn't want to second guess Nuneaton Gallery's response to that, but I'm pretty sure that they don't have a record of an address, just a note that the painting was obtained directly from the artist. But thanks for the useful advice!

Malcolm Fowles,

Perhaps I misunderstood Osmund's reference to an address not far above here.

Richard Warren,

Ah, sorry. My mistake. Nuneaton do say "it gives a local address". Thanks!

Osmund Bullock,

Malcolm, I tried that route many months ago, giving a probable (published) telephone directory reference, but needing confirmation from Nuneaton that the address (which they do indeed have) was right in order to look it up at the BL. Unfortunately, due (presumably) to half-understood data protection regulations, they said they could not confirm (or deny) I had the right one in mind "without evidence that the artist is deceased" - despite the fact that it was already in the public domain over 40 years ago. I then wrote the (intended to be sarcastic) post still visible above...and slightly to my surprise I was taken at my word, and Art Detective removed the earlier post in which I discussed it all!

So we are in a Catch-22 situation where we know the man we think is the artist is dead, but cannot prove it without the address confirmation...and we cannot have the address confirmation without proving he is dead! What strange times we live in. I need hardly add that the likelihood of the Information Commissioner's Office having the slightest interest or concern in this matter is precisely zero.

Malcolm Fowles,

The only problem is that we can't do it for the collection within a public forum like this. But the collection can do it privately. Its county or borough archive may have the registers, but if not must surely - as an archive - have access to someone with a BL reader's ticket! If not, ... !!! and see below **.

All the collection needs to do is ask for the full names of electors living at ... on the 1969-71 registers. No protection issues at all, as the registers are in the public domain.

** A backup is that the collection confirms here what name to put in front of the Nuneaton and Bedworth council email @, and invite a BL reader within easy reach of St Pancras to get in touch.

Osmund Bullock,

I don’t think the public nature of the forum is the issue, Malcolm – the Data Protection Act 1998 restricts data release to individuals privately, and even to different departments of the same organisation who want it for a different purpose, just as much as it restricts public release. I believe this case may be covered by one or more exceptions to the rules – but I am no lawyer, and though they recognise it is a “far from desirable” situation, the Collection take a different view. And even if they did feel legally free to do so, I doubt that Nuneaton have the time and staff available to pursue the Electoral Register route – though they are certainly interested in the discussion, it was not they who initiated it.

Hello,

Please accept our apologies for the delay in getting back to you. We have recently been able to do a bit more research into this painting using the museum's scrapbooks that contain newspaper cuttings relating to exhibitions, new acquisitions and displays held here.

We're pleased to let you know that this research has proven really interesting and we have managed to find more information about the artist, 'E. Jackson'. Newspaper cuttings from 1970 reveal that E. Jackson is Emily Jackson.

Emily Jackson lived in Nuneaton and entered the town's Festival of Arts in 1970. She entered paintings into several sections of the Festival and was awarded three firsts (in figure composition, portraits and free choice), one second prize (still life) and a special trophy in the art section of the festival (The Warwickshire Miners' Association Cup).

Mrs. Jackson is described by the Coventry Telegraph as "A Nuneaton housewife" (28th April 1970) and the Evening Tribune says she "swept the board" (28th April 1970) at the Nuneaton Festival of Arts that year.

The work was purchased by the museum's curator Francis Fawcett following public and expert consultation about which paintings should be acquired for the collection (Evening Tribune, 15th May 1970).

We hope this helps to answer the questions you had and thank you for your patience, we'll be adding this information to the collections database for future research and enquiries.

Richard Warren,

Many thanks for this. It seems conclusive, though I'm a little puzzled as to why a "Nuneaton housewife" should paint an image of boat builders in Madras.

For what it's worth, I've recently updated my work on Stanley Jackson, or rather the two Stanley Jacksons, and have tried to summarise it all in this post, where I've still claimed this painting as by one of the Stanleys. Maybe that will have to be amended now ...

https://richardawarren.wordpress.com/2017/04/27/a-tale-of-two-stanleys-stanley-jackson-and-stanley-jackson/

Hi Richard,
We have been wondering the same. Our curators in the 1960s and 1970s developed a strong world cultures collection at the museum and it may be that the piece was inspired by a photograph or ethnographic objects on display at this time. However, this is just conjecture and it is likely we'll never know the exact reason for Emily Jackson's choice of subject.

The obvious further questions are: what else can be found of Mrs Jackson - dates, maiden name, other known works and any other information that might account for both her competence and her choice/ source of this subject.If not still around, perhaps children are...?

Osmund Bullock,

Thank you very much, Nuneaton (Becky?), for digging that out, and saving us from any more lengthy barks up wrong trees! I'm a bit puzzled, though, that you apparently still feel her 1970 address must remain hidden when it was in fact given in the Evening Argus article (and so is already in the public domain)...not that it matters, as it's clearly visible in the cutting you illustrate in your own blog piece on the story! https://nuneatonmuseum.wordpress.com/2017/05/03/art-detectives/ & http://bit.ly/2pPElgm (image of the cutting)

So, she (or her husband) is indeed the 'E. Jackson' in the telephone directory at 13 Sunningdale Close, Nuneaton, as mooted six months ago. It doesn't help us much, though. Either her husband had the same initial, or she was a single woman (despite being described by the paper as a housewife) - if the former, there are a few marriages of 1930-70 recorded that have the right combination of names and initials. But none took place closer than Leicester, and conclusions are impossible. In general Emily Jackson is such a common name that a purely genealogical approach is hopeless.

Ancestry's phone directories are far from complete, but the directory listings with the Sunningdale Close address (again relax, everybody - public domain) only appear from 1970 to 1975. It's possible that the 'E. Jackson' who appears at 14 Featherstone Close, Nuneaton at around the same time that the other one disappears (and continues there till at least the early 1980s) is the same person - but that's pure speculation.

The Nuneaton Festival of Arts (at which Emily exhibited) might hold records with information about her - perhaps worth an email, anyway: http://www.nuneatonfoa.org.uk/section/art . Or if we're lucky, Nuneaton Museum's blog request for info may elicit a response from someone who knew her. Other than that, the only avenue would seem to be that suggested by Malcolm (and earlier by me): examination of the Nuneaton electoral registers at the BL or locally, now that we know the address. This may perhaps produce a middle name for Emily, and/or the name of another family member. But I won't be doing any of that myself, I'm afraid - enough time spent on wild goose chases already, I feel, especially by Richard!

The other thing Nuneaton could consider is asking the local paper to publish a short piece or letter, with an image of the pic perhaps, aand ask anyone who remembers her to come forward.

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