Completed Scotland: Artists and Subjects, Sculpture 28 Who sculpted this small portrait of Manny Shinwell?

CDNII_JML_1989_348_001
Topic: Artist

This sculpture of Scottish Labour politician Manny Shinwell is inscribed on the back, under the rim of the collar (see attached detail). Could it be ‘F. Stirling’?

Although it is listed as bronze, its appearance may suggest a different metal.

A clay portrait head by Alan Thornhill.
https://bit.ly/2MX2mOX

A photograph of the sitter in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery.
https://bit.ly/3cX4JMs

Completed, Outcome

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27 comments

Jacinto Regalado,

None of the Stirlings on Mapping Sculpture fit here.

Osmund Bullock,

Yes, not bronze - but not plaster either. It's zinc/spelter, or possibly aluminium, painted brown to look vaguely bronze-like. I agree with the reading of the signature as 'F [or P] STIRLING', but have no idea who that might be.

Louis Musgrove,

How do you know it is Manny Shinwell? Does it say on it somewhere? Cos I am old enough to remember seeing him on TV , and I have looked at some online piccies to remind me, and it is either a bad likeness by the sculptor ,or it's someone else.

We have no record of what, if anything, is on the base.

When adding this discussion I was prepared to accept that it depicts Manny Shinwell, if a poor likeness: the ears are the wrong shape and size; the nose has a definite bump that Lord Shinwell's never had; and he had a significant amount of hair on the top/back of his head even in advanced old age. This sculpture shows hair that has receded completely to just above the ear level at the back. I thought the eyes and mouth were more characteristic.

This photo was taken in 1984, on the occasion of Lord Shinwell's 100th birthday.
https://bit.ly/3d8Qm7U

Lord Shinwell, aged 90
https://bit.ly/37AmyzK

Jacinto Regalado,

It is a rather crude rendering, but the identity of the sitter is open to some doubt. The collection should be asked about provenance or other evidence that this is, in fact, Shinwell (or rather, about the basis for the identification).

Jacinto Regalado,

Comparing image #5 with the 1974 photo linked by Marion does not give a very good match. Apart from the hair, the nose is different.

Kieran Owens,

If the bust is not of Manny Shinwell then there possibly is no connection between the sitter and Scotland, which opens up the possibilities of the sculptor being from anywhere in the British Isles.

Does the accession number signify that date of its entering the collection in 1989?

Louis Musgrove,

If someone could rub some coloured chalk dust or the like into the scratched signature, I think it might reveal a little more ????

Jacinto Regalado,

I suppose this could be an amateur effort meant to be only a very rough approximation of Shinwell.

Jacinto Regalado,

Apart from the signature, I think the basis for the identification of the sitter as Shinwell has to be addressed.

Osmund Bullock,

It still seems to be 'F STIRLING', though the 'R' looks more like an 'A'...but that wouldn't make sense for any known UK name. The very crudity of how the name is scratched into the metal suggests a non-professional artist with unsophisticated tools, and unused to signing a metal bust (which is usually done in the clay or plaster, and cast into the metal).

I'm with Jacinto on this. It may be that the Collection has some good evidence to support the identification as Shinwell; but if not, the likeness is in my view nowhere good enough to justify it on that basis alone - in fact looking at the attached profile comparison, I’d be surprised to learn it was meant to be him, whoever made it.

1 attachment
Martin Hopkinson,

It is almost two years since this discussion came to halt with doubts expressed that this is a portrait of Shinwell. Can it be moved on and can the artist be more specifically identified -probably F STIRLING? Can be gleaned from records of its acquisiton by the Jewish Museum in 1989?

Martin Hopkinson,

Have Shinwell's several autobiographies been consulted as well as Peter Stoves' authorised biography of 1993?
The National Portrait Gallery must have a substantial file of portraits [mostly photographic] of him in its archive.

S. Elin Jones,

Attached are a few video clips of Manny Emmanuel from 1951 to the 1970s.

I can see why there would be a question about the sitter's identity, as there are some highly doubtful elements. But the sculpture does seem to have a little of his character.

International audience discusses weapons standardisation 1951
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93ukenu4L6I

BBC Election 1970 interview
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMQ-814NcS4

Living in Victorian Times - Manny Shinwell
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPPWEIs1v6Q

Martin Hopkinson,

Can Glasgow supply a photograph of its 1972 sculpture of him by Alan Thornhill?

Jacob Simon,

Martin asks re NPG's file of Shinwell portrait repros. I'm already overloaded with things to pursue on my NPG Heinz archive visit tomorrow but I hope to have a quick initial look at the file to see if there is anything obvious to help us in understanding this nasty little bust.

Martin Hopkinson,

indeed it is unattractive and could be posthumous - but its source might be identifiable

Jacob Simon,

I had a look at the Shinwell file at the NPG this morning. Almost entirely photos. Our bust could be Shinwell but with an element of caricature or naivety which makes it difficult to say that it definitely is of him.

Martin asks for Glasgow to supply a photograph of its sculpture of Shinwell by Thornhill (20/03/2023). But I suspect that the image posted in the introduction to this discussion may be sufficient for for the purpose, see a clay portrait head by Alan Thornhill at https://bit.ly/2MX2mOX .

On the sitter, I fear that without documentation we're not going to be able to say that it definitely represents Shinwell.

On the artist, it appears to be signed Stirling, as noted above (Osmund, 08/04/2021).

I fear that it may be difficult to say more.

Martin Hopkinson,

I am sure that you are right , Jacob. The piece could well be by a non-professional - and barring a letter in the Jewish Museum's files, I cannot see any likelihood of progress

Martin Hopkinson,

If the Jewish Museum can find no more evidence in their files, this discussion should surely be closed as nobody has come up with any acceptable identification of the artist

Osmund Bullock,

But as discussed previously, this bust appears to be signed 'F STIRLING'.

Marcie Doran,

The only likely person that I could find in the 1939 England and Wales Register is Frances Alice Eleanor Stirling (born Askew, later Fry)(1907–2002) of London. In 1939, she lived at 43 Elvaston Place (near the Natural History Museum in Kensington) and her occupation was "Interior Decorating and Furnishing". She married John Beauchamp Fry (1907–2003) in 1941. Her death was registered in Kensington and Chelsea.