Comments on: Art Detective: learning more about British portraits by Dr Marion Richards For professionals working with British portraits including curators, museum learning professionals, researchers, academics and conservators Thu, 24 Jan 2019 12:21:18 +0000 hourly 1 By: Marion Richards Thu, 24 Jan 2019 12:21:18 +0000 Thank you very much for your interest and kind comment.

Art Detective aims always to offer high-quality archival research of the kind that is the basis of your own substantial successes in identifying portraitists. The comparisons that are facilitated by having so many artworks on Art UK are never the sole basis for changes of attribution or identifying sitters. My blog was intentionally brief and did not detail the hours of patient research behind the scenes. Please look at the active and completed discussions our website, which illustrate this. Usually both methods of research (physical and documentary) come to bear, as in this example.

The Art Detective team is not a group based at Art UK (I manage the website on my own), but an online community of specialists and members of the public who share an interest in art. Here it is worth noting that ‘the public’ in this instance, includes a fair proportion of retired curators, country house volunteers, historians, art historians, etc. – that is, predominantly a well-informed interest group. Anyone is welcome, and local knowledge of a view or family records of a portrait sitter can also play an important part in improving the record. We are extremely grateful to a core cohort of dedicated researchers, who seem never to rest, whose high-quality generous research has enabled numerous public collections to improve their records free of charge.

By: Marion Richards Thu, 24 Jan 2019 12:09:08 +0000 Thank you, Jacqui. It was lovely to meet you and exchange ideas.

By: Robert Tittler Fri, 18 Jan 2019 12:28:03 +0000 I was much taken by this brief discussion, but I wondered to what extent Dr Richards’ team worked at solving some of these mysteries through the use of archival research as well as visual evidence. Unpublished accounts, correspondence, or other such sources provide a very useful tool in such work, especially where a painter has left no comparative oeuvre for study or had remained known. It seems to me that identifying a painter through visual evidence alone has its limits, while an archival record may tell a different tale, offer more definitive evidence, or identify painters as yet unknown.

My own archival research has managed, inter alia, to identify the previously unknown George Cottington as the painter of several early Stuart portraits (Burlington Magazine, 151:12173 (April, 2009), pp. 207-11), to identity the fist known portrait by Randle Holme the elder (with Shaun Evans, British Art Journal, XVI, 2 (Autumn 2015), pp 22–27), and more recently, together with Dr. Adrian Ailes, to propose the authorship of the NPG’s portrait of Sir Henry Unton. None of those attributions could have been made through visual analysis alone.

Robert Tittler
Professor of History Emeritus
Concordia University, Montreal

By: Jacqui Fri, 18 Jan 2019 10:20:14 +0000 Fascinating! Thanks for this insight into your role, and recent developments in attribution. It was really lovely to meet you at the study day and share ideas.