Have you got what it takes to identify an unknown sitter in a portrait? Here is your chance to pit your detective talents against the auction room clock!
Clue 1 - Address Lable
For the family historian it is a special thrill to see an image of a-long-lost ancestor for the first time. This is particularly true if the ancestor pre-dates the advent of photography and the image is in the form of a painted portrait! I remember my own excitement when a painting of a third great grandfather of mine unexpectedly came to light in a cousin’s garage. It was hardly a Rembrandt or Reynolds and the quality was somewhat lacking but just seeing his almost familiar face was still an unforgettable moment.
Clue 2 - Two Further (Luggage?) Labels
As treasures passing through auction houses and salerooms often form part of a deceased estate, the means by which any sitter in a portrait can be identified has invariably been lost. Furthermore, in such cases the auction house will often have only very small window in which to assess, catalogue and publicise an item before a sale. This means personal items such as portraiture will often achieve little more than their ‘decorative value’.
Clue 3 (or Red Herring?) - Snips from a Newspaper, but which one?
This month an impressive nineteenth century pastel portrait of a lady has missed the deadline for the September catalogue at Railtons saleroom in Northumberland. It is a large, heavy artwork that would have originally formed the centrepiece of an even larger frame. Intrigued by the quality, a closer inspection revealed this painting was potentially well travelled and had clearly meant a great deal to someone at some point in time. Mounted on pieces of paper and stuck to the rear of the painting are potential clues that may lead to the lady’s identity and the portrait being successfully reunited with her family. Can you piece them together in time and beat the fall of the hammer?
Clue 4 - The Portrait itself
Clue 5 - A close up of the detail on her 'bonnet'
Clue 6 - A Close-up of the lady's hands. Note ring to index finger & is she wearing a wedding band?
Do share your conclusions with us here and also with@familytreemaguk & #AncestryHour. What is the lady’s identity, her family connections, your assessment of the clues and the time taken to do so! What better way to spend a wet bank holiday weekend! Best get cracking and remember the clock is ticking …