Art UK has updated its cookies policy. By using this website you are agreeing to the use of cookies. To find out more read our updated Use of Cookies policy and our updated Privacy policy.


What else happens at Art Detective, besides the public Discussions that we are best known for? This curation features 10 artworks for which new information has been found, especially new attributions. The short texts only offer a glimpse of the evidence and of the effort that goes into such discoveries, which usually involves asking the collection to check the object and its file. This curation is to thank all those who give so much of their free time to improving this vast database of the nation's art, helping the stories emerging from it to be as accurate as possible.

10 artworks
  • Simon Elwes (1902–1975)

    We have discovered that this portrait of HRH The Princess Royal, Countess of Harewood (1897–1965), once listed under 'Unknown artist', is by British war artist and society portrait painter Simon Elwes (1902–1975). The sitter's full title and the acquisition method were also supplied.

    The portrait was presented to the Royal Scots by The Princess Royal as their Colonel in Chief, on the occasion of their Tercentenary in 1932. There is a film on ‘British Pathe News’ of The Princess Royal attending the celebrations. It was also exhibited in the 1934 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, no. 269, ‘H.R.H, The Princess Royal, Countess of Harewood – Simon Elwes’.

    Contributors: Kieran Owens, E. Jones, Martin Hopkinson

    HRH The Princess Royal, Countess of Harewood (1897–1965), Colonel-in-Chief, The Royal Scots (1918–1965) 1933
    Simon Elwes (1902–1975)
    Oil on canvas
    H 100 x W 90 cm
    The Royal Scots Museum
    HRH The Princess Royal, Countess of Harewood (1897–1965), Colonel-in-Chief, The Royal Scots (1918–1965)
    © the artist's estate. Photo credit: The Royal Scots Museum

  • Mary Young Hunter (1872–1947)

    Previously listed on Art UK as Joy by Mary Ethel Hunter (1878–1936), the artist has now been correctly identified as Mary Young Hunter, who exhibited it as Joy and the Labourer at the Royal Academy in 1901 (Royal Academy Illustrated, 1901, p.28). It is also attributed to Mary Young Hunter in Sara Gray’s Dictionary of British Women Artists (2009, p.145) and in Walter Shaw Sparrow, Women Painters of the World (1905, title page). It is signed bottom right by the spade handle 'Mary Y... / Hunter / 1901' (the image cut off on the extreme right).

    Contributor: Andrea Kollmann

    Joy and the Labourer 1901
    Mary Young Hunter (1872–1947)
    Oil on canvas
    H 108.5 x W 83 cm
    Worcestershire County Museum
    Joy and the Labourer
    Photo credit: Worcestershire County Museum

  • John Collier (1850–1934)

    This portrait of surgeon Matthew Hinchliffe (1828–1897), MD, MRCS, has been identified as the work of John Collier (1850–1934), one of the most prominent portrait painters of his generation. It was posthumously commissioned in 1902 by the Corporation of Dewsbury for the Council Chamber of Dewsbury Town Hall, as Hinchliffe had bequeathed thousands of pounds to the municipal authority for the promotion of higher education. The commission is recorded in the Leeds Mercury of 21 February 1902. Kirklees Museums & Galleries confirmed that the portrait had come into the collection by way of a transfer from Dewsbury Town Hall (12 miles away).

    Contributor: Kieran Owens

    Matthew Hinchliffe (1828–1897), MD, MRCS 1902
    John Collier (1850–1934)
    Oil on canvas
    H 127 x W 99 cm
    Kirklees Museums and Galleries
    Matthew Hinchliffe (1828–1897), MD, MRCS
    Photo credit: Kirklees Museums and Galleries

  • William M. Hay (b.c.1831)

    This portrait was found to be signed on the right, above the sitter’s arm. A high-resolution image confirmed that it read ‘W. M. Hay / –89’, suggesting that this is a pendant to Hay's lovely portrait of Giffard’s wife, Maria Jane Marrett Jandron (1889), at Jersey Museum and Art Gallery.

    Contributor: Andrea Kollmann

    John Francis Giffard (b.1847), Ecurier, Juré, Justicier 1889
    William M. Hay (b.c.1831)
    Oil on canvas
    H 90 x W 70 cm
    St Peter Parish Hall, Jersey
    John Francis Giffard (b.1847), Ecurier, Juré, Justicier
    Photo credit: St Peter Parish Hall, Jersey

  • James Andrews (1824–1870)

    The question of whether James Andrews painted this portrait of Victorian industrialist and MP Henry Bolckow was first raised in a 2015 Art Detective Discussion about another portrait in Middlesbrough, that of Enoch Wood (1759–1840). Plenty of primary evidence to support the update was found in council records.

    As well as being the first Mayor of the borough, Bolckow part-owned several successful businesses including ironworks, brickworks, gasworks, coal mines and limestone quarries, which contributed significantly to Middlesbrough's growth. He was also a collector of modern British and French art. There is a statue of him in Middlesbrough's Exchange Square.

    Contributors: Barbara Bryant, Tim Williams, Osmund Bullock

    Henry William Ferdinand Bolckow, First Mayor of Middlesbrough 1854
    James Andrews (1807–1875)
    Oil on canvas
    H 280 x W 155 cm
    Middlesbrough Town Hall
    Henry William Ferdinand Bolckow, First Mayor of Middlesbrough
    Photo credit: Middlesbrough Town Hall

  • John Cuthbert Salmon (1844–1917)

    Kieran Owens thought that the signature ‘J. L. Salmon’ had been misread and suggested that this could be a self portrait by John Cuthbert Salmon, RCA (1844–1917). Salmon was a long-standing member of the Royal Cambrian Academy. In 1918, the year after his death, fifteen of his works were exhibited there as a posthumous tribute.

    A high-resolution image confirmed ‘J. C.’ and a composite of signatures confirmed the identity of the artist as John Cuthbert Salmon. The J., the C., and the initial capital S. as well as the "Dürer" A and the exaggerated N at the end of both versions were very similar. The inscription implies that this was a Christmas gift from the artist to his daughter in 1911.

    Contributor: Kieran Owens

    Self Portrait 1911
    John Cuthbert Salmon (1844–1917)
    Oil on canvas
    H 75 x W 50 cm
    Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru / The National Library of Wales
    Self Portrait
    Photo credit: Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru / The National Library of Wales

  • Paulus Vischer (c.1498–1531)

    Canterbury Museums and Galleries’ bronze Wild Man has been identified as the work of Paulus Vischer (c.1498–1531). This is the is only sculpture by Vischer in a UK public collection, as far as we know. There is a version of this unusual sculpture in the Bode Museum, Berlin and another appeared (holding the full club that is partly absent in this example) on the German art market in 2017. The markings that cover the figure's entire body, including the back of his neck, represent thick body hair and the waist is encircled by thorny branches.

    Contributor: Alistair Brown

    Wild Man early 16th C
    Paulus Vischer (c.1498–1531)
    H 24 x W 9 x D 8 cm
    Canterbury Museums and Galleries
    Wild Man
    Photo credit: Canterbury Museums and Galleries

  • Henry Tanworth Wells (1828–1903)

    This full-length portrait of Samuel Morley, MP was listed as by an unknown artist. Martin Hopkinson found that Henry Tanworth Wells (1828–1903) exhibited a picture of this title as no. 664 at the Royal Academy in 1874, the catalogue entry including 'Painted for the Congregation Memorial Hall', while Paul sent us a record from the York Herald of 17 May 1875, which recorded the artist as 'Mr H. T. Wells RA'.

    Contributor: Martin Hopkinson, Paul Kettlewell

    Samuel Morley (1809–1886), MP c.1873–1874
    Henry Tanworth Wells (1828–1903)
    Oil on canvas
    H 200 x W 123.5 cm
    The Congregational Memorial Hall Trust (1978) Limited
    Samuel Morley (1809–1886), MP
    Photo credit: The Congregational Memorial Hall Trust (1978) Limited

  • Francis Leggatt Chantrey (1781–1841)

    The sculptor of the Bank of England's fine marble bust of political economist Francis Horner was listed as unknown on Art UK. Francis Leggatt Chantrey (1781–1841) also made the statue of Horner in Westminster Abbey (1820). No other busts of Horner are known.

    Contributor: Jacinto Regalado

    Francis Horner (1778–1817)
    Francis Leggatt Chantrey (1781–1841)
    H 64.5 x W 33 x D 28 cm
    Bank of England
    Francis Horner (1778–1817)
    Photo credit: Bank of England

  • John Watson Gordon (1788–1864)

    This portrait of famous surgeon David Maclagan is now known to be the work of the well-known Scottish portrait painter John Watson Gordon, who was President of the Royal Scottish Academy. John Watson Gordon also painted Mrs Jane Whiteside, who was Dr Maclagan’s wife. Elin Jones concluded that the painting was apparently also the source for an 1847 mezzotint of David Maclagan by James Faed (After John Watson Gordon), although the glasses and medal are not present. A copy of this portrait can be found in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

    Contributor: Elin Jones

    David Maclagan (1785–1865)
    John Watson Gordon (1788–1864)
    Oil on canvas
    H 76.2 x W 63.5 cm
    Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
    David Maclagan (1785–1865)
    Photo credit: Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh