Attributions

I’ve been looking at ‘attributions’ – whether the evidence for works listed on this site being by Annie stands up to scrutiny. Reassuringly, 120 out of the 128 works for which there are images are well-evidenced, either appropriately signed (and this noted in historic records), having sound exhibition records, originating from collections in Annie’s family or her artistic or suffrage friends, or having other good evidence.

Of the remaining eight, four are very much in Annie’s style so I’m happy to stay with the auction house or gallery determinations, but four others are more problematic:

MaternitéPortrait of a boyPortrait of a ladyBluebell Wood

Maternité resembles Annie’s style and the building frieze detail is the same as in An Italian Mother and Child, which makes me reasonably confident it is by Annie. However, the execution of the woman’s face doesn’t have her usual vitality. It may have been reworked and the expression ‘deadened’, perhaps by Annie herself when her eyesight was failing. The painting (location unknown) looks like it needs a good clean, which might help determination.

Portrait of a boy (surrounded by gold) has been well discussed. It is frustrating that no trail of attribution is given in catalogues, in spite of auction houses stating categorically that it is by Annie. I sincerely hope this untraced work reappears in some context in the not too distant future.

Portrait of a lady wearing a fur-trimmed garment was at an auction recently which I visited, allowing close inspection. It didn’t strike me immediately as being by Annie, the only evidence I’m aware of being her name being written in what looks like modern, if faded, ink on the edge of the frame. I’m afraid I disagree with the current holder’s statement that it “bears a striking resemblance to Annie … possibly a self portrait”. The ratios of the woman’s facial features to each other, particularly the nose-to-lip distance, are different to those in photos of Annie and the Gwenny Griffith portrait. Apologies to the current holder of the work, but this is my honest opinion.

The Bluebell Wood was originally placed in auction as “by Annie”, but a later auction listed it as “style of”, and with no other evidence has to be ‘attributed’ or even ‘artist unknown’.

Even where I might disagree, I have retained auction houses’ and retailers’ determinations in the main ‘list of works’ on this site – they may have been privy to knowledge not available to me, and have a broad range of experience that I do not.

[* Not included in the above discussion is the ‘attributed’ image, Thoughts, but in that case it is because the correct identification of the painting itself amongst many others in photographs of the McCulloch collection is uncertain.]


Jonathan Russell

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