There are two verions of Dacre’s ‘Portrait of Thomas Baker.’

I’ve just realised there are two versions of Isabel Dacre’s Portrait of Alderman Thomas Baker. A simpler version with his head and upper body in front of a book case, gifted by Henry Boddington to Manchester Art Gallery in 1911, and a more finished version of him holding a book, which hangs in Manchester Town Hall.

I must have looked at both pictures many times on the web, but never mentally registered there were two versions, even though even the basic colour schemes are obviously different – one red and one blue!

The human brain is a strange thing, sometimes seeing neither the wood, nor the trees. I once emailed a globally recognised authority on avian classification, asking why he arranged species in a certain way, specifically placing a genus of what I understood were non-passerine birds in a passerine group. He emailed back his thanks, saying he was mystified not only how he’d made the original error, but never noticed it on numerous reviews of the group, nor had any of his colleagues.

The total number of works by Isabel known by image is therefore thirty-six, twenty-three in public collections (twenty-two in the UK, and the Portrait of a young girl in a satin cap in the André Del Debbio collection, Paris).

Jonathan Russell

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