Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Object of the Day: An Antique Watercolor Portrait

I instantly found this little English watercolor portrait to be appealing. The finely painted piece dates between 1860-1875, I’d say. The painting is in excellent condition, retaining a brightness of color in the vivid blues and flesh-tones—two hues which are often the quickest to fade with time.

The painter identifies himself or herself with penciled initials which appear to be “M.C.” Now, who is the sitter? I’m not sure. At one time, the piece sported a framer’s label which might have given us some more information. While the frame still has its original wooden backing, the label is long-gone with only the tattered edges remaining.

I was drawn to the painting by the gentleman’s resemblance to Mr. Hudson as played by Gordon Jackson from the original ITV series Upstairs, Downstairs (see below). Of course, this predates Gordon Jackson’s turn in the series by over one hundred years. However, he also favors philosopher, M.P. and all-around possessor-of-opinions John Stuart Mill (1806-1873). This fellow, however, looks a bit too cheerful to be John Stuart Mill, but there’s a distinct similarity. I don’t suppose we’ll ever know. But, it’s a lovely little painting and I’m pleased to welcome it to the family.

Gordon Jackson  as Mr. Hudson (right) with David Langton (left)
John Stuart Mill looking typically stern.

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