I, sometimes, when I am doing research on a new acquisition allow myself the liberty to dream. The chance of finding a masterpiece is minute but one can dream. Why not join me in a bit of speculation and then a bit of reality with my latest purchase.
I purchased this watercolour yesterday. It is quite nondescript but still eye catching. It could possibly be a study as a reference for a future painting. It is signed Wilson/32. Now the journey into speculation begins. If the 32 is 1832 well this painting might be a study by Richard Wilson. Richard Wilson is considered the father of British landscape painting. His sketches are as sought after as his oils are but he is not known for working with watercolour. But lets’ continue. Maybe it is by (Sir) Daniel Wilson. Born in Edinburgh – artist, author, ethnologist, and university teacher and administrator. He eventually became President of the University of Toronto (where I studied). More dreamy thoughts. This would not be the first painting in my collection by a British artist of a place in Canada which has made its’ way back to England for me to buy it here. Now for a little more reality. When I turn over the picture, on the back is a sticker for a framing shop. This sticker reads
‘from Geo. A Dean – Photographer & Picture Dealer – 14, High Street, Rugby – Framing of Every Kind
So another clue as to age. Who is George Dean. Well, George A. Dean, both Senior and Junior , were photographers but only George Jnr lived in Rugby. He moved there in the mid-1890’s. That means that this painting would have been 60 years old when framed by George jnr at his shop in Rugby. Not impossible but…. So what happens if we consider that it might be 1932. Firstly, George jnr would be roughly 90 years old and his shop would have been in existence for 40 some years. Once again not impossible but again questions arise. Also any famous Wilsons’ painting in 1932. There are some but not true really famous. So what is the decision. I have no definitive proof either way, I will continue to speculate and dream a little for now, and I will hang it on the wall and enjoy looking at it.
And just for fun, a lovely coloured etching by Robert Herdman-Smith(b. 1879) of ‘The Shambles’ in York. I have been there several times and continue to be amazed by the antiquity of the street and shops even when crowded with tourists.