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Arthur Hughes

Arthur Hughes, by W. & D. Downey, circa 1858-1864 -NPG P30 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Arthur Hughes

by W. & D. Downey
Albumen print, circa 1858-1864
8 1/8 in. x 5 7/8 in. (206 mm x 149 mm)

Inscriptionback to top

Mount (not contemporary) with clipped sitter’s signature attached: ‘Everyours / Arthur Hughes’.

This portraitback to top

NPG P30, which has lost its original mount, was acquired in 1977 as a photograph possibly taken by Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson). Hughes’s appearance and dress are certainly similar to the photograph taken by Dodgson in 1863 (see ‘All known portraits’). However, cartes-de-visite showing Hughes in a second pose at the same sitting [1] bear stuck-on labels printed ‘W. & D. Downey’ and ‘South Shields’ on the back, and they are the basis for attributing NPG P30 to one of the Downey studios.[2]

William Downey started a photographic business in South Shields from about 1855, and traded there as W. & D. Downey from 1860. There was also a W. & D. Downey studio in Newcastle from 1863 to 1888. The Downey brothers went to London in September 1860 to take photographs of MPs and other prominent personalities, so it is just possible that NPG P30 was taken at Alexander Munro’s Pimlico studio then.[3] However, one of the cartes with the Downey label is inscribed by William Holman Hunt, ‘1858 about. Taken in ante room of Munro’s studio’.[4] A further carte showing Hughes (in the second pose) is in the collection of the descendants of Alexander Munro. It is reproduced in the Hughes catalogue raisonné where it is dated to the late 1850s.[5]

William Downey also came to London in June 1863 when he took photographs of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Ruskin and William Bell Scott in Rossetti’s house and garden.[6] However, there is no record of Hughes sitting on that occasion, and as a studio photograph NPG P30 is different to these more informal images.

A later date in the 1860s is just possible. The most important of Hughes’s northern patrons was James Leathart of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Hughes worked for him between 1860 and 1878 and painted his family twice, in 1863–5 and 1878–9, travelling to Newcastle and Gateshead for the sittings.[7] Another artist patronized by Leathart, Ford Madox Brown, was photographed by W. & D. Downey in Newcastle c.1864.[8] The evidence points towards a similar date for the photograph of Hughes.

Carol Blackett-Ord

Footnotesback to top

1) The Rob Dickins Coll., Watts G., Compton, COMWG2008.121, COMWG2008.122, and COMWG2008.1029; Maas 1984, nos 121, 122, 129.
2) Letter from J. Maas to R. Ormond, 20 May 1980 (NPG RP P30). For a reproduction see Hunt 1913, vol.2, p.64 (head only).
3) Information from Jane Lamb (email, 9 July 2006, NPG NoA (A. Hughes)).
4) Maas 1984, p.103. Hughes shared a studio with Munro 1851/2–8.
5) Roberts & Wildman 1997, p.17.
6) Maas 1984, pp.112–13.
7) Mrs James Leathart and Children (1863–5) and A Christmas Carol at Bracken Dene (1878–9); Roberts & Wildman 1997, nos 61 and 163; and Leathart 1968, pp.19–22. Other northern patrons were the Pattinsons of Felling, near Gateshead, painted by Hughes in 1866–7.
8) See NPG Ax7568 under F. Madox Brown, ‘All known portraits’; and Roberts & Wildman 1997 for the Brown/Leathart correspondence re. Hughes.

Physical descriptionback to top

Three-quarter-length, standing, looking to left, left elbow on plinth.

Provenanceback to top

Christie’s, 10 Mar. 1977 (254).

Exhibitionsback to top

Through the Looking Glass: Photography and the Pre-Raphaelite Movement, Manchester City Art Gallery, 1986–7 (25).

Reproductionsback to top

Maas 1984, p.103.

View all known portraits for Arthur Hughes

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