Brown, or so it seems…

(c) York Museums Trust; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

York Museums Trust

Now, to the untrained eye, mine included, you would be forgiven for assuming that the above image is no other than Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. After all, there is more than a hint of family resemblance. After locating the image on the BBC Your Paintings website, labelled as Brown, I jumped in and posted it alongside a separate post titled Brown – to the point.

However, with a strong field of supporters out there it wasn’t long before some wise eyes alighted on the image, and promptly set about digging up the real story behind its questionable past. One such person was Karen Lynch, who kindly provided some tantalizing information to the real identity of the painted figure. I have therefore relocated the comments (& image) into this post for clarity.

Karen Lynch:

The portrait featured in the blog entry on 13 April is unlikely to be of Brown. Although it is tagged on the BBC/Catalogue Foundation website as such, the York City Art Gallery catalogue is more circumspect, listing it as ‘possibly Lancelot Brown’. It was bought by YCAG in 1969 because the artist, M.F. Quadal, had been based in Yorkshire as a society painter for a couple of years. The Brown tag seems to have been added later, based simply on the likeness to the famous Dance portrait.
The York portrait is unsigned and undated but another version exists with Quadal’s signature and the date 1777 and is one of a pair of portraits believed to be of Charles and Mary Hoyland of Halifax. These portraits remained with the family until very recently and it would seem that the couple commissioned the portraits when Quadal was in Yorkshire in the late 1770s.
Does anyone know more?
Quadal does have an interesting garden connection, although not to Brown. His full-length of John Burdon was displayed in the Banqueting House in the landscape park at Hardwick, County Durham.

Richard Green:

The title of the Quadal painting is being corrected on the BBC – Your Paintings website to ‘Portrait of Charles Hoyland’, although the change will not appear until the end of June.

Well there we have it – a fascinating little journey there and a good conclusion; or is it?!

Many thanks to Sarah and Richard for jumping in –  if you have any other information in relation to this image, please do let us know via the comment form.


About Lancelot Capability Brown

Hello and Welcome to my Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown blog! I thrive on the richness and diversity found within our historic gardens and landscapes and I hope through this blog to paint a picture of Lancelot Brown’s 18th Century world, his landscapes and life. I’d like this blog to spread the Brownian word far and wide, so please join in, suggest post subjects, send in potential articles or links to anything and everything with 'Capability'. I’ll also be looking forward to the Capability Brown Tercentenary Celebration of his birth in 2016, and look forward to an incredible year where the work of Brown can receive more praise and recognition than ever before. I've also launched a Twitter account under the title of @Brown2016 where for the next few years I plan to help spread the word and at the very least play my part in the build-up to a special year for all who enjoy landscape gardening in its true form. All views are my own and do not represent those of any organisation.
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