It started with an email from an Australian in London to David Hulme of Manly-based Banziger Hulme Fine Art Consultants. The gentleman explained he owned a portrait of his mother, painted in 1928 in Melbourne when she was just a girl of 16 - but the painting was not signed. Could David Hulme help in confirming who painted it? Was it perhaps seven-times Archibald Prize Winner William Beckwith McInnes as had long been suspected by her family but never known for sure?
The lady in question, Leonora Rush (née MacKay), a former North Shore PLC girl, is still alive at 98 and living in England. She clearly remembers sitting for the artist when staying: with her aunt in Melbourne.
Her son, a former St Ives resident, Jonathan Rush said: “My mother always claimed the artist was somebody famous who had won the Archibald Prize but she couldn’t recall his name. She never knew why he wanted to paint her. I’d like to think he was struck by her innocent beauty. ”
According to David Hulme: “Our research, comparison and expert advice have now confirmed that the beautiful portrait is indeed by W.B. McInnes. He was one of Australia’s most celebrated portrait painters of the 1920s and 30s, winning the inaugural Archibald Prize in 1921. Incredibly he went on to win the coveted portraiture prize another six times. Luckily, Leonora got to keep her portrait, and we can see now why McInnes asked her to model for him.
“This is another example that shows paintings without a signature can be proven beyond reasonable doubt by experts to be by a certain artist, and can then be authenticated and valued accordingly.”
Banziger Hulme Fine Art Consultants have helped authenticate numerous paintings over many years. Among them is a pair of drawings believed at the time by the owners to have been created by Frederick McCubbin (his iconic “On The Wallaby Track” is at the Art Gallery of NSW). Then amazingly conservation of the work revealed the signatures of the very famous John Constable (the artist who painted ‘The Haywain’) on the back. In this case as with paintings by Raoul Dufy and Roy de Maistre, Banziger Hulme were able to locate the leading experts in London, Paris and Melbourne on the painters and ascertain for the owners the true creator of the works.
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Banziger Hulme Fine Art Consultants are independent art valuers and art brokers are based in Sydney, Australia. www.bhfineart.com
They help owners discover the true value of their artworks, for example. for insurance purposes, family division or inheritance. They assist with advice on buying and selling art in particular at auction, and specialise in creating fine art websites for collectors and museums. Examples are www.manlyartgallerycollections.com.au and www.antoniodattilorubbo.com.au designed for the Manly Art Gallery and Museum, or www.normanlloyd.com.au and www.robertmitchellartist.com.au
David Hulme is an approved valuer for the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program, and the company is an approved service provider for the Australian Antique and Art Dealers Association.