Trowbridge Museum Solves The Riddle Of Its Mystery Painting

By Georgi Gyton | 18 March 2008
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A close up shot of the lady thought to be Joanna Turner, standing with her hands on top of a white fire surround, showing her wedding ring.

Eden Upton Eddis (1812-1901), painting of a Victorian woman (possibly Joanna Turner). © Trowbridge Museum

After 22 years of conjecture, the mystery painter of a Victorian portrait donated to Trowbridge Museum may have finally been identified.

The portrait, donated in 1986, shows a young Victorian woman showing off her wedding ring, in a piece museum staff believe is likely to have been painted especially for her husband.

Until now, no-one at the museum has known anything about the origins of the painting, but a member of the public recently enlightened them on the possible identity of the artist - Eden Upton Eddis.

The mystery surrounding the painting started when the image was displayed as part of an exhibition last year.

“I thought it stood out from the rest of the pieces; it’s a lovely picture, with a beautiful frame,” said Clare Lyall, Curator at the museum. “I looked into it and realised we had very little information about it. We knew when we acquired it, but little else.”

A photo of the mystery oval painting of a lady in a white dress showing off her wedding ring, with an ornate golden frame.

The painting in its frame. © Trowbridge Museum

“We put an article in the local paper and appealed for information and a member of the public came forward who owns two portraits in a very similar style to the piece in the exhibition,” said Clare.

Comparing the styles of the pieces, Trowbridge Museum staff are as certain as they can be that Eden Upton Eddis painted the mystery oval portrait.

And after receiving information from members of the public who recognised the mystery lady in the painting, it has been suggested she is Joanna Turner, founder of the United Church, Trowbridge.

Eden Upton Eddis (1812-1901) was an English painter whose work was regularly exhibited at the Royal Academy. His oeuvre includes portraits of notables such as Sir Francis Leggatt Chantrey, Lord Macaulay and Archbishop Sumner. The National Portrait Gallery hold a number of examples of his work, as well as lithographs based on his work.

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