HOOD, John 1839-1924, colourist (attributed); DURYEA, Townsend 1823-1888, photographer (attributed)
Painted photographic portrait of a wealthy lady in mourning. Adelaide, circa 1864.
Albumen print photograph overpainted in oils, 123 x 116 mm, laid down on its original wood mount; in fine condition; unfortunately the original frame is now lost, the back of which, according to the previous owner, bore the printed label of the photographic studio of Townsend Duryea, 66 & 68 King William Street, Adelaide.
The painter (and later photographer) John Hood worked as an artist and retoucher for the London photographic firm of Elliott and Fry before accepting a contract to work as a colourist for the renowned American-born Adelaide photographer, Townsend Duryea. Hood arrived in Adelaide in 1863.
The unidentified lady in this magnificent overpainted portrait was undoubtedly the wife (she wears a wedding ring) of one of Adelaide’s prominent citizens of the 1860s. She wears a mourning dress and bonnet with black ribbons, and her facial expression is one of deep melancholy. Her bottle curls and dress suggest a date prior to 1865. It is possible that the sitter, who appears to be in her mid 40s, is in mourning for a daughter: in her left hand she holds a tortoise shell comb, perhaps a memento of her dearly beloved child.
The quality of the painting is typical of Hood’s work and rivals, for example, the finesse evident in his overpainted Duryea photograph of Sir Thomas Elder held in the collection of the Art Gallery of South Australia (see MILLER, Steven. Dogs in Australian Art, p 22).