Portrait of Mrs Mary Bruce Dick of Maybole, Scotland as Ceres by Andrew Henderson (1783-1835)

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A recently discovered portrait by the renowned Scottish Artist Andrew Henderson (1783 - 1835).   Henderson's others works hang in the National Gellery of Scotland and within the well-respected fine art collection of the University of Strathclyde.

Henderson was born at Cleish, near Kinross in Scotland, in 1783, son of the gardener to Lord Chief Commissioner William Adam of Blair Adam. He was apprenticed at the age of thirteen to his brother Thomas in General Scott's gardens at Bellevue, Edinburgh, and was subsequently employed in the Earl of Kinoull's gardens at Dupplin castle and in the Earl of Hopetoun's gardens at Hoeptoun House.

His constitution was regarded as not strong enough for outdoor work, so he obtained work in Paisley, eventually becoming foreman of a company there. His love of pictorial art led him, however, to attend a drawing-school, and eventually he decided to become an artist. In March 1809 he went to London and studied for three or four years at the Royal Academy.

In 1813 Henderson returned to Scotland and settled in Glasgow as a portrait-painter, practising with considerable local success for about twenty years. He exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh in 1828, 1829, and 1830.  He was a founder member in 1825 of the Glasgow Dilettanti Society, and he exhibited there from 1828.

Henderson was described "a man of extremely original character, of fiery temperament and violent impetuosity in speech, yet full of broad humour, and much beloved by his intimate friends. He was large and ungainly in figure, but possessed a sharp, shrill voice." 

The portrait depicts Mrs Mary Bruce Dick (wife of William Dick - a well-to-do merchant) as Ceres goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships.   Mary would have been just 22 when the portrait was painted in 1828, having married William Dick in 1826 following the death of first wife in 1825.

Mary died in 1852 aged just 46 following her husband's death in 1832.  A widow by the age of 26, it doesn't appear that she ever re-married.  A monument in Maybole Kirkwynd Cemetry, Maybole, records other family tragedies such as the death of her son, William, at just 7 months.   

A life cut short but captured forever by Henderson.

The portrait is inscribed verso

"Ceres", presented to Mrs William Dick, Maybole.     By her very sincere friend Andrew Henderson May 1828.
The portrait is untouched by us by and would benefit from sympathetic restoration. There is craquleue throughout and some ovepainting, though not on the subject's face, to the background areas.   There is some flaking and small areas of paint loss to the face.  She hides beneath the original varnish, removal of which would reveal more of her beauty.
A self portrait of Henderson is housed within the Fine Art collection of the University of Strathclyde, and a portrait of William Motherwell (1797-1835), the well known Scottish poet, hangs in the National Gallery of Scotland.
Finding undiscovered portraits by such accomplished artists is always a delight, and to find one by Henderson, whose work adorns the National Gallery of Scotland, adds to the pleasure.


Measuring: 44 cm x 33 cm

Scottish, 1828.