One evening last week, I agreed to do a favour for a friend. His family was giving a picture to the National Gallery on permanent loan –
having a rare oil painting painted in 1800s hanging in your house isn’t wise unless it’s suitably insured and your security system involves lasers, in my opinion.

So, they were looking to get a few good photographs of it, that could ultimately be printed onto canvas once the original had gone, and while they had access to several digital cameras, on-camera flash and oil paintings don’t mix (the flash bounces off the canvas) and I happened to have an off-camera flash. I rolled my sleeves up and had a go. A summary of the results is on the left.

I’m neither a fine art, nor history buff, but it was a fascinating evening – the painting was of my friend’s great-great grandmother. It was painted by W. T. Parkes in 1887 who was a noted newspaper illustrator of the day, but crucially, he rarely did portraits, which makes this painting all the more interesting.

I ended up with a few good shots of the painting (didn’t want to take it out of it’s frame, so I suspect I’m missing a few centimetres at the edge) and have them archived now as Canon raw files. Here’s hoping they survive as long as the painting has so far – another 120 years at least, we’ll see how that goes.

As a bit of an experiment this afternoon, while waiting for machines to install (we’re hard at it this weekend on ZFS stuff!) I thought I’d have a dig around the internet to see what’s documented about the painter online. Surprisingly little it seems – this
and this, but otherwise my search came up blank, so hopefully this post will add to that knowledge.