Why I Love Researching Artists and Paintings

By Dave Dallas, Old Master Specialist

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Image 0125 George Frederick Harris

I was recently asked by a collector friend in New York to do some research on the American painter G F Harris. All I had to go on were his initials. I subsequently discovered he is called Gregory Frank Harris, was born in 1953 and paints pretty girls by the sea in an accomplished latter-day Impressionist style.
However, before I discovered his true identity, I stumbled on a 19th century Welsh painter George Frederick Harris, who was born in Birmingham on October 30th 1856, but lived most of his life in Merthyr Tydfil. Merthyr was an unlikely place for a would-be artist in the Victorian age as it was a town with strong coal mining roots, but it was prosperous and this led to it having a large Jewish community. In fact, it had its own Synagogue and the pink opaline glass lamps from this building are now in the collection of the St Fagan’s National Museum of History, Cardiff.

Rolf Harris

George Frederick Harris was a decent portrait and still-life painter, I don’t know how successful he was but there are over 40 paintings by him in public art collections. In 1920 he left Wales for Australia but sadly died of pneumonia in Sydney 4 years later.
His artistic legacy, however, lives on in his grandson, Rolf. Rolf entertained many children in the UK in the 1960s with his broad-brush painting technique, singing to himself on live British television and painting briskly with a decorator’s brush. The seemingly random first strokes then turned into a cabin amongst palm trees or whatever. The trick was to try and work out what the subject was before he finished the painting.
In 2005, he painted a portrait of H.M. The Queen. Now he is detained at her displeasure. You never know what you are going to unearth when you start a little gentle research.

Girls on a beach

Posted in Old Master Paintings.

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