I’ve been preparing a paper for a conference and I’m starting to think about the significance of archaeological portraits for the history of archaeology. In 2013 Debbie Challis discovered that a portrait of a man thought to be the archaeologist Flinders Petrie was hanging on the walls of a community hall in South Norwood, London. (You can read Debbie’s post about the Stanley Halls Petrie portrait on the UCL Museums and Collections blog here).
The National Portrait Gallery has put online an extensive list of the various works (paintings, sketches, photographs and films) in which Petrie is represented or captured, ranging from an 1860s carte-de-visite photograph of a young Flinders with his mother Anne Petrie, to a photograph of Petrie on his deathbed in Jerusalem in 1942. The Institute of Archaeology displays a range of portraits (paintings, photographs and bronzes) of former Institute Directors and key staff members in Archaeology and Egyptology - among them conservator Ione Gedye and Assistant Professor of Egyptology Margaret Murray.
Mary Brodrick (1858-1933) was a well-known Egyptologist, lecturer and guidebook editor. A notice of the stipulations of her will was published following her death - among the bequests listed was a portrait by the artist “N. Fulcher.” It seems highly likely that this artist was Norah Fulcher, who according to my (very quick) search was known in the early 20th century as a London-based portrait painter. Mary Brodrick strongly supported women's issues and vigorously promoted women’s education, so it’s unsurprising that Brodrick would have a woman artist capture her likeness.
There are many more archaeologists’ portraits to discover; you need only visit Trowelblazers’ website to see the stellar job they have been doing to source and gain permission to reproduce images of women in archaeology. But there’s a key difference between portraits made by known friends, family and/or colleagues and portraits (whatever the medium) made by other artists. These latter works indicate archaeologists’ relative visibility in society more broadly, and, as Debbie’s research on the Stanley Halls portrait indicates, can reveal hidden connections.
I’d love to know more about Norah Fulcher and the portrait (I assume) she painted of Mary Brodrick. So far my searches have been relatively unproductive. But this is only the beginning.