Reattributing the Magdalene: Sandys to Shields at the NGV


  • Alisa Bunbury University of Melbourne


Frederick Sandys, Bernard Hall, Frederic Shields, misattribution, monogram


A brief note exploring the visual and art historical evidence for reattributing the large drawing Sorrow (1873), purchased for the NGV in 1904 as the work of Frederick Sandys (1829-1904). Recent investigations, prompted by advice from British art historian Scott Thomas Buckle in response to the NGV's digital copy of the work, reveal that this was not the work of Frederic Sandys, but of the lesser-known Pre-Raphaelite artist Frederic Shields (1833-1911). A key piece of evidence is the distinctive monogram (F.S. with the date 1873).

Author Biography

Alisa Bunbury, University of Melbourne

Alisa Bunbury is the Grimwade Collection Curator at the Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne. Prior to that she was Curator of Prints and Drawings at the NGV (2002-2017) and Associate Curator of Prints, Drawings and Photographs at the Art Gallery of South Australia (1999-2002). In 1998 Alisa was Harold Wright Scholar at the British Museum. She has curated many exhibitions presenting art ranging from the Renaissance to contemporary Australian works on paper.


Works Cited

Bate, Percy. The English Pre-Raphaelite Painters: Their Associates and Successors. London: G. Bell, 1899.

Bate, Percy. “The Late Frederick Sandys: A Retrospect.” The Studio 33 Oct. 1904: 3–17.

Buckle, Scott Thomas. Email correspondence to NGV General Enquiries, 19 Nov. 2015 and then the author 19 November 2015 and following.

Elzea, Betty. Frederick Sandys 1829–1904: A Catalogue Raisonné. Woodbridge: Antique Collectors’ Club, 2001.

Frederick, Margaretta. “On Frederic Shields’ Chapel of the Ascension, 1887-1910” BRANCH: Britain, Representation and Nineteenth-Century History. Ed. Dino Franco Felluga. Extension of Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net.

Hall, Bernard. Report to the Chairman of the Gallery Committee, Felton Bequest files, National Gallery of Victoria, July 1905.

Mills, Ernestine. The Life and Letters of Frederic Shields. London and New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1912.

Nahum, Peter. Monograms of Victorian and Edwardian Artists. London: Victoria Square Press, 1976.

Thomson, Susan. Manchester’s Victorian Art Scene and its Unrecognized Artists. Manchester: Manchester Art Press, 2007.






PreRaphaelitism in Australasia Special Issue