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The English Gypsies

The English Gypsies
Watercolor by Eliza Ball Hughes, 1870
Image by Matt Brown, BrownBuffalo.com
Owned by David Brown
Also available on Flickr
The English Gypsies
Watercolor by Eliza Ball Hughes, 1870
Edited closeup by Svenko.net
Owned by David Brown

    This watercolor hung in my parents living room for 50 years.  My Mother had it reframed.  The lines and discoloration in the picture were caused by sap from the original 4-piece wood backing of the frame. Note the playing cards on the left side of the picture, used by Gypsies for fortune telling. I'm not sure what the other items on the board (?) are. They could be used with a "spirit board."

    There were two labels on the back of the painting above, shown below:

The English Gypsies
Painted from
(Fuller's?) Collections
in London - 1870
By Mrs. Ball Hughes
For (name?)

English Gipsys
Painted from life by
Mrs. Eliza Ball-Hughes 

    The first label looks older and more accurate since it says it was copied from a painting and not done from a live model.  Neither label matches the handwriting of Mrs. Ball Hughes.  We have a sample of her writing from 1881 in the front cover of a copy of the 1830 book "Easy Lessons in Perspective" found by John H. Lienhard and described in "Note to a Friend" on Mrs. Eliza Ball Hughes webpage on this site.  The first label was probably written by Mrs. Hughes daughter, Georgina, who was with her in London about the time the English Gypsies was painted.  The handwriting matches the handwriting on the labels on the back of Mia Bella Portrait by Georgina in 1876.
    The handwriting on the lower label matches the handwriting on a label on the back of the Hughes Crest and the back of the Brown Family Coat of Arms, both owned by David Brown.  It was apparently added by someone in the Brown family.
    A New York Times article Americans in London dated February 27, 1871, lists Mrs. (Eliza) Ball Hughes and Miss (Georgina) Ball Hughes as being in London for the week ending Feb. 4, 1871.  Mrs. Eliza Ball Hughes could have painted The English Gypsies in London while she was visiting with her daughter, Georgina.
    Eliza may have copied a painting that she saw in London as the first label states, rather than "from life" as the second label states. See Folk Gypsy Costumes on Svenko.net for more paintings of English Gypsies.
    For more information on the Romani people, known as the English Gypsies, see the Wikipedia article on Romanichal and Svenko.net.


See a sketch of Ball Hughes home, Sunnyside, that is attributed to Mrs. Ball Hughes.

Please Help

I would be interested to know more about the collection noted above.  Are there other known works of E. Ball Hughes still in existence?
last update 11/23/2011 
For Noncommercial use, Copyright David E. Brown 2008-2011

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