24 January 2017

'Mystery Painting' Still a Mystery

Start with a random image, say 'Mystery Painting' (from this blog) in the upper left of the composite image below. Locate its detail page on a Google Image search, using something like site:chessforallages... Mystery Painting. Click 'search by image' to get various views of the same random image; NB:

  • 'Find other sizes of this image'
  • 'Best guess for this image'
  • 'Visually similar images'
  • 'Pages that include matching images'

Locate pages with the same image...

UL: Mystery Painting (December 2007)
UR: The Collector : Dating Sets Using Artwork (worldchess.com; by Jon Crumiller; January 2016)
LL: Beauty will save : Chess art-science-sport (viola.bz)
LR: Raymond Keene, 'Chess: An Illustrated History' (Simon and Schuster, 1990, p.23)

...The image on the upper right is an excellent copy, the best I could find. It is the same as the background for the title of the page, which informs,

The next painting, circa 1880, is by P H Andreis, a Belgian artist. Looking closely at the chess set, it is readily identifiable [as a] French RĂ©gence pattern chess set. The RĂ©gence pattern was very popular in France and surrounding countries in the 19th and 20th centuries.

End of story? Have we identified the mystery painting? No, not quite, because an image search on 'chess artist andreis' finds the painting shown on the lower left. Here the piece is identified as

de ANDREIS, Alex (1880–1929); Cavaliers Playing Chess

Not only is the artist's name different, the painting shows the same composition by a different artist. For example, the pieces in the leftmost corner of the chessboard are noticeably different.

Both images in the top row show less of the painting than the lower left because they have been cropped. I found another example of the painting in a book by GM Keene, showing nearly the full painting as a background object.

So the 'Mystery Painting', although probably by an artist named Andreis, remains a mystery. And we now have two versions of it.

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