Appeal to discover identity of two elderly women in 33-year-old painting

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AN APPEAL has been launched to discover the identity of two women depicted in a 33-year-old painting.

New Zealand artist Ron Stenberg drew two elderly ladies as they sat outside Boots in Dundee in 1982.

The detailed oil painting shows two friends sat on a bench, chatting away whilst wrapped up in warm coats and woolly hats.

'Two Auld Ladies, Dundee' (1982)
‘Two Auld Ladies, Dundee’ (1982)

 

Stenberg has gifted the piece to the McManus art gallery and museum in Dundee, despite offers of up to £100,000 for his work.

But now he wants to know the identity of the women he encaptured in his ‘Two Auld Wifies, Dundee’.

The 96-year-old did sketches of the pair before completing the painting at his studio in Wormit, Newport-on-Tay.

He said: “These two old women would sit outside Boots the chemist on a bench at the corner of Reform Street and City Square, discussing their shopping and chatting away.

“I happened to see them one day and I sat on the other side of the square with my sketchbook.

“I think it was all gossip from the Hilltown, a part of Dundee, probably about their neighbours and what they’d bought that day.

Ron Stenberg
Ron Stenberg

 

“I’ve been looking at people all my life. I like characters and I thought they’d make a grand painting.

“They were sitting there completely oblivious to everyone else. I sketched them a couple of times. They never even saw me.”

Susan Keracher, art curator at the McManus, said the gallery wanted people to come forward if they recognised the women.

“One of our staff looked at the painting and said ‘I’m sure I recognise these women’,” she said.

“We would be interested in finding out who they are and would love to hear from anyone who recognises them.

“We’re absolutely delighted to have this painting. It’s a fabulous double portrait of very ordinary people, two wifies.

“When you see it you smile, it makes you feel like you have a familiarity with them.”

Keracher added: “Ron sent a letter with the painting which said ‘My regards to Dundee. I still miss Scotland very much’.”

Stenberg was accepted into the Elam School of Art in Auckland at the age of 12.

He served as a mapping officer in the Second World War, arriving in Dundee in 1960. He became artist in residence with the Black Watch in Germany and even has a painting in the Queen’s private collection.

He was head of department at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in the city before returning to New Zealand in 1991.

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