DOES anyone recognises the man in the portrait?

It was painted by a local artist, May Stead, dated 1939 and signed ‘May Greening Stead’. Greening was May’s maiden name.

May, who died in 1958, was married to Saltaire born Fred Stead, who in the early part of the 20th century was head of Saltaire Art School.

Both May and Fred were professional artists. May was born in 1871, the daughter of a local printer, and studied at the Saltaire School of Art in Shipley before gaining a scholarship to study in London at the Royal College of Art.

Fred was born in 1863 into a large and poor working-class family at Saltaire. His parents were textile workers at Salts Mill and Fred was the youngest of 10 children. The Stead family shared a house with another family at Caroline Street. Fred spent his early years in a cramped, noisy household.

However, he had artistic talent and attended evening classes at Saltaire Art School, where he was encouraged to apply successfully for a scholarship to study in London at the National Art Training School.

He became one of the Bradford district’s most talented and successful portrait and landscape artists. He was Chairman of the Society of Yorkshire Artists and a lifetime member of Bradford Art Club.

May Stead painted landscapes, flowers and miniatures, mainly in watercolour, and her work was exhibited at shows of the Royal Academy, Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours, Royal Society of Miniature Painters, and Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.

She and Fred raised two children and the family lived at Ghyllwood Drive in Bingley. Fred occasionally featured May in his art. In his 1923 painting Mother and Two Children with a Picnic she is pictured with their daughter and younger son, Samuel, who was killed in 1916, aged 18, on the Western Front in the Somme Offensive.

Fred died on January 24, 1940, and is buried in Nab Wood Cemetery. May died in 1958.

On the back of the ‘mystery portrait’ is the name Mrs Shaw and an address that appears to be Park Drive, Baildon.

The attire of the man looks to be more late 19th or early 20th century, rather than 1930s.

One possible explanation is that May painted a portrait of husband Fred as a memory of how he looked in his heyday, as he died in 1940, and may have been ailing in 1939. The existing photo of Fred Stead isn’t a particularly good one, so comparisons are difficult.

But this suggestion doesn’t explain the name and address on the back of the painting. and May could have painted this on commission for a local person, perhaps using an old family photo as her guide.

Hence the question - does anyone recognise who he is? If the identity of the man in the portrait can be confirmed, it can be returned to family members.

I can be contacted through the Not Just Hockney website at

Colin Neville