Artist Caroline Louisa Daly gets credit for work attributed to men

For almost 50 years, the 19th century artist Caroline Louisa Daly received no credit for some of her artworks. Numerous sketches and watercolours by Ms Daly have been on display in one of the largest galleries in Atlantic Canada, however until recently these artworks have been mistakenly attributed to two male artists.
Her artworks had borne the signatures of C Daly or CL Daly and were long attributed to John Corry Wilson Daly and Charles L Daly. However, now, in what researchers are describing as a “little feminist victory”, Ms Daly is getting the credit she deserves as an exhibition is launched to reintroduce the admirable works.
It was in 2014 when doubts over the attribution first surfaced. A British visitor to the gallery suggested then that these paintings were actually his great-grandmother’s, Caroline Louisa Daly.
Following this claim, a two-year investigation began that sought to address this mystery where it was revealed that there was no actual real proof for either of the male attributions. There was indeed no evidence to suggest that John Corry Wilson Daly (a well-known merchant and politician) had ever produced artwork.
Ms Daly was born in the 1830s and lived in Prince Edward Island for five years where her father was serving as a lieutenant governor. As her father moved around the country in colonial administration, Ms Daly recorded the family’s travels in sketches and paintings of the island’s landscape.
The investigation into the attributions found that Charles L Daly had never visited Prince Edward Island, suggesting that it was highly unlikely he had composed the detailed sketches and watercolours of the island’s landscape.
Paige Matthie, gallery registrar at the Confederation Centre art gallery in Prince Edward Island and curator of Introducing Caroline Louisa Daly, which launched earlier this month, commented: “We’ve been displaying these works on and off pretty regularly over the past several decades, always with credit to these two men. So it’s a real pleasure to be able to correct that and own up to our mistake.
“The previous attributions felt like trying to pound mismatching pieces of a puzzle together just to make it fit a story and as soon as we began looking into Caroline Louisa Daly, the puzzle pieces just started to fit together so naturally.”
When looking at the detail of the paintings, those investigating the claims found stylistic similarities from her previous known works in the gallery’s collection. This included the way in which trees were rendered and the emphasis on certain details.
“When you look at the works all together, there are just little hallmarks of the same person coming through all of them,” said Ms Matthie.
She went on to say that although this wasn’t a malicious misattribution, this case is representative of a wider trend of downplaying the accomplishments of women.