Portrait of Man Holding Book

Portrait of Man Holding Book painted by an unknown artist. (Facebook)

An art curator in Halifax is scratching his head trying to figure out the subject of a painting in the Saint Mary's University Art Gallery collection.

The painting is called Portrait of Man Holding Book, but it was jokingly entitled "Eddie" by its previous owners, the Homburg family.

The gallery's director curator, Robin Metcalfe, said the identity of the man in the painting is a mystery.

He said the gallery has been appealing for clues and expert opinions.

"A lot of this is guesswork and wishful thinking possibly," he said. 

Metcalfe said the painting doesn't have a signature, but some art historians say it might be by artist William Gush. He said the piece is of a higher calibre of work than what was around Halifax at that time.

The gallery doesn't know how old it is, but estimates it was painted during the 1850s or 1860s.

Click on the audio file to hear Metcalfe's interview with CBC's Mainstreet.