Busy, Happy Holiday

What a busy, happy holiday for the George Caleb Bingham portraits branch of Fine Art Investigations. First came the discovery of two long sought after Bingham portraits: Joshua Belden (1802-1877) and Agnes Elizabeth Lewis (Mrs. Joshua Belden) (1806-1843). Then came fresh photographs of a portrait that is an old friend, Sallie Neill.

George Caleb Bingham, Sarah Ann (Sallie) Elliott (Mrs Henry A Neill), 1871
Oil on Canvas, 30 x 25 inches
Private Collection (Detail)

I never cease to be amazed at the difference in black and white images, such as those of the Beldens below, from color images in these links to detail color photographs of Joshua Belden and Agnes Lewis (Mrs. Joshua Belden).

Joshua Belden was a man with dark hair and fair skin, younger and handsomer than in the b & w image. Bingham, with his usual astute perceptions, engages the viewer to wonder about the personality of the man. Agnes Belden’s black dress and white fichu accentuates her statuesque beauty.

The Belden portraits eluded me because they were sold shortly before the existence of online databases for art sales.  When I think of the time I spent trying to track down a will for the widow of the previous owner… I am grateful to the owner of these portraits who rescued them from oblivion and who so willing shared images and information.

Patricia Moss is an art historian, or art detective if you will, who solves mysteries of 19th century American portraits.