The Art Detectives
The art detectives of Fine Art Investigations are Patricia Moss, principal researcher and Bingham expert Dr. Maryellen McVicker. Helping to keep the group organized is Rosemary Hallin, the art sleuths’ Watson.
Patricia Moss. M. A., Art History, M.A., History, is an art historian who specializes in 19th century American portraits. The long-standing relationship between Moss and artist George Caleb Bingham (1811-1879) is introduced in George Caleb Bingham and The Art Detective. Moss’ expansion into 19th century American portraits is detailed in Evolution as of an Art Detective.
Before long, an art librarian had nicknamed her the “Bingham Lady.” Later, staff at the Smithsonian’s Research and Scholars Center continued the name in a Bingham Lady interview in their newsletter. Since 2001, Moss has located nearly 70 of 100 “lost” Bingham portraits.
Her original goal in the portrait search was to help preserve the artistic and historic legacy embedded in the portraits. But as people brought paintings to her asking if the artist was George Caleb Bingham, the goal expanded. If the artist was not Bingham, then it only seemed fair to find the actual artist. Applying the international standard of artists’ moral right to correct attribution to 19th century American portraits became the secondary goal.
"The Bingham Lady"
Over the years, with ever greater experience with many more portrait artists, she developed a comprehensive system for portrait artist identification. Institutions with which she has worked include University of Missouri Museum of Art and Archaeology; Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art, Central Methodist University, Fayette, Missouri; State Historical Society of Missouri; William Jewell College; Columbia-Pacific Heritage Museum. Artists she has identified include Jacob Eichholtz, William Edward West, George Esten Cooke, Samuel Bell Waugh, Manuel Joachim de Franca, Wilhelm Heinrich Funk, William James Hubard, Edwin F. Goddard, Alban Jasper Conant, David Gilmour Blythe, and Chester Harding.
Moss has served as a guest curator for the Bingham Bicentennial Exhibit, “Steamboats to Steam Engines: George Caleb Bingham’s Missouri: 1819-1879,” (March 10-September 8, 2011) at the Truman Presidential Museum and curated the opening exhibition, “George Caleb Bingham: Witness to History,” (September 2013 –), Jackson County Art Museum, Independence, Missouri.
Dr. Maryellen McVicker
As an art historian, Maryellen McVicker, Ph.D., specializes in George Caleb Bingham and the artists of central Missouri, the Boonslick. As an art detective, she discovered and documented a previously unknown Bingham painting, Portrait of a Young Woman, 1849, which appears in E. Maurice Bloch’s George Caleb Bingham: A Catalogue Raisonné, #217. She has been published in American Art Review: “George Caleb Bingham in the Boonslick” (April 2011) and “A Brush with History, 175 Years of Art in the Boonslick” (November 1996); and in the Athenaeum Society Review, “Bingham, The Boonslick and His Students” (1985). She has written the catalogues for two Bingham exhibits. In addition to her work with Bingham, McVicker is an award-winning professor, the former executive director of Friends of Historic Boonville, and a board member of the Missouri Humanities Council (1988-1997). (A detailed résumé is available on request.)
Dr. Maryellen McVicker
Rosemary Hallin calls herself the factotum of Fine Art Investigations. She does do a bit of everything, but her fine eye for detail surpasses all her other talents. She sees the arch of an eyebrow, the pupil placement in a portrait subject’s eyes. It is these fine points that can prove or disprove an artist identification.
Rosemary has a degree in English, has raised a family, and worked in transnational shipping. Before assisting Fine Art Investigations, she administered the Camp Victory program in Ocean Park, Washington for child and teen survivors of sexual abuse.