Stories Behind the Portraits: A Descendant of David Rittenhouse

In the Mystery of A Descendant of David Rittenhouse, to discover the names of both the sitter and the artist who painted the portrait,Fine Art Investigations researched the David Rittenhouse family history. What a history it turned out to be. Family history led to identification of the artist. What a character he turned out to be. Rittenhouse David Rittenhouse David Rittenhouse was …

The Mystery of Five Family Portraits: IV – Mary Elizabeth Lee & Robert F. Fleming

Introduction The last two family portraits in need of artist identification were Mary Elizabeth Lee (1827-1902) and her husband, whose middle name was the same as his last, Dr. Robert Fleming Fleming (1816-1871). Mary Elizabeth was a daughter the subject of the second portrait, Juliana Marian Prosser (1805-1886) and Colonel Richard Bland Lee II (1797-1875), a grandson of the subject of the first portrait, Henry Lee II. Subjects Mary …

The Mystery of Five Family Portraits: III – Lewis Penn Witherspoon Balch

Introduction The third of the five family portraits depicted Judge Lewis Penn Witherspoon Balch (1787-1868). His grandson would marry a granddaughter of Julia Anna Marion Prosser (Mrs. Richard Bland Lee II) (1805-1886). Subject Balch was born on July 31, 1787, in Georgetown, District of Columbia, son of Reverend Stephen Bloomer Balch (1747-1833), founder and leader of Georgetown Presbyterian Church. The elder Balch studied with John …

The Mystery of Five Family Portraits: II – Woman in Red

Introduction The second of five family portraits in search of an artist was Woman in Red. The owner thought the subject might be Elizabeth (Eliza) Collins Lee (1768-1858). The first step toward learning the name of the artist and the subject was to find the date the artist painted Woman in Red. Date Portrait subjects, of course, wanted to look their best so, it almost …

The Mystery of Five Family Portraits: I – Henry Lee II

Five family portraits of five family members, most from different branches of the same family tree.  The owner knew the names of four of the sitters, but not the names of the five artists. Here are the paintings: Two of the artists were familiar friends, so familiar that I recognized their work almost instantaneously. But, that “blink” moment always needs to be proved — …