Stories Behind the Portraits: Frances Booker George

Portrait If you are already familiar with the portraits of George Caleb Bingham, especially Mary Ann Gilliss (Mrs. Benoist Troost) at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, then you know at first glance that George Caleb Bingham painted the portrait of Frances Booker George. Her full name was Frances Annabelle Booker (Mrs. James W. George). Several years ago, the painting went up …

Stories Behind the Portraits: Louisa Watkins

Louisa Watkins is the fourth post-Civil War posthumous portrait I have seen that depicts  a person George Caleb Bingham may never have met or barely knew. To create the portrait, he had to rely on a photograph. The others are Sarah Ann (Sallie) Elliott (Mrs. Henry A. Neill), Julia George, and Julia’s brother, Richard Booker George. All four subjects sit facing forward, in the …

Rediscovered Bingham Portraits: Louisa Ann Conwell

Louisa Watkins is the fourth post-Civil War posthumous portrait I have seen that depicts  a person George Caleb Bingham may never have met or barely knew. To create the portrait, he had to rely on a photograph. The others are Sarah Ann (Sallie) Elliott (Mrs. Henry A. Neill), Julia George, and Julia’s brother, Richard Booker George. All four subjects sit facing forward, in the …

Rediscovered Bingham Portraits: Julia George

One spring a few years ago, an auction house on the east coast advertised a George Caleb Bingham portrait for sale, Julia George.  Not listed in E. Maurice Bloch’s The Paintings of George Caleb Bingham: A Catalogue Raisonné (University of Missouri Press, 1986), and with drab colors and a lifeless face, I questioned whether the artist of the sad young woman was actually Bingham. …

Robert W. Weir and Gulian C. Verplanck

Fine Art Investigations researches more than portraits.  One in-depth research project involved the artistry of Robert Walter Weir (1803-1889), who taught drawing at West Point for 42 years. Drawing was then a necessary skill for military officers, not only for creating maps or preserving exploratory discoveries in the age before cameras, but because a trained eye could make better field decisions.  Influential in …

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 …