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 — …

Stories Behind the Portraits: Sallie Rodes Rollins

In 1845, Dr. Anthony Wayne Rollins established a scholarship for young people from Boone County, Missouri, both men and women. What would cause a man of the 19th century to include such a stipulation in his will?  How could his perception of women have been so far ahead of his time? Could his wife, Sallie Rodes Rollins, be responsible? Sarah Harris Rodes, who …

Stories Behind the Portraits: Ruth McCarty (Mrs. Ephraim Allison)

Ruth McCarty was born on April 7, 1844, in Saline County,Missouri.  At the age of 24, 0n 28 May 1868, she married Captain Ephraim Allison, 32, a Confederate veteran of the Civil War.  They honeymooned at the J. Huston Tavern in Arrow Rock and settled in Clinton, Missouri. Their first son, Charles, was born about 1869 and then a second, …

Rediscovered Bingham Portraits: Sallie Neill

When the current owner purchased this new George Caleb Bingham portrait at an art auction, the artist was listed as unknown.  But the name of the subject was taped to the back of the frame: Sarah Ann Elliott (Sallie), Mrs. Henry Neill and that clue, along with the owner’s extensive genealogical research were enough to discover the truth about the painting.   Both maiden …

Stories Behind the Portraits: James Sidney Rollins

James Sidney Rollins was George Caleb Bingham‘s “warmest personal friend.”  This re-discovered Bingham portrait descended in the Rollins family to a great-granddaughter who had always been told it was the work of an unknown artist.  She wanted the people of Missouri to have it.  When the painting arrived in the Midwest, I immediately recognized the artist as George Caleb Bingham.  Other experts and …