Recto and Verso: The Dunnicas

Recto – George Caleb Bingham Early Years William Franklin Dunnica was a 30-year-old merchant in Glasgow, Chariton County, Missouri, in 1837 when George Caleb Bingham painted the recently re-discovered portraits of him and of his 17-year-old wife, Martha Jane Shackelford. A year later, the Missouri militia called Dunnica and other men from Chariton County to neighboring Carroll County where long-term …

Stories Behind the Portraits: Vestine Porter

Times and attitudes changed, and people like John King Stark, husband of George Caleb Bingham’s Vestine Porter, became dentists. Vestine Porter Vestine Porter was 15 years old when Bingham painted her portrait. It was near the time of her marriage on December 11, 1850, to Dr. John King Stark, 22.  Vestine’s father was a landowner in Independence, Missouri, and the state’s first railroad president.[1]) Stark, …

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 …

Portrait of an Unknown Gentleman

“Who was the artist?” the owners wanted to know.  The Portrait of an Unknown Gentleman was an especially hard project because the painting had little provenance. The owners purchased the portrait in Wisconsin at auction.  The estate may have been from Iowa, but the owners, antique dealers, thought the portrait looked southern. The only other clue was a nearly illegible signature at the upper right on …

The Puzzled Witness

The Artist at Center Stage The Puzzled Witness, 1874, is George Caleb Bingham’s often overlooked last genre work. For 40 years, Bingham witnessed the people and the the politics of Missouri, and the nation. With hard-earned artistic skill and well-reasoned political perspective, he portrayed his observations. Sometimes he put himself in the picture as one of many characters in a scene, usually as …