Rediscovered Bingham Portraits: The Dunnicas, Part 1

Rediscovered Bingham Portraits: Art Historical Documentation Introduction Several years ago, images of a pair of antebellum portraits arrived in my inbox: William Franklin Dunnica and Mary Jane Shackelford (Mrs. William F. Dunnica) of Glasgow (Chariton), Missouri. I knew instantly that George Caleb Bingham was the artist. But, as a professional art investigator, I knew the accuracy of a “blink” moment always needs to be tested. …

Democratization of American Art

American Art Union Birth In New York City, in 1842, a group of patriotic entrepreneurs, who wanted to promote American art and American artists, formed the American Art-Union (AAU). The businessmen recognized the potential of improved printing technologies. Not only could books and newspapers be printed more easily and quickly, through printed reproductions, art could be as well. For an …

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 …