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 — …

Portrait of an Art Investigation: Lilian IV

A specialist in Gilded Age portraiture suggested the artist of Lilian de Peyster Post Pulsford might be Wilhelm Heinrich Funk. Who? To be absolutely clear, no proof exists that Wilhelm Heinrich Funk was the artist of the portrait of Lilian dePeyster Post Pulsford Walker. But, his life story rivals Lilian’s, and art critics of his day praised his “fearless freedom of brushwork… general gusto, and joyousness and …

Portrait of an Art Investigation: Lilian III

The art investigation into the life of Lilian dePeyster Post Pulsford Walker clarified why such a lovely portrait was sent to the auction block as a painting by an unknown artist, but had not revealed the artist. I returned to the two original clues. The first clue was an initial and name, probably inscribed by the artist. on the top canvas …

Portrait of an Art Investigation: Lilian II

The painting’s subject, Lilian dePeyster Post Pulsford would have been taught that a lady’s name appears in the newspaper twice:  her wedding announcement and her obituary. But she shattered the rule when details of her Reno divorce appeared on the front page of the New York Times. Two years later, on March 19, 1913,  she made the news again when her quiet marriage to Allen Walker at …

Portrait of an Art Investigation: Lilian I

For the portrait that led to Jeremiah and Daniel Wadsworth and to the previous blog, John Trumbull’s tender side, the investigation began with the painting itself. Oil on canvas, 22 x 18 inches, the hand of a skillful artist could be seen in the illuminated profile of an intriguing woman. The loose brushstrokes and representative painting style of the artist, the splendiferous hat and …

Stories Behind the Portraits: Robert Stewart Thomas

George Caleb Bingham’s father-in-law, Reverend Robert Stewart Thomas (1805-1859), was “a tall man…above six feet in height, but a stoop… diminished his stature … His limbs were not fleshy, in fact, they were inclined to be lean – and though he was moderately strong, there was not the appearance of strength.  His hair was rather short, without gray, moderately thick …