Stories Behind the Portraits: Eliza Thomas Bingham

George Caleb Bingham’s portrait of his second wife, Eliza Thomas Bingham (1828-1876), went up for auction this fall. I did not mention it publicly because I did not want to be seen as shilling for it. Perhaps I should have. I had no involvement in the sale. Because I believe Bingham portraits have irreplaceable artistic and historic value, I had  …

On the day John Quincy Adams posed for George Caleb Bingham…

John Quincy Adams, 1844, George Caleb Bingham’s  historically most important portrait, is going up for auction on December 6, 2015, at Grogan & Company.  Adams recorded his sittings with two artists who shared a studio in the Capitol in Washington, D.C.:  George Caleb Bingham and John Cranch (1807-1891), Adams’ great-nephew, in his diary for May 23 and May 27, 1844. May 23 was rather uneventful, …

Stories Behind the Portraits: David McClanahan Hickman

After ten years of searching, not long ago I located a “lost” portrait by George Caleb Bingham, Captain David McClanahan Hickman.   John Francis McDermott first noted the existence of the 30 x 25 inch artwork in 1959 in his book, George Caleb Bingham, River Portraitist. McDermott also noted the companion piece of his second wife, Cornelia Ann Bryan (Mrs. David Hickman), and a later Bingham portrait of their daughter Sarah …

George Caleb Bingham, James Lawrence Minor, 1844 (156)

Stories Behind the Portraits: Robert Patterson Clark

Provenance By descent in family.  The subject’s grandson detailed the history of his grandfather and the ownership of the painting on an upside down blank invoice. The painting and note passed down through several generations to the current owner. Date The extremely high and wide collar and neck cloth indicated indicated a date in the mid-1830s. Facts below pinpoint a probable time …

George Caleb Bingham, Joshua Belden, 1839 (66)

Stories Behind the Portraits: The Mysterious Mrs. Arundel(s)

A signed and notarized letter dictated by the subject’s granddaughter had been passed down through a family. It began, “Portrait by Sully.” But a Christie’s appraiser and staff at two different Manhattan, New York, galleries said Thomas Sully (1783-1872) was not the artist. They offered no suggestions as to who the artist could be. Without the name of an artist, the portrait’s owner knew the value was …

Discovering History through Art: A British Portrait

Introduction Fine Art Investigations evolved from the belief that art connects us to the truth better than the written word. Discovering history through art is the passion; identifying portrait artists is the by-product. A while ago, I had the opportunity not only to identify the artist of a portrait, but to learn a small historical fact that resonated deeply. The …