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, …

Solutions to Portrait Puzzles – Tortoise Shell Combs

Sometimes, if I wait long enough, solutions to portrait puzzles reveal themselves even when I’ve forgotten about them. It’s been about ten years since I first saw the portrait of Dinah Ayers Trigg (Mrs. Shubael Allen). I wondered then about the strange little hat she wore.  George Caleb Bingham painted her in the spring, 1835. In 1859, he painted her granddaughter, Miss Annie Allen.  Those …

An Opera Singer’s Digestion and an Art Bully’s Tactics

George L. Stout, conservator with Harvard’s Fogg Museum of Art in the 1920s, first articulated the three-legged stool approach to art authentication when connoisseurship alone was the standard. Questioning a connoisseur’s opinion, “was as naughty as inquiring about the digestive system of an opera singer…it wasn’t proper. And that was very good for the trade.”[1], February 2002, 1.)) But Stout and …

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 …