Principal Researcher: Patricia Moss
Patricia Moss is an art historian, or art detective if you will, who holds double master’s degrees in art history and history, and who specializes in 19th century American portraits.
A snapshot preserves one moment in time while a portrait captures a life with all its complexities and contradictions. To help preserve the artistic and historic legacy in these portraits and to ensure portrait artists’ moral right to correct attribution, she developed a replicable procedure based on the scientific method that conforms to the legal and ethical standards of art authentication. Customized technological tools help her work efficiently to quickly find the date of execution, the artists in the region at the time, and comparative chronological images. Each authentication is vetted with experts and, as needed, confirmed with scientific analysis. Institutions with which she has worked include University of Missouri Museum of Art and Archaeology; Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art, Central Methodist University, Fayette, Missouri; State Historical Society of Missouri; William Jewell College; Columbia-Pacific Heritage Museum. Artists she has identified include Jacob Eichholtz, William Edward West, George Esten Cooke, Samuel Bell Waugh, Manuel Joachim de Franca, Wilhelm Heinrich Funk, William James Hubard, Edwin F. Goddard, Alban Jasper Conant, David Gilmour Blythe, and Chester Harding.
Her expertise began with George Caleb Bingham. Since 1999, she has located nearly 70 of 100 “lost” portraits. Staff at the Smithsonian’s Research and Scholars Center named her the “Bingham Lady.” In order to better distinguish Bingham’s artistry, she studied and examined the life and work of his students and colleagues. Descendants of two, William Morrison Hughes (1818-1892) and George Calder Eichbaum, (1837-1919), assisted her by providing access to and images of their ancestors’ oeuvre.
She served as a guest curator for the Bingham Bicentennial Exhibit, “Steamboats to Steam Engines: George Caleb Bingham’s Missouri: 1819-1879,” (March 10-September 8, 2011) at the Truman Presidential Museum and curated the opening exhibition, “George Caleb Bingham: Witness to History,” (September 2013 –), Jackson County Art Museum, Independence, Missouri.