The Art Detectives
The art detectives of Fine Art Investigations are Patricia Moss, principal researcher, Bingham expert Dr. Maryellen McVicker and general consultant, Dr. Jeffrey Weidman, Helping to keep the group organized is Rosemary Hallin, the art sleuths’ Watson.
Patricia Moss. M. A., Art History, M.A., History, is an art historian who who specializes in 19th century American portraits. A search for lost portraits by artist George Caleb Bingham (1811-1879) portraits resulted in her evolution as an art detective.
Before long, an art librarian had nicknamed her the “Bingham Lady.” Later, staff at the Smithsonian’s Research and Scholars Center continued the name in a Bingham Lady interview in their newsletter. Since 2001, Moss has located nearly 70 of 100 “lost” Bingham portraits.
Her original goal in the portrait search was to help preserve the artistic and historic legacy embedded in the portraits. But as people brought paintings to her asking if the artist was George Caleb Bingham, the goal expanded. If the artist was not Bingham, then it only seemed fair to find the actual artist. Applying the international standard of artists’ moral right to correct attribution to 19th century American portraits became the secondary goal.
Over the years, with ever greater experience with many more portrait artists, she developed a comprehensive system for portrait artist identification. 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.
Moss has 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.
Dr. Maryellen McVicker
As an art historian, Maryellen McVicker, Ph.D., specializes in George Caleb Bingham and the artists of central Missouri, the Boonslick. She discovered and documented a previously unknown Bingham painting, which appears in George Caleb Bingham: A Catalogue Raisonné, #217. She has been published in American Art Review: “George Caleb Bingham in the Boonslick” (April 2011) and “A Brush with History, 175 Years of Art in the Boonslick” (November 1996); and in the Athenaeum Society Review, “Bingham, The Boonslick and His Students” (1985). She has written the catalogues for two Bingham exhibits. In addition to her work with Bingham, McVicker is an award-winning professor, the former executive director of Friends of Historic Boonville, and a board member of the Missouri Humanities Council (1988-1997). (A detailed résumé is available on request.)
Dr. Jeffrey Weidman
Jeffrey Weidman, M.A., Ph.D., M.L.S. has published extensively on American artist William Rimmer (1816-1879), a contemporary of George Caleb Bingham, but his reputation far exceeds his work on Rimmer. “Web Resources for American Art Founded by Jeffrey Weidman,” the research tool of the Association of Historians of American Art, which debuted nationally in 2009, confirmed Dr. Weidman to be the American art historians’ art historian. He served on the advisory board of the Oxford University Press for Grove Art Online and The Dictionary of Art. He has contributed to publications of numerous institutions including the National Gallery of Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Milwaukee Art Center, the Detroit Institute of the Arts, and the Brockton Art Center/Fuller Memorial in Brockton, Massachusetts. It was for the latter that he organized the 1985/1986 exhibition and wrote most of the catalog, William Rimmer: A Yankee Michelangelo, which traveled to the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum. He has directed the Clarence Ward Art Library of Oberlin College and headed Reference and Collection Development for the Spencer Art Reference Library of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. For decades, Dr. Weidman was active in the Art Libraries Society of North America and a book reviewer for Choice, Art Libraries Journal, and Art Documentation. (A detailed résumé is available on request.)
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