Category Archives: Professional Art Research

Restoration vs. Conservation

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Stories Behind the Portraits: The Dunnicas

Discovering History through Art Historians usually add a painting as an illustration. Fine Art Investigations uses portraits as an entry point to history.  An example is the stories behind the recently re-discovered portraits of the Dunnicas. The first part of their … Continue reading

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Rediscovered Bingham Portraits: The Dunnicas, Part 3

The work of E. Maurice Bloch (1925-1989), the world’s acknowledged expert on artist George Caleb Bingham (1811-1879), is awe-inspiring. At the University of California Los Angeles, where he was a professor of art history, he was known for his “meticulous scholarship and connoisseurship.” Without the aid of the Internet, and for most of his research, not even a computer, he compiled a wealth of information. But a major mistake needs to be corrected. Continue reading

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Democratization of American Art

Some art critics of the the American Art-Union wondered how businessmen qualified as arbiters of taste. Critics also complained that by increasing the quantity of art, quality would suffer. But, over time, the democratization of art proved successful. Continue reading

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A Descendant of David Rittenhouse Family History

In the Mystery of A Descendant of David Rittenhouse, to discover the names of both the sitter and the artist who painted the portrait, Fine Art Investigations researched the David Rittenhouse family history. What a history it turned out to be. … Continue reading

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Stories Behind the Portraits: Vestine Porter

Q. “In old portraits, why aren’t people smiling?” A.    (1) They wanted to look honorable and serious, and definitely, not like fool. (2) They had bad teeth. Times and attitudes changed, and people like John King Stark, husband of George … Continue reading

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Mystery of “A Descendant of David Rittenhouse”

The clue to solving the mystery of an antebellum portrait of a young woman was in the auction house description, “the subject was a relative of David Rittenhouse (1732-1796), first director of the U. S. Mint.” The name rang a … Continue reading

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Portrait of an Unknown Gentleman

Portrait of an Unknown Gentleman “Who was the artist?” the owners wanted to know.  The Portrait of an Unknown Gentleman was an especially hard project because the painting had little provenance. The owners purchased the portrait in Wisconsin at auction.  The estate may … Continue reading

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