Category Archives: Professional Art Research

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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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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The Puzzled Witness

With his last genre work, The Puzzled Witness, George Caleb Bingham placed himself at center stage, creating a painting that is both political and personal Continue reading

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Robert W. Weir and Gulian C. Verplanck

Fine Art Investigations researches more than portraits.  One in-depth research project involved the artistry of Robert Walter Weir (1803-1889), who taught drawing at West Point for 42 years. Drawing was then a necessary skill for military officers, not only for creating maps … Continue reading

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The Mystery of Five Family Portraits: III

Introduction The third of the five family portraits depicted Judge Lewis Penn Witherspoon Balch (1787-1868). His grandson would marry a granddaughter of Julia Anna Marion Prosser (Mrs. Richard Bland Lee II) (1805-1886). Subject Balch was born on July 31, 1787, in Georgetown, … Continue reading

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Introduction The second of five family portraits in search of an artist was Woman in Red. The owner thought the subject might be Elizabeth (Eliza) Collins Lee (1768-1858). The first step toward learning the name of the artist and the subject was to find … Continue reading

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