George Caleb Bingham

George Caleb Bingham, Self-Portrait, 1834

George Caleb Bingham, Self-Portrait, 1834
Oil on canvas, 28 3/8 x 22 11/16 in. (72.1 x 57.6 cm)
Saint Louis Art Museum, Eliza McMillan Trust, Accession No. 57:193
Used with permission

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“Expecting an artist to portray the soul of a portrait subject “rather transcends the limits of his powers,” wrote George Caleb Bingham. But, with “clear perception and practiced eye” an artist can impart an expression that reveals the sitter’s “thoughts, emotions, and to some extent the mental and moral character.”[1]

As a man and as an artist, George Caleb Bingham lived by uncompromising principles. With unparalleled honesty, he depicted the people and the world around him; his paintings breathe with timeless authenticity. More than 200 years after his birth, art reviewers describe Bingham as one of the country’s best artists. His reputation surpasses the most prestigious painters of his day.

Fine Art Investigations is devoted to preserving the legacy of George Caleb Bingham (1811-1879). Since 1999, Fine Art Investigations has:

  • Located 68 “lost” portraits, an ongoing accomplishment acknowledged by the Smithsonian’s Research and Scholars’ Center in their newsletter
  • Developed a chronology of George Caleb Bingham’s life
  • Written a biographical summary of the life of the artist
  • Created lists and links to George Caleb Bingham’s paintings
  • Documented “new” Bingham portraits through replicable research, including:
    • Dates of execution through clothing and hairstyles by comparisons with fashionplates and dated portraits
    • Verification that the lives of the artist and the subject intersected
    • Connoisseurship with Bingham portraits from the same time period and with examples from the work of artists sometimes mistaken for him
    • Consultation with other Bingham scholars
    • Scientific analysis as needed
    • Recommended by museums and historical societies
  • Compiled the stories/ histories of the people George Caleb Bingham portrayed for a book in progress on George Caleb Bingham and a new historical perspective as seen through his life and the lives of his subjects.

If you have a Bingham portrait or for help with any question concerning George Caleb Bingham, please contact Fine Art Investigations.

[1] “Art, the Ideal of Art and the Utility of Art,” lecture written by George Caleb Bingham and presented to University of Missouri by James S. Rollins, March 1, 1879, in Lynn Wolf Gentzler, ed., Roger E. Robinson, compiler, ” “But I Forget That I am a Painter and Not a Politician”: The Letters of George Caleb Bingham, (Columbia, Missouri: State Historical Society of Missouri and Friends of Arrow Rock, Inc., 2011), 504.

(c) Fine Art Investigations, 2017
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