Category Archives: Professional Art Research

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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Stories Behind the Portraits: Frances Booker George

Portrait If you are already familiar with the portraits of George Caleb Bingham, especially Mary Ann Gilliss (Mrs. Benoist Troost) at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, then you know at first glance that George Caleb Bingham … Continue reading

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Another new Bingham – Louisa Watkins

Louisa Watkins is the fourth post-Civil War posthumous portrait I have seen that depicts  a person George Caleb Bingham may never have met or barely knew. To create the portrait, he had to rely on a photograph. The others are … 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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Mystery of Five Family Portraits: IV

Introduction The last two family portraits in need of artist identification were Mary Elizabeth Lee (1827-1902) and her husband, whose middle name was the same as his last, Dr. Robert Fleming Fleming (1816-1871). Mary Elizabeth was a daughter the subject of the second portrait, Juliana … 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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