Re-Discovered George Caleb Bingham Portraits

Nearly 40 possible new Bingham portraits have been brought to the attention of Fine Art Investigations. Bingham’s name so dominated portraiture at the heart of the nation that memory of other artists was nearly obliterated. Even those attributed to Bingham by family tradition often prove to be ones by his colleagues or students. In preserving the integrity of legacy of George Caleb Bingham, the emphasis is not on quantity, but on the quality of replicable research that includes:

  • Provenance
  • Date of execution has been determined to ensure artist and subject were in the same place at the time
  • Agreement by other Bingham experts
  • Examination by conservator whenever possible

Scroll down to see the hand of the same artist in all the images. Even as his technique matured, George Caleb Bingham’s distinctive style is visible. Links below the images provide detailed information.

Robert P. Clark, 1834/1835              John A. Trigg, 1844              Frances B. George, ca. 1852

          Ephraim B. Allison, 1872                                           J.S. Rollins, ca, 1855/1856

The Dunnicas, ca. 1837

These three posthumous, post-Civil War portraits based on photographs were especially challenging. Because Bingham had only a passing acquaintance with the subjects when they were alive — he probably had not even seen Julia George since she was a child — the psychological engagement usually present in his portraits is missing. He did succeed in providing the families with a well-rendered keepsake to keep the memory of their loved one alive. All three have been personally examined by Bingham experts. The photographs do not do them justice. The hand of the master is present even in the tiniest brushstrokes.

     Sallie A. Neill, ca. 1871            Julia George, ca. 1869             Louisa A. Watkins, ca. 1867