In 2001, after learning that nearly 100 of George Caleb Bingham’s portraits were “lost,” Fine Art Investigations’ Patricia Moss began a search for them. The number of relocated George Caleb Bingham portraits currently numbers 70.
Since 1998, Moss has located nearly 70. You can see some of the found portraits in the slide show below. Following the slide show are the stories of re-discovery. The Smithsonian’s Research and Scholars’ Center acknowledged her accomplishments as the “Bingham Lady” in their newsletter.
Some of the Stories of Found George Caleb Bingham Portraits
Dinah Ayers Trigg and Matilda Donohoe Aull
|Dinah Ayers Trigg (Mrs. Shubael Allen), 1835, was found with the help of the Clay County Historical Society. As an artwork, Dinah joins the handful of early artworks that George Caleb Bingham created when he was an itinerant, self-taught artist. Like Binghams of the period, and unlike the two-dimensional figures floating on canvas made by many other itinerants, Dinah sits solidly in the picture plane. The painting demonstrates Bingham’s extraordinary use of his limited palette. As a piece of American history, Dinah Allen herself played an integral role in a dramatic story.||Matilda Donohoe (Mrs. Robert Aull), 1837/1838, is an example of George Caleb Bingham’s early artistry and a treasure of history. Because the portrait was located, it was available to help illustrate a book on the importance of the Santa Fe trade in Missouri.
Of all the Bingham portraits Moss located, she is most proud of finding Thomas Hoyle Mastin. His story is fascinating, but more importantly, by finding it, I saved it from near destruction. An unappreciative antique dealer used the portrait as a storeroom table. The descendant / owner wanted to sell the artwork so that it could get the attention it needed. Again, since the painting was already fully authenticated with impeccable provenance, I arranged a sale. Collector Kenneth B. McClain is responsible for ensuring the portrait was returned to its former glory.
Of all the people George Caleb Bingham portrayed, Sarah Harris Rodes (Mrs. Anthony Wayne Rollins) is one of my favorites. Fortunately, I have been able to locate all four portraits that the Missouri Artist created of her.
Captain David McClanahan Hickman was important to the development of central Missouri. He was also related by marriage to George Caleb Bingham. Finding the portrait took ten years.
If you know of any George Caleb Bingham portraits not currently recorded, please contact Fine Art Investigations.
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