The Bingham Lady

In my heart Patricia Moss will always be the Bingham Lady.  We first met when I was working at the Smithsonian in a small research office in the American Art Museum. One day Pat phoned asking about who to contact when she located new owners of portraits by George Caleb Bingham that were listed in an early catalogue raisonne.  Me, I answered, just let me know.  Well, she did, one by one for the rest of my tenure at the Smithsonian and I faithfully updated the information in the national inventory.  I was always impressed by Pat and her dedication to finding these portraits.  It is work that a lot of people chose not to do.  In the course of her research she also found previously unrecorded portraits—what a feat!  By this point she was starting most of her emails with: “It’s me again, the Bingham Lady!

At the time I was writing for a newsletter and two blogs. What better story to tell, I thought, than that of the Bingham Lady.  I sent her some interview questions, thinking I would turn it into a profile, but I enjoyed her writing so much when I read her answers that I kept the interview in question and answer format.  Pat writes about her early beginnings, her interest in Bingham, the people she met along the way, and the culmination of her work. “George Caleb Bingham represented not only Missouri and its people, but the nation. Any part I’ve played in preserving his treasures makes me proud.”  You can read the full interview here: http://americanart.si.edu/research/newsletters/rscnewsletter_spring10.pdf

I was glad to see Moss’s business grow over the years and her mission expand to include identifying other artist’s works.  No longer just the Bingham Lady, Pat dedicates her life to history and telling the stories behind objects—a true art detective.

–Nicole Semenchuk

About Patricia Moss

Patricia Moss is an art historian, or art detective if you will, who solves mysteries of 19th century American portraits. She located nearly 70 of Bingham’s lost portraits, a feat acknowledged by the Smithsonian’s Research and Scholar’s Center. From expertise with portraits of George Caleb Bingham (1811-1879), she developed skills that evolved into a comprehensive system based on the scientific method that conforms to the legal and ethical standards of art authentication. Moss served as a guest curator for the Bingham Bicentennial Exhibit, “Steamboats to Steam Engines: George Caleb Bingham’s Missouri: 1819-1879,” (March 10-September 8, 2011) at the Truman Presidential Museum and curated the opening exhibition, “George Caleb Bingham: Witness to History,” (September 2013 –), Jackson County Art Museum, Independence, Missouri. She is also the principal researcher for Fine Art Investigations.
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