Stories Behind the Portraits: Dr. Anthony Wayne Rollins, Part 1

George Caleb Bingham, Dr. Anthony Wayne Rollins, 1834 ; Art history research

George Caleb Bingham, Dr. Anthony Wayne Rollins, 1834
Oil on Canvas, 29 x 23 inches
Kenneth B. and Cynthia McClain Collection
Jackson County Art Museum
Independence, Missouri

The frilled dress shirt and carefully coiffed hair of Dr. Anthony Wayne Rollins (1783-1845) belie his humble beginnings. The sometimes extravagant prose of a 19th century biographer[1] perhaps best tell his story. Here is part one: 

He was the youngest of a large family. His early life was passed upon a farm in the then wilderness of western Pennsylvania…Without the inheritance of fortune, and reared amidst the disadvantages of poverty, he was thrown at an early period upon his own resources, to fight the battle of life.” He attended “the common schools” and worked as a school master “until he got sufficiently ahead with ready means to enter Jefferson College, at Canonsburg, Pennsylvania … and where he was enabled to complete his education. Hearing of Kentucky, a new State, but recently admitted into the Union, and described as a land flowing with “milk and honey,” …he determined to seek his fortune in that then far off country, and adopted about the only mode at that day of reaching it: by descending the Ohio river in a flatboat…He landed in Limestone [now Maysville] ..and disembarked, a “stranger in a strange land,” not having the advantage of a single friend, or personal acquaintance in the whole State of Kentucky…He wended his way on foot into the interior, and arriving in the famous county of Bourbon, he there “pitched his tent.”… He had no difficulty in finding friends wherever he went: upright and moral in his habits… possessing the advantage of graceful manners and a splendid presence, he was soon admitted to the confidence and friendship of the best people of Kentucky including the elder Dr. [Elisha] Warfield[2], who…became his warm and steadfast friend, inviting him into his family, and tendering to him the use of his medical and miscellaneous library, and also the advantage which a large and lucrative practice afforded to a young man just entering upon the study of his profession…Completing his professional studies…he embarked in the practice of medicine, settling permanently in Richmond, the county seat of Madison county, a pleasant village twenty-five miles southeast of Lexington…and it was not long before he found himself surrounded by friends and in the midst of an excellent and profitable practice. After several years of steady professional labor, and intending to leave nothing undone to make himself master of his profession, he went to Philadelphia and entered the medical department of Pennsylvania University, where he became a pupil of the distinguished Dr. Benjamin Rush…

Part II

(c) Fine Art Investigations, 2012
       All Rights Reserved

[1] L.U. Reavis, Saint Louis: the future great city of the world: with biographical sketches of the representative men and women (C. R. Barns, 1876), page  ~750 – 755 and L.U. Reavis (anonymously), History of Boone County, Missouri (St. Louis: Western Historical Company, 1882), 938-940. 

[2] Dr. Elisha Warfield, Sr. (1741-1818), chair of Surgery and Obstetrics at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. 

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.
This entry was posted in 19th Century American Portrait Artists, Genealogical Research, George Caleb Bingham, Professional Art Research, Stories Behind George Caleb Bingham Portraits and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.