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Projects | George Caleb Bingham Catalogue Raisonné

To the beautiful belongs an endless variety. It is seen not only in symmetry and elegance of form, in youth and health, but is often quite as fully apparent in decrepit old age. It is found in the cottage of the peasant as well as the palace of kings.
— George Caleb Bingham

The leading project of the Riverbank Foundation centers around one of America’s most important 19th Century artists, George Caleb Bingham (aka The Missouri Artist), in order to insure and further develop his important legacy in the place of American art history.

(For more information about George Caleb Bingham, read his bio here.)

The George Caleb Bingham catalogue raisonné will be an online public-access catalogue of Bingham’s paintings and is intended to be the definitive reference for scholars and the public seeking information for research and general information purposes.  Funds are currently being raised to hire a full-time Executive Director to lead the project, which is expected to be in operation in 2018.  The Executive Director will be supported by an Advisory Board of scholars, staff as required for research and project management, and the governance of the Riverbank Foundation’s Board of Directors. The entire project is anticipated to take approximately three-to-five years from inception to realization.

Scholarly Guidance

Existing scholarly works on Bingham have provided essential guidance and will serve as building blocks for the catalogue raisonné revision itself.

Professor of Art History E. Maurice Bloch (1925-1989) provided major scholarship.

  • Bloch.   The Paintings of George Caleb Bingham:  A Catalogue Raisonné (1986, University of Missouri Press).  This currently serves as the standard reference book and is supported by two companion volumes, also by Bloch:
    • George Caleb Bingham:  The Evolution of an Artist (1967, University of California Press)
    • George Caleb Bingham:  A Catalogue Raisonné (1967, University of California Press)
  • Bloch. The Drawings of George Caleb Bingham (1975, University of Missouri Press)

George Caleb Bingham (American, 1811-1879)
Canvassing for a Vote, 1851-1852
Oil on canvas, 25 1/4 x 30 1/2 inches
(The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO)
(Purchase: William Rockhill Nelson Trust, 54-9)
(Photo: Jamison Miller)
(click to enlarge)

Since 2005, independent art historian Fred R. Kline has led a team of scholars in identifying newly discovered and authenticated paintings by Bingham. Kline created the first public-access online catalogue raisonné supplement for a major American artist.  It contains a statement of purpose, an illustrated and annotated record of new additions, an acknowledged honorary Advisory Board, a biographical essay on the life and work of Bingham, and research papers devoted to the new paintings.  It can be accessed here at http://georgecalebbingham.org/.

Initial encouragement for the catalogue raisonné supplement came to Kline in 2005 from the late American historian-biographer Paul Nagel (1925-2011), whose biography of Bingham was due to be published at the time:  George Caleb Bingham:  Missouri’s Famed Painter and Forgotten Politician (2005, University of Missouri Press).  Nagel invited Kline to join him on his book tour throughout Missouri and Nagel became the first member of the Advisory Board to the project.  The Advisory Board offers advice and consent regarding additions to the catalogue raisonné supplement submitted by Fred R. Kline.

 

 

Others who have been consulted over the years include:

  • Dr. Paul C. Nagel (1926-2011), Bingham historian and Biographer.
  • William Kloss is an independent Art Historian, Smithsonian Associate; Professor of Art, The Teaching Company; Emeritus White House Preservation Committee (Art), Washington, D.C.
  • Dr. Elizabeth Fellows Andrus-Rivera, Emeritus.  Noted author, lecturer, and Professor of Art History, Portland State University.
  • Dr. John Wilmerding, Sarofim Professor of Art, Princeton University; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Fred Kline has provided the leadership for the current on-line catalogue raisonné of the paintings of George Caleb Bingham and twenty eight (28) paintings have been added since Bloch’s publication in 1986.  This is unprecedented for a major American 19th century artist.

Specific Goals

George Caleb Bingham (American, 1811-1879)
Major James Sidney Rollins, 1834
(Private Collection)
(click to enlarge)

At the outset of the project, additions were believed to be probable and very likely to occur since Bingham only signed about 5% of his paintings – the majority of which are unsigned portraits but which also include important unsigned genre paintings and landscapes as well.  Based on Bloch’s research, Kline had estimated that some 50 paintings by Bingham were unlocated and unidentified.  The progress has been based on the pursuit and practice of connoisseurship in relation to Bingham’s body of work and in judging the stylistic and documentary evidence of a suggested painting and the study of its signature comparative details.

Provenance of the existing records needs to be updated.  The current hard Bloch publications present black-and-white photographs of Bingham’s paintings which need to be updated with high-quality and high-resolution photography of the paintings – many of which have since undergone conservation and should be made available for scholarly research in color.  New paintings need to be presented along with important research.  An exhibition history for each painting needs to be added.

The Riverbank Foundation will also direct funds, on an as-needed basis, toward conservation of Bingham paintings and new photography.

For inquiries about participating on the Advisory Board for this project, or for more general information, please contact Rachael Cozad at director@riverbankfoundation.org

For information about supporting the project or making a contribution contact Nancy Berst at ncberst@gmail.com.