Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Who is Who?

One of the most vexing things to me when I arrived at MedChi in April was the fact that someone had purposely removed all of the plaques and plates from the portraits. They arrived in my office a month or so after I started working on the identifying the portraits, in an old shoe box. I must confess, that I nearly cried when I saw them, I was so furious.plates

Although I had a list of the portraits from Sotheby’s, there were no images to go along with the descriptions. There are some acquisition numbers on the reverse of some of the paintings, but not all of them.

At first, I thought that someone might have removed the plaques and plates to clean them, but clearly, they do not all need to be cleaned. Some are on very tarnished brass, but they can’t be cleaned because the names are hand-painted on them. Others, like John Archer, are painted on gilded wood and are still in beautiful condition. plates2There are also a number of the plates that are under glass, so they wouldn’t have tarnished. I keep trying to work out why someone would have wholesale removed these, and what they were thinking!

To be fair, not all of the plaques and plates were removed – there’s no rhyme or reason as to what’s there and what isn’t!Portraits 002

Over the past few months, I’ve been playing detective and trying to sort out who’s who! Some paintings have stickers on them to help identify – and this is one I removed from the gilded frame – and others are marked in RED FINGERNAIL POLISH on the reverse.plates3

Sometimes, I walk around with my Sotheby’s list and a measuring tape and see who’s who. Is this the Gentleman with Black Tie or is it someone else? Is this the Lady With Beads 5-3 008or the Lady with the Lace Collar? IMG_0928

There’s no option for the Lady with the Beads AND the Lace Collar!IMG_0943

Take these three gentlemen. All three are identified as the same person – Frederick Hintze. Hintze Frederick 2Hintze FrederickHINTZE4 5-10 065I think that numbers one and two are the same person, but number three is a different person. It’s the eyebrows and the hairline that helped me draw that conclusion. Which leaves the question, who is number 3?

At some point, everyone will be identified, and I will be happy… maybe!


  1. It is difficult to fathom why these were removed. Perhaps for some project (cleaning? restoration?) they were placed in order on a table top, but then the things got delayed and they were shuffled together.

    At any rate, have a great holiday!

  2. Really? I can not believe anyone would do that, and nail polish? You'll need all your detective skills in this job.