Thursday, December 11, 2014

What I Found Today, II

We have a collection of about 110 paintings here at MedChi. And I am using the word “about” because I am not actually exactly sure how many paintings we have. The number seems to fluctuate a bit.

Some bright thing took all of the plaques and plates off of a number of our pictures, so I have essentially spent the past year and a half working to figure out which painting is which. I have a huge spreadsheet where I am keeping track of the paintings, where they are located, and who the artist is. There are multiple colors and notations that help me track the portraits.image

I refer to a catalogue of acquisitions that was created in 1961, in which numbers were assigned to all of the paintings, and also to the 2002 Sotheby’s appraisal of our collection. Regrettably, neither of these documents has images of the portraits.image

I’ve worked on the portraits project on and off over the past 18 months, mostly when I have a few hours of spare time (ha!). But I’ve got a deadline of the end of January to have museum-style signs made for all of the portraits, so I am working to identify everyone and write brief biographies of them.

This is easier said than done! I am still not 100% on who each of the portraits represents. And funnily, I still find a painting here or there, mainly in the Stacks. Although I’ve spent dozens of hours in the Stacks, things still “appear”, most recently, this picture frame. image

I have been known to wander around the building with a spread-sheet and a measuring tape trying to tease out which unknown painting might become known. And sometimes I find this out in unusual ways.

I received a phone call asking about someone’s grandfather who was a MedChi President in the mid-1900’s. Once I had the name, I could pinpoint the exact dates of service and give the caller some information, and he could give me some, too. He mentioned that there might be a painting of his grandfather, but the name didn’t ring a bell as someone I’d identified. But, I mentioned, I have a few mid-century portraits that are unknown to me.
IMG_0927 Picture 024 Goldstein, Albert
“Balding with glasses” was the description I got, and so I was sure it was Doctor Nº. 2! But it was actually Doctor Nº. 3! It’s Albert Elias Goldstein, a noted physician and urologist at Sinai Hospital for more than 45 years!
Another portrait found and identified! A small victory, but a delight none-the-less!

1 comment:

  1. Hello Meg, More great detective work! I love that type of research challenge. I was thinking that if you know the names, you might search them individually on the internet. Ebay has lots of photos, even going back to the 19th century. Lots of doctors had photos taken for press stories; these are for sale by the thousand now (one archive specializes in original press photos from the Baltimore Sun).They even have several pictures of your Dr. Goldstein, including this very clear one:

    Also, many old pamphlets and publications show various portraits, often photographs of old oil paintings, which might be the very ones you own. Incidentally, the websites cataloging cemeteries sometimes include photographs; it is worth checking these out as well--I have gotten lucky several times with these.

    For computer search purposes, however, it is unfortunate that the abbreviation MD signifies not only Maryland but also Doctor. For Ebay, you could also try wider searches and see what turns up, such as: (doctor,dr,physician) (maryland,baltimore)