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.
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.
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.
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.