George Caleb Bingham was a self-taught American master. He was a prolific portraitist and genre painter. Born in Virginia, he moved to Missouri where he developed the style that would help make him famous. Bingham sought to capture the effect of light on the motif. His strokes were delicate but unlike the Impressionists who would shortly follow, he took pains to conceal his brush strokes.
While he worked his brushes with care, Bingham was careless when it came to records and personal attribution. Scores of his works were unsigned, more than any other American master. Even though the artist has been dead for more than one hundred years, his catalogue raisonné must feel like a moving target.
Last year alone, the editors added another ten works to the catalogue. This year, they’ve found another.
A painting presented to the Virginia’s Governor’s mansion in 1977 was attributed to Bingham and authenticated by the George Caleb Bingham Catalogue Raisonne Supplement of Paintings & Drawings. The painting is commonly referred to as “Portrait of A Boy and His Dog.” It depicts Colin Dunlop, a man who was born in Petersburg in 1836 and was killed in battle during the Civil War in 1864.