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Fine Art/Large oil portrait



Cu of face
Cu of face  
We call her the painted lady, and she has been in our family for at least 40 years. My parents bought the portrait in Chicago. It is large, nearly 8ft tall 5ft wide. They are pretty sure it is English, but there is no visible signature. We have always been curious about who she was. Can you give me any advice about how I might find any information on her? I really don't know where to start.

Hello Maggie;
Many thanks for your question and the images.
This reply, it  contains both some good, and bad news - I am afraid.

Firstly,  the bad news.

Judging by the supplied images  it would appear, that the  overall condition of the painting is very poor indeed.
It has probably had, some water damage at some point – and also the  “Teeth of Time” have  not treated the surface of the painting very kindly.

Secondly, the good news

Viewing the images, it would appear to  be a 19th century  full length portrait , which is executed in the  classical pose and style of an slightly earlier period.
Think of  people such as  the English painter called Thomas Gainsborough, and the very  large mansions both  in Europe, the Deep South - and  also  up North, in New England.

It may  even at one time, have been  “one of pair” that hung in a very  prominent place in a house.
However, it is most probably not executed by a well know artist, nonetheless the quality and pedigree, is quite visible from under the  years of  cigarette smoke and grime.

On the basis of the photographic evidence, that is as far as I am willing to go, because the only way of establishing the true  hidden facts -  is to give the painting a  very thorough “hands on” examination.
This could involve both a  specialist  “CSI” style forensic investigation, along with a rather intensive research  trajectory.

At some point, the painting will need to be cleaned and possibly restored - by a professional.
I would advise against using the local “home depot” type of restorers, as it requires some  specialist,  and  very highly skilled  people, with a great deal of experience and knowledge.

However, before we “jump the gun” so to speak,  I would strongly advise you to contact one or more of,  the following  auction houses;
-Sothbys,  New York.
- Christies, New York.
- Bonhams, New York.

I would advise contacting at least two of the above firms, as both have both the necessary expertise and experience - in dealing with all such cases.

In my own personal  view, second opinions, in all such matters are  Always to be advised!

However, they are all both very helpful and  highly competent organisations.
I would avoid using,  any local auction houses  and “yard  sale” types of organisations,  as these do not have the expertise and knowledge, for dealing with such  important  cases.

As ever, I would  be very  pleased  if you would let me know the outcome and results  - of your contacts with the people up North.
It not only benefits my own knowledge, but it enables a wider circle of people to partake  in a very interesting process.

Very good luck with your quest in New York, but I am sure that you will be very pleasantly surprised,  and above all  else  – please do not try cleaning it yourself.

Speaking of up North, I hear that they are already having snow,  and that it freezing  much colder - than in the  frozen food section at Publix!

Take care and very good luck with the painting.

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D. E. Lombardo


I am unable to answer enquiries concerning objects, which are NOT related to the areas of Fine Art and Antiques. Nor will I; on the sole basis of any photographic images be willing to give any definitive monetary valuations, or monetary opinions. In such cases I would always advise on getting “real time” valuations and opinions from reputable and qualified auction houses, or third parties. In some applicable cases, I may perhaps give general indications of value, based on the presented materials. True valuations always need a direct “hands on” approach, with perhaps also the necessary research and verifications. Broadly open to almost all questions, regarding the majority of both European, American quality objects, which are related to both Antiques and Fine Art. This also includes modern 20th century designer objects such as furniture etc. My own particular comfort zone areas would be; The decorative Arts, marble, stone, furniture, ivory, bone, amber, ceramics and porcelain, sculpture, glass, silver and metal objects etc. I will also answer inquiries, and give opinions concerning Dutch 17th, 18th and 19th century paintings. Please note that I do have limitations and cannot possibly answer all questions, as the field is very extensive. VERY IMPORTANT and PLEASE NOTE: Please note that; providing > GOOD CLEAR and Preferably High Resolution < photo's of the object(s)in question, is vital. Pics taken with a cell/mobile phone, are of a poor quality and best avoided. Posting signatures only, or just fragments of an artifact - will only provide me with insufficient information and it is often quite misleading. So please; Do post good clear overall images, with your question(s). Failing to do so, may cause rejection, which is also a great pity.


Since the early 90’s I lead a team of very enthusiastic staff at a business, where have the following disciplines; Restoration and refurbishment of historical buildings and gardens, including interior design. The restoration and care of Fine Art and Antiques at our restoration studio We are also Fine Art and Antique dealers, besides being collectors ourselves for a great number of years.

The main professional organization of which I am a member is the BNA, or Association of Dutch Architects, which is equivalent to the US; American Institute of Architects. Affiliated to the Art Loss Register in London and the International Cites Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.

Villa Rufolo; The forgotten paradise on earth. Published by the University of Aarhus, Denmark Book reviews and articles for International Archis Magazine, in the Netherlands.

Since I wished to become a Restoration Architect, firstly I took my BA degree in Art History. Then after graduation, I followed this immediately by studies to graduate and become a Restoration Architect. Ever since then, I have been an established Restoration Architect and Antiquarian. Since a great number of buildings are also inhabited by Fine Art fixtures and furnishings, I also became absorbed by all the artifacts, which go to fill them and not only the edifices themselves. This and much more, was the reason for gaining an advisory post on the City Commission; For The Protection and Care of Historic Monuments of Amsterdam - Amstelveen.

Awards and Honors
Citations and gratitude; “From the Town of Amalfi” for the groundwork achieved in order bring back the Historical past to the Medieval Villa Rufolo and its vital role in the region. BA in Art Hisory. Graduation Diploma as an Architect & Antiquarian; and also practicing as such. I have also completed a 3 year course in antiques, at the VHOK in Amsterdam VHOK is translated as; ( "The Association of Fine Art Dealers In The Netherlands.")

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