Fine Art/Location of paintings
Hello Daniel. Do you know if there is a website or publication which will tell me where certain paintings are located; if they're in private hands or on public display ? I'm researching a local family in England who had a number of portraits painted over the centuries. None of the later portraits are by well known artists and the sitters were relatively obscure figures. I've seen them in a book about the family, but it didn't say exactly where these paintings are today. I'd like to be able to type in the title of the painting and the artist and find out where it is today. I live in England.
Dear Mark, I do a great deal of research of the type you mention. Often it takes a great deal of time and effort. For American paintings there are excellent internet sources such as The Smithsonian Inventory of American Paintings, The New York Public Library, The National Portrait Gallery, etc.
For British paintings I have used the National Portrait Gallery, London; the National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh; the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, etc. However they are mostly devoted to well known painters. I don't know how obscure your artists may be, but I would start at your nearest art museum or university library and look for your names in various exhibition records such as the Royal Academy. If there is no information on these artists I would search locally where the artists or subjects lived. Perhaps in town or shire historical societies, small local colleges, libraries, church archives, etc. Sometimes you get lucky and unearth a cache of information, and sometimes a dead-end. I spent three years of serious searching for an unknown, unlisted artist. Eventually I was able to locate about a dozen paintings by him in various collections, and put together a short biography, however I still do not know his birth or death dates. It takes great perseverance but is very rewarding when you find something. The first mention I found on my mystery artist was at the U.S. Army archives. A letter from the Secretary of War, 1857, mentioning my artist being on a particular expedition. I slammed the desk, shouted an explitive, a got some very astonished looks.
Good luck with your search. I wish I could be more helpful, but it is just a matter of a lot of "grunt" work.