Middlebury College Museum of Art

Friday, April 6

Fridays at the Museum—Caveat Emptor: The American Historical Portrait in the Early Twentieth Century

Illustrated Lecture
Time: 12:30pm
Location: Mahaney Center for the Arts, Room 125

Richard Saunders, Museum Director and Professor of History of Art and Architecture


At the beginning of the 20th Century there was a growing appetite for American objects from the colonial period and the early Republic—particularly portraits of figures prominent in our early history. But demand exceeded supply and, as a consequence, pictures began to appear from various sources with fabricated identifications, invented provenances, and, on occasion, fraudulent artist signatures. Richard Saunders tells this story about how such subterfuge was revealed.

unknown British artist, Mrs Oxenbridge Thacher
Unknown Artist (British), Portrait of Mrs. Oxenbridge Thacher (née Sarah Kent, 1724–1764), 1749, oil on canvas, 50 1/4 x 40 inches. Collection of Middlebury College Museum of Art. Purchase with funds provided by the Electra Havemeyer Webb Memorial Fund, 2007.012.