Currently, a regular seller on ebay is offering a “Highly IMPORTANT American Governor Portrait DeWitt Clinton C. 1810 Old Master”. This seller bills him/herself as follows: “We don’t just sell art~We sell art HISTORY.” Well, someone who sells antique art and “history” probably should have the ability to date clothing in portraits. The ebay listing says that the portrait dates around 1810. The clothing on the people in the portrait date it to circa 1840-45: dress bodice set into a narrow waist, very low in the dress, falling in front to a point well below the natural waist line; dropped shoulders on the dress, with sleeves set very low, tight to the elbow where the sleeves expand either to the wrist where they are gathered tight. There are more clothing clues to the date, but the dress is the most obvious and cannot possibly be mistaken for circa 1810 clothing by someone who does their research. I sent a message to the seller telling him/her that the clothing dates the portrait to circa 1840. I also explained to the seller that the portrait of DeWitt Clinton by Rembrandt Peale (which the seller also displays in the listing) which was painted in 1823, shows an older man than in the portrait listed. Since the portrait listed was painted no earlier than 1840, it is impossible that the listed portrait is of DeWitt Clinton. Further, Clinton died in 1828, before this portrait could have possibly been painted. No response from the seller, and no change to the listing. I’m showing you both the listed portrait and the portrait by Peale for your comparison. Honestly, I don’t think the men in the portraits even look like the same person–do you? Here is the link for the listing on ebay. http://www.ebay.com/itm/181053816082?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1438.l2649 It will be interesting to see how much this “Highly IMPORTANT” portrait sells for.
The image above and the first image below is the ebay listed portrait. The last image is the portrait of DeWitt Clinton painted by Rembrandt Peale in 1814.
I must end this posting with my usual warning that there are some good things on ebay, but make sure you know who you are buying from and do your own homework before buying. This ebay seller prides him/herself on selling antique art but can’t date portraits by clothing and ignores messages that show that the listing needs to be corrected. The listing ends with the following warning:
Please ask ANY and ALL questions BEFORE bidding, as this IS an AUCTION,
and ALL SALES ARE FINAL!
Is this someone you want to buy from?
Patricia comments, “I actually like the photograph of the portrait. This is a Touchy-Feely Business. Without seeing the piece in person one never knows the condition. I do however commend you on your astute period attire findings and concur.”
Peggy replies, I like the photograph of the portrait also. The problem is that the portrait cannot be of DeWitt Clinton because of the dates. DeWitt Clinton was a US Senator, Governor of New York, and largely responsible for the construction of the Erie Canal. The portrait is of much greater value if the sitter is DeWitt Clinton. Clinton also died in 1828, making the claim of the seller even more outrageous. I just want people to get what the pay for and for sellers to be honest and responsible for what they sell.
Sally comments, “Peggy , I once had a young couple come in my shop and buy several items which appeared on EBay shortly thereafter with a lengthy description of their having owned them since the ’50’s. They were a young couple born well after the ’50s! Everyone who buys on EBay should go solely on their own knowledge and not the seller’s word!”
After sending another message to the seller asking whether he/she was willing to ruin their reputation over a portrait and giving, I heard back. The seller asked for specific information, saying they had an appraiser look at the portrait and give them an opinion that it was circa 1810. I replied with very specific information about 1840s clothing and the differences and the seller has ended the listing to do more research. Thank goodness the seller finally listened to reason and is now willing to at least attempt to do the right thing.
Michael comments, “Even specialist can make mistakes, I have a portrait of Thomas Jefferson that is not for sale on Ebay, but when I sent it to the National Gallery they said that the portrait was post Empire style and could not be Jefferson, they said that the sitter was wearing clothes dated 10 years after Jefferson left Paris, but when I discovered the painting had been dated and signed they did not reply to my additional information.”
Peggy asks, Michael, what is the date of the signature and who is the artist?
Michael replies, The Painting is dated AN II (second years of the Revolution) signed :Desoria , Jean Baptist Desoria was a painter from Normandy, the painting came from the “de Clermont -Tonnerre” estate and has been in the same family ever since.