History is one of my favorite subjects, and mix it with Art History, and I am so intrigued. So, lately I have been a sleuth. I have a painting that needs it’s story to be told. First, I have to find out what the story is, I am going to share with you what I have done, and what I have found so far.
The painting is one of a Cardinal and a Bishop. The Cardinal is in red, and the Bishop is in purple. The Cardinal is indulging in a cigar, cognac, and there is a tea service on the table. The Bishop is reading a newspaper.
I don’t know the title of the painting. At the bottom of the painting is a signature. The person that sold it to me did not know the signature. The back of the painting has seven hints on it. One is a sticker that has S&G Gumps 113-115 Geary St. San Francisco, CA. Another paper has an identification number of the piece with a price tag of 18, 500.00, There are two swatches on the back, I am guessing they are upholstery for furniture. Made in France sticker, the number 8 stamped on the board. The last tag is for an Antiques dealer.
The first thing I did was to call Gump’s. I love Gump’s, and I have purchased several things over the years from the store. The sells people are always super sweet. I talked with a gentleman on the phone for a while since the store wasn’t even open when I called. He was excited for me! I then talked to a lady that told me she had no idea of all the address that Gump’s once had, as they have moved serval times. My goal was simply to find out if the painting was in the store before the earthquake. There was no information online about the various addresses. That was the first place I looked. The lady referred me to a book “Gump’s Treasure Trade” by Carol Green Wilson. I went immediately to Amazon to get the book, and also purchased “Gumps since 1861, A San Franscisco Legend”. I had to be patient for a couple of days.
It took me a couple of days to decipher the signature. I finally found the correct artist. Jean Hector Henri Gambart born April 1, 1854 and died 1891. He started studying art in 1876. Gambart, is the name of the artist.
I found some of the other works that he has done, as well as someone that studied the some of his other works. Here are some examples of his other pieces. You can see in this one that the same carpet was used and the same screen
This one has the same floor. I am guess that this is at Versailles, because there is evidence that he used to work at the palace. It would also be natural for a Bishop and Cardinal to be at Versailles.
When I Goggled his name, I found a paper that was done…here
Here are some questions I still want to answer…
Who are the Bishop and Cardinal in the painting? What newspaper would the Bishop be reading? One of the popular newspapers in France was Figaro. What is the time frame of the painting? Which one of the Gump’s purchased the painting? Was this frame made by the Gump’s? They were famous for making the frames for the paintings. How long was this in the Gump gallery? Who owned the painting? Was it saved from the fire in San Francisco during the Great Fire?
Some of these questions will be answered once the Smithsonian sends the reels from Archives of American Art. I have the reels on order, so once I find more information I will post all about it.
The saga continues!
After buying 2 books and the loan from archives of archives of American art, I still am no closer to knowing when this painting was sold, and to whom it was sold. I looked through all the names, but never found that it was one of the paintings that was sold.
It was one of the paintings that was in Gumps before the Great Earthquake of San Francisco. Was it one that survived the quake and fire? I am not sure,but many items were saved. Many items were taken on a ferry to Marin.
I also know…there were many trips made to Europe, and the auctions were held when painting were not selling. Paintings of cardinals were often utilized in public rooms of the home. I just didn’t find this one listed as one that was sold during the auction.