Famous Mary Lincoln Painting Presentation Set At Des Plaines History Center

Famous Mary Lincoln Painting Presentation Set At Des Plaines History Center

The Des Plaines History Center and the library will host a Virtual Coffee Talk presentation on “The Demise of Mary Lincoln: An Artistic Conspiracy” with conservator and art historian Barry Bauman at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 15.

Attendees can join the Zoom event by registering on the library’s website at calendar.dppl.org/event/5263288.

The program features the story of how Bauman discovered that an iconic portrait of First Lady Mary Lincoln — valued at $400,000 — was a forgery. Lincoln’s granddaughter purchased the 1864 portrait of Mary Lincoln in 1929 that was attributed to the artist Francis Carpenter in 1929. The granddaughter’s son, and Abraham Lincoln’s last living descendant, donated the painting to the Illinois State Historical Library, and it hung in the Governor’s Mansion in Springfield for decades.

“In my career I made two discoveries that changed the related history of art,” said Bauman. “During treatment, I proved that a painting in the collection of a small Iowa museum was actually a lost work of art by the teacher of Peter Paul Rubens. The painting is now insured for $11,000,000. The second was my proof that a portrait of Mary Lincoln, owned by the Abraham Presidential Library and Museum, was a forgery. The former proved what something was — the latter proved what something wasn’t and now the portrait is the most famous painting in the library’s collection…for all the wrong reasons.” Both discoveries were featured in front-page articles in The New York Times.

The public is invited to attend “The Demise of Mary Lincoln.” The history center’s Coffee Talk series promotes discussion on a broad range of historical topics. The next Virtual Coffee Talk will take place in August and focuses on “Camp Grant During World War I and II.”

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