Western History & Genealogy Blog

Mystery Painting

Mystery Painting

Help identify a mystery painting

In the foyer leading to the Library Commission Room at the Denver Public Library, the Western History and Genealogy Department installed a restored oil painting and gilded frame. We know neither the name of the artist nor the title of the painting, probably a nineteenth-century landscape. The square nails used to construct the frame indicate that the painting dates from before 1880.

Funding for the frame restoration came from the Eleanor Gehres estate and gifts from other donors.

If you have any knowledge about this painting please let us know. The name of the artist and title would be especially helpful, but any information would be appreciated. In addition, send us your thoughts and comments about the painting, or better yet, come in and see it!

You can see more photos of the painting on the Denver Public Library Flickr site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dplwesternhistory/sets/72157622075463075/  


There is a painting by John Williams Casilear entitled LAKE GEORGE 1860 on the Wikipedia website showing the same or similar scene from a different point around the lake. perhaps


Gosh, it looks very close to our painting. There are many Hudson River School artists that have paintings that look very close to the painting we have. I'm sure we'll get to the bottom of this mystery! Thanks for your input and help.



Theodore Stebbins, Jr., now curator of American art at the Harvard University Art Museums, writes, "...one of the things that has always made the study of Heade's work exciting is the way his paintings continue to turn up in garage sales and other unlikely places all over the country, in a manner that the paintings of Frederic E. Church and John F. Kensett do not." Stebbins speculates the reason for this was Heade's popularity with middle-class buyers, and his willingness to distribute his works widely across the country. Quote from Wikipedia about painter last name Heade

mystery painting

I'm certainly no expert, but I'd also look at Thomas Moran as the artist. He has a similar style.

Mystery Painting

It most likely is a Albert Bierstadt based upon the style of the painting.

Mystery Painting

The subject matter is certainly reminiscent of Bierstadt. I'm assuming you will have an appraiser look at the painting for insurance purposes? If it is indeed a Bierstadt, you have a valuable work of art in your care! If there is a curator of American Art at the art museum (haven't been yet, I'm new to the area), I bet they could help you out. Odd that there are no records or provenance on this painting...Best of luck!

Mystery painting

Thank you for your response and interest. We do need to disucss with the Denver Art Museum and see what their thoughts are. There are other guesses and as of now we are conducting further research. If it is a Bierstadt we will be awful lucky!

My first thought was Thomas

My first thought was Thomas Cole, but it could be any of the painters of the Hudson River School.

Mystery painting

We've had a lot of comments and thoughts that it may be one of the Hudson River School painters.

You would be correct sir.

Although I'm certainly no expert, I would agree with your assumption, those misty mountains are classic Cole.

Mystery painting--Albert Bierstadt?

It looks like it could be an Albert Bierstadt painting. He did lanscapes in the late 1800s--many in the Sierra Nevadas, but also some in the Rockies.

I would look into him as the artist.

Mystery painting

If it is a Bierstadt we will be lucky to own it. Thanks for your comment and help.

Mystery Painting

It's a beautiful image. Online display through Flicker is a great idea! It would be helpful to the identification process, if several close up detail photos were shown in addition to the wide shot of the full image.

Mystery painting


Thanks for the comment. We plan to use our Flickr site for more collections and posts like the Mystery painting. I'm glad you went to the site to look at the painting. I will try and take some close ups and post them so everyone can see more details. Thanks again to everyone who commented!


mystry painting at DENVER

The painting is a by John Mix Stanley from what I can see would need pics of the verso,because J.M. Stanley made his own strechers.This painting looks to be signed by two famous artist.It looks like it is signed ABierstadt on the very botom middle, little to the left of center.That signature does not look like his signature.You want to know who painted it that is the punch line, ok.I will show you, look at the two trees on the bottom right just focus your eyes in the middle of the rocks and dirt.You will see J.M.Stanley and a date under stanley ending in the Y.From what i can see it is 1858 or 1856. I would need 10 or so pics of the front and verso to tell you exactly what it says but your pic was small.But it is signed in black J.M.Stanley 1858 0r 56.I have research Stanley for 10 years.My uncle had 17 lienial feet of research of Stanley ,which he sold to a gallery.You need to contact Julie Schemiel, the expert on J.M.Stanley. If I were to guess the painting is of SIERA Calf. Have it shoot in enfared it may have writting of the site it was painted.I started researing and buying because my uncle said I would never afford the painting above his fireplace by J.M.Stanley .I hope this helps you get started researching it.I know it is hard to get help on research you just got to dig in, and look at every square inch that is what my uncle showed me.You can have millions of dollars, but,you can not buy an EYE. MyIt is a good find,good job.I hope this helps and I wish you well.Thanks VG