Photo/Painting of John Wilkes Booth? Help Identify.

Joined
May 30, 2019
Messages
9
Location
Virginia
Hello everyone! Newbie here.
My grandmother was an antique dealer/collector. She owned this photo/painting until she passed in 2002.
Then my dad keep it until last month when he passed. I remember seeing it in the late 80s. She kept it in a drawer of an old dresser. She told me it was John Wilkes Booth.
Then in the 90s, the family story was my dad drove my grandmother and photo/painting to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. They said is was JWB and an original photo/painting of that time. They do not due appraisals but suggested she insure it for $50,000. We never found any paperwork from the Smithsonian Institution.
My sister has it in a safe location. Next month she is taking it to a place that will have several people doing free appraisals on antiques, paintings etc. Almost like "The Antique Roadshow".
We want to sell it, auction it if it's valuable.
It never had a frame that I'm aware of. My limited research is it does not look exactly like JWB.
Its' about 16" tall, oval and about 1/2 inch thick, almost like it's plaster.
If anyone could enlighten me on this please do.

imagejpeg_0.jpg


image2.jpg
 

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Joined
May 30, 2019
Messages
9
Location
Virginia
I don't know what's it mounted/painted on. It's about an 1/2 thick, solid and reminds me of plaster or something similar.
You can see the damage on the bottom of the first pic.
Thank you.
 
Last edited:
Joined
May 30, 2019
Messages
9
Location
Virginia
Welcome, enjoy. Maybe someone who does facial recognition can check.
That would be way cool!
It might be some unknown person. No markings, initial on front or back that I could see. Maybe it had a signature at the bottom of the first photo where it is broken off? If so, someone did not want to be associated with painting?
 

Patrick H

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
Messages
10,274
Interesting piece. The artist has made him look older than the Booth we know from the photos. Welcome!
 
Joined
May 30, 2019
Messages
9
Location
Virginia
Interesting piece. The artist has made him look older than the Booth we know from the photos. Welcome!
Thank you.
This person or JWB does look older, but his hairline is less receding than JWB photos.
I posted on this website due to the backstory of this painting. Also I read some post before joining and people on here seemed helpful and serious about the American Civil War.
I grew up in Manassas VA and my grandmother probably would have acquired this painting where she lived most of her life in Arlington VA.
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
18,656
Location
Central Pennsylvania
I don't know? Did Twain have that riotously curly hair? Honest, not trying to be critical, he just doesn't look quite like Twain? Clemens had an aquiline nose too- the man in the portrait has a less pronounced nose and it's not aquiline.

1851
twain 1851.JPG


1860-something
twain 63 crop.jpg
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
18,656
Location
Central Pennsylvania
I don't know- I was thinking ' no ' but changed my mind. Left, from LoC. Painting is ( opinion ) pre-war, photo is later.
booth.JPG
booth painting id.JPG

You sure can't say ' no ' because it's a painting and they can get small things wrong. Seems to be a lot right- his eyes are awfully close, see the distance from inner eye to inner point of brow? Line and angle from ear to chin awfully similar manner of trimming mustache similar ( may have changed the top line over the years ), hair line very close. Booth as a younger man, hair receding slowly into what we see in the photograph. Nose is not quite the same but not different enough to say ' no ', IMO.

Thanks for bringing it here! And really, the Smithsonian? Awfully valuable opinion!
 
Joined
May 30, 2019
Messages
9
Location
Virginia
Thank you JPK Huson 1863.
Smithsonian was the family story. Also additional to the story was the Smithsonian asked if my grandmother would loan it for display with credit to her, she refused.
When she passed, each of the 3 surviving children agreed to divide $50k each of her belongings and sell the rest. My dad picked this painting. One of my aunts got a very large painting of cows (who mainly painted cows) in a pasture from some famous dead painter valued at $12k, plus other odds and ends to equal $50k.
Then they hired auctioneers that auctioned off the rest, which ended up being a 4 day auction (2 weekends).
So hopefully my dad was sure of what it was.
Thanks for the side-by-side images and opinion.
 

Mike Serpa

Major
Joined
Jan 24, 2013
Messages
8,523
I've not seen a photo of Twain with a soul patch either. MHO is it's neither Booth nor Twain.

Twain.jpg

Heritage Auctions photo
 


Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Top