An old label on the back of the painting offered initial provenancial clues.

Verso Label

The label identified a former owner, or “Possessor,” as “N. B. Collins.” It also titled the painting, “Apollo and Venus,” and misspelled the attribution of the painting to “Federico Baroccio” (ca. 1533-1612), a late-Mannerist, early-Baroque artist born in Urbino, Italy. The proper spelling of his last name is “Barocci,” although other historical misspellings include “Barrocio.”

Who was N. B. Collins? Fortunately, Hoyt Sherman Place retained a 1941 Art Possessions handbook that solved this question. An entry on page 13 notes, “The following pictures were the property of Mr. N. B. Collins, the father of Mrs. Robert Coskery of Des Moines, and loaned by her to the Club.” Earlier records indicate Mrs. Coskery's loans began in 1922 until her paintings were finally gifted to the Hoyt Sherman Place Foundation in 1952. (8)

1941 "Art Possessions" Handbook

1941 "Art Possessions" Handbook Entry
Page 13

Nason Bartholomew Collins was born in New York City in 1834. He was the son of Captain John Collins, the founder of the Collins line of steamships. Following business successes in the grain industry, N. B., as he was known, came to Des Moines in 1871, where he established a lumber company and a grocery business. These companies were later sold. N. B. Collins died on August 23, 1894. His obituary notes that he always took “the liveliest interest in the welfare and progress of the city, in good government and in the charitable and religious work which has made his whole life blessed.” (9)

Following Collins's death, his art collection came into the possession of his daughter Louise, Mrs. Robert Coskery. Pencil-added notations in the 1941 handbook record that five paintings initially owned by N. B. Collins were on loan to the Des Moines Women's Club from Louise Coskery: Landscape by W. T. Richard; Landscape by F. E. Church; Lot and His Daughters by Jacob Jordaens; Apollo Teaching Venus to Paint by an "Artist unknown"; and Triumph of Magdaline (sic) attributed to “Varroccio.” (10) These paintings were later gifted to the Women's Club and subsequently came into the Hoyt Sherman Place Foundation's collection in the 1995 agreement with the city of Des Moines.

1941 "Art Possessions" Handbook
Page 13

1941 "Art Possessions" Handbook
Page 14

The 1941 “W. T. Richard” entry improperly spelled the surname of William Trost Richards (1833-1905), omitting the ending “s.” The “Triumph of Magdaline” (sic) entry had errors in both title and attribution. The correct title is The Repentant Magdalene. The painting is a late seventeenth-century work by an unknown Flemish artist. The impossible 1941 “Varroccio” attribution is a misspelling of the fifteenth-century artist Andrea del Verrocchio (1435-1488), Leonardo da Vinci's teacher. These two paintings were treated in 2012 and 2016 and remain in the collection. The label on the back of the discovered painting contained information different from the 1941 handbook: “Federico Baroccio” versus “Artist unknown” and Apollo and Venus versus Apollo Teaching Venus To Paint.

William Trost Richards "Landscape" 1858
Hoyt Sherman Place
Des Moines, Iowa

Anon. "The Repentant Magdalene" ca. 1680
Hoyt Sherman Place
Des Moines, Iowa

The Frederic Edwin Church Landscape was sold in 1999. Today, it carries its proper title, To the Memory of Cole. Church completed the painting in honor of his mentor Thomas Cole after the artist's sudden death in 1848. The Jordaens Lot and His Daughters was sold in 2004 through a Sotheby's sale. A pre-sale cleaning revealed the original artist's signature and date, “Abraham Bloemaert, 1624.” The cleaning also removed a spurious late nineteenth-century Rubens signature. (11)

Frederic Edwin Church "To the Memory of Cole" 1848
Private Collection
Seattle, Washington

Abraham Bloemaert "Lot and His Daughters" 1624
The Leiden Collection
New York, New York

The 1941 Art Possessions handbook also noted that three of the five paintings “hung at one time in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York”: Lot and His Daughters; Apollo Teaching Venus to Paint; and Triumph of Magdaline (sic). What seemed impossible turned out to be true. Below are the Metropolitan Museum's entries from their 1881 Pictures by Old Masters in the East Gallery. (12)

"Pictures by Old Masters in the East Gallery" 1881
Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York, New York

"Pictures by Old Masters in the East Gallery" 1881
Entries 12, 49, 50
Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York, New York

All three entries reference the owner as “N. B. Collins.” The 1881 citations carry certain errors. The entries for Lot and His Daughters referenced the erroneous Rubens attribution while The Triumphant Magdalen (spelled without the final "e"in the Metropolitan's publication) and Apollo and Venus were attributed respectively to “Baroccio” and “Barroccio,” both misspellings of the artist's proper surname “Barocci.” The Metropolitan continued to exhibit Apollo and Venus for three years until April of 1884. A further review of the Apollo and Venus attribution will be examined later in this Case Study.

No provenancial material has been saved from the Collins estate indicating where and when he bought Apollo and Venus. For now, the fact that the discovered Hoyt Sherman Place painting hung at one time in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Old Masters East Gallery is quite incredible.

Page 5--Examination

Page 1--Introduction,   Page 2--History of Hoyt Sherman Place,   Page 3--Adopt a Painting/First Discovery,
Page 4--Provenance,  Page 5--Examination,   Page 6--Treatment,   Page 7--The Letters/Second Discovery,
Page 8--Attribution/Third Discovery
Page 9--Ut pictura poesis, Page 10--Final Thoughts/PBS Video


8. 1941 Art Possessions handbook courtesy of Ms. Lorna Truck. History of loans from Mr. Robert Warren and Ms. Lorna Truck.
9. N. B. Collins biographical information from Accessed 7/4/17. The entry included obituary notice from Des Moines Register, August 24, 1894. Link sent from Ms. Susan Buehler 7/4/17.
10. 1941 Art Possession handbook. DMWC, Des Moines, Iowa. 1941.
11. Sale dates from Mr. Robert Warren. Bloemaert treatment information from Accessed 7/30/17. Treatment carried out by Ms. Annette Rupprecht, New York, New York.
12. Pictures by Old Masters in the East Gallery. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1881, from Accessed 7/3/17. Link provided by Ms. Autumn Mather, Reader Services Librarian, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.



Barry Bauman Conservation
Contact: Mr. Barry Bauman
1122 N. Jackson Ave., River Forest, IL. 60305
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