Sat, Oct 6, 2018 10:00AM EDT
Benjamin Franklin Reinhart (American, 1829-1885). Oil on canvas, housed in a gilt frame with oval opening. A portrait of Thomas Thompson Skillman (1860-1895), ca 1863, unsigned; 19.25 x 15.25 in. (sight), 27.25 x 23.25 in. (frame).
Thomas Thompson Skillman was the son of Dr. Henry Martin Skillman and his wife Margaret Scott. He was the namesake of his grandfather Thomas T. Skillman, an early Lexington printer, who was publishing books there by 1812. Young Skillman followed the family business and became a bookseller in Lexington. Once thought to have been painted by Oliver Frazer, this work has now been attributed to B. F. Reinhart, based on the flushed and ruddy cheeks of the sitter, a trademark characteristic of that oft times flamboyant artist.
Born near Waynesburg, PA, Benjamin Franklin Reinhart (1829-1885) studied at the National Academy of Design in 1847, and between 1850-1853 in Düsseldorf, Paris, and Rome. He worked as an itinerant painter in Ohio in the late 1840s and in the Mississippi Valley from 1853 until 1859, but eventually set up a studio in New Orleans, (1859-1862). He is thought to have been in central Kentucky during the summer months ca 1858-1863, at which time he painted members of the Hunt-Morgan families. He stayed there for some time, supporting Colonel Frank Bartlett’s Confederate regiment financially. He left New Orleans after the capitulation to Union forces in May 1862, fleeing to England. Upon his return to America in 1868, he set up a studio in New York, though he still visited South periodically, particularly New Orleans (between 1868 and 1871), where he painted a life portrait of Jefferson Davis, and Louisville (1868-1869), where he painted John Hunt Morgan from a photograph. An associate of the National Academy of Design, he died in Philadelphia.
Pennington, Estill Curtis. Lessons in Likeness: Portrait Painters in Kentucky and the Ohio River Valley, 1800-1920, Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2011.
This catalog entry was written by Estill Curtis Pennington, of Paris, Kentucky. Pennington is the author of Lessons in Likeness: the portrait painter in Kentucky and the Ohio River Valley, 1800-1920, and is currently compiling a catalog raisonné of the works of Matthew Harris Jouett.
Provenance: By family descent to a private dealer;
By sale to Mr. and Mrs. Frank G. Trimble, Jr., Lexington, KY;
To Lucy Trimble Graddy, Versailles, KY.