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Art Dealer Tales, Part 2 – The Parents — Blue Heron Fine Art Blog

Art Dealer Tales, Part 2 – The Parents

by Jim Puzinas on June 10, 2009

Less than a month had passed, when the phone rang.

The antique dealer was having a hard time convincing the consignor to part with her pair of family portraits. “I will only sell them if they are sold to the same buyer of the sisters” argued the owner. “They should all be together.”  At least that is the way the antique dealer presented the situation to me in his phone call.

“What do I need another pair of 19th century family portraits for?” I replied.

Even if they were the parents of my recently purchased portraits of the Leeds sisters (see earlier post http://tinyurl.com/qyj7ad) , where would I hang them in my house and why would I want to? I don’t even know what the parents look like!


The letter arrived with images of both portraits. Samuel Leeds was holding a snuff box. He had a rakish smile. His wife Eliza Tewsksbury Leeds, however, was rather prim and dour.


The enclosed note mentioned what I already knew. 19th century portraits of an entire family rarely survive together, often being split among generation to generation of heirs. It would certainly be in my interest value wise to own all of the paintings together. I also knew it was the right thing to do; keeping the family together was very much in the spirit of all Americana and paintings collectors, preserving things for future generations. We are all stewards of the great history of this country; our collections are visual evidence of our links to the past.

 I could have them for a very fair price. I suppose I could hang them in my upstairs foyer, not too far from their daughters. I decided to make the purchase and keep the family together.

 But who really was this family now living under my roof?

Next … a genealogical trip!


Kathleen Krucoff June 10, 2009 at 2:38 pm

What a fascinating story and evolution of the purchase of these paintings. I will be interested in your discoveries from the genealogical trip!

Lori Woodward Simons June 10, 2009 at 2:56 pm

Thanks for continuing with this story about your collection. These portraits are beautifully painted.

Jim Puzinas June 10, 2009 at 4:58 pm

Thanks for your comments. This story relates to what many collectors enjoy … the chase and the knowledge of what came before!

Jim Puzinas June 10, 2009 at 5:00 pm

Thanks Lori. It is fun to relate a true story!

Wendy C June 16, 2009 at 3:35 am

What a great story so far. Looking forward to hearing the family history.

James Elmore June 21, 2009 at 4:14 pm

In my opinion, Mrs. Eliza Tewsksbury Leeds doesn’t look prim or dour. I think she looks wry and clever, like Fiona Shaw. I, for one, am glad that the family is reunited in your care.

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