By design, the Photoarchive relies on information submitted by the public (historically, in letters or verbally, and now online) to update and enrich its holdings. Researchers often have been first to alert Library staff to changes of ownership, new attributions, or the loss or destruction of works. In many cases, these informants owned or had access to the original works of art represented in Photoarchive files and to unique family-held data and stories about those works.
In one of these letters, dated June 10, 1954, Mrs. A. Waldo Jones recounts the slapstick fate and slapdash restoration of a portrait of Mrs. William Irvine (Ann Callender), thought to be by Bass Otis.
With her letter, Jones enclosed a small photograph of a second version of the portrait, also purportedly made by Bass Otis. A comparison of both canvases illustrates the cartoonish result of overzealous restoration.
David Edwin (1776–1841)
Sketch of Antlers, undated
Pencil on paper, 3 3/4 x 6 1/4 in.
Attributed to Bass Otis (1784–1861)
Mrs. William Irvine (Ann Callender), before and after restoration (left and right, respectively)
Oil on canvas