The goal of my project is to digitally map the historic travel of John Singleton Copley’s Daniel Rogers from his studio in Boston, where it was painted in 1767, to its present day location at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Although the project will cover the painting’s journey to London as an example of the artist’s work and its arrival and history at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the focus will be on the MFA’s deaccession of the work and Crystal Bridges’ purchase of it. Here are a few questions that will be answered throughout this exhibit:
Out of their massive collection of Copleys, including over sixteen three-quarter length merchant portraits that were in the collection in 1980, why did the MFA deaccession this particular one? Why did the MFA deaccession anything to begin with? Where was the painting for the approximately 20 years between its deaccession from the MFA and its purchase by Alice Walton for Crystal Bridges? And, why is a portrait of a Boston man by a Boston painter in Bentonville, Arkansas? This exhibit will examine the importance of provenance in regards to both artistic and monetary values of art.