Preserving a Legacy: Conserving a Portrait of Marshall Field II

Preserving a Legacy: Conserving a Portrait of Marshall Field II
Portrait of Marshall Field II by Leon Bonnat

This is an interesting article about the Chicago Conservation Center’s work on a portrait of Marshall Field II by Leon Bonnat, a very successful 19th century French portrait artist (image above) at the Chicago Conservation Center where it was being cleaned and repaired. The article talks about portraits of the different generations of Marshall Fields including my portrait Marshall Field V, former chairman of the Art Institute of Chicago. To read the article “Preserving a Legacy: Conserving a Portrait of Marshall Field IIby The Conservation Center, click here.

The Story Behind Marshall Field’s Portraits, Then and Now

The portrait was painted by the then famous portraitist Leon Bonnat (1833 – 1922), a French artist who studied in Spain and combined the methods and aesthetics of both the French and Spanish traditions.  The portrait is especially interesting because it was left in a semi-finished stage clearly showing Bonnat’s painting process.  While the artist was working on the portrait the sitter died tragically and the painting was never finished.  The portrait was commissioned by Marshall Field I who was known as the mercantile king of Chicago, starting the Marshall Field Company that was the most prominent department store in the Midwest for over a century and a half.  

Recently Marshall Field V decided the portrait, even in it’s unfinished state, should be hung with all the other Marshall Fields through the generations.  He added a portrait of himself (see my portrait of him below—also included in the article).  

I am sincerely gratified that my painting is in Mr. Field’s collection because of his reputation as an extremely knowledgeable connoisseur of classic American painting.  

Portrait of Marshall Field V by Richard Halstead
Self -portrait by Leon Bonnat