Tales of an Art Dealer

Watch the original Tales of an Art Dealer

Tales of an Art Dealer was originally produced in 1991 to honor the gallery’s 150th anniversary. The video featured an engaging exploration of our history, including stories told by Robert C. Vose, Jr. (1912 - 1998), as well as his sons Terry and Bill Vose. The three Voses, with over a century of combined experience dealing in American paintings, spoke of eccentric collectors, fakes and forgeries, discovering masterpieces in unexpected places, and other colorful anecdotes of the art world. 

In 2016, to celebrate the gallery’s momentous 175th anniversary, we enhance the original tales with new narratives from the 6th generation, Carey Vose, and the gallery manager, Courtney Kopplin.

To view the the newest additions to Tales of an Art Dealer, please click here.

Watch the recent installments to the original video,
featuring the sixth generation, Carey Vose

How we created the original Tales of an Art Dealer
By Marcia Vose, Vice President

Back in 1989, we were discussing how to celebrate Vose Galleries’ 150th anniversary. I had recently seen a Ken Burns documentary/docudrama of the artist, Thomas Hart Benton, and was very impressed with the story telling and archival shots. Why couldn’t we make a similar documentary chronicling our 150-year history?

We had the perfect ingredients to make a fascinating story that would appeal to many, not just art enthusiasts. My father in law, Robert C. Vose, Jr. (1912 – 1998), was a master storyteller who regaled us with his memories of art treasures in the attic, eccentric collectors, and other colorful stories of the art world. Eureka! Why not make a video about those topics, using major paintings the gallery had sold to museums and important collectors as the framework?  And our extensive archives of ancient letters from artists, antique photos, diaries and account books could weave the galleries’ history into the stories.

I traced the company that produced the Benton video, Multivision, right in nearby Newton and spent the next two years working with them and writers, narrators, production personnel and editors. My dream was to make a documentary video that would be suitable for public television, a feat that would be nearly impossible because the gallery is a commercial enterprise. But I felt that the story stood on its own, without resorting to commercial gimmickry, and only a family such as Vose, being the oldest gallery in the country, was qualified to tell it.

I had no idea what an undertaking this would all be (often full time, including nights and weekends for me), but at the end of two years, we were ecstatic with the results.  We premiered the video, aptly titled Tales of an Art Dealer at a benefit gala evening at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and it was a thrill to see the piece shown on their movie-theatre sized screen. Over 225 people attended and we managed to raise $15,000 to benefit the museum!  Most of all, people responded to the warmth and humor of the piece and were stunned at the magnitude of the galleries’ history.

Convincing the powers that be at WGBH, Boston’s public television network, however, proved to be daunting. Even though the video was free of charge, they would not show a commercially produced piece, and I doubt that they had even looked at it. Although crushed, in time we thought about contacting the PBS station in Providence, Rhode Island, where the gallery was founded and remained for the first seventy years? Bingo! 

Providence’s Public television station WSBE loved the project and, under their sponsorship, the video was uploaded to the Eastern Education Network, a major programming service for PBS nation-wide. Over 150 station managers across the United States aired Tales of an Art Dealer, apparently an astounding number. And what about our lack of interest from the Boston PBS channels? They got in line and beginning in September, 1991, aired the program multiple times!     

To view a larger version of the video, please click the link below:
Tales of an Art Dealer from Vose Galleries on Vimeo.


Frederick Remington: Vose's Greatest Loss

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In June 1969 a shipment of 61 Remington drawings was mailed to Vose Galleries. The works were packed and shipped from a New York City framing company. The address listed - 162 Newbury, instead of 238- was incorrect...

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A Bierstadt Sold With Regret

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This spectacular painting was acquired in 1959 through one of the greatest trades Robert C. Vose Sr. ever engineered (and that is saying something)...

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Long Jakes, The Rocky Mountain Man

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In January of 1986 a lady in Minneapolis took this painting to the Beard Art Galleries. The canvas had been slashed and it was filthy, and she said it had been in her basement for many years...

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Two for the Price of One

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This pastel sold sight-unseen on the recommendation of someone at the MFA to an important Swiss collector in October, 1988, with the understanding that the piece would be removed from the frame only by the museum staff. When it came time to be removed, a remarkable discovery was made...

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A Society Portrait

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George de Forest Brush was commissioned to paint a society matron who had an elegant dress made for the occasion which Brush thought abominable. He dressed her as he thought more fitting, and when he finally allowed her to see the portrait, she stormed out of the studio...

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A Bingham for Boston

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On December 24th, 1970, a client telephoned us from Marshfield, Massachusetts saying she had an old painting signed “Bingham” which she wanted to sell...

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Country Politicians

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Mr. and Mrs. Smith of Tawanda, Pennsylvania (a young couple in their 20s) had bought a small brick house, including the furnishings, for $10,000. Mrs. Smith took down a small painting from the second floor hall and found an old label reading “George Caleb Bingham” on the back...

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Una and the Red Cross Knight

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In late 1950, I was sound asleep in an upper New York State motel when I received a call from a private dealer with an excellent eye...

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Cranberry Harvest, Nantucket Island: An American Masterpiece

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Eastman Johnson’s The Cranberry Harvest, Nantucket Island was probably the most important American landscape we ever sold...

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The Con-Artist from Peekskill

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In the fall of 1973 Terry Vose delivered and hung nearly $100,000 worth of paintings to a new clients home. After several months Robert C. Vose Jr. went to call on the client only to discover the house was absolutely and completely empty...

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The Spanish Craze of the 1920s: Ignacio Zuloaga (1870-1945)

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Few people today would recognize the name of Spanish painter Ignacio Zuloaga (1870-1945). Yet in his 1925 show at Vose Galleries, over 22,000 devotees viewed the exhibition...

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Washington Must Stay Here!

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In honor of the city’s 325th anniversary, Mayor John Hynes and 75 prominent citizens joined together to make a public appeal to raise money to purchase a mammoth oil painting by Emanuel Leutze depicting the most famous event of the Revolutionary War...

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Robert Salmon’s View of Algiers

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In 1967, Ann and Bob Vose visited the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, MA, to view an exhibition featuring Robert Salmon. As they admired an enormous rendering of The British Fleet Forming a Line Off Algiers, 1829, Ann exclaimed, “Remember that huge grubby old mural rolled up in the gallery attic? It must be a companion painting to this one!”...

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Old Man Stanley

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Sanford Low, an artist and first director of the museum in New Britain, Connecticut, and an irreverent free spirit and completely independent soul wanted to interest the area’s wealthiest mogul in collecting art...

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How to Get an 8 Foot by 6 Foot Painting in the Back of a Car

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In upstate New York during the early fifties, Robert C. Vose JR. found a wonderful early American painting, Pocahontas and John Smith by Victor Nehlig. I paid a local dealer $100 for the picture who then smiled as I tried in vain to stuff the 8 foot canvas into the back of my old wooden Ford wagon...

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In search of Ernest Albert: Terry Vose’s Odyssey to Guatemala

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A long-distance phone call from Guatemala piqued the curiosity of Robert C. Vose III. Did we have any interest in paintings by Ernest Albert? In 1981, Vose Galleries, along with the Albert Family, staged the first retrospective show of Ernest Albert since his death, and Terry was eager to find more...

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Is there a Market for Castles?

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A young friend bought a house in the Adirondacks. While cleaning out the garage, he noticed a huge painting in a very heavy frame, so heavy that he could barely turn the picture to the light. He called Vose Galleries and inquired, "Is there any market for paintings of castles?" We asked him to look for a signature, and he said there was a large tablet on it that said "Cropsey", one of the famous Hudson River School painters...

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The Blushing Blacksmith

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Great grandfather Seth M. Vose never approved of nudes. In one shipment of paintings from France, he received a full-length front view of a nude blacksmith. It was a fine painting, and couldn’t be discarded! So, he cut the figure off at the hips and sold the upper half...

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Mickey Dowd and the White Elephant

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One morning in New York City, Robert C. Vose Jr. rang the doorbell of Cecil “Mickey” Dowd, one of the more colorful members of the last generation of wholesale art dealers. As I gazed at the stacks of paintings in his small apartment, I noticed one huge work protruding some two feet above the others. When I commented that it looked like a [Thomas] Gainsborough, Mickey replied that it was, but what could one do with a “damned white elephant like that”...

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The Governor, The Copley, and Miss Ima

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In 1954 Robert C. Vose Jr. had secured permission from former Massachusetts Governor Alvan T. Fuller to see the impressionist paintings in the Fuller House in Little Boar’s Head, New Hampshire. We discovered a hidden gem, a Copley tucked away in the top floor closet! The next day I called Governor Fuller and asked if he might sell it as it wasn’t hung. I already had a potentail client in mind, Miss Ima Hogg from Houston... 

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Robert C. Vose’s Favorite Story: Travels of a Lady

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While in Los Angeles for an appraisal, Robert C. Vose stumbled upon a rare Rembrandt, dated 1632. Robert acquired the painting and just before the stock market crash of 1929 sold it to a prominent Boston collector. The painting was loaned to the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, where in 1975 two thieves stole the portrait at gunpoint...

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The Carrig - Rohane Frame Shop

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Hermann Dudley Murphy, discouraged by the poor quality of frames he was able to obtain commercially, decided to buy materials and teach himself how to carve and gild...

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175th Anniversary Tales of an Art Dealer Videos

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To celebrate Vose Galleries' momentous 175th anniversary, we're revitalizing our Tales of an Art Dealer video, an engaging exploration of our history...

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