The work of the research team has elicited a number of
questions that have yet to be answered, or have been only partially answered. These are listed below, with links to
pages on this website where context can be better understood.
The ownership history of the 1785 Delapierre portrait has been
traced by the research team back to Ugo Bardini in Florence, Italy.
-- Was the portrait inherited by Ugo from his father, Stefano? If so, when and where
did Stefano obtain it?
-- Who were the prior owners of the portrait?
- Ugo Bardini mentioned the Delapierre portrait in six letters
that are now possessed by Archivio Bardini. The first of these letters was
dated 18 October 1927.
-- In the 18 October 1927 letter—to "Sg. Brémont" [probably Henri
Brémont, formerly Comte Enrico Bosdari]—Ugo thanked Brémont for
information Brémont had sent in an earlier letter to Ugo's sister [Emma Bardini
Tozzi] regarding the Delapierre portrait. Does a copy of that earlier letter
still exist? If so, what does it say? Was Brémont a previous owner of the
-- Also in the 18 October 1927 letter to "Sg. Brémont," Ugo mentioned Mr.
"Volorn" [sp?]—an American art writer living in Paris who was scheduled
to examine the Delapierre portrait. Did "Volorn" conduct his examination and document
his findings? If so, does that record still exist? Is "Volorn" the correct
spelling of this name?
-- In Ugo's 9 November 1927 letter to "Sg. Brémont" and 2 October 1928 letter
to "Mr. Agnew," and again in the Thos. Agnew & Sons inventory ledger, there
is mention of a document written by "Paulme" [almost certainly Paul-Émile
Marius Paulme] that gives an opinion on the Delapierre portrait. Does a copy of
that document still exist? If so, what does it say?
- Ugo Bardini, in a letter to "Sg. Brémont" dated
27 October 1927, stated that he was sending a photograph of the "de La Pierre"
painting to Brémont. Researchers at Archivio Bardini in Florence, Italy,
recently discovered a high-quality copy of this photograph, dating from the
late-19th or early-20th century.
-- Precisely when and where was the old photograph of the Delapierre portrait
photograph discovered by researchers at Archivio Bardini shows the
Delapierre portrait in what might have been its original 18th-century frame.
-- Do other frames with this design exist?
-- Where, when, and by whom was this frame made?
-- Conjectures have been offered on this website
regarding individuals who might logically have had an association with the
1785 Delapierre portrait: John and Abigail Adams, William Stephens and Abigail (Adams) Smith, Lucy Ludwell Paradise, and Philip Ignatius Barziza. Were paintings with this style frame owned by
any of these people?
- A letter to Thomas Jefferson dated 28 May 1785 appears to request a portrait of him. The request specified that the painting
have the exact height and almost the same width as the Delapierre portrait.
-- Was the 1785 Delapierre portrait originally commissioned in response to this
- There is an entry by Thomas Jefferson dated 9 September 1786 in one of his ledgers: "pd Mlle Guyard [intentionally obliterated words] for picture. 240 f"
-- What words are hidden by the intentional overwriting?
-- Did "Guyard" [almost certainly the artist Adélaïde Labille-Guiard] know the
artist Delapierre or work with him?
-- Was a painting by Labille-Guiard (claimed by some to depict "Madame Roland")
related in any way to the 1785 Delapierre portrait?
- The Delapierre portrait probably
was painted sometime between 17 May 1785 and 31 December 1785.
-- Where was Delapierre in mid-to-late 1785?
-- Did he attend the "Salon de 1785" art
exhibition held in Paris that year?
- A compilation from 1918 of some of Delapierre's works lists a portrait of Madame Roland in the
collection of Mme Jay, Lyon. Because of Roland's fame and connections—and
Roland's and Delapierre's residencies in Lyon—confirmation that this
portrait exists (or existed) and was in fact painted by Delapierre might help
with efforts to track Delapierre's links to prominent people. And knowing its
date might help bracket when he returned to France.
-- Does this portrait of Roland still exist?
-- Was this portrait signed and dated?
- Baron Grimm became close to Jefferson in Paris and also had
dealings with the royal court in Russia during or near the time that Delapierre
was a court painter there, suggesting that Grimm may have been a link between
Jefferson and the artist.
-- Did Baron Grimm know the artist Delapierre?
-- Did he introduce Jefferson to Delapierre?
- Jefferson owned a John Adams portrait painted by Mather Brown in 1788 having composition that
mirrors in some respects the composition of the 1785 Delapierre portrait.
-- Was the 1785 Delapierre portrait used to guide the composition of Mather
Brown's 1788 portrait of John Adams?
-- Was the Delapierre portrait ever owned by John Adams or any of his
- In addition to considering the physical appearance of the
subject in the Delapierre portrait, the research team would like to know more
about the green jacket the subject is wearing and the silver-colored inkpot he
is using—an inkpot judged by an expert to be "pewter and probably 18th century French or Low Countries."
-- Is the style of this jacket distinctive enough to be associated with a
-- Did Thomas Jefferson own a green jacket of this type?
-- To date, no inkpot having the appearance of the one shown in the
painting has been found by the research team. Do items of this design from this
-- Was an inkpot of this design owned by Thomas Jefferson—perhaps a
gift from his wife (Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson, who died at Monticello on
6 September 1782) or from a friend such as John Adams?
- A portrait of Thomas Jefferson once owned by his close friend, Lucy Ludwell Paradise, was listed in a 23 January 1812 inventory of her household
possessions in Williamsburg, Virginia. The portrait's whereabouts after the
inventory was made are unknown.
-- What else is known about this painting and/or its owners?
-- Was the Delapierre portrait ever owned by Lucy's Italian grandson, Philip
Ignatius Barziza, who came to Virginia from Italy in early 1815 to take
possession of Lucy's personal property?
- O. Roy Chalk, who owned the
1785 Delapierre portrait from 16 October 1954 until his death on 1 December
1995, also owned the plaster bust of Thomas Jefferson sculpted by Jean-Antoine
Houdon in 1789 that now resides at Monticello. He purchased the Houdon bust in
Paris in 1962.
-- Did Chalk have evidence that the subject in the Delapierre portrait might be
- A small, barely legible inscription just below the artist's signature on the Delapierre portrait has puzzled
researchers for many years.
-- What does it say?
-- What is its significance?
- The book shown in the 1785 Delapierre portrait is Comte de Mirabeau's 1785 political pamphlet De la Caisse d'Escompte. Eight original editions of this
pamphlet were obtained by the research team. One of these has a pencil inscription on the rear
flyleaf: "La 12 juillet 1785" [12 July 1785].
-- Was that inscription written by Thomas Jefferson's valet "Marc"?
-- What was Marc's last name?
-- Do other samples of Marc's handwriting exist?
-- Are there other books once possessed by either Thomas Jefferson or Benjamin
Franklin that have this type of pencil inscription?
-- How many copies of Mirabeau's De la
Caisse d'Escompte were printed?
- The artist Benjamin Nicolas
Delapierre had a brother whose now-unlocated portrait was exhibited in August
1786 in Lyon, France. The research team would like to learn more about this
brother because—depending on his age, appearance and interests
in 1785—he might be a potential subject
for the 1785 Delapierre portrait.
-- What was the brother's full name?
-- What was the brother's date of birth and/or death?
-- Did the brother have any association with, or interest in, the Discount Bank
-- Does the exhibited portrait of the brother still exist?
-- Are the dimensions of the exhibited portrait known?
-- Was the exhibited portrait oil-on-canvas?