Before a hushed audience at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), our show host Gerald Everett Jones discloses secrets behind The Baptism by 19th century painter Julius Leblanc Stewart.
The painting, which LACMA now owns, shows a christening in a plush private parlor, attended by 21 people. The portraits are so realistic, the individuals should be recognizable. For more than a century, the rumor in the art world has been this is a Vanderbilt family event. However, the heirs and the curators of their estates all deny any association with the painting.
Gerald's original research discloses why a bitter feud between Cornelius Vanderbilt II and banker J. P. Morgan is at the heart of the matter. He fictionalized this sensational story in his novel Bonfire of the Vanderbilts.
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