Long Jakes, The Rocky Mountain Man

As told by Robert C. Vose, Jr. (1911-1998)

Charles Deas (1818-1867)
Long Jakes, The Rocky Mountain Man
Collection of the Denver Art Museum

In January of 1986 a lady in Minneapolis took this painting to the Beard Art Galleries, founded around 1910 by Harrington Beard, and by the 1980’s owned by a descendent Richard Beard Thompson. The canvas had been slashed and it was filthy. She said it had been in her basement for many years and she wondered if it might be worth $900 for which price she would like to sell it. Mr. Thompson bought it and sent it to the Vose Galleries in Boston for their opinion. Here it should be noted that Harrington Beard and Robert C. Vose were close friends and business associates. Vose sent (and accompanied) shows at Beard’s as early as 1914. Beard helped design the new Vose building at 559 Boylston and was often a guest both at 216 Gardner Road in Brookline and at “Cajacet” in Jamestown, Rhode Island. As a result there was mutual trust between Dick Thompson and Bob Vose.

Vose Galleries purchased the piece in partnership with the Beard Art Galleries, and Carol Aten on the Vose staff did thorough and excellent research on the portrait, finding that it was famous in its day, often copied and reproduced. With this information, the gallery determined that it was worth far more than the $900 originally paid for the painting, and Mr. Thompson made appropriate adjustments with the former owner.

On April 22nd, 1986 Vose Galleries sold the Deas to a private Detroit collector, who was probably the greatest collector of 19th century paintings in the country. He paid a reasonable price for it with the understanding that the gallery would have the painting restored. It came out spectacularly and was included in a great show at the Amon Carter Museum and at the National Gallery in 1989. Today, this brilliant painting resides in the collection of the Denver Art Museum.

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