AUSTIN (KXAN) - A painting has been unearthed that could have historical significance to the state of Texas. Oddly enough, its examination comes during the week Texas marks the 175th year of declaration of independence from Mexico.
Alex McDuffie, an Austin Texana and militaria collector, has found a period painting that he and others believe is of Juan Seguin, for whom the town in Central Texas is named.
The only known painting of Seguin is housed in the Capitol collection , owned by the state of Texas.
McDuffie's find was examined at 1 p.m. Friday in the Texas Legislative Reference Library on the second floor of the Capitol, when the two paintings will be put side by side and looked at by a leading forensic expert.
Lois Gibson, longtime sketch artist for the Houston Police Department and a painter herself, will study the paintings in person to confirm the similarities in the two paintings. She has previously examined photos of the two paintings. She believes it is the same individual. However, Gibson found there is a difference in the eye color shown on each painting. She said it may have been altered during restoration.
This eye color is the only thing holding back the experts from saying at this time that the painting is indeed of Seguin.
The painting came from Mexico via a Copenhagen gallery in 2009, where McDuffie spotted it. The gallery titled it "Excellent portrait of young officer, 19th century oil." McDuffie recognized the uniform on the man as regular Mexican army from the Texas Revolution period. He hoped to identify the officer.
His research led him to believe the facial features shown in the painting in the Texas State Capitol closely resembled the man in his found painting.
Leading Texana experts have agreed it is a 19th century painting, according to McDuffie. Texana experts have also confirmed that the painting shows the correct uniform for the period and Seguin's unit; a peculiarity of Seguin's punishment is that he was given responsibility but no official rank during his forced service.
The single facial discrepancy between the state's portrait by Thomas Jefferson Wright and this new painting is that the state's portrait shows an unusually long earlobe. However, the new painting has been visibly retouched in a single place-the earlobe has been painted over.
The new painting appears to be the same as the state portrait in every area: hair color, texture and hairline; forehead; eyebrow shape, color and bony structure; eye shape and size; nose shape and size; mouth shape and size; and chin shape and size. The size ratio of the features to each other and to the face as a whole is the same in both, according to McDuffie.
There is no signature on McDuffie's found portrait, but it is believed to have been done by Mexican painter Juan Nepomuceno Herrera, who was active in that time period and is noted for the dark mood shown in the portraits he created.
Who was Juan Seguin?
Seguin is called a hero by some, a traitor by others.
According to McDuffie, Seguin's loyalty to Texas was challenged by his enemies, before, during and after his exile. A member of a prominent Texas family, Seguin grew up in Mexico.
As a teen, he was critical of the Mexican leader, Antonio López de Santa Anna, and joined the Texas Revolution. He became a captain under the authority of Stephen F. Austin in October 1835, and was charged with providing food and supplies to the Texian troops.
In January 1836, he was made captain in the regular Texas Army and on Feb. 23, he took part in the battle of the Alamo with William B. Travis. In 1837, Seguin directed the burial of the ashes of those slain in the famous battle. He became a Texas senator in 1839, but resigned in 1840 to join a campaign against the Mexican government.
Sequin became the mayor of San Antonio in 1841, and in 1842 the city was twice overrun by Santa Anna's forces. He resigned his role as mayor in April 1842 because of threats made on his life. He was also falsely charged that he was aiding the Mexican army, according to author Bill Groneman in his book, Alamo Defenders, A Genealogy: The People and Their Words.
He fled to Mexico, was forced to join the Mexican army, and served under Santa Anna in the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848.
In late 1848, Sequin was granted permission to return to Texas. He later became a Justice of the Peace in Bexar County, where he also helped found the Democratic Party there. In 1869, he became a judge for Wilson County.
Sequin died in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, where his son, Santiago, was mayor, on Aug. 27, 1890. His remains were reinterred in the town of Seguin, Texas, on July 4, 1976.
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