Saturday, August 6, 2011

Missing Paintings

I had a minute of mild panic today when I thought I had lost a sketch for a figurative painting I've long been eager to get to. I had drawn it a couple of years ago and  today I was finally ready to start the painting. I'd kept the sketch taped to the back of a board which, in retrospect, was maybe not a great idea. (Note to self: take photos of sketches and download onto computer, file under "Sketches for Future Paintings".)

Anyway, I found the sketch, which was only a simple working sketch, but I started thinking about all the paintings and drawings that have gone missing over the years. There seems to be a lot of representational work in particular that has disappeared. This may have to do with the lowly market status of much realist art in the latter part of the 20th century, or it may have to do with the state of many private art collections after the mayhem of the two world wars.

"Miss Nichols", by Philip de Laszlo, c. 1912. Image taken from the de Laszlo archive trust website. Painting is currently missing.

Take, for example, the status of many of the paintings by Philip Lexius de Laszlo, a famous 19th - 20th c. portrait painter widely regarded as Sargent's successor as the world's leading society painter. There are pages and pages of missing paintings and drawings found on the above de Lazlo website . I wonder if this sad state of affairs has to do with the fact that most of these paintings are portraits and the heirs of the paintings either didn't care about the work (or the person) or maybe the heirs simply have vanished as well. It didn't help that much of de Laszlo's clientele was that of now-vanished European aristrocracy.

There are a couple of books available about de Laszlo. The one I have is "A Brush With Grandeur", available on Amazon.

Photo of de Laszlo's self-portrait is taken from