Monday, June 25, 2018

Fight Night

This oil on canvas scene by George Biddle is one heavy hitter. It pictures several boxers leaving the ring. You can just make out the silhouettes of the observers to the match in the forefront of the work. This powerful painting from 1956 is another highlight from the remarkable Pantages Portfolio being offered by The Plymouth Exchange in late September, 2018.

George Biddle (1885-1973) started out his career as a lawyer, but left the USA to study art in 1911 in Paris. He spent the next few years studying art across Europe and the USA. He enlisted as a soldier in WWI. Post war, he again traveled and painted extensively, including a 1928 sketching adventure with Diego Rivera in Mexico. In the 1930's he was instrumental in establishing the Federal Art Project - part of the WPA - through his longtime friendship with Franklin Roosevelt. He was appointed the chairman of the US Department of War's Art Advisory Committee during WWII. Biddle is best known for his thoughtful murals and combat related paintings.  These were featured at the 1939 New York World's Fair as well as pictured in Life Magazine. His most famous mural, a five panel fresco, appears in the 5th floor stairway the RFK Department of Justice Building in Washington, DC and is called Society Freed Through Justice

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Dark and Stormy

Let's take a walk on the wild side with this great painting by Irene Rice Pereira. Titled "Into the Dark Night I Go," it features an abstract female form against a dark and fluid background. She fills almost the entire surface of the work with her strong, lanky, and curvaceous body. This is another highlight work from the Pantages Portfolio, and truly demonstrates the remarkable scope and range of this collection.

Irene Rice Pereira (1902 –1971) was an American born artist known for right angle geometric and modern figure painting. She began her formal art training in 1927 through night classes at the Art Students League in New York City. She continued her studies in Europe, starting in 1931. After returning to the US and a few years more at the Art Students League, she helped to start the the Design Laboratory, a cooperative school of industrial design established under the auspices of the WPA. There she taught painting, composition, and design synthesis. The Design Laboratory would later evolve into The Laboratory School of Industrial Design. Her work caught the eye of Peggy Guggenheim has been shown, or is part of the permanent collections at the ACA Galleries, The Whitney Museum of American Art, MoMA, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Gallery of Art, and many others.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Opposites Attract

Opposites sometimes attract, especially when it comes to fine art. And these two paintings by Theresa Bernstein truly exemplify that. The painting on the left features young women dancing in the park under moonlight. The painting on the right depicts a elderly woman bundled in a blanket reading. Both of these stunning works are from the Pantages Portfolio.

Theresa Bernstein was born in Poland in 1890 and came to the United States with her parents as a child. She was a student at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women and enrolled at the Art Students League in New York City. At the age of 22 she moved to Manhattan where she would live and paint for the rest of her life. She was a member National Association of Women Artists and the North Shore Art Association. Bernstein's paintings were exhibited nationally, including at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian. She created a mural for the Manheim, PA post office through a WPA grant in 1938. She passed away 17 days before her 112th birthday in 2002.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


This painting is the wheel-deal indeed. Painted in 1926 by artist Saul Berman, it features a number of period automobiles lining a city street. You can even make out the spare tire on the rear of the car on the right. This "time capsule" cityscape is another fantastic highlight from the Pantages Portfolio.

Saul Berman (1899-1975) was born in Russia but moved to New York City with his parents as a child. He painted in the social realist style, with his works often including precise detailing. He studied art in New York at the Educational Alliance and the National Academy. In 1920, he received Honorable Mention at the Chicago Art Institute. Berman received commissions from the WPA (Works Progress Administration) in the 1930's for paintings as well as murals. Berman's works were featured in numerous exhibitions and events, including The Whitney Museum Annuals, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Annuals, American Art Today, as well as the 1939 New York World's Fair.

A Night On The Town

Bar none, you have to love this oil on board painting by European artist Pere Ysern Y Alie. Another highlight from the Pantages Portfolio, this example features three finely dressed ladies sitting on high chairs at a bar, and another woman, probably the barmaid, standing behind the bar. Beautiful pink flowers in a blue vase add another focal point to this colorful work.

Pere Ysern Y Alie (c.1875-1946) lived and worked in Spain and France throughout his professional career. His style included both impressionist and realist paintings, with his preferred themes including dancers, nightlife, and landscapes, especially those of the island of Mallorca.

Back In Black

This oil on canvas painting from the Pantages Portfolio of a woman holding a pet bird is certainly a bit cagey! She's dressed in black, the room is furnished with black table, chair, table settings, and birdcage. Only the tablecloth, fruit basket, and the tiny yellow moon in the background add a spot of color to this pensive piece. What do you think is on her mind?

This work is by artist Bernard Rosenquit (1922-1991) who was born in Romania but grew up in New York City. He is best known for his oil paintings and woodcuts. He studied art in the United States and France, attending the Fontainebleau School of Fine Arts, the Institute of Art and Archeology at the Sorbonne, the Brooklyn Museum School of Fine Art, the Art Students League, and Atelier 17. He had several solo exhibits over his career, which ended abruptly when he was killed in a car accident at age 68. Rosenquit's work is in the permanent collections of important institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Fine Art, the New York Public Library, the Smithsonian Institution, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and many others.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Blue Belle

This lovely painting of a "blue belle" is another highlight from the Pantages Portfolio. Painted in 1930's, the girl's hairstyle and dress style align perfectly to the period. Jim Pantages has a great eye for fine portraits, and this oil on canvas example by Eben Comins is certain to turn many heads.

Eben Comins (1875-1949) was born in Massachusetts and spent much of his personal and professional life around the Boston area. A Harvard graduate, he would go on to paint as well as teach for most of his career. Comins taught for over three decades at St. Paul School of Fine Arts, Wellesley College, the Swain School of Design in New Bedford, as well as through his own studio in Boston. He won a gold medal in 1915 at the Panama Exposition for his contribution to art instruction. Comins is best known for his landscapes and fresco paintings; his "Good Harbor Beach, Gloucester, Massachusetts" sold at Christie's in New York in 2009 for $32,500.

A Slice Of The Big Apple

Just like New York City itself, there are so many things to see in this fabulous painting, entitled "Lower Manhattan." The energy and vitality of the city are evident at every perspective presented in this work. This gouache on paper was painted in 1941 by artist Ben Benn.

Ben Benn (1884 - 1983) was born Benjamin Rosenberg in what is now southwest Ukraine. He moved at an early age with his family to the United States to escape religious persecution. He attended the National Academy of Design and would go on to participate in the Forum Exhibition of 1916 and the first annual exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in 1917. His first solo show was held at J.B. Newmann’s New Art Circle gallery in 1925. His painting style varied over time and included cubism and abstract expressionism. Benn's works are featured in many fine institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney, Hirshhorn Museum, and the Kreuller Collection in the Hague.

Monday, June 11, 2018

City Slickers

Hartford, CT is nicknamed the "Insurance Capital of the World" because of the large number of companies in that industry calling the city their headquarters. Founded in 1635, it is also one of our country's oldest cities. You can really feel the heartbeat of the city in this early-20th century painting entitled Main Street, Hartford, CT.  This work is by artist Ernest Meyer and is another featured highlight from the Pantages Portfolio.

Ernest Meyer (1863-1952) was born in Germany but moved to America as a young man. He would go on to call New York City home for most of his life. He studied under several well known American artists including William Merritt Chase, John Henry Twachtman, James Carroll Beckwith, Frank Vincent DuMond, and Charles Henry Turner. Meyer is best known for his landscape paintings. His professional associations included the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts and the Salmagundi Club, and he exhibited his paintings at venues including the National Academy of Design, the Brooklyn Art Association, and the Boston Art Club.

Full House

There's no place like home, where ever that may be. This thoughtful painting of an urban "full house" is another highlight from the remarkable Pantages Portfolio. This Edmund Quincy work features six people - but who knows how many more are working, playing, or sleeping within the structure as well?

Edmund Quincy (1903-1997) was somewhat of a renaissance man. He is probably best known as a portrait, townscape, and landscape artist, but he also wrote and published poetry and fiction. Quincy attended Harvard University and graduated in 1925. He also studied at the Students League and with Albert Herter, Georges Degorce, George Noyes and F. Whiting. Quincy spent much of his later life and time living and painting in Italy.

Bird's The Word

Hunting for a perfect selection from the Pantages Portfolio? Well, all signs point to this great oil on board painting of a Pointer hard at work by artist Lawrence Lebduska. You can practically hear the wings flapping and panicked cries of the birds as the dog approaches.

Lawrence H. Lebduska (1894-1966) was born in America but moved to Germany with his parents when he was a child. He started out studying stained glass making but then discovered painting. He returned to the United States just before World War I and made a name for himself painting murals. He had his first solo exhibit in 1936; it is said that this show was the reason Abby Aldrich Rockefeller began collecting folk art. Lebduska's work is included in the permanent collections of many major museums, including the MoMA in NY, the Milwaukee Art Museum in WI; the Phoenix Art Museum in AZ, and many others.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

What's The Password?

Sit and stay awhile. And that's probably the exact marching orders the sword-bearing fellow pictured here received! This dramatic watercolor, titled "Guardian of the Harem," was painted by British artist Francis Dicksee. It does not appear this "security professional" is letting anyone in - or out! This work is another featured highlight from The Pantages Portfolio, and is a great example of the breadth, depth, and diversity of this marvelous art collection.

Sir Francis Bernard Dicksee (1853-1928) is best known for his detailed and meticulous paintings featuring literary, historical, and legendary scenes, as well as his portraits of well dressed women. Dicksee's father was an artist who taught him how to paint from an early age on, and was supportive of his work. Dicksee studied at the Royal Academy in his late teens; he would be elected to the Academy in 1891. His work was featured at the first exhibition of the Society of Graphic Art in London in 1921. Dicksee ascended to the Presidency of the Royal Academy in 1924. Just a year later, in 1925, he was knighted, and then named to the Royal Victorian Order by King George V in 1927.

Eye Catching - To The Max!

Here's another fantastic example from the Pantages Portfolio that really caught our eye. For like an hour! What's going on here, and what is the artist trying to tell us with this mixed media on paper piece? This work is from Max Weber, one of America's earliest Cubist style painters.

Max Weber (1881-1961) was born in Russia but came to the United States with his parents when he was 10 years old. He attended art school in New York, taught for a few years after graduating, and then went to Europe to continue his studies. There he befriended French artist Henri Rousseau; he would go on to responsible for Rousseau's first exhibition in the United States. Weber returned to America in 1909 and started to produce Cubist style paintings, which were met with mixed reviews initially. Over time, his work gained more acceptance and he was featured at exhibits including New York's Museum of Modern Art. Later in life, many of his works featured religious Jewish themes.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Color Me Beautiful

Doesn't this fantastic painting from the Pantages Portfolio make you want to troop the colors? You can't help but feel festive and energized by this wonderfully hued work by abstract expressionist Max Schnitzler. It features a small cabin amongst an explosion of flowers and plants in full bloom, against a grey blue sky.

Max Schnitzler (1903-1999) was born in Eastern Europe and came to America in 1920 to escape the after effects of World War I. He was interested in drawing since childhood. He decided to become an artist after visiting a museum on Fifth Avenue in NYC. His parents were not supportive of his dream. He became a struggling artist, working several jobs to make ends meet. He got his big break in 1927 and scored a fellowship to attend the Art Academy in Paris. There he studied with Fernand Léger, André Lhote and Amédée Ozenfant. He would go on to have exhibits at the Zborowski Gallery in Paris, the MoMA in New York, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among others. 

Go West, Young Man!

A new day, a new discovery! Judy continues diligently cataloging the Pantages Portfolio - so much so that she hasn't come up for air lately. When we happily reconnected recently, she was delighted to share this fantastic work with us. This frontier and Indian-genre piece was painted by artist O.C. Seltzer.

Olaf Carl Seltzer (1877–1957) was born in Denmark and had a lifelong interest in natural history. His talents brought him to Montana in 1892, a move that would cement his passion for all things related to the American west. He met fellow artist Charles M. Russell in 1897, and the two became lifelong friends given their mutual interests in western wildlife, landscapes, and preservation. Seltzer is known for his close attention to detail and would spend countless hours studying and researching his subjects before painting them in order to make the work as authentic as possible.