TALES FROM THE FIELD | Part Four

TALES FROM THE FIELD | Part Four
Part 4: Hunt for the Missing Artwork
By David Boysel
(To read the first part of the story, click here. For the second part, click here. Third part, click here.)

I hinted about something sweet in part Three. Not quite. It’s more like nearly lost but recovered.

The 1934 Paramount inventory lists the Mezzanine Men’s Lounge as having one print, “Dolcie”, by Emery Blum. It seems most likely that the title is misspelled, and it should read “Dolce”. ”Dolcie” is, however, listed on “Baby Names UK” as being a modern variant of “Dulce”, of Latin origin, meaning “sweet one”.

I must assume that where Paramount artwork is concerned, the intent was “Dolce”, which we often associate with “sweet”, but which also means “pleasant, soft or idle”. “Pleasant” and “idle” as the probable intent are borne out by the 1932 Moulin photograph, which just catches the print in place, over the sofa. A look at the photo under magnification shows fairly clearly the narrow gilt wood frame with shallow carved corners, a matte with a drawn border, and in the shadowy depths, trees, like a forest or grove. It is almost certainly a colored lithograph, of the general type very popular in the 1920′s and 30′s. We can even see how large it was and exactly where it was placed on the paneling.

Emery Blum does not refer to the artist, but rather to the art print publisher and distributor Emery Blum Incorporated of New York. You might recall they also published two of the other original Paramount prints.

WHAT WE HAVE
In 2010, as I wandered the Alameda Flea Market, with the Paramount art inventory running through my mind, I spotted a period lithograph, which looked terribly familiar. Sadly, I was not carrying a copy of the Moulin photo, so I was not positive. I must have returned to that booth five times that day, convinced I was seeing a copy of the lithograph that hung in the Men’s Lounge, but I needed to be sure. I left without the print. As I drove away I knew that was a mistake.

So I come home to look up the Moulin photo, and there it is, very much the print I had seen earlier that day.

A month passed – We returned to Alameda, and I found the vendor, determined to buy the print – it was not there.

I inquired about it, she had left it in Santa Cruz in her garage. This time, I got her card, and even thought of driving to Santa Cruz. Instead, I called her a few days before the following Alameda Flea to remind her to bring it along.

Another month passed – As promised, the vendor brought the print to Alameda. At last, it was mine, two months after originally spotting it. This would never have mattered, had this print not so closely matched our lost original.

It even bears a label from the great San Francisco luxury goods store Gump’s, where it sold when new. It is French, printed in Paris in 1926, at “L’ Estampe Moderne”. The right age, framing, print type and subject, size, and even a local retailer. Without more historical information that we have, it does not get any better.

So the print hangs now exactly where the original was, over the sofa in the Men’s Lounge, and gazing into the grove of trees, placid water, and the soft, Autumnal colors, one can easily imagine “pleasant, soft, and idle”.

I have tried everything to discover our print’s artist name to no avail. The penciled signature is at the bottom right. You get a prize for solving this one.

All’s well that ends well. So that was kind of sweet.

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