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TALES FROM THE FIELD | Part Seven

TALES FROM THE FIELD | Part Seven
Part 7: Hunt for the Missing Artwork
By David Boysel
(To view the other parts of the story, click here.)

If I were to name this chapter, it would be called “Elusive”.

No matter how well documented a building might be, there are still those places which never were caught in a photographer’s lens. Such is the case with the Lower Lounge East wall. It was missed during all of the movie palace years, and was even missed during the restoration of 1973. I guess every photographer liked the opposite wall better!

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Courtesy of David Boysel

The first photo shows the wall as it looks today, with two of a set of four paintings by Anthony Heinsbergen (1894-1981), done in 1932 for the United Artists’ Theatre in Berkeley. The four paintings were gifted to the Paramount in 1973, along with a few pieces of furniture.

By simple process of elimination, we know from the 1934 inventory what two paintings were located on the East wall.

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Courtesy of David Boysel

One of them was by New England artist Anthony Thieme (1888-1954), titled “Greenwich Village”. The second photo shows Thieme posing for a newspaper photographer. Since the wall was never photographed while the painting was hanging there, we can suppose it looked rather like any of hundreds of similar subjects Thieme painted in his long career.

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Courtesy of David Boysel

The third photo village scene is typical of his work. Born in Holland, Thieme studied at the Acadamie of Fine Arts in Rotterdam, and then briefly at the Hague’s Royal Academy. He relocated to the US in 1910, he at first worked as a stage set designer in New York, but traveled extensively, lived in Boston for a time, and finally settled in Rockport, Massachusetts. He traveled and painted all over the world. His paintings are to be found in many museums.

The other painting originally on that wall is a bit more of a mystery.

The 1934 inventory lists it as “Quarlama Raiye”, by Wilson Henry Irvine (1869-1936) Irvine’s early study was in Chicago, but he joined the Old Lyme, Connecticut artist’s colony and remained active there for years. He also painted his way across Europe. He is considered a master of American impressionism, his paintings may be found in the National Portrait Gallery, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the Chicago Union League Club.

But, what about “Quarlama Raiye” ? The title does not translate, and just like some titles and artists’ names on the inventory, may be misspelled. No similar sounding location appears in Irvine’s biography, either. We must be satisfied with these last two Irvine landscapes, and be content with that kind of image in our minds for now.

The inventory has been flawed before, and so it is here, as well.

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