Part 2: Hunt for the Missing Artwork
By David Boysel
(To read the first part of the story, click here.)
The 1934 Paramount inventory lists a colored etching by Max Pollack in the Mezzanine Ladies’ Lounge, published by Emery Blum. This print was fairly large, vertically oriented, and hung over the sofa where the etching by Jean Negulesco hangs now.
Max Pollack (1886-1970) was a Sausalito artist, who developed a technique of printing multiple colors off a single lithographic plate. He had a long and varied career, most of his output in the late 1920’s, when our print was made, was street scenes, some local, some abroad. Sadly, there is no way to know what our untitled Pollack lithograph looked like. The June, 1934 Moulin photographs do not show it, only one catches a glimpse of an edge of the frame and matte. Emery Blum Incorporated was a New York publisher of art prints until at least 1964.
The FIRST PHOTO (Steve Levin slide taken in the fall of 1972) shows the Mezzanine Ladies’ Lounge before the restoration, the walls are so dirty, you can see the clean spot where the print hung on the wall, before it vanished in the 1960’s, with the other Mezzanine artwork. If you look closely, you can get a sense of the scale of the framed lithograph, from the clean rectangle on the wall ! You can also make out the two anchors at the top, the way all the original Paramount art was hung.
The Levin slide shows the Lounge with its walls painted a grey-green, red carpet, and sofa upholstery all as it was redone in the early 1950’s.
The SECOND and THIRD PHOTOS – show typical Pollack lithographs of the period, and although we do not know precisely what ours looked like, these must be similar.
The FOURTH PHOTO is the wonderful Jean Neguelesco (1900-1993) etching donated to the Paramount in 1974. Neguelesco was born in Rumania, studied art in Paris, and moved to New York for a show of his artwork, and to seek his fortune. Our print, dated 1930, is from his New York days. Neguelesco moved to Hollywood in 1934, and almost immediately began working in the movie industry. He became a director, and today is best known for “How to Marry a Millionaire”(1953), “Three Coins in the Fountain”(1955), “Daddy Long Legs”(1955), “The Pleasure Seekers”(1964). He directed upwards of 30 feature films. The Negulelsco etching is really beautiful, but subtle, and difficult to photograph, it needs to be seen in person.
FIFTH PHOTO – In the 1973 restoration, the Lounge was repainted a similar grey-green to the 1950’s color, and the carpet was brown. In 2006, I removed the top two layers of paint in an area behind the sofa to reveal a section of original ragged finish. We changed the carpet to purple, the color specified on the Pflueger blueprint schedule, and I repainted the walls in their original color and finish.
…Next week — A chase!