Thursday, 22 February 2018

EbookCoverWelcome to the George Quaintance blog. Your hosts, John Waybright and Ken Furtado, are the authors of QUAINTANCE: The Short Life of an American Art Pioneer, the only complete, authoritative biography of Quaintance ever written. Our book fills a cultural, historical and academic void for this seminal 20th century artist. It is packed with photos and available as an ebook at Smashwords, for the low price of $12.99. We are excited to have exclusive access to hundreds of never-published photographs from Quaintance’s personal scrapbooks and family archives. Sadly, John passed away in May 2013, before seeing the book published. We hope you will use this site as a platform to exchange ideas, information and images related to this under-valued artist, as well as to learn more about him. Please send your email to


barclay1The names of many of Quaintance's models are well known, but there is probably one model you've never heard of, even though he posed for a sculpture and at least six paintings. His name is Stephen Barclay.

Barclay indirectly revealed his presence in a letter dated August 25, 1979, when he replied to a newspaper advertisement. The advertiser was looking to acquire original paintings by Quaintance. In his letter, Barclay stated that he owned two portraits of "the same young man, blonde and handsome." He did not say at that time that he was the young man.

A mutual correspondence ensued, as a result of which Barclay disclosed that he was the young man. He sold the two portraits to the advertiser. What's especially interesting is that fact that Barclay later revealed that he posed for "six or seven" paintings, of which at least two were nudes. An excerpt from that letter appears below.

barclaybustBarclay was living in Los Angeles at the time. Based on his appearance in one of the portraits, which is dated 1940, he was probably in his twenties. Neither his letters nor anything in Quaintance's scrapbooks suggests that they were lovers, and Barclay was definitely not Quaintance's "type," but it invites speculation.

Sadly, the only paintings known to survive are the two he sold. Quaintance himself, in his scrapbooks, kept a black-and-white snapshot of the portrait of Barclay in a burgundy jacket, as well as a snapshot of a bust he sculpted of Barclay. The full-length portrait now belongs to the Tom of Finland Foundation; the other portrait belongs to a private collector. The whereabouts of the sculpted bust are unknown.

barclaystandingThe two paintings were probably painted several years apart. In the topmost painting, which is dated 1940, Quaintance used the old-style vertical signature with square block letters. That signature appears in the lower left corner of the canvas and is not shown in this photo. The full-length portrait shows an older face, a different hairstyle and the more familiar Quaintance signature with the exaggerated descenders on the letters "Q" and "t." This signature appears in the lower right corner but there is no date.

Here's the excerpt from one of Barclay's letters:
"The full length portrait measures 42 by 65 inches and the half portrait measures 24 by 28. I assume you never knew George Quaintance, who was a brilliant artist and a kind and gentle person. He painted six or seven studies of me and these are the only two I own. One nude was stolen in New York and the other George kept. I thought I should add this note: Aside from the Quaintance signatures, I believe they should be properly admired also as true Art-Deco period subjects."

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