Today, June 3, 2015, is the 113th anniversary of the birth of George Quaintance, and I'm happy to have exciting news to mark the date. I have written before about the painting, Kanaka Fisherman, which is the only canvas Quaintance is known to have painted more than once. You can click here to read about the three fishermen.
For most Quaintance followers, the definitive fisherman is the one that was used in the studio's 8x10 black and white photos. Yet the only known canvas for many years (unseen by most of the world) was not that fisherman. In the painting, the model was positioned differently than in the photo and the net was very different. Not only that, but the canvas was horizontal. The studio photos had a vertical orientation. And if there was still any doubt as to the differences, the painting was dated 1940 and signed vertically, whereas the photo was dated 1949 and signed horizontally.
A second Kanaka Fisherman painting emerged at the end of 2011. Like the other, it was oriented horizontally and bore a date of 1940 and a vertical signature. The waves were very different, though, and the net nearly transparent. And this "new" painting showed the horizon in the distance.
A painting titled Kanaka Fisherman was listed among the 38 canvases still in storage at Rancho Siesta and offered for sale when the studio was dissolved in 1964. The asking price was $350 and dimensions were given as 24x30 inches. This canvas was the first-known 1940 version, which a collector in Florida purchased directly from Victor Garcia.
So what was the status of the canvas on which the photo was based? I had relegated it to the list of Quaintance canvases whose whereabouts are unknown (except, perhaps, by their owners). Then, on May 9, 2015, I received email from a man in Tucson, Arizona. He wrote:
"Hi. I've recently inherited what I believe is the lost Kanaka Fisherman. My friend that recently passed was 95 years old! He and his partner of 50 years purchased the painting from a private collector in Hollywood, CA in 1970. I've always loved it and he gave it to me. It is dated 1949 and signed at the bottom. It's been hanging in Arizona for quite sometime and it's a bit dirty and the paint is cracking. … I've been doing some research, and it may be that the cracking is the varnish and not the actual paint."
My surprise at the painting surfacing was matched by my surprise at seeing that the canvas is square! It measures 30x30 inches. It is clearly the painting on which the studio photo is based, except that the studio photo is cropped to suggest that the canvas is vertical. The 1949 canvas differs from its predecessors in one other small detail. Each of the previous two fishermen wore a hibiscus flower behind his right ear; the 1949 fisherman has no flower.
If any reader of this blog has information about any of the other lost works by Quaintance, please email me. You can read more about them here.