Wednesday, 26 July 2017

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 kfurtado@georgequaintance.com.

 

bacchantsketchandfinalThough their subject matter may have been worlds apart, two techniques of Normal Rockwell and George Quaintance invite comparison. Both attended the illustrious Art Students League of New York, an establishment that has been around since 1875. Rockwell's attendance there preceded Quaintance's by nine years — 1910 versus 1919 — but they appear to have "taken home" some of the same learning.

The first technique was the execution of a detailed, full-sized sketch in charcoal on onionskin or tracing paper that would then be transferred to canvas. The artist would pin or tape the sketch to the canvas, then place transfer paper (similar to the carbon paper we used with typewriters) between the sketch and the canvas and, by re-tracing the original, transfer the design to the canvas.

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.

 

jwaybrightIt is with great sadness that I report that my friend, colleague and co-author, John Waybright, has died. His family notified me that he passed away at 12:10 P.M., May 10, 2013. He gave his body to science.

John was a retired weekly newspaper editor. He earned Virginia Press Association awards for columns, editorials and newspaper page designs. He lived in Luray, VA, not far from George Quaintance's birthplace in rural Alma, Va.

In 2002, when I purchased a collection of Quaintance material at an estate sale, I searched the Internet for more information about Quaintance and that search led me to John. An email correspondence ensued, and after determining that there was little authoritative information about Quaintance in print, we decided to collaborate on a definitive biography. We agreed that John would write about the artist’s years on the East Coast and Ken (Furtado) would depict the years Quaintance spent in Los Angeles and Phoenix. Not only was John born near Quaintance's birthplace, he was a personal friend of one of Quaintance's only living relatives, who opened the family archives to him.

odinWith his health declining, George Quaintance decided to sell the Phoenix property he called Rancho Siesta and move the studio back to LA. One is tempted to wonder whether the more ready availability of doctors and hospitals was a factor.

The painting Rodeo Victor was the last of his popular cowboy-themed canvases. Then came a pair of canvases with ancient themes, Spartan Soldiers Bathing and Baths of Ancient Rome, whereupon George's interests turned to the gods. In quick succession he painted Vulcan (aka Zeus), Bacchant, Falconer and Hercules.

Norse mythology was next. Quaintance announced in a letter to the publishers of Adonis and Body Beautiful, two pocket-sized color physique magazines for which he contributed several covers, that he had hired one of the most popular models of the day, Dick Dubois (1954 Mr. America and 1957 Mr. USA), to pose for his next painting. Dubois was the golden boy of the day, with his face and physique on countless billboards, advertisements and magazines across the continent. He even toured with Mae West as part of her stage show.

Quaintance was a man who liked to be in a relationship, and he had several illustrious partners, even if their renown was not widespread or did not outlast them. One such lover was Ron Nyman (1924-2000), younger by two decades.

Nyman was also an early business partner. They had stationery and business cards printed with both their names. Then Quaintance decided, as he later wrote to a friend, that Nyman was "a gold digger" ... and he kicked him out. Rather than waste good stationery, Quaintance carefully lined out Nyman's name on the remaining letterhead and business cards, and continued to use them.

nymanmodels

Prior to the split, Nyman also modeled for three canvases produced by Quaintance in 1952. He is the manacled muscleman in Sacrifice, the foreground figure in Reverie and the reclining nude in Idyll.

1937waterlilyQuaintance fans and followers will be interested to learn that an early canvas has been found and is being auctioned online on Jan. 8, 2013.

The untitled painting depicts a water lily on a midnight-blue background, with a ghostly pair of male and female nudes emerging in a swirl from the center of the flower. It's a motif Quaintance has used in other works.

The dimensions of the canvas are 30x39 inches; the description reads, "The painting was acquired from the artist in 1937, thence by descent to current consignor. It was in the collection of Dr. Annella Brown of Boston, a prominent surgeon and art deco collector. Signed & dated 1937."

The signature is vertical and appears at the right edge of the canvas at the bottom of the blue area. The date is directly below it. If you view this images at maximum size, both are clearly readable.

Here's the link:
http://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/14988996_george-quaintance-american-1902-1957-oil-on-canv

Follow-up: The painting sold for $2500 plus buyer fees and premiums.