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



Quaintance notecards 9-12Back in 1981 or so, a "group of San Franciscans" founded an organization called the National Gay Art Archives. Proclaiming that George Quaintance was "the founding father of gay beefcake art," they submitted factually incorrect articles to several national gay magazines. One such article, published in issue #76 of In Touch for Men (February 1983), carried the byline of Ted Smith, a "founder and curator of the NGAA." Smith, according to one source, intended to write a biography of Quaintance but his life was cut short by AIDS.

The National Gay Art Archives advertised "seeking original works by Quaintance & other Gay artists." Some naysayers claimed that this was just a group of guys hoping to get collectors to donate gay art to their private collection, which they were misrepresenting as a nonprofit organization.


odditiesQuaintance painted many images that one would not normally associate with his name, and it might surprise many people to learn that he didn't paint male models at all until he was in his forties.

The single exception would be the mural he painted for the Stanley Baptist Church in 1933, at his mother's urging. The life-sized mural depicts the imminent baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. Huddled on the shore are half a dozen worshippers — all male — one of whom is uncharacteristically clad only in a fur loincloth. That man is a thinly disguised version of Quaintance himself. This would not be the last time he painted himself into one of his canvases.


quaintance signature stlyesOver the course of his career, Quaintance used two basically different signatures. Initially, he painted his surname in squarish letters that ran vertically down the canvas. This remained his signature of choice until about 1942, when he adopted the signature most often associated with him: his last name printed horizontally, with exaggerated descenders on the "Q" and "T." The example shown (right, second from top) is an actual scan from the canvas After the Storm.

Sometimes, especially on magazine covers, he would use only the letter "Q" by itself.

For his sculptures, he used a stylus to scratch his name into the drying hydrostone, the plaster-of-Paris-like material that he favored for casting.

His actual signature is shown for comparison.


In the years of research leading to publication of the George Quaintance biography, perhaps the most amazing discovery was one that relates closely to the town the artist called home as a child.

kiblerLiving next door to the residence of Quaintance’s parents in the small town of Stanley, Virginia was William S. Kibler. Only nine years younger than Quaintance, Kibler kept a close eye on the artist’s career over the years. In an interview shortly before his death at age 90 in 2002, Kibler claimed to remember little of his association with Quaintance. Instead, he mentioned a daily journal he had kept since his early college years that might contain some clues to the artist’s life.

There is a lot of downright wrong information about George Quaintance to be found online, and it muddies the historical record. Unfortunately, the end user has no way of knowing what data is accurate and what is not. Such is the case with the alleged portrait of Rita Hayworth.

Mrs. Milton Stevens by George Quaintance

This full-sized canvas first appeared on eBay in late 2005, described as "Rare RITA HAYWORTH Life Size OIL PAINTING by QUAINTANCE." The opening bid was a jaw-dropping $1,950,000 — nearly two million dollars!

I am fortunate to have had access to Quaintance's many scrapbooks. Over the course of his life, he clipped and pasted any magazine or newspaper article in which his name appeared, usually underlining his name in ink. He also pasted sketches, drawings, photographs of his paintings and sculptures, notes about his works and more. That included photos of the many glamour portraits he painted for diplomats, stars of stage and film, politicians and their families, and many luminaries of L.A. and Washington, D.C. society.

In 1989, German publisher Janssen-Verlag printed The Art of George Quaintance, an 80-page paperback with black and white illustrations of many Quaintance works. It included a brief biography written by publisher Volker Janssen. The book has been reprinted twice and is still in print. Until 2010, it was the only work about Quaintance ever published and it contains errors and inaccuracies. In 2010, Taschen published Quaintance, a large format art book with full-color reproductions of Quaintance's iconic male physique canvases and a brief biography. It's a spectacular book but the biographical data is sparse.

Ken Furtado, John Waybright

In 1996, Richard Hawkins, a Los Angeles artist, created a Web site partly devoted to Quaintance. The site incorporated personal research, along with archival information from the Tom of Finland Foundation. Hawkins expressed his hope to write an authoritative biography, but the subsequent loss of much of his material in a computer crash and a change of career led to him abandoning plans for a biography.

Hawkins was not the first to undertake a biography of Quaintance. In the early 1980s, a San Francisco writer named Ted Smith founded a nonprofit organization called the National Gay Art Archives, with George Quaintance foremost among the artists whose work they hoped to preserve. Smith contributed articles — also full of misinformation — to many gay periodicals of the time. He intended to write a biography, but his life was cut short by AIDS and today there is no vestige of the National Gay Art Archives.