Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Buried Treasure



I have two major addictions, books and dashing into antique stores. Ok I love food and wine too but that's a totally different story.

During one of my recent jaunts into a favorite antique shop in Georgetown I was stunned and flabbergasted to find what appeared to be a watercolor painting from the celebrated designer Van Day Truex. My fellow design aficionados know that he was also a talented and accomplished painter, who's work is collected by notables such as the great Albert Hadley.

I asked the shopkeeper about the painting and she described it as an old Italian print! Well you could imagine my excitement when I realized that they had no idea what it was despite the signature on the lower right corner.

With today's innovative printing and reproduction abilities it can make it difficult to recognize if it is an original or indeed a print. So I thought I would do a little investigating before I committed to buying the painting or "print".

I contacted my friend Stephen Salny who is the accomplished author of David Adler and the his most recent book on Michael Taylor. (A fabulous read by the way!). Stephen is friends with another talented writer, Adam Lewis who literally wrote the book on Van Day Truex as well as the incredible book on Albert Hadley. So Stephen did me a great favor by consulting with Mr. Lewis who confirmed my suspicions that prints or reproductions were never made from Mr. Truex's work. In fact he knew that it was painted at the American Academy in Rome most likely in the 1950's and it came from the estate of Mr. Truex's friends Laurance and Isabel Roberts. Mr. Roberts was the director of the Academy from 1946 to 1960. In my opinion the painting seems to depict a scene from the gardens near the Villa Borghese, now the Museo Borghese. I recognize the rows of umbrella pines, terracotta urns, and sculpted hedges from my own visits there.

It is the rare "buried treasures" such as this one that fuel my addiction to scouring antique shops of all kinds because you never know what you will find.

Now the big question that is looming over my head is where to hang it!

9 comments:

The Peak of Chic said...

Michael- Good for you!!! That's one of the best finds ever!! I'm so jealous- you know how VDT is one of my idols. But of course I'm thrilled for you too.

ArchitectDesign said...

great find!! What store did you find it in, may I ask??

Pigtown-Design said...

HOLY CRAP! What a find! I have the VDT book right next to me.

Meade Design Group said...

This is such a cool story - you can always place this treasure in an aisle.

Lindy P said...

I love your work, do you sell pieces? I would be interested. Please email me.
Lindy
entnous53@aol.com

Toby Worthington said...

What a marvelous find! And somehow entirely appropriate that it should fall into your own very talented hands,

columnist said...

Well done on your find. I agree, these are the exciting things about the whole process.

Rose C'est La Vie said...

Lucky you but well done spotting a Truex! How long exactly did the after-glow last??

Mélanie said...

You'll always find a place to hang it ! Wonderful find.