Are you familiar with the artist, Maurice Utrillo? I wasn’t but read with great interest about him. He was French, with an artist father but there are debates as to which painter might be his father. From the New York Times article quoting the collector, Ruth Bakwin about Utrillo’s paternity:
“After Maurice was born to Suzanne Valadon, she went to Renoir, for whom she had modeled nine months previously. Renoir looked at the baby and said, ‘He can’t be mine, the color is terrible!’ Next she went to Degas, for whom she had also modeled. He said, ‘He can’t be mine, the form is terrible!’ At a cafe, Valadon saw an artist she knew named Miguel Utrillo, to whom she spilled her woes. The man told her to call the baby Utrillo: ‘I would be glad to put my name to the work of either Renoir or Degas!'”
But I digress.
I recently moved into a new home. What that means is that I over the past couple weeks and months, I’ve seen
that I own. I can’t help it. I read every letter, looked at every photo.
It’s just who I am.
When Andrew and I combined households 18+ years ago, we both brought a lot of art and decor. If I was forced to guess, I’d say we each liked about 2.7% of what the other brought in.
We hung up what we both liked. We bought a couple things together. But mostly, we have kept a lot of it in the basement.
Forced to see it all again, we decided to re-evaluate. Turns out, we had (from Andrew’s pile, I admit) a lovely, small painting by William Tolliver which has grown on me and which, incidentally, has increased in value nicely since Andrew bought it in the early 1980’s. We’d never had it hanging in our home before. Now we do.
What makes me smile is that that larger frame was in the garage rafters when we bought the house. It was filthy and gross, but sure cleaned up pretty!
So back to Utrillo.
So there’s this painting. It’s the one at the top of this post. It’s signed: “W. Sheck After Maurice, Utrillo V. 1931″ and on the back, hidden a bit by the materials that hold the frame together, it says ” To Arthur and Betsy . Happy New Year 9-20-52, Bill & Gert Sheck.”
So here’s why I love this.
- Arthur and Betsy were my grandparents. I never met Arthur, but I was crazy about Betsy. She died in 1985. I miss her.
- So really? People copied paintings and overtly gave credit in the signature that they copied it? Does that seem as odd to you as it does to me?
- The Shecks gave my grandparents a Rosh Hashanah gift of a painting? How lovely!
- This is 58 years old. Wow.
- I imagine The Shecks are no longer with us. But a I wonder if someone who knows me might know who they were? This had to be Baltimore.
So I hung the Sheck painting of the Utrillo painting in my office. I really like it. I know my grandmother liked it too, because seriously, she would not have kept it if she didn’t. You’d have had to know her. I am speaking the truth.