Saturday, November 12, 2011
RANDOM 341 OBJECT
Antique PENNSYLVANIA PRR RAILROAD LANTERN and TIN OIL CAN, Both Authentic & NICE-$81
Several months ago I bought the contents of an estate over in Indiana. Most of it was boxed, so I didn’t know exactly what I was getting when it came to the “smalls.” To my surprise, the gentleman had collected up several railroad things – including this lantern and old oil can.
Let’s start with dusty can. It is 10” tall and 6” in diameter. It has some dings and dents, but it also has a good side to put forward in your RR display. If someone reaches to pull it off your shelf and examine it carefully, just tell them, “That’s a good way to lose an arm!”
RANDOM 341 OBJECT
Big LEO MIELZINER 1915 Self Portrait OIL PAINTING, Cincinnati, New York - ESTATE-$560
I’ve lived with this portrait for a long time, and now it is time to pass it along to someone who will appreciate it for not only its artistic merit and historical significance but also for the inspiration and challenge it presents to anyone who knows its background and family history.
Leo Mielziner was 47-years-old when he created his self portrait and gifted it to his mother, the widow of the famous Talmudic scholar, Dr. Rabbi Moses Mielziner who had died in 1903 while President of Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The portrait is 36 ½” by 46 ½” including the original frame. The painting on stretched canvas is 32 ½” by 42 ½”. It has had a couple restorations in the past, and I had it cleaned when it first came into my hands along with portraits of other family members. To really bring it to life, it should be relined. After all, that’s a lot of canvas and it is nearly 100 years old. I didn’t have it relined because I knew I would sell it someday, and I wanted the new owner to see the back in its original state.
The family of Rabbi Mielziner brings to my mind intellectual banter, creativity and drive. What wonderful conversations must have taken place in their parlor. Leo was an artist who painted portraits of famous people in Paris, New York and Cincinnati. Among them the Wright Brothers, President Woodrow Wilson, Thomas Edison, Mark Twain, Alexander Graham Bell and several others, to include three other Presidents and Harlan Fiske Stone, our 12th Supreme Court Justice. (See image below)
That is the Stone portrait being presented by Mielziner.
Because of the notoriety of many of the people who sat for a portrait by Leo Mielziner, many of his paintings are now in museums dedicated to the life of the sitter, which explains why one will find an abundance of information on the portraits done by Leo but not a long list of auction records. They were never for sale.
But let me digress back to “the family” for a moment. Leo’s children were also driven, and two especially became famous on their own merits. One of his sons, Jo, born in Paris in 1901, was an American theatrical scenic, and lighting designer. He is "the most successful set designer of the Golden era of Broadway", and worked on both stage plays and musicals. Legendary, is what he was.
Another of his sons, Leo Jr., changed his name to Kenneth MacKenna; McKenna being his mother’s maiden name, who, by the way was a writer. Anyway Kenneth MacKenna became a star on Broadway, then in film, them to directing. He won five Tony Awards, but one thing I read about him that struck me funny came from the words of his dear friend and fellow actor, Katherine Hepburn. She was being interviewed, and the subject of “losing her virginity” came up. Her answer involved Leo Jr., then Ken MacKenna. She said something like: “Well, I thought, someone has to do the dirty deed, and it may as well be Kenneth.”
From the view of the back and others to follow, you no doubt expect it to be quite heavy, and it is. The total weight is over 21 lbs.
In addition to all the private museums concentrating on the life of a particular individual, portraits by Leo Mielziner are also in the Smithsonian Institution and New York Historical Society. I also know he is listed most anywhere well known artists are listed. But frankly, I’ve never given much thought to its value in dollars. I’ve always considered it important because of the history of the family.
Regardless the intended subject of a photograph, when anyone gets out a camera, Huckleberry the Wonder Pup smiles and strikes a pose.