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!