• Fritz Leopold Hennig, a painter, was a German prisoner of war who was returned to Germany by way of Venice after the end of World War I. As a painter, he wanted desperately to see Venice, especially since he believed he would never again be in Venice. He asked for permission to leave the ship, the Semiramis, but found it difficult to get permission to leave, as shore leave for returning prisoners of war was against regulations. However, an Italian officer was sympathetic to him. He told Mr. Hennig to speak only English, then he and Mr. Hennig got ready to leave the ship by the gangway ladder. A guard stopped them, telling them that no civilian could leave the ship, but the Italian officer replied, “That’s all right. This is the American Consul who has just been visiting the ship.” The guard apologized and saluted Mr. Hennig and then the Italian officer. Mr. Hennig visited Venice for two days before reboarding the ship and returning to Germany.
• Adam Elsheimer, a gifted painter, died in 1611 at age 32, leaving behind an impoverished family. Mr. Elsheimer had suffered from depression, and during the times when he was not able to work, he had run up debts. One of his friends was the artist Peter Paul Rubens, who wrote to Mr. Elsheimer’s widow, offering to help sell the paintings that Mr. Elsheimer had left behind. This would help the family financially. Mr. Rubens wrote a friend that “if the paintings should not be sold immediately, we shall in the meantime find a way to advance her a good sum of money … without prejudice to the sale.” Mr. Rubens mourned both the death of a friend and the loss of the “most beautiful things” that his friend could have created but had not created because of his depression and death.
• Children’s book author and illustrator Tomie dePaola got a break early in his career when agent Blanche Gregory decided to take on a few new clients and asked him to bring in his portfolio for her to look at. Unfortunately, this break seemed to vanish when Ms. Gregory was elected to the time-consuming position of President of the Agents’ Guild and decided that she did not have time to take on any new clients. Fortunately, she did Mr. dePaola the kindness of speaking to artists’ agent Florence Alexander and asking her to look at his portfolio. Ms. Alexander did, she liked what she saw, and she became Mr. dePaola’s agent.
• While growing up in England during World War II, children’s book author and illustrator Michael Foreman remembers how kind and friendly the American soldiers were. Michael and the other boys would run behind the trucks filled with American soldiers in the back and shout, “Got any gum, chum?” Usually, they were rewarded with a shower of packs of chewing gum and packages of cookies.
• Works of art can deteriorate. Norwegian artist Odd Nerdrum heard with dismay that the colors of one of his paintings had faded, so he rehired the model and repainted the work of art, and then he gave the painting to the art collector. Art critic Daniel Grant said, “Nerdrum isn’t the only artist who tries to make amends for work that doesn’t hold up, although few will go to such lengths.”
Husbands and Wives
• Some people don’t like their caricatures. Mr. Nicola Ross-Lemeni, a bass-baritone, is one of them. While making his debut as Mephistopheles in Faust, Mr. Ross-Lemeni discovered that a caricature of him by Sam Norkin was going to appear on the cover of The Saturday Review. He saw the caricature, disliked it, and threatened to sue if the caricature was published. Fortunately, the threat of a lawsuit was dropped after Mr. Ross-Lemeni showed the caricature to his wife, who said, “Why, Nicky, you are never looking so handsome in your whole life!”
• Andrew Wyeth once sold the right of reproduction of one of his paintings to the Saturday Evening Postfor $1,000. Shortly afterward, the editor-in-chief of the Saturday Evening Posttelephoned him and said, “We all love your painting and we want to commission you to do ten covers a year for the Saturday Evening Post. Andrew’s wife, Betsy, told him, “If you accept that, I’m leaving for good. You’ll never be a painter.” He knew that she was right and turned the offer down.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
THE COOLEST PEOPLE IN ART