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Offered here is a mixed medium painting consisting of watercolor and gouache (with pencil), that has been in my family for almost 30 years. It is a bust portrait of a person in a hat displaying an extraordinary facial expression that is not signed but has been the subject of curiosity and debate since the mid 1990's.

The work is on a sheet of fine wove paper measuring (approximately), 11-7/8 x 8-3/4 inches that was laid down (dry-mounted), to a piece of thin watercolor board. It dates to about the mid 1920's.

CONDITION: (Please review all images at bottom of page.)

Stain in upper left side, paper is heavily toned, horizontal crease through middle of sheet, dry mounted. Not being sold with frame.


I acquired this art in the late 1980's at an antique show (maybe at or near Mount Dora, Florida), from a dealer. I can only remember that his name was "John" and he was from Australia. I saw him several times afterward at the West Palm Fairground Antique shows about a year or so later. I cannot recall if I ever asked how or where he acquired it. In fact, I really didn't think much about this work until I saw a book on a Fort Lauderdale library cart regarding the artist "Chaim Soutine". I pulled several reference books on Soutine's art that day and remember one in particular. It was very limited in context and had but only a small number of pencil drawings. And, if memory serves me well, the drawings were all portraits that appeared to be variations of the very same subject depicted in this work. I have never been able to locate that book since!

In about 1993 I began contacting art dealers in New York, and subsequently I was referred to Mr. Maurice Tuchman because he was compiling data for authorship of the Chaim Soutine Catalog Raisonne'. After I made contact with Mr. Tuchman he directed me to Ms. Esti Dunow, his assistant on the project. After several letters to her I received a call from Ms. Dunow regarding an issue of insuring this work due to questions and concerns I raised in my last letter. Ms. Dunow stated that the Klaus Perls Gallery (where she was working), was closed at the time and the gallery was "not carrying insurance." She was also unable to give me the name of anyone who would receive the package when it arrived. However, to her credit, she did state; "The artwork would be taken care of!"

Ms. Dunow was unaware that in 1976 I trusted a Sotheby's associate with about 300 old master etchings, engravings, and watercolor paintings. The group included a George Stubbs engraving "Lion Attacking A Horse" (being only the second one known to exist with the date), and after my calls to Mr. Rosen's office at Sotheby's went unanswered I flew to New York, and found that my collection was not there. I retained Atty. John Harrington of Fort Lauderdale, FL to retrieve my artwork and it took nearly 2 years and a cost of thousands to obtain what I could retrieve.

For all the reasons mentioned above I never delivered this artwork to New York, or anywhere else for that matter. However, this painting (and others), disappeared from my home for nearly 3 years. Luckily, I saw it in an antique shop in Naples, Florida in late 2001 and had the file with my correspondence to Ms. Dunow, the home burglary report, and several photographs in my car at the time. This painting was returned to me without incident.

Recently, while doing research (on a totally unrelated item), I spotted a photograph on the Internet that I'm quite sure is related to the subject of this painting. In that photograph there appears to be the very person depicted in this artwork.

I'd always thought the subject of this work was that of a man-an artist and friend of Soutine by the name of Michel Kikoine. Due to copyright protection I will not take liberties but instead refer to a photo image that I found on the Internet of a woman by the name of Hermine David, an artist herself, who was married to Jules Pascin. The photo I speak of shows her sitting with another woman at a cafe table. The face in that photo is strikingly similar to the person drawn in this artwork.

The case for this painting to be by one of the School of Paris Painters, Chaim Soutine being among them, is strong, but without documentation I cannot state with certainty who the author may be. I do believe it to be related to the Soutine drawings I saw in a published book, and it may also be related to several drawings owned by an art dealer who in 2009 filed a lawsuit against Maurice Tuchman and Esti Dunow for tortious interference of the sale of those drawings. I have no information about the outcome of that lawsuit at this time.

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    Returns not accepted for antique items unless the condition of the item was clearly misrepresented, seller clearly failed to properly secure item in shipping which caused damages and to which buyer must provide clear and convincing evidence, buyer received wrong item than that which was purchased.

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