Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Mysterious Billy Baldwin Painting




I first spied this great oil painting of two dogs in the book "Billy Baldwin Decorates" (see above). Baldwin had displayed it in his fabulous, glossy brown living room. Then, in an Elle Decor article from a few years ago on decorator James Andrew, the painting reappeared! This time, it was hung in Andrew's pale blue Manhattan living room. Imagine my surprise when, a few days ago, I was reading a magazine and came across "the painting" in an ad for Lars Bolander's shop. Did Andrew purchase the painting from Bolander and the photo in Bolander's ad was a few years old? Or, did Andrew sell the painting to Bolander? Perhaps a more plausible answer is that the original painting had been copied? Any insights that one could share would be much appreciated!


Photo of James Andrew's apartment, courtesy of Elle Decor


Photo of Lars Bolander's shop

17 comments:

  1. louise10:05 AM

    I think the painting in Andrews' apartment looks like a copy, with the emphasis on the teal color in the painting to coordinate with his color scheme, although the other two photos show spotlights on the painting(s) which makes the paintings show differently. Very interesting.

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  2. Louise, you've got a good eye! Hadn't thought about the teal being more prominent in Andrew's painting. Rather mysterious.

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  3. Hello!
    Good mysterious! Thank you
    have a good day

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  4. David-Thanks for the comment. Good mysterious is right!

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  5. take a look at the 'bone' in the two (baldwin and andrew) -- the copy shows the bone rendered in the traditional ivory color whereas the baldwin is an iron color. other than that, the differences are subtle (though the copy looks slightly more stylized).

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  6. Jason- You've got an eagle eye too! I completely overlooked that. You're right, too, about the differences being very subtle. It would be nice to see them in person.

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  7. I think its probably near impossible to tell, because of the different colors its surrounded by, will make the painting slightly different. Why not call Lars' shop and ask, with a history like this, someone will know.

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  8. wow. so bizarre! you have a great memory!

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  9. BB8- Thanks, although sometimes that's not the best thing!

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  10. I'm certain I've seen this painting before, in the home of an interior designer I know. There must be multiple copies. I'm sure of it.

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  11. Katherine- That's what I think too. I just saw another copy recently too, but I can't remember where.

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  12. Don't forget that after being in Baldwin's New York apartment it was also in the San Juan pied a terre of his partner, Woodson Taulbee! Maybe the exposure to the sun changed it!

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  13. Morris- I did not know that, so that's an interesting piece of the puzzle. I was just reading a recent Veranda over the weekend and there was an article on the Swedish summer home of Lars Bolander, and the painting is now located there (at least according to the credits.) So, I wonder if James Andrew's is a copy, although if it is it's still fabulous.

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  14. Dennis3:36 PM

    I own what I now think is a copy of the dog painting. I have no info on it - I got it from a friend in Las Vegas about 1972. I wish I knew more about it.

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  15. My mother was a friend of Billy's and I saw this painting many times as a girl. I loved it. When Billy died, I often wondered where it had gone - but I was young and it never occurred to me that I might hunt it down and have it for my own.

    Years later - around 1980, I was taken by a friend to meet his new boyfriend. Tim Martin lived on lower Park Avenue in one of the first loft buildings to go residential. I didn't put his name together with Billy's design partner, Edward Martin, until I entered Tim's apartment and saw Billy's dog painting over Tim's sofa. Tim was Edward's son. I made Tim promise that if he ever tired of the painting he'd sell it to me. But just months later, Tim was dead of, apparently, a heart attack. It was very very early in the game to identify AIDS - but about a year and a half later, my friend John died of AIDS. About that time Tim's father died too - at, about age, 70 - and I lost track of the painting.

    I gasped when I opened up Veranda and saw it prominently displayed in Sweden!

    And I wonder if it could have copies - it would not have been beyond Billy to have displayed something that was, essentially, 'decorator art' - Billy was as unpretentious as can be when it came to his own things. He wanted a great look, not a look of great expense. The artist canvas slipcovers tell you all you need to know!

    But if anyone knows any more about this painting or any copy of this painting, I have never stopped wanting it and would so appreciate knowing, learning more or -- even better tracking it down and finding I could afford it. Imagine if there are copies - we could all have a little club!

    Diane Meier
    212 460 5655 dmeier@meierbrand.com

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  16. Diane- Thank you for shedding some light on the mystery! What a wonderful story. I would very much like to own a copy too! If I ever come across a copy, I'll let you know.

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  17. Yes, apparently there are copies out there. I have a friend in Highland Park, TX who owns a copy and it hangs beautifully in her dining room. I researched the painting a few years ago and discovered it is by an English artist named Shilling (or was it Schilling? Can't remember)and is entitled "Big Dog Little Dog." My friend, if memory serves me, bought it in Houston over 25 years ago. I also saw a copy hanging in the dining room of the Majestic Hotel in Hot Springs, AR! This beautiful old hotel was about to close due to economic problems and I asked around about acquiring it. No one ever got back with me, and I stalked it like crazy with no success. The owners of the hotel live in Dallas where I now live so I haven't given up. My belief is there are copies but only a few, and having seen it up close, its fabulousness haunts. Good luck to all hoping to join "the club." Susan Gates, Highland Park, TX
    susangates1@hotmail.com

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