Peter’s Auction Pick of the Day: February 28th

February 28, 2011

Antiques Roadshow Moment

Sometimes we get the opportunity as an auctioneer to share our insight and knowledge with a client. This is one benefit of being in a business where it is beneficial to give information freely.

The Roberto Matta drawing, one of the 50 lots from the Collection of James Byrnes to be offered in the March 6th auction, is not only a beautiful and bright example, but also has an interesting story on its recent rediscovery.  This work was not listed on the Byrnes inventory, and a previous appraiser had noted it on an appraisal as work by unknown artist named “Gloria (no auction records)”. However, I recognized Matta’ s signature and knew the relationship between James Byrnes and Gloria de Herrera, and realized immediately that this was a work by Matta and the inscription read in Spanish, “a Gloria”, meaning “to Gloria”.

Here is more information on Gloria de Herrera and her relationship to the Byrnes’:

Gloria de Herrera (1929 – 1985) was first introduced to the Byrnes’ when she stepped into Barbara Byrnes’ American Contemporary Gallery on Hollywood Boulevard.  Gloria, a young girl of seventeen at the time, would visit Barbara’s gallery to study the art and read art books.  Barbara knew that James needed an assistant for his upcoming exhibit of contemporary California paintings at the 1949 California Centennial, so she suggested that Gloria take the job.  While working for James, Gloria became friends with Man Ray and his wife Juliet, who asked Gloria to come with them to Paris in 1951. While in Paris, Gloria learned to restore art, where she put her skills to good use. Gloria’s first conservation projects included restoring a Mondrian and a damaged Chagall. She became known for her skills and was referred to Henri Matisse, who was seeking trained assistance with pasting together his cut-outs, which Gloria ultimately completed after his death. While living in Los Angeles and France, Gloria became friends with a variety of noted artists, such as Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, and William Copley.   James and Barbara Byrnes saw Gloria’s desire to surround herself with art and artists, and gave her the opportunity to seek out her passion.

Lot Information

Lot 19
Roberto Sebastian Matta
Signed and dated lower right and inscribed “a Gloria”
Sheet 14.5” x 9.75”; Image 11” x 6.125”
Provenance:  From the collection of James Byrnes, Los Angeles,
Estimate $3,000-4,000

Interview with Ron Byrnes, January 7, 2011
Tashjian, Dickran. Man Ray: Paris ~ LA. Santa Monica: Smart Art Press, 1996. Print.

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