Portrait of Herbert Waide ("Bert") Hemphill, Jr. (1929-1998)
Origin: America, New York, New York
Unframed: 32 x 23 1/2in. (81.3 x 59.7cm) and Framed: 34 5/8 x 26 1/8in.
Gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr.
Acc. No. 1996.100.1
The standing, full-length middle-aged male subject of the painting towers over the other figures and the furniture. He wears eyeglasses and stands in the foreground in blue jeans and a blue, short-sleeved tee shirt that has an American flag on the front. He holds a painting in each hand, the one in his proper left hand representing Abraham Lincoln, and the one in his proper right hand representing Rita Hayworth. He is shown in an interior (several stories up, a city skyline visible through the rear window). A couple sits at a table in the upper right hand corner.
The twentieth-century flat, blue-painted frame may be contemporaneous with the painting but, if so, it is not known who added it or when.
Label:Malcah Zeldis's image of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr., possesses qualities that distinguish many early nineteenth-century folk portraits: vibrant color, distorted perspective, and a busy, highly patterned setting. Like its predecessors, the Hemphill portrait not only records the image of a particular person; it is also eye-catching and fulfills an important decorative function.
Hemphill was a noted collector of eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and especially twentieth-century folk art. He admired Zeldis, a self-taught New York City painter, and she returned the favor, giving him this very personal interpretation in which the subject proudly displays two more examples of the artist's work. One of the paintings Hemphill holds is an image of Abraham Lincoln, a subject that fascinates Zeldis and one that she has painted numerous times.
Provenance:The painting was a gift from the artist to the subject, Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr.