We need your help! A reader recently purchased an unsigned painting with unusual qualities that hint it could be by a master. What do you think?
Letter to the Editor:
I am writing to you about a fascinating painting of an artist at work on a canvas in the open air, sheltered by a strange structure built of wood with tenting materials — tarpaulins — and an odd woven willow fence.
I’ve never seen anything like it. As an image of an artist at work it is very unusual, with all of the attention to the structure he has set up for protection. That it isn’t signed is also strange, but perhaps the artist who painted it intended it as a private painting, rather than one to sell or to give away.
I bought this painting in France, near Paris. While Sorolla and Tattegrain had devised special mobile structures to paint, they did not look like this one.
The question is whether it is a self portrait or a tribute of a painter to another painter …
Furthermore, the size of the canvas (55 x 74 cm) that is underway in outdoors would be quite unusual for a French painter (apart from Impressionists, but the size of their work does not match at all).
There are the initials “AB” at the back of the frame, on the central piece of woodwork.
Do you think it could be a late 19th-century American artist?
Details of the painting image:
We want to know what you think! Share your response in the comments section below to help us solve this mystery!
Update (September 9, 2021):
Fine Art Connoisseur magazine Editor-in-Chief Peter Trippi has this to share:
“Damien Forest’s (wonderful) painting almost certainly depicts Edouard Detaille (1848-1912), the prominent French military artist. The tents in the background are of a design inspired by Plains Indian tipis, adopted by the U.S. army in 1856. That design was then used by European armies. (At that time, French and American uniforms, weapons, and equipment were quite similar.)”