April 4, 2011

A Tale of Two Paintings

When my friend David asked me to check out the offerings at the big auction at Alex Cooper Auctioneers last week, I checked out the catalogue and then decided to join him for the preview.

One of the reasons that I was keen to go was that there were two oil paintings by Baltimore artist, Marie Tiffany. What made that so interesting is that she’s the person who introduced my English father to my American mother, almost 60 years ago. FishingMarie is my mother’s second or third cousin, and was a fairly well-known painter here in town. I have some vague memories of her, and I remember seeing some of her paintings with her distinctive signature.

The other thing that was appealing about the two little oils was their subject matter. One is of Baltimore’s Tyson Street, a narrow street of tiny houses, each painted in a bright colour. Gentle Spring Day on Tyson Street For many years, my parents, along with a group of their friends, used to drive down to Tyson Street and go Christmas Caroling. When we got older, we went along, too. I have many happy memories of walking up and down this little street, singing carols right before Christmas on freezing cold and sometimes snowy nights.Marie Tiffany 003 The second painting is of the Edgar Allan Poe house, just a few blocks from where I am living now. It’s a tiny house, and he didn’t live there for long, but it was his home when he died. Marie Tiffany 001I recognized the house immediately when I saw the listing in the auction catalogue, and the house looks exactly the same today. PoeHouse-Baltimore I love Poe, and two years ago, I shot a little video of his funeral procession. When he died, there was no service, so 160 years later, the City of Baltimore decided to give him an appropriate funeral, complete with horse-drawn hearse.

The strangest thing about one of the paintings was that it had Marie’s obituary taped to the back of the canvas. Marie Tiffany 002Now these two little paintings will become a part of my history.

31 comments:

  1. the house looks really exactly the same today. wonderful post!

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  2. Hi, Meg. terrific post. The paintings are absolutely wonderful! Thanks again -- David in Raleigh

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  3. I am so thrilled that history has returned to one who will appreciate it - lovely story - Jan

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  4. Meg to have so much history involved in these paintings. Bravo!!

    xoxo
    Karena
    Art by Karena

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  5. So you were able to bid on the paintings and win them for yourself? If so, that is wonderful news! I find them to be absolutely enchanting in their sweet simplicity! Truly treasures!

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  6. Two wonderful works -- and you are so fortunate to have located them and brought them home!

    All the best,
    rebecca r. dyer

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  7. Love the paintings but love the story even more. Such a serendipitous way to find a treasure that is so personal! Good scouting Meg.

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  8. I love family history, love the photo of your parents & the story of their introduction. It makes the paintings priceless...

    and that is what authentic & good decorating is about!

    Enjoyed the post.

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  9. So happy for you. It's wonderful to be surrounded by things that have meaning to you.

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  10. Those paintings are wonderful! You must be thrilled to have been lucky enough to acquire them.

    The obit reminds me of stack of obits my Mom clipped from the news years ago which never included the date of death. Good thing she had the foresight to note the date on the obit.

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  11. What a great story and how lucky that you have added a chapter to the history of your new paintings!

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  12. Ah, the world is a wonderful place, is it not?

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  13. What a wonderful story! I'm so happy you were able to bring them home! - Wendy

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  14. That's fantastic!

    One question: Is the photo at the top of the post your mom and dad, or is it the artist?

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  15. Thanks for all of the wonderful comments! The top image is of my parents sailing together on the Chesapeake Bay, probably the 1950s.

    I noticed that the painting of Tyson Street is the same view as the photograph. If you look at the house sequence, you'll see it!

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  16. OH what a fabulous coincidence..., for those who believe in coincidence! Those paintings were meant for you....I hope they brighten your walls soon. If not, that photo of your parents surely is a masterpiece!

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  17. Did you win the paintings? I just realized the auction has past......wow.

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  18. Congratulations! The paintings have found their perfect owner!

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  19. wonderful story - you were meant to have the paintings and they will hang in your own 12ft wide house! The stars aligned.

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  20. what a great story. I love both of these paintings. they will look so great hanging together.

    your parents look darling, so chic!

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  21. The amazing and truly wonderful thing about auctions is how you can find paintings - objects -what have you that are related to your life but you didn't know they existed until you saw them yourself. Even with all of the seach capabilities of auction databases, eBay, etc., so many of these discoveries depend on being in the right place at the right time.
    A co-worker of mine saw a portrait of a man who looked familiar; she did some digging and it turned out to be a portrait of her grandfather, painted by a Virginia artist. Had it gone to another auction house, she never would have seen it and yes, she did buy it.
    (Have you ever seen Eddie Rosenfeld's paintings - I think he was called the mayor of Tyson Street.)

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  22. Life comes full circle sometimes! These paintings are wonderful! I love the plain way of painting and the lovely colors.
    And it's a part of your history too! Amazing!
    Enjoy these two treasures!
    xoxo Victoria

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  23. What a wonderful story. I am happy the paintings are with someone who can appreciate their history.

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  24. Wonderful story! I live right in the neighborhood and love that street. Do you happen to know which home Marie lived in?

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  25. That Poe House painting was listed for sale at an auction in Maine for June 30, 2012.

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    1. Anon. if you can find a link, please send it along. Since I personally own this painting, it's probably a similar one that she painted.

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  26. Aloha... I have a painting By Marie Tiffany of the photo that you've shown on Tyson Street. What house did Poe live in ?. Mahalo...Thanks.

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  27. Hello,I just wanted take the time to say thanks for your kind and warm overview on Marie Tiffany. She sounded like a very special person indeed! I collect art,and I usually buy what I like before I buy to invest. I was captured by the simplicity and warmth of the portrait. It is titled "Village in Brittony". I usually attach what information that I can find on the artist for referencing,and I'm quite taken by the amount of people with the same feelings that I get when I see this portrait. Well in closing,I just wanted to say thanks again for your kindness and painting a portrait in my mind of Mrs Tiffany! Take care!

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  28. I just purchased a painting similar to your Poe House painting and have emailed you the picture. Please let me know if you receive. cp

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  29. HI I HAVE A PAINTING TO BY MARIE TIFFANY I LOVE IT

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