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. Marie 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. 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. 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. I recognized the house immediately when I saw the listing in the auction catalogue, and the house looks exactly the same today. 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.