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PAUL SWAN (1883-1972)

Identified as a Juilliard School piano Student

1964

Oil on Morilla canvas board: 20 x 16 inches

Signed: Paul Swan (lower left) and below Paul Swan--'64--

Frame: Solid Oak with linen covered wood mat/filet: 23 x 18 x 1.5 inches

Condition: Some surface flaws that are all illustrated in above photograph.

  

 

 

PAUL SWAN  

Once hailed as "the most beautiful man in the world," Paul Swan began his multi-faceted career by modeling for art classes at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1900. He studied with John H. Vanderpoel, Lorado Taft, Baron Arild Rosenkrantz,. He moved to New York City to become, as he wrote in his memoir, "a serious artist." and worked for a year drawing heads and hats for the Butterick pattern company.

In 1910, Swan saw Russian actress Alla Nazimova perform in Ibsen's Little Eyolf in Albany, New York He painted her portrait and send it to her as a gift. She was so pleased that she commissioned Swan to paint four additional portraits. With the money he was paid, he sailed for Greece, where he studied with sculptor Thomas Thomopoulos and first studied dance. A critic for Athens magazine "Patrie" wrote in 1911: "No foreigner since Lord Byron has ever received such public acclaim."

His aesthetic dance performances were noticed and he toured three continents with Ted Shawn, Ruth St. Denis, and Isadora Duncan.  Critics called him  "America's most eminent exponent of classic dancing."  The song and dance team of Adele and Fred Astair had a line in one of Adele's songs, as she taunted her brother, "Don't ever think you're a Paul Swan!" Swan was spoofed by George and Ira Gershwin in their 1927 musical Funny Face: "As a Paul Swan, you are not so hot."

A frequent traveler, Swan showed his work on several continents in cities including Los Angeles, London, Paris, Rome, Athens, Buenos Aires, and Santiago. In the United States he had one-man shows at Anderson, Macbeth, Knoedler and Montross Galleries in New York; and the Albert Roullier Galleries in Chicago. 

Swan painted and sculpted some of the twentieth century's most important figures in his studios in Stony Creek, Paris and New York City at Carnegie Hall including President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President Woodrow Wilson, Nelson Rockefellerís children, Prime Minister James Ramsay MacDonald, Pope Paul VI, composers Maurice Ravel, Percy Grainger, Claude DeBussy, singer Raquel Meller, aviator Charles Lindbergh, actor John Barrymore, actress Nance OíNeil (Lizzie Bordenís reputed lover) writer Clare Booth Luce, British socialite Lady Ian Hamilton, (who was also painted by John Singer Sargent, one of Swan's favorite artists), the Duchess of Windsor, suffragette Muriel Lester, Prince Bira of Siam, Adirondack poet and Gibson Girl Jeanne Robert Foster, Willa Cather, Woodrow Wilson and Benito Mussolini

In 1965 when Swan was 83,.Andy Warhol took an interest in Swan and cast him in "Camp, Paul Swan", and "Paul Swan I-IV".

 

MUSEUMS and PUBLIC COLLECTIONS

 

Albany Institute of History and Art, Albany, NY

The Art Museum of Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

John and Mable Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL

State Capitol Building, Lincoln, NE

Carnegie Hall, New York, NY

University of Virginia, VA

The Players Club, New York, NY

Museum of Nebraska Art, Kearney, NE

 

 

 

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