Smithsonian Collections Blog

Highlighting the hidden treasures from over 2 million collections

Collections Search Center

Friday, June 28, 2013

You Oughta Be In Pictures

The painting pictured below is the work of artist Robert Brackman and was commissioned by movie producer David O. Selznick to be used in the 1948 film Portrait of Jennie. The movie featured actress Jennifer Jones, who was active for much of the mid-20th century. Jones starred beside many Hollywood favorites including Gregory Peck, Lawrence Olivier and Humphrey Bogart.

Left: Robert Brackman with sitter Jennifer Jones, 1948
Right: Robert Brackman, Jennifer Jones as Jennie, 1948

Brackman wasn't the first artist to be commissioned for a feature film. Ivan Albright created the eponymous painting for the 1945 adaptation of the Picture of Dorian Gray, and in 1940 Raphael Soyer worked on a painting that was to be used in promotional advertising for director John Ford’s The Long Voyage Home.

Raphael Soyer, The Long Voyage Home, ca. 1940
Interested in other paintings that were created for use in movies, I came across this list on Wikipedia compiling artists who made paintings and drawings for cinematic use.

Quite a few recognizable names on the list, though I wonder which of the commissioned works could be considered art, a mere movie prop, or both? Clearly a success beyond the movie’s opening night, Ivan Albright’s “Picture of Dorian Gray” is currently on view at the Art Institute of Chicago. And while I’ve read claims that David Selznick hung “Portrait of Jennie” in the home he shared with Jennifer Jones (they were married in 1949), not much information is available to take that as fact. Though perhaps the painting wasn’t entirely forgotten about. Jennifer Jones and Selznick were divorced in 1965, and in 1971 she married industrialist and avid art collector Norton Simon. It seems he tried for years to acquire the Brackman portrait for the Norton Simon Foundation without ever having any luck.

Extra credit for any of you movie fans: Turner Classic Movies is showing Portrait of Jennie later in July.

No comments:

Post a Comment