Friday, December 16, 2016

"Look, Ned! It's Lionel!" Bizarre Barrymorish Appearances in Art

For a man who revered a few arts (theater, music, applied art), it is perhaps fitting that Lionel Barrymore appears in a variety of rendering by artists. Here are a few I've found so far, and the stories about them:

The painting above, done by Baroque artist Diego Velazquez (Spain) is of Pope Innocent X. The story goes, according to Gene Fowler in Good Night, Sweet Prince, that John Barrymore was visiting Europe in 1914 on a bit of a whim, and had been looking for this painting. When he found it at the Doria gallery in Rome, he was standing in front of it when Edward (Ned) Sheldon heard him call out to him.  John said, "Look, Ned! It's Lionel!" (Fowler 151)

Above is a very early caricature of Lionel Barrymore, 1914, in Motion Picture Story Magazine. I honestly have no idea if he's a painter, or farmer... But it's most definitely a good caricature!

Not exactly "art", but this is one of my favorite images of Mr. B. A clever combo of film and sketch, this probably came out about 1939 or so--the Kildares started in 1938.

Two cartoon versions of Lionel Barrymore--top is Bugs Bunny imitating him in the 1940s, and below is a scene from Mickey's Big Gala, in which LB as Rasputin (along with his siblings in their characters) appears.

A LOVELY portrait/film poster, but I have no idea by whom. Great art and line work.

A series of stills from a Donald Duck cartoon which has a LOT of film stars in it. This is from 1939's The Autograph Hound. Mr. B is in it (with his voice) for all of about 2 seconds, saying "Donald".

From the Valentine Theater mural in Toledo, OH. I would say the artist got the bow tie, pencil behind "faun-like" ear, and floppy hair right. Not so sure about the rest...

A portrait by C. Clark Davis, 1919. Again, that right ear of his is a good indicator of it being Lionel Barrymore! Trust me. I've looked at thousands of images of him now. She was a friend of Ethel Barrymore's, who also has a portrait done by Davis.

 A self-portrait Mr. B did with Becky Barrymore, c. 1950 or so, for "I, Becky Barrymore", by Benson Wheeler, a little book of "cantos" about Mr. B's favorite cat, told from her POV.

Above is the only visual of the Barrymores' years in Paris prior to 1909... Ernest Blumenschein studied in Paris at the same time Mr. B studied art there and knew Lionel Barrymore. This portrait shows Lionel and Doris Barrymore, and likely their daughter Ethel Barrymore II, one of their 3 daughters to die before the age of two.  Blumenschein wrote to a fellow artist about it and about how beautiful Doris Rankin Barrymore was. I have yet to find out who owns this painting now. This is the only image I've seen of it, from the New York Times. Blumenschein became a semi-well known artist of the American Southwest.

William Auerbach Levy's cartoon of Lionel, I believe c. 1932.

The EXCELLENT etching Lionel Barrymore did of a sketch he made of himself in full Rasputin costume in 1932. The etching is much nicer than the extant variations on it I've seen. Really nice, clean line work!

There are also many good film poster paintings and images, but these above stand out as interesting or excellent on their own. I can't say I'm very enamored of the paintings I've seen Mr. B did, but I have seen several of his etchings and he did have quite a skill there.  It's easy to get inexpensive gold prints of the etchings, and they were widely popular in the 50s, it seems. I have a set of four, and it set me back about 7 dollars with shipping. Original etchings would be MUCH more.

And there you are! Never let it be said I am not thorough. I will have to work on a page on his own artwork, but that's a huge undertaking, given the filmography is ongoing. Perhaps 2017?

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