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Louis Betts’s Portrait of Royal Cortissoz at The Century

Personalities in Art. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York – London, MCMXXV [1925]. [viii; half-title; 444 pages] First edition, 21 cm; frontispiece and plates in the text, printed on laid paper, with watermark. Bound in blue cloth with darker blue lettering on the front cover and spine. No dust wrapper.

A comprehensive range of essays on art and artists by an eminent art historian. This copy is warmly inscribed to the American portrait painter, Louis Betts (1873 – 1961),  who painted the portrait of Royal Cortissoz (1869 – 1948), then the president of the Century Association in New York (1933 – 1944), where the completed portrait was presented in 1940: “To Louis Betts in remembrance of some happy sessions and with the warm regards of his friend Royal Cortissoz. April 1939.” Below this inscription on the front flyleaf, is a clipped commentary from a reader of the February 15, [1939] issue of the Art Digest. This copy is sold with a facsimile of the portrait of Cortissoz seated with a cigar in hand, a partial clipping from the New York Sun, describing the exhibition of the portrait at 460 Park Avenue in a gallery building now demolished.

Inscription of Royal Cortissoz to Louis Betts, who painted his portrait for The Century in New York, dated April1939, along with a quote of praise from Charles A. Morgenthaler from the ART DIGEST.
Royal Cortissoz by Louis Betts

Also, sold with four letters relating to this painting addressed to Louis Betts, the portrait painter of American high society: 1) A typed letter, signed from Royal Cortissoz, long-time art critic for the New York Herald Tribune, dated June 19, 1939, giving both his addresses on 230 West 41st Street and his home address at 167 East 82nd Street. This letter accompanied a signed photograph of the Cortissoz portrait. Cortissoz describes the exhibition at The Century of members’ works, in which Betts’s portrait of Cortissoz was given a place of honor. 2) An autograph letter signed by Howard [Everett] Giles (1876 – 1955) to Louis Betts, signed here as “Howard G.” on Giles’s letterhead at South Woodstock Vermont, which he describes: “Vermont is a painter’s paradiseand I have high hopes of doing something worthy of the subject — So journey, and perfection is just around the next turn to the Right.” A fellow Centurion, Giles praises Betts: “It’s a vivid presentation and, to me, for that reason, a rare performance. One I venture to prophesy that will rank high in your distinguished record of achievement.” 3) An autograph letter signed from Louis F. Mahler, February 9, 1940, from St. Louis, asking Betts for a photograph of him and Mrs. Betts, then adds: “Of  course if you have a painting of yourself  made by yourself and wish to hang it in our gallery [the Mahler Ballroom gallery?] we would be delighted to receive it and take good care of same and eventually hang it in the St. Louis Art Gallery as your gift to posterity.” He begins the letter: “Many thanks for the Art Digest of December 1939 — Cortissoz looks “Royal” as depicted by you and we hope some day, to see both the model and the painting and painter in person some day soon we hope. Seems to us that we met him last time we were in your studio.” 4) An autograph note written on The Century Association stationery, dated only “Friday,” from someone who signs here as Sidney E. [?]”: “Dear Louis I’ve seen the Cortissoz portrait three or four times now. I am absolutely convinced that it is one of the greatest pieces of painting ever achieved. I still don’t believe it. There ain’t no such animal. Sincerely, Sidney E. [?]”.  850.00

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