Grapefruit Moon Gallery is honored to be able to re-offer for sale “The Infidel,” a masterful, orientalist inspired mural created by Henry Clive based off of the mystical, hedonistic poetry of Omar Khayyam. Along with its companion work “Ye Chiselers” (also available through Grapefruit Moon Gallery), Clive created this masterwork for the tavern of The Masquers Club, a historic and fascinating Hollywood institution. Known for the sense of community it created among the actors and directors who emigrated out to California to create the movie industry, the Masquers put on wild shows in their clubhouse, and produced short films starring everyone from Laura LaPlante to Glenn Tyron. From its charter in 1927, the club has stood as a stronghold of love, loyalty and laughter for cinematic royalty. Charter members of the historic Hollywood institution included Lionel Barrymore, John Ford, and Fatty Arbuckle, names synonymous with the Golden age of film. Later notable Masquers include Tony Curtis, Jimmy Durante, Gene Autrey, and Gary Cooper. The buoyant spirit of the Masquers (and their New York cousins the Lambs) is embodied by their motto “We laugh to win.”
The tavern was the heart of the Masquers club, and the Masquers club was for many the heart of Hollywood. These artworks offer a look back at the beating heart of the jazz age. A reclining redheaded flapper is seen consorting with a Persian genie of sorts, illustrating the verse from the Rubaiyat which is inscribed on the mural. These lines, and the artwork itself, reflect the complicated relationship between wine, women, and song in prohibition era Hollywood, as well as the devil may care sophistication of the Masquers club. In full the verse reads reads “As Much as wine has played the infidel and robbed me of my robe of honor – well I often wonder what the vintners buy one half as precious as the stuff the sell!”
In 1975, upon the 50th anniversary of the Masquers club, they set the scene of the murals, and reflected upon Clive’s relationship with the club.
“One envisions the two magnificent oil murals by Henry Clive at either end of the bar in the downstairs tavern. On that back bar also, are those two beautifully carved cherrywood Afro-nymphs [also available on Grapefruit Moon Gallery] and the Masquers logo suspended above them, by Stuart Holmes… As the dedicated bibbler and art critic descents into the bar he surely must feel a gentle surge of titilation as he gazes on yet another pink-nippled nymph by Clive which, incidentally was adopted by the Masquerettes some years ago as their eye-catching logo.” The joyfully lustful description above shows not only the long standing close relationship the bon-vivant Henry Clive had with the fraternal group but also, the intoxicating excitement of the private club during the lawless era of prohibition.