Grapefruit Moon Gallery is ecstatic to offer the original pair of carved Hondurous Mahogany decorative column panels that were built for the tavern in Hollywood California’s legendary Masquers Club on 6735 Yucca Street. These Afro-American nymphs were carved by the noted WPA muralist and woodcarver Stuart Holmes. We purchased these with the two large original Henry Clive Masquers Club mural paintings we offered and sold earlier this year.
The tavern was the heart of the Masquers club, and the Masquers club was for many the heart of Hollywood. In 1975, upon the 50th anniversary of the Masquers club, they set the scene of these erotically charged decorative wood carvings and Clive’s lustful large mural paintings.
“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 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.” Clearly on display here is the intoxicating excitement of a private club during the lawless era of prohibition.
Stuart Holmes created these masterworks 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.”
A comparable auction record of sale is impossible to locate as these are unique and important and monumental in proportion, and rare surviving historic architectural salvage.
Born in Schweidnitz, Germany on March 10, 1884. Holmes (née Joseph von Liebchen) immigrated to the U. S. at age four and was acting on the stage at five. He studied at the AIC and in 1911 settled in Los Angeles where he acted in such motion pictures as “The Scarlet Letter,” “The Prisoner of Zenda” and “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” He owned vast land in California and an estate at 2152 Vista Del Mar in Hollywood. He died there on Dec. 29, 1971. Exh: American Painters & Sculptors (LA), 1931; Artists Fiesta (LA), 1931. In: U.S. Post Offices in Bell, Claremont, and Oceanside, CA.