An early example of Rolf Armstrong’s portraiture; this charming pastel was used as a sheet music cover for a popular song by Coburn and Rose titled Tell Me Why in 1919. This was once owned by Kenneth Anger the author of Hollywood Babylon and noted collector of Hollywood memorabilia, folklore and assorted tales of infamy.
It is incorrectly identified by him on verso as being Alla Nazimova the Russian born flamboyant silent film star, rumored lover of Rudolph Valentino’s wife Natasha Rambova. I found the July 27, 1919 New York Tribune full page color art supplement some years after originally acquiring this piece which identifies this lovely flapper as merely “Joan” — Greenwich Village’s popular interpretive dancer (Joan Reader).
The Tribune’s text heralds the young Rolf Armstrong as one of the most talented of the emerging American artists and mentions that he was gaining recognition while developing the most “modern” techniques in color and character drawings.
The brief summation continues by outlining Armstrong’s future plans to establish an art studio in Paris. The Tribune’s art supplement is included with the pastel as well as a framed original copy of the sheet music. This piece is beautifully framed in a vintage turn-of-the-century gold gilt gesso wooden frame.