Featured image
Stephen Hopkins Hensel Hare (1921-1979), Portrait of Mary Hulitar, 1965. Oil on canvas. The Society of the Four Arts Collection. A longtime Palm Beach resident, Mary Hulitar’s portrait is displayed on the King Library’s second floor. The artist, although better known today for his personal relationships than the merits of his paintings, created an eclectic mix of figurative and abstract forms, making for multi-dimensional compositions. Hensel’s paintings expressed Palm Beach’s unique variety of Surrealism, as much a part of the town’s anachronistic architectural landscape as the life and works of the Midcentury artists and collectors who elevated often undervalued resort art into must-have collectibles. [Photo Augustus Mayhew]

On the mainland, locals dwelled on the Cold War, the Space Race, and fallout shelters while on the faraway island of Palm Beach, millionaire beachcombers were adrift as to where they could add an art studio to their hallways of on-trend rooms and what sparkle and YSL might trigger the most flashbulbs at the latest art gallery opening.

“It was like an endless happening, unbelievably fun and fabulous.  Everyone came and there were so many people night after night, practically blocked traffic,” recalled Jimmy Barker, when I interviewed him more than a decade ago. The James Hunt Barker Gallery was a social and aesthetic nucleus for nearly three decades. Barker added, “Art is a world of fantasy. It is a necessary thing.”

In 1954, there were only three art galleries open during the season. By 1968, as the School of Palm Beach artists gained collectors, there were more than 15 galleries. Almost a decade later, there were 30 galleries, positioning the island’s art colony on the art world’s radar.

Already located on the imagination’s outer limits, Palm Beach’s art galleries were among the resort’s major attractions. That is until the early 80s when real estate offices began their pyramidal climb. Worth Avenue windows, once adorned with Bernard Buffet clown paintings and Cecil Beaton sketches, were replaced with photographs of staircases, swimming pools, and Sherle Wagner sinks.

1950: Art Type

For its January 1950 issue, Town & Country magazine chose artist Channing Hare as “the typical Palm Beach resident,” confident Hare represented the same chic standards shared with their Smart Set subscribers. After all, Hare’s eye-candy portraits were as in-demand as his presence at cocktail parties.

January 1950. “Palm Beach Type.” [Bennington Evening Banner]

However much a larger-than-life bon vivant, Hare was a member of the Everglades Club and the Bath & Tennis Club. His 1929 marriage to Josephine Whitney Brooks (Mrs. John R.) Livermore was classic Palm Beach — the couple led separate lives but remained married until her death in 1965. Mrs. Hare resided in New York and Newport. Mr. Hare in Palm Beach, Ogunquit and Majorca, living with his then longtime partner, artist H. Mountford Coolidge.

Later, as a ménage à trois, including Hare’s protégé/companion, Stephen “Stevie” Hopkins Hensel, who took Hare’s name in 1970 when “Uncle Bunny,” as he called Channing, legally adopted him.  The Hare-Coolidge-Hensel trinity shuttled between an eight-acre Via Tuscany estate in Winter Park, a Worth Avenue apartment, El Vedado villa, Ogunquit cottage, a Nantucket sea captain’s house, and Son Julia, a 95+ room palace on Majorca located near Sonny and Marylou Whitney’s casa grande.

Town & Country readers were in for a page-turner.

December 1949. Palm Beach’s artful threesome, Channing Hare, Mountford Coolidge, and Stephen Hopkins Hensel, at a Society of the Four Arts reception. [Palm Beach Post Archive]

And while Channing Hare’s life and work made headlines alongside IKEJFK, and Fidel, it often overshadowed Hensel’s work, his much younger partner. I was surprised to find Stevie, or Hopkins Hensel, as he was then called professionally, actually possessed the more multifaceted aesthetic as well as the liaison’s Social Register lineage.

1962. “Winter White House,” North Ocean Boulevard, Palm Beach. Artist Elaine de Kooning, standing right, assisted by Caroline Kennedy, photographed at work on an al fresco rendering of President John F. Kennedy, left, that today is on view at the National Portrait Gallery. “When I first saw him, he was bigger than life. It wasn’t that he was really taller than the others. But he seemed to be in a different dimension. The eyes were a total surprise to me. I have never seen the color in photographs — the violet of grapes!” — Elaine de Kooning. [Smithsonian Archives of American Art]

Stevie Hare, as contemporaneous accounts referenced him during the last years of his too-short life, and Channing Hare, mates for more than three decades, along with Mary Gerstenberg Hulitar, the subject of Hensel’s 1965 portrait at The Four Arts, as well as her husbandfashion and style designer, Philip Hulitar, made for a considerable dynamic during the Jet Set era.

Stephen Hopkins Hensel

Stephen Hopkins Hensel was the son of Clarence Hopkins Hensel, a Wall Street investment banker, and Ethel Maud Anyon Hensel, the only daughter of James T. Anyon, an English-born chartered accountant who was among America’s first Gilded Age CPAs and founder of the American Association of Accountants. On the board of numerous corporations, including vice-president of the C. H. Hensel investment banking firm on Exchange Place, Anyon also amassed a real estate fortune. Today, he is regarded as the “dean of American accountants.”

Stevie’s great great-grandfather was Stephen Hopkins, for whom he was named, signer of the Declaration of Independence, ten-time governor of Rhode Island, and Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court. According to previously published bios, Hensel was born in 1922, attended the Kent School, and reportedly left Yale after his sophomore year. Stevie took up painting in New York. Sometime during the late 1930s, he crossed paths with Channing Hare, who featured a portrait of “Stevie” in a December 1940 show at Kleeman Galleries on 57th Street.

Hensel family matters. Stevie and his brother James Clarence Hensel were the only heirs to several family trusts.

Hopkins Hensel & Channing Hare on Worth Avenue, c. early-mid ’50s, where they lived, entertained, and showed their work for three decades. Hare referred to Stevie as “my heir,” Channing’s Worth Avenue apartment at 222 Worth was atop Martha’s, Hare’ tenant and the street’s fashion empress. [Historical Society of Palm Beach County]

Palm Beach’s most sought-after trio — Stevie, Channing, and Mountford — lived together until Coolidge’s death in 1954. While Hare and Coolidge’s careers were already well-established, Stevie’s work first arrived on the Palm Beach scene in December 1945 at The Society of the Four Arts.  The 24-year-old Hensel was awarded the William I. Donner Award for the best oil painting for his canvas titled Performers, “… executed in his unique manner that combines excellent workmanship, low-key color, a dash of whimsicality and satire, and a vast imagination.”

December 1945. Stephen becomes Hopkins Hensel. “… low-key color, a dash of whimsicality and satire, and vast imagination.” [Palm Beach Post Archive]

April 1946. [Palm Beach Post Archive]

1947. Palm Beach-Boston-Bennington-New York. [Palm Beach Post Archive]

Channing Hare & Hopkins Hensel at Worth Avenue Gallery, 347 Worth Avenue. [Historical Society of Palm Beach County]

After his Palm Beach success, Hensel’s work was shown at Boston’s Margaret Brown Gallery where his work sold-out. Boston’s Museum of Fine Art acquired one of his paintings. Then, to New York’s Grand Central Art Gallery and the Whitney Museum’s Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting.

“Detailing exact in treatment, mildly surreal in atmosphere,” wrote The New Yorker in 1947, describing Stevie’s work exhibited at his sold-out show at Grand Central Art Galleries. In 1948 Hensel’s work was selected for the Norton Gallery & School of Art’s Annual Contemporary America Exhibition.  It was not until the 1956 season that he achieved his first one-man show at Palm Beach.

March 1956. [Palm Beach Life Collection, King Library – The Society of the Four Arts]
[Palm Beach Life Collection, King Library – The Society of the Four Arts]
[Palm Beach Life Collection, King Library – The Society of the Four Arts]

In 1970, Hare legally adopted Stevie. Although Hensel was from a prominent New York family and an heir to two New York fortunes, he took his adopted father’s name, making for yet another one of those only-in-Wonderland stories. Then on, he was called Stevie Hare.

March 1970. After the Worth Avenue Gallery closed, Hensel moved his work to the Palm Beach Galleries. [Palm Beach Post Archive]

February 1964. Palm Beach Galleries invitation. [Ellen Glendinning Ordway Collection]

February 1964. Hopkins Hensel & Peggy Reventlow. [Ellen Glendinning Ordway Collection]
February 1964. Palm Beach Galleries. Sculptor Peggy Reventlow, formerly Margaret Astor Drayton, and Hopkins Hensel were featured in a two-person show. Pictured above, Hensel’s Self-Portrait. A great-great-grand of John Jacob Astor and born in London, Reventlow had her first exhibition at Hammer Galleries, followed by shows at Tiffany & Co. and Palm Beach Galleries. [Historical Society of Palm Beach County]

February 1964. Reventlow-Hensel Exhibition, Palm Beach Galleries. [Palm Beach Post Archive]

February 1964. Reventlow-Hensel Exhibition, Palm Beach Galleries. [New York Daily News]

The last, currently accessible, published feature on Stevie Hare was in 1974. Channing died in February 1976; Stevie, three years later, in 1979, at the age of 58. Of interest, I could find no published obituary for Stevie listed under any of the names he was known as during his lifetime.

“It has been an exciting life, never a dull moment. You see, it all amounts to the greatest pleasure I can possibly find anywhere.” — Stevie Hare. Palm Beach, March 1972.

Channing Weir Hare

Almost from the beginning of his artistic career in early 1930s Depression-era New York, Channing Hare garnered critical and financial success. Having attended schools in Albany, New York, and Bennington, Vermont, before attending The Art Students League of New York, by the 1950s when many artists priced their work between $100 and $500, Channing tagged his at $3,000. Having ascended into New York and Palm Beach’s social pantheon, his portraits were reported to command as much as $10,000.

From 1912 until 1917, Hare and his brother Irving lived in Bennington where his father, William Irving Hare was vice-president of the Bennington Scale Company. The same year Channing enrolled in a Manhattan art school, his family moved to Forest Hills Gardens, a Tudor-styled enclave in Queens. By the early 1930s, the Hares spent summers in Ogunquit and winter months in Winter Park, a suburb of Orlando, Florida.

Channing Hare, 1922. New York. Hare designed scenery as well as acted in a satiric musical comedy called “Zero,” a spoof on Roman emperor Nero, that ran for one week. [Chronicling America]
Portrait, Alexander Woollcott, Art Digest, 1937. [Smithsonian Archives of American Art]
1936-1940. Winter Park. Channing’s houseguests Archduke Franz Josef and the Duchess made page one headlines in the Orlando Sentinel. At Winter Park, Hare and Coolidge’s eight-acre Via Tuscany lakefront estate was one of the area’s showplaces. [Orlando Sentinel]

1937-1940 Winter Park. Hare’s parents also went to Winter Park during the winter months.

As Hare began showing at Palm Beach, he and Mountford decided to spend more of the winter at Palm Beach rather than Winter Park. They first stayed at the Brazilian Court and The Villas before leasing Folie de Monvel.

In 1939, Hare and Coolidge leased La Folie de Monvel, Bernard Boutet de Monvel’s octagon house on Hi-Mount Road. The following season, the couple returned to de Monvel’s one-of-kind house where they entertained between exhibitions and shows. Following de Monvel’s death, the house was sold to artist Gertrude Schweitzer who owned it for several decades. [Historical Society of Palm Beach County]

1940. Prince Scherbatoff Gallery, 231 Worth Avenue, Palm Beach

Reigning as the town’s most popular portraitist, Hare’s first significant show was at Prince George Stroganof Scherbatoff’s galley on Worth Avenue. This was followed by shows at the Worth Avenue Gallery, first opened in December in 1942 by Mary Duggett Benson, in concert with the Washington Studio Gallery on Miami Beach.

Local critics hailed Hare’s talent “to portray a person not a physique” and “to express the human mystery by revealing worlds of personality by unusual angles of vision, notably by painting figures where the face is turned away from the audience, the eyes not hidden, but rather withheld from view while the individuality is expressed in a gesture of the shoulder, a curve of the back, and an arabesque of the neck.”

Prince George was one of the resort’s Russian emigres. [Chronicling America]

1940, New York. Channing Hare with Elizabeth Provost at Kleeman Gallery, East 57th Street. [Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1940]

1940-1941. New York & Bennington. “A former Bennington boy …”

1943. Palm Beach & Winter Park.

1945. Palm Beach. 319 El Vedado Road. After leasing the house at 319 El Vedado from Mrs. John Wendell Anderson for four consecutive seasons beginning in 1944, Channing Hare paid $150,000 for the Neoclassical-designed three-level waterfront home in October 1948. Four years later, he sold it to Audrey Emery, returning to his 222 Worth Avenue apartment that also had a Neoclassical facade. Emery would sell the El Vedado house to Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan in February 1956. [Photo Augustus Mayhew]

1959. Palm Beach. Channing Hare at Worth Avenue Gallery. [Palm Beach Life Collection/The Society of the Four Arts]
1960. Channing Hare in his studio. [Historical Society of Palm Beach County]
1962. Leone King Review [Palm Beach Post archive]
1967. Portrait, Jean Hurst Reese. [Courtesy David V. Reese]

Portrait. Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan, Palm Beach.

Summer, 1967. Suzy Says … “Splitting Hare.” “Footmen behind every chair … white gloves, long white coats, and red epaulettes …”
1976. Channing Hare. Obituary. Channing’s brother Col. H. Irving Hare and his wife, Jeanette, a sculptor, also lived on Palm Beach for many years. Jeanette headed the Palm Beach Art League during the 1960s. [Bennington Evening Banner]

Palm Beach Style: 1950-1980

At Palm Beach, The Great Society came to describe the 400 guests who rubbed elbows at the Palm Beach Galleries’ Tuesday-night openings on Worth Avenue.

1961. Left, Great Lady Ball, Everglades Club. Jacqueline Kennedy, the event’s honorary chairman, with her husband President John F. Kennedy. [Social Pictorial Archive, Historical Society of Palm Beach County]
Right, Hopkins Hensel, artist, The Acrobats. [Palm Beach Life Collection, King Library/The Society of the Four Arts]

Worth Avenue. The Mink Mile. Channing Hare’s building, 222 Worth Avenue, is the 4th building on the left with the finials along the roofline. Hare’s apartment was above Martha’s salon, his tenant. [Historical Society of Palm Beach County]
Palm Beach Athletic Club, South Ocean Boulevard at Brazilian Avenue. Numerous private beach clubs once dotted the oceanfront before condominiums walled the coastline. [Palm Beach Life Collection / King Library, The Society of the Four Arts]

“The world’s most eloquent possession …” [Palm Beach Life Collection / King Library, The Society of the Four Arts]
Continental Mark IV. [Palm Beach Life Collection / King Library, The Society of the Four Arts]
Martha’s. [Palm Beach Life Collection / King Library, The Society of the Four Arts]
1961. Fashion First at Palm Beach. Martha’s Fashion Gala. [Palm Beach Life Collection / King Library, The Society of the Four Arts]
Philip Hulitar. [Palm Beach Life Collection / King Library, The Society of the Four Arts]

Philip Hulitar. [Palm Beach Life Collection / King Library, The Society of the Four Arts]

July 1958.

The Hulitars at Palm Beach

Mary and Philip Hulitar were transplanted New Yorkers who made Palm Beach their year-round home for more than 50 years, many of those dedicated to supporting The Society of the Four Arts, the town’s art and cultural center. The son of Michael Hulitar, a Hungarian diplomat, and an Italian mother, Cosmy, who began a painting career at age 81, Hulitar was born in Greece and moved to the United States at age 16. After a brief stint on Wall Street, he became a prominent fashion designer. After 18 years with Bergdorf-Goodman’s, he opened his own fashion house in 1949. Mary Gerstenberg was the daughter of a New York publishing house board chairman. Their diverse mix made for a harmonious partnership.

March 1951. Gerstenberg-Hulitar wedding. [Newsday]

Summer 1957. Mary and Philip Hulitar entertained his mother Cosmy, on the way to Rome for an exhibition of her paintings. [Newsday]

January 1959. The Hulitars in Glen Cove, the property they leased to the Robert Kennedys. [Palm Beach Life]

September 1964. A Farewell Dinner at Glen Cove. [Newsday]

When the Hulitars arrived on Palm Beach in April 1964, they first looked for a house to buy before leasing a house on North Lake Trail. Their five-acre Glen Cove estate on Valley Road was leased to Robert and Ethel Kennedy for two years. From North Lake Trail, the Hulitars moved to 124 Via Bethesda, designed by Howard Major, and Hulitar turned his sense of fashion design into real estate makeovers. They also bought the Paul Butler house, restored it, leased it, and bought another house on North Lake Way as well as a building on Worth Avenue. And so forth …

An El Vedado makeover/ with a stylish Hulitar interior.

In 1970 the Hulitars bought the Philip Armour house set on 1.5 acres at 980 North Ocean Boulevard, turning a 1947 Wyeth-designed Midcentury Modern into Plaisance, a more traditional colorful country house. Mary Hulitar’s estate sold the house for $28.6 million in 2019, subsequently demolished.

Hulitars give Hospice $1 million. [Palm Beach Post archive]

Philip Hulitar Sculpture Gardens. [Photo Augustus Mayhew]

“Flash from the Past.” I first met Mary Hulitar in 1999 when she donated several Hulitar fashions to the Historical Society. [Palm Beach Daily News Archive]

Worth Avenue Gallery
310-347 Worth Avenue

In December 1942, Mary Duggett Benson opened a branch of the Miami Beach-based Washington Art Studio & Galleries at 310½ Worth Avenue. At the time, Benson was associated with heiress Alice Delamar. After an affair with actress Eva La Gallienne ended, Benson had a short-lived marriage with sculptor-artist Stuart Benson, followed by an involvement with Elsie de Wolfe, aka Lady Mendl, and for nearly a decade, worked as curator of Jules Bache’s formidable art collection.

Benson was also akin to E. Nash Matthews, founder of the Washington Storage company, today the site of The Wolfsonian-FIU. According to Agnes Ash, a Miami News editor at the time who later became editor of The Palm Beach Daily News, Matthews opened an art gallery in the early 1940s on the storage company’s ground floor, under the total direction of Dr. Eric Carlberg. During the Worth Avenue Gallery’s early years, Benson and Carlberg collaborated on various exhibits and artists.

When Carlberg died in 1953, Nash Matthews’ son, Ned, took over as director of the Washington Avenue gallery. Later, he briefly had an interest in the Worth Avenue Gallery along with Mary Duggett Benson who in 1958 had sole ownership of the gallery, according to corporate filings. She retired in 1965. While Alice Delamar was a magnanimous supporter of Mary Benson’s gallery work as well as a generous patron to many of the gallery’s artists, she was most probably not one of the legal owners of the Worth Avenue Gallery, as I was led to believe by two close friends of Delamar’s. The history of the Worth Avenue Gallery, as well as the nature of the relationships between the principals, remains incomplete.

December 1942. Worth Avenue Gallery & Washington Art Gallery. [Miami News & Palm Beast archive]

Benson was soon joined at the Palm Beach gallery by a co-director, Emily Pierson (Mrs. Archibald) Rayner. Rayner’s husband was a real estate agent with Webb Brothers; her sister was New York artist and gallerist Betty Pierson Parsons. By 1946, and for the next decade, Betty Parsons was regularly sending paintings from her Manhattan venue to the Worth Avenue Gallery, as recorded by the voluminous Betty Parsons Papers at the Smithsonian’s Archive of American Art.

Mary Duggett Benson, center, flanked by two of her star artists, Hopkins Hensel and Channing Hare. [Historical Society of Palm Beach County]
Alice Delamar, Bust by Stuart Benson, Mary Benson’s husband. [Alice Delamar sculpture, artist Stuart Benson, photograph courtesy Weston Public Library]
1951. An eclectic American, French and Italian Contemporaries show at the Worth Avenue Gallery included the works of artists Jean Hugo, Mary Faulconer, Nora Auric, Jeanne Reynal, Keith Martin, Tom Keough, and Stanislao Lepri. [Palm Beach Life/King Library Collection]

1946-1956. Correspondence between Emily Rayner and her sister Betty Parsons. Betty Parsons Gallery, New York. [Betty Parsons Papers, Smithsonian Archive of American Art]
1952. Worth Avenue Gallery.

Artist Ouida Romanoff George (1916-2014). [Photo Augustus Mayhew]

Keith Ingermann in New York, Sold Out! After the Worth Avenue Gallery staged a 1948 clothesline show along Via Parigi featuring the work of 19-year-old West Palm artist Keith Ingermann, the artist’s stylized work soon became in demand from Palm Beach to New York to Monte Carlo, where Ingermann eventually moved.

At Palm Beach Galleries, Keith Ingermann, right, with His Highness Bhagwat Singh, Maharana of Udaipur, left, who invited Ingermann to stay at his palace in 1970 with him and his American wife Annabelle. Ingermann’s paintings of India were shown in February 1971.

Portrait of Lilly Pulitzer, 1963. Artist Zoe Shippen was one of the first artists to show her work at the Worth Avenue Gallery and the Washington Art Studio and Galleries on Miami Beach. (Graphic image Ellen Glendinning Ordway Collection]

Galleries Galore

“People have more time to pose in resorts,” confided artist Richard Banks, before his one-man show featuring Social Register notables opened in 1966 at Lillian Phipps Galleries on Palm Beach. Before opening her gallery in December 1965, Phipps was on the board of Palm Beach Galleries.

Mary Sanford called her as “the billion-dollar board” as the combined assets of the gallery’s directors was said to be worth more than $1 billion. With George E. Vigouroux Jr. as artistic director, Palm Beach Galleries opened on Worth Avenue during the go-go 60s. It was owned by several staunch art patrons, among them, Mary Duncan Sanford, Diana Guest Manning, Jane Kenney Volk, George Warner, Larry Sheerin, Barbara Whitney Headley and Lillian Bostwick Phipps.

Mary Sanford with Channing and Stevie Hare.

Left, Palm Beach Galleries director Mary Sanford with landscape artist Cecil Everly. Right, Artist Marylou Whitney with James Hunt Barker, assistant director of Palm Beach Galleries, who became director when George Vigouroux Jr. resigned. [Photos Historical Society of Palm Beach County]

February 1965. “Sanford Party for Charles Baskerville.” [Graphic Image courtesy Ellen Glendinning Ordway Collection]

Charles Baskerville. [Graphic Image courtesy Ellen Glendinning Ordway Collection]
March 1966. Painting by Charles Baskerville. [Ellen Glendinning Ordway Collection]
Left, Portrait of Dysie Davie by Channing Hare, Spring, 1965. Right, Dysie Davie with an artwork by Dysie Davie. [Graphic Image courtesy Ellen Glendinning Ordway Collection]
Left, Portrait of Brownie McLean by Paul Pilon. Right, Invitation to the Joan Gillespie Gallery, February 1970. [Graphic Image courtesy Ellen Glendinning Ordway Collection]
A Swiss landscape by Lulu Parsons Vanderbilt Balcom, an Everglades Island resident. [Graphic Image courtesy Ellen Glendinning Ordway Collection]
The James Hunt Baker Gallery opened in 1972 at 337 Worth Ave. With additional galleries in New York and Nantucket, Mass., Barker’s gallery was a showcase for more than 55 artists, including “the mystical be-jeweled” Piero Aversa, known as the “King of Mykonos.” [Photo Historical Society of Palm Beach County]
Portraits of Barbara Whitney Headley and Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan were two of the many works destroyed, including four Hopkins Hensel paintings, after a fire destroyed Jimmy Barker’s house in Midtown. Headley, daughter of sculptor Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, was a director/owner of the Palm Beach Galleries. [Photo courtesy James Hunt Barker]
Louise Nevelson at Hokin Gallery and The Society of the Four Arts. Despite Palm Beach’s unwarranted repute for decorous inconsequential art, early Palm Beach galleries made room for more serious contemporary expressions. The Chicago-based Hokin Gallery also featured works by Kokoschka and Leger. [Photo State of Florida archives]

Artist and gallery owner J.C. Shepherd, pictured left in his self-portrait, is often credited with being the island’s first semi-commercial art gallery promoting only the works of local artists. Grand Rapids businessman and Palm Beach winter resident Orville “Orvy” Bulman, his work pictured right on the cover of Palm Beach Life, held his first one-man show at Shepherd’s gallery. Seminole Avenue resident J. Clinton Shepherd was director of the Norton Gallery School of Art from 1941-46, having been a successful national book and magazine illustrator whose paintings and sculpture were exhibited with New England’s influential Silvermine Artists Guild. One of the town’s most popular personalities, Shepherd was best known for his portraits, private club murals, and his famous Everglades panorama mural at the Clewiston Inn.

Collector Nate Cummings and painter David Nemerov, photographed in front of one of his art works. Nemerov was the father of Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Howard Nemerov and photographer Diane Arbus. [Photo Nemerov family]
Piero Aversa, Hector Ubertalli and Alejo Vidal-Quadras were among the era’s popular artists. Having pleased royal families and jet set notables with his charcoal, pastel and oil portraits, Vidal-Quadras, as much a craftsman as an artist, made his first appearance at Wally Findlay Gallery in 1964. Credited a decade later with more than 2,000 portraits, the artist’s work, though intentionally devoid of backgrounds, became known for its “gracefulness, distinction, and sensitivity.” [Photos Morgan Collection, State of Florida Archives]

Wally Findlay, center, with Mary Sanford, left, and Rose Kennedy, right. [Photo Historical Society of Palm Beach County]
Simone Karoff & Wally Findlay. [Photo Historical Society of Palm Beach County]
Wally Findlay Galleries. “America’s largest … Growth Plan.” A Worth Avenue institution since 1961. On his 75th birthday in 1978, Findlay said he focused on Impressionist and post-Impressionist painters because those works were “the easiest to live with.” [Palm Beach Post archive]

In 1961 Wally Findlay invited forty friends to a surprise party at his Worth Avenue gallery where guests arrived and came “face to face with themselves.” But instead of a mirror-filled room, Mr. Findlay’s invitees were themselves the subject of a portrait exhibition created by Zito, Palm Beach’s most popular and skillful sketch artist.

Thus, the island’s social swells found themselves surrounded by caricatures of themselves, who better, as a work of art.

Palm Beach, 1961-2021. [Photo Augustus Mayhew]

Recent Posts