Porter WOODRUFF (1894-1959): Moroccan soldiers, oil on canvas, signed



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Porter WOODRUFF (1894-1959) : Moroccan soldiers resting. Oil on canvas signed with monogram on lower right 'PW'. Newly framed with silver lacquered wood frame.


Painting : 60 x 59,5 cm - 23 5/8 x 23 7/16 in
Frame : 73 x 72,5 cm - 28 3/4 X 28 1/2 in

Porter WOODRUFF (1894-1959) :

Porter Woodruff was an American artist, painter and fashion illustrator, born in the USA in 1894.
He joined House & Garden and American Vogue around 1916-1917.
A cover he drew for Vogue in May 1918 pictured the Red Cross action to accentuate patriotism and practicality during the First World War.
Of the 5 Americans artists in Paris mentioned as working for Vogue in 1923, Porter Woodruff was one, the current specialist in croquis of the Paris collections. Woodruff was long-serving and consistent, always professional and reliable. Woodruff was always less reserved in his approach, his line more fluently expressive, and though it would be too much to claim for him any positive influence, it is possible to see in his work at an early date, a hint of things to come.
In 1924 a sketch by him shows what to wear to the Parisian Dances, rapid croquis. Models from Lenief and Drecoll are shown.
An illustration showing a lady elegant and chic, drawn by Porter Woodruff in 1926, illustrates the subtle quality that expresses an aristocracy of taste and breeding. Woodruff image is relaxed and languid.
He was known for his exquisite covers for Vogue magazine and one from 1928 is so known that it has been reproduced continually since that time in postcard, poster, etc.
In 1933 Vogue included an article on their accredited illustrators, and Woodruff is still mentioned as "our American in Paris". His photograph and sketch are shown.
He seems to have contributed to Vogue till about the time of the start-up of World War II.

Shortly after the first world war, Porter Woodruff met George Sebastian, a polyglot Roumanian with crystal-blue eyes and brilliantined hair. Karl Gheorghe Sebastian was born on 21 September 1896, in the city of Bacău, north of Bucharest. His father, Chiril Sebastian, may have been Russian; his mother, Moldovan aristocrat Maria Keminger de Lippa, was a baroness whose relations were stars of Romania’s glittering social goulash. A biography of artist and costume designer Gordon Conway, a mutual friend, states that Woodruff was Sebastian's inamorato and that the two lived together.
Enveloped in an aura of power and privilege seasoned with Mitteleuropean exoticism, George Sebastian arrived on the international scene in 1918 or thereabouts and settled in the fashionable Paris suburb of Neuilly sur Seine, at 2 rue Frédéric Passy. For a while, he was employed as a clerk, and he traveled at least once to the United States, in 1924, in the company of Roumanian diplomat and banker Radu Irimescu and his American tannery-heiress wife. Like is mentor, the suave Roumanian formed a marital alliance in 1929 with Flora Witmer, an attractive American widow a couple of decades his senior, heiress of the family firm, J. L. Stifel & Sons, founded in 1835 and of her first husband, Porterfield Krauth Witmer (1871—1920), cofounder of a Des Moines insurance and real estate agency. Mrs Porterfield Krauth Witmer became Madame Charles George Sebastian on the evening of 23 November 1929. Following the brief Lutheran ceremony—held in, of all locations, Porter Woodruff's apartment at 230 East 50th Street—the newlyweds traveled to Canada for a honeymoon and, thence, to Paris, which would be their home base. Winters would be spent in palm-shaded Hammamet.
Hammamet—beautiful, unspoiled, exotic—became a station of the cross for thrill-seeking socialites, who snapped up local embroideries, dined on coucous, and bronzed themselves by the shore as jasmine perfumed the air. George Sebastian lost no time in establishing a foothold there, his first visit being in 1925. Soon he acquired some 42 acres of farmland on the Bay of Hammamet and began planning a winter residence. Originally called Dar el Kbira (The Big House) and now known as Dar Sebastian (Sebastian House), this North African pleasure dome was designed by George Sebastian, who plucked ideas from regional mosques, marabouts, and museums. Low-slung, snow-white, and dappled with delicate handcarved screens known as mashrabiya, the house won the approval of French Vogue. Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright found the lean, uncomplicated structure worthy of abundant praise, with the latter apparently describing it as "the most beautiful house I know". Indoors groin-vaulted rooms sheltered spare gatherings of sinewy furniture by Jean-Michel Frank (low oak ananas cocktail tables), Eyre de Lanux, and other gilded createurs of the time, and here and there stood painted screens by George Sebastian's friend, Porter Woodruff, as did hassocks of red leather. Everyone from Wallis Simpson to Jean Cocteau gladly made the 40-mile trip from Tunis to Hammamet to bask in the Sebastians' hospitality. (Somerset Maugham and Greta Garbo came too, as did Cecil Beaton.)
Woodruff painted some strikingly attractive views of Hammamet as well as dashing scenes of North African life and exhibited in America in 1934. The Sebastians spent their marriage in glamorous transit, flitting between New York City, Wheeling, Paris, London, and Hammamet, with jaunts to Italy, Tahiti, Austria, China, and points beyond. The union, however, did not last, ending in divorce after Flora returned to the United States in the fall of 1936. George Sebastian soldiered on at Dar Sebastian. The globetrotting Roumanian was the undisputed leader of Tunisia's seasonal array of American and European socialites and expats.
Sebastian fled to Monterey, California, in 1939, upon the declaration of war. Dar Sebastian was requisitioned during Nazi Germany's Africa campaign, and General Erwin Rommel, the Desert Fox, spent a few nights there. In 1946, Sebastian struggled to restore his villa to its avant-guerre perfection but Porter Woodruff died of cancer in October 1959 at the house and in whose lush gardens he was buried. Three years later Sebastian sold the house of his dreams to the Tunisian government, which appointed him an adviser on historic restorations and turned Dar Sebastian into a cultural center. He died in Washington, D.C., on 9 March 1974, at age 77, the victim of kidney cancer. His will specified that his ashes be scattered at Dar Sebastian, as they duly were.


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