Current Mystery Painting
From time to time, we encounter paintings that lack clear attribution to a particular artist and even our best efforts fail to establish authorship. We call these our Mystery Paintings. Not all these orphan paintings are masterpieces - although many lost masterpieces do wander the world in search of attribution. There are many perfectly respectable lesser works that deserve to be accurately attributed.
The photos below show one of our more interesting current challenges. If you believe you recognize the hand of this artist and can suggest a different attribution, please let us know. We will pay a reward of $1,000 to the person whose suggestion can be substantiated.
This still-life (see signature detail below) is clearly signed Alfred Cordet and dated 1935. Oil on canvas, it measures 16 x 20 inches (41 x 51 cm). Despite obvious talent and apparent classical training, this artist does not appear in any of the standard European or American artists dictionaries. Given the quality of the work, the name Alfred Cordet may be used here as a pseudonym for another, better-known, artist. This practice was not uncommon in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as artists with exclusive contractual obligations to particular dealers sought, through subterfuge, to find additional markets for their work. For example, the notable artist Antoine-Bouvard (French, 1870-1956) had an exclusive contract to sell his work through his Paris dealer but signed his pseudonym, Marc Aldine, on paintings which he secretly sent to New York for sale by a different dealer.
The painting itself shows a sophisticated and integrated compositional understanding and was clearly the work of an accomplished and well-grounded hand. Of particular note is the artist's treatment of the glass vase containing the water and the flower stems. The confluence of these elements is particularly challenging for the still-life painter and many seek to avoid it by use of a ceramic vase which does not present such a technical difficulty. However, the artist who seeks to simultaneously represent the various- and combined- transparencies of glass and water together with the prismatically-fragmented forms of flower stems is setting themself as formidable an exercise as may be found. The fact that this particular artist has accomplished the task so effortlessly- and has also integrated it flawlessly into such a harmonious composition- strongly suggests the work of an accomplished and better-known hand. Of additional note is the confident calligraphy of the idiosyncratic signature; it suggests an artist very comfortable with their brush. If the style of the painting itself does not ring a bell, perhaps the characteristic script the artist employs in the signature may remind one of our readers of some other artist's signature executed in a similar style. We are grateful for, and will respond to, all suggestions.