This painting is an important art historical find that should be of museum and Broadway Stage and Theater interest.
Raoul Pene du Bois was an American Art Deco and Modernist painter and Broadway stage set and costume designer who won two Tony Awards.
He was also the nephew of famed member of The Eight New York American Ash Can School artist Guy Pene du Bois as well as related to book illustrator Richard Pene du Bois and Connecticut Impressionist Yvonne Pene du Bois. Raoul worked in Manhattan, France, the Hamptons, Fire Island and Staten Island.
During the 1994 to 1995 auction and gallery exhibition season I personally attended both the Westchester live estate auction and the Upstate New York Estate gallery tag sale of the contents of Raoul Pene du Bois' studio that had been in storage in New York City since 1985. There were several dozen framed works, a few unframed oils and many unframed Broadway design sketches. I purchased a few oils, many drawings as well as a Pene du Bois family portrait by Raoul's uncle Guy that I subsequently sold to a collector that was later acquired by a noted museum. Raoul had about half a dozen self portraits he'd done throughout his life in his estate, this one being the second oldest. The earliest one had more schoolboy naive simplicity and while it was quite charming and pointed toward his blossoming talent he painted it around age 14 and it lacked the finished compositional maturity of this one. This was "the" one, the not only self portrait but painting in general that everyone oohed and ahed over, the one that captured his persona, that screamed Depression WPA era Modernism, that subtly conveyed homoeroticisim of gay interest, that incorporated a trompe l'oeil notecard on the right curtain and an early pre War Surrealist nod in the checkered floor and open doorway, the one whose shading and modeling revealed a knowledge of both his uncle's contemporaries, his French ancestral school of ecole de Paris influences and probably the work of the Russian Tamara de Lempicka, the one that shimmered and popped and just seemed to "work".
I've had it in storage for well over a decade and have been meaning to get around to stretch, mount, consolidate or line it and have it conserved but we're going on twenty years with my not having gotten to the project so I have decided to reluctantly let this gem go.