‘trois crayons,’ red, black & white chalks on paper, 5 1/4 x 6 3/8 inches
Signed on the old French mat
Tadé Styka (Hungarian-French 1889-1954), was a prodigy, the son of painter Jan Styka and brother of painter Adam Styka. He began exhibiting works of art in Paris at the age of 11; by the age of 13 he was being commissioned to paint portraits, receiving great notoriety for them both as a function of their quality and his extreme youth. Indeed, within the world of the performing arts–show business and opera–a Styka portrait in the early part of the 20th century was like a Warhol portrait in the 70’s! His sitters included Enrico Caruso and Chaliapin! Styka’s studied with Jean-Jacques Henner (see the Henner portrait in our show) and Eugene Carrière. Styka’s brilliant draughtsmanship raised modest or potentially sentimental subjects to high levels, and realization of both the breed and the dog’s individual character are masterfully depicted.
When this drawing was on a desk in the gallery a visitor happened to see it and immediately exclaimed, “You have a portrait of Gamin de Pycombe!” The boar collar worn by the dog in the drawing matches the collar in the newspaper article photograph of the famous French bulldog lost in the tragedy of the Titanic! (see article). Although the boar collar was ubiquitous for the Frenchie, it seems likely that Styka would not have drawn just any dog; we can speculate that this may well be a portrait of Gamin de Pycombe!