Stan P. Poray (1888-1948)
Oil on canvas, 19 1/2 x 25 inches. Signed lower right: "Stan P. Poray"
The California Art Club Twenty-Sixth Annual Gold Medal Exhibition, Los Angeles Museum, Los Angeles, CA, November 16-December 29, 1935. According to prior owner, painting had just been installed for exhibition at Grand Central Art Galleries in New York City at the time of the artist's sudden death in 1948.
Hughes, Edan Milton, Artists in California, 1786-1940, Vol. II (L-Z) (Crocker Art Museum, 2002), p. 890; Boswell, Peyton, "Poray, of California, Comes to New York," Art Digest, March 1, 1944, p. 11.
Estate of the artist; by descent to an unidentified relative of the artist; purchased by John Goodall, Seattle, WA and Burgundy, France, about 1988; acquired from Goodall through Daniel Simhon Fine Art, Charlotte, NC, October 6, 2008.
Original elaborately hand-carved frame, presumably by the artist.
Fig. 1 - Detail of frame for The Dreamer presumably hand-carved by the artist.
Born in Krakow, Poland in 1888, Stan P. Poray (born Stanislaus Pociecha Poray) was the son of the Polish landscape painter and nobleman Count Michael Poray. Following art studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow and in Paris, Poray began his professional career as art director of the First Art Theater in the city of Tomsk in southwestern Siberia. In 1918, the Russian Revolution drove Poray from Russia to central China where he spent the next three years painting the Imperial family and other notables while absorbing Chinese culture, philosophy and art. By 1921, Poray had emigrated to the United States, settling permanently in Los Angeles and becoming active in the California Art Club and a variety of other regional artists’ associations.
Poray’s academic training fostered his early commitment to a sharp-focus realism which, in time, gave way to the somewhat looser brushwork and softer tonality evident in works such as The Dreamer. While portraits and landscapes dominated his earlier output, elaborate still lifes (many with a distinct Oriental flavor) became his preferred subjects later in his career. Poray traveled widely, working in France, Vermont, Illinois, Colorado and Utah as well as in California. The artist mounted solo exhibitions at Stendahl Gallery (1929, 1931, 1938) and Hartwell Galleries (1947) in Los Angeles, Francis Taylor Galleries in Beverly Hills (1945), Findlay Galleries in Chicago (1944) and at the prestigious Grand Central Art Galleries in New York (1944). A March 1, 1944 Art Digest review of the Grand Central show praised the artist’s “sound craftsmanship supported by a love of subtle color harmonies and an imaginative mind.” Poray was also a consummate craftsman in other media, designing and constructing his own Japanese temple-inspired residential interiors and hand-carving many of his own picture frames (presumably including the elaborately carved original softwood frame which continues to grace The Dreamer).
Poray probably painted The Dreamer in 1935, the same year in which it was exhibited at The California Art Club’s Annual Gold Medal Exhibition. Poray’s sensuous young model recalls Velázquez's Rockeby Venus as she lounges languorously on a richly draped chaise against the backdrop of a Regionalist-inspired rural landscape. Poray’s mastery of pattern and color is evident throughout. The work is brilliantly composed: the sensuous curves of the young redhead in the lower half of the painting are deftly repeated in the silhouetted mountain range across the center of the canvas and then again in the cloud formations above. No detail is overlooked: the young woman’s auburn hair finding its echo in the color of the nearby landscape while the greens, purples and blues harmonize in horizontal layers across the composition.