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Lot 0152
A Portrait of Billy Strayhorn, Painting by Duke Ellington. In 1973, the Franklin Mint acquired paintings from ten celebrities for a series of lithographs. Duke chose to contribute a painting of his deceased co-composer and close friend Billy Strayhorn. The subject matter was not dictated by the Franklin Mint (Tony Bennett, for example, submitted a painting of a New York cityscape for the same series) and thus reveals something specific and tender about Duke Ellington's character. Given the opportunity to promote his visual art work, he used the opportunity to pay tribute to his friend. Strayhorn had passed away in 1967, but in 1973, when this painting was completed, he had not been forgotten and was evidently still dearly missed by Ellington. Ellington had painted two similar versions of the Strayhorn, with slight variation. One he gave to the Franklin Mint for the lithograph. This one, he kept. Duke's synesthesia- a neurological condition in which one sense, like sound, can stimulate an impression of another sense such as a visual impression, like color- no doubt played a role in his approach to this portrait. The color and movement in the painting are suggestive of both the vibrancy of Strayhorn's life, and the rhythmic and melodic beauty of the music he composed. The painting is framed, and measures 33.5" x 27.5" framed, and 27.5" x 21.5" unframed.

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A Portrait of Billy Strayhorn, Painting by Duke

Estimate $30,000 - $40,000May 18, 2016
New York, NY, USA