The Knute Heldner Painting

 
 
      ….a convincing clue
 
Sometimes conviction comes from a small clue. And sometimes that clue was there all along, but it went unnoticed.
 
Such was the case recently with the unfinished, lovely painting of a beautiful young woman.
 
I had been asked by my friend and artist Teresa, whether I might be familiar with the paintings of Knute Heldner. I said that I was, and offered that in fact I might be an owner of one.
 
The story recited in my article “Not a Missing Rembrandt, but…” was then told to Teresa. Meanwhile, she had informed me that the reason for her interest was that a close friend was the granddaughter of Heldner, but unfortunately did not possess a single item of the painter’s work. Teresa asked whether my suspected Heldner was for sale, and she was informed that it was not.
 
Still, feeling some affinity for her friend’s emptiness, I offered that I would show her photos of the painting in question together with photos of some of the authenticated Heldners which supported the bona fides of my own purchase. With such available, Teresa transmitted copies to her friend.
 
In the process, I showed a copy of one of Heldner’s works in the LSU Museum of Art. It depicts Heldner himself in the company of his wife Collette. I confess that I had not noticed before that Collette was rendered with red hair – more correctly, reddish-brown hair. A glance from that copy to one of the hoped-for piece was like a Eureka moment: they both have red hair! It is indeed the same shade of reddish-brown.
 
It was as a rejoinder that Teresa said quietly, “My friend has red hair.”

Pictures of her friend were then examined, and in Teresa’s artist eye and in my own we agreed to her friend’s resemblance to her grandmother, the lovely Collette.
 
rbg