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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Beauford and Mary Painter

Les Amis de Beauford Delaney recently received the wonderful gift of a copy of James Baldwin's Going to Meet the Man that contains a handwritten dedication from Beauford to his dear friend Mary Painter. Many thanks to Catherine Manini for donating the book to Les Amis as a result of her search for information about Beauford and Baldwin.

One of Beauford's best friends in Paris was Mary Painter. She was an American economist who worked on the Marshall Plan after World War II and at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, among other places. Beauford met her because of her friendship with James Baldwin. Beauford met Painter in 1953 on his first full day in Paris - the day that Baldwin saw Beauford walking along boulevard Saint Germain in front of the Café de Flore. Baldwin was at the Flore having a drink with Painter at the time.

Paris - Café de Flore
ca. 1950 © Roger-Viollet

Painter was present at memorable moments in Beauford's life in Paris. For example, she attended the party held at Beauford's studio at the Hôtel des Ecoles in December 1955, after which the hotel's owner accused Beauford of putting up a guest without paying. This incident led to Beauford's move to Clamart, and he called upon Painter to help him pack. She was in Paris at the time that Beauford was mourning the death of his mother in 1958, and invited Beauford to spend as much time at her apartment as he wished. Beauford visited London for the first time with Painter in December 1963.

It seems fitting, therefore, that Beauford would give a copy of the London publication of James Baldwin's book Going to Meet the Man to Mary as a Christmas gift. Baldwin dedicated the novel to Beauford, and Beauford wrote a personal dedication to Painter in the copy that he gave to her.

Book images courtesy of Les Amis de Beauford Delaney

Beauford's friends Bernard Hassell and Richard Olney lived in Solliès-Toucas, a town near Toulon, in the early 1960s. Painter accompanied Beauford on a visit there in 1963, and would move there herself ten years later. Beauford produces an abstract painting called Solliès-Toucas in 1963. It is now held by Aaron Galleries in Glenview, IL (near Chicago).

Solliès Toucas
(Beauford's gift to Roy Freeman)
(1963) Oil on canvas
Image courtesy of Roy Freeman

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