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Category Archives: Essex County

Rembrandt in New Jersey

I love stories like this that I stumbled upon today. In one of those dream scenarios, two brothers found a painting while cleaning out their late parents’ home in northern New Jersey. Neither brother wanted it and the sharp-eyed owner of Nye & Co. auction house in Bloomfield, New Jersey thought it warranted a closer look.


Bloomfield Rembrandt


In this made-for-the-movies story, the painting turned out to be a Rembrandt. Called the “The Unconscious Patient (An Allegory of the Sense of Smell)” the New Jersey painting is among Rembrandt’s earliest known works, dating from 1624, when he was about 18. It depicts an unconscious youth receiving what could be smelling salts from one of two attendants.  The work of art stands just 9 inches tall. It was one of five pieces that the young Rembrandt created to depict the five senses.

The Los Angeles Times reports the painting, purchased by New York financier, Thomas Kaplan, at auction for around $1 million, is currently on display at the  J. Paul Getty Museum, in LA.

As a lover of the Dutch golden age of portraiture, as well as a portrait artist myself, I think this story is so wonderful and amazing. Those NJ brothers must be pretty happy.


This is New Jersey???



It amazes me that in the most densely populated state in the Union, in the most populous county in the State, I can feel I am in the deep woods, 5 minutes away from the center of Montclair. Two days ago, I went skiing for 90 minutes in Eagle Rock Reservation, which straddles the town lines between Montclair, Verona, and West Orange,. Within 100 yards of where I parked I can get off the main trail and I feel like I’m skiing or hiking in Vermont. It is beautiful, quiet, and serene.

The value of urban parks can not be overstated. We all need these escape valves. Eagle Rock is a hidden gem of the Essex County Park System.


Karsh of Ottawa, Ethan of Verona

I photographed Ethan and his family a little while ago. His folks ordered his portrait in black and white and as I was working on it, I had this feeling of dejà vú all over again.  Ethan’s portrait reminded me of something and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

Verona family portrait

Finally, it dawned on me… if I added about 60 years, 100 lbs, a white beard, wrinkles, wiped away the smile, added a grizzled look and a Nobel Prize… Ethan could be Ernest Hemingway, as photographed by the great Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh.

Karsh Hemingway

Yousuf Karsh (1908-2002) is one of the masters of 20th century photography.  His body of work includes portraits of statesmen, artists, musicians, authors, scientists, and men and women of accomplishment.  Karsh’s portrait of Winston Churchill is probably his most famous.  He always signed his work Karsh of Ottawa. Incidentally, my good friend, Washington-based photographer Rob Fraser, was his photography assistant.