Collecting Men: Early 20th-Century Figurative Art
BY Christopher Harrity
March 31 2014 5:30 AM ET
Zephyrus and Hyacinthus, Large, Important Painting by Raoul Pene duBois
Perhaps the largest and most important extant painting by Raoul Pene duBois, this depiction of Zephyrus and Hyacnthus is a masterpiece of grisaille effect, using varying tones of black, grey and white with only a just a touch of sepia. Greek mythology tells us that Zephyrus rivaled Apollo for the love of Hyacinthus, and when the latter two were playing quoits with discs, Zephyrus created a gust of wind that caused the disc, tragically, to strike and kill Hyacinthus instantly. Famed as a scenic and costume designer for dozens of Broadway productions beginning in the 1930s, du Bois was one of a distinguished family of artists and designers going back to his grandfather, the art critic Henri Pene du Bois. He won Tony awards for scenic design (Wonderful Town) and for costume design (No, No Nanette); among the many other shows he designed were the Ziegfeld Follies (1934), Jumbo (1935), Du Barry Was a Lady (1939), and Charley's Aunt (1953).