The Best of Everything
Anthony De Frange
Year unknown (1969-early 1970s)
Oil; framed 44 x 32; print alone 37 x 23-1/2.
In a September 2013 San Jose Mercury News article, author Leo Cusenza, who owns the above painting, describes his search for information on the artist, Anthony De Frange:
How fitting it is that Joan Crawford's portrait hangs above the word "Ressurected" [sic], letters that wrap around the corrugated counter at Julie Love's Resurrected Boutique in Rockaway Beach. This unique establishment boasts local artist's work, antiques and Julie's own inventions in a store that has creative twists in every corner. The portrait of Joan Crawford whose searing eyes and red, red lips is so lifelike, so real, that those of us who remember "Mommy [sic] Dearest" shudder, not quite sure if we are looking at her or if she is staring down at us. I found this oil painting, a portrait by Anthony De Frange several years ago at the Alemany Flea Market in San Francisco. I spotted it in the early morning, at six thirty am, just about sunrise. I was taken aback by the lifelike quality of the piece, and when I realized it was done in oil I went for it. I didn't purchase the painting because I was a great fan of the actress. Nor would I hang this large piece in my home. I saw it as an investment, a possible money maker, and gambled hoping it might pay dividends in the future. When I brought it home I went straight to my computer to research the artist. I typed in Anthony De Frange on google and clicked search which led to the Anthony De Frange Archives. The first four images on this site were portraits on male nudes, nothing like what I expected. I thought there may be another De Frange until I scrolled down the page and found a copy of a 1970 San Francisco Examiner article showing a man at his easel with many completed paintings of diva actresses in the background.
There were no doubts now, this was the same Anthony De Frange.
Out of his studio on Geary Boulevard near Polk Street, De Frange worked on consignment and often used photographs to create his oil paintings. He sold a portrait to Mae West for $2,500 only after he made a few changes, little tweaks requested by the actress, making sure to keep her curves while thinning her out a bit.
The next section on the archive pages was another copied piece from a 1983 San Francisco Examiner, which contained Anthony De Frange's obituary; a several paragraph mini history of his life as a San Francisco artist. When I scrolled a bit further I saw an image that got the "picker" in me very excited. The painting I had just acquired was the featured item, the focal point of discussion on a 2004 blog. Various entries had described having seen the portrait at a friend's house in Pacific Heights.
Another wondered if it has been a movie prop, and yet another asked if it was for sale. I couldn't help but think I had hit the jackpot, but unfortunately what I thought and what the auction houses believed was quite different. Because De Frange did not have much of an auction record, several appraisers saw the painting as a curiosity and not a viable item that would garner a large sum. I shopped it around, and even sent photos to a Hollywood establishment that had sold one of his portraits of Elizabeth Taylor, but found no real interest. It was not until about a year ago on a day I was considering putting my painting up on ebay that a breakthrough occurred. I typed in Anthony De Frange to see if anyone had his artwork up on their site when a large piece, an image of another actress, very much like the portrait of Joan popped onto the screen. It was Bette Davis, looking very much alive with the $5,000 asking price boxed in just to the right of her image. I semi-laughed thinking this seller must be a little over ambitious yet understanding the mindset, knowing how often my big asking prices had led to profitable sales on ebay.
Within a week the portrait sold for $4,100 to a buyer with a keen eye who made an offer that was accepted by the seller. This was great news. The Anthony De Frange auction door opened up to the world which rewards past results and current buying trends. I felt as if I was given ammunition creating renewed optimism and realizing my desires to sell this painting may ultimately come to fruition.
For those of you who have an interest in seeing the portrait take a drive to Rockaway Beach and visit Ressurected. Before you make the trip, google up Anthony De Frange Archives to see what I saw four years ago on the morning of my purchase.
Link to the website mentioned above, featuring artist Anthony De Frange. The site includes the below scans:
December 2015, painting owner Leo Cusenza listed the art on eBay
at a beginning price of $7,495. From his sale description:
...This painting is an impressive piece of art with a frame that measures 44 inches in height and 32 inches across. The image of Joan is incredibly lifelike, beautifully detailed, accurate and vivid. While the photographs are very good, seeing her live is a whole other experience. If you wish to see this painting in person, it stands above the front desk at Resurrected Boutique in Pacifica, California at Rockaway Beach. This establishment is open every day but Tuesday from 11 to 5. The piece has some small bits of paint loss, but overall it is in excellent condition. I've added a testimonial by John Annesley, the man who framed much of the artist's work in the 70's. Amazingly enough, when I called his phone number on the back of the canvas, almost 40 years after it was painted, he answered. Mr Annesley, who must be in his seventies by now, sent me an email remembering Defrange. Although Defrange is not a household name in the large auction houses, his excellent work is being recognized with portraits selling in smaller houses and on Ebay. Within the last year two of his paintings, both portraits of Bette Davis, have sold in the four and five thousand dollar range...
The photo of the painting at the top of this page is from this eBay listing. Also included in the listing are the below photos and testimony from framer John Annesley:
The Best of Everything