[POUND, EZRA. 1885-1972.]
ULLMAN, EUGENE PAUL. 1877-1953.
Pair of paintings:
1. Oil on canvas, 22 x 18¼ inches, signed (Eugene Paul Ullman), and inscribed lower left, , being a portrait of Ezra Pound, original canvas, slack, stretcher and strainer bar marks, scattered surface abrasions, especially at edges, craquelure, no apparent restoration under ultra-violet light.
2. Oil on panel, 21 ½ x 18 inches, signed (Eugene Paul Ullman), , being a portrait of Margaret Cravens, scattered minor surface abrasions, a few small touches of inpaint visible under ultra-violet light.
Present also is a copy of: Pound, Ezra. Exultations. London: Elkin Mathews, 1909. First edition, signed and inscribed by Pound to Margaret Cravens. Hinges partially reinforced, spine lacking two pieces and reinforced with tape.
Margaret Lanier Cravens, an American expatriate studying piano in Paris, met Ezra Pound in March of 1910. Pound was visiting his friend, the pianist/composer (and instructor to Cravens) Walter Rummel in Paris en route to Italy. Thanks to Cravens intelligence and passion for Italian poetry, she and Pound struck up an instant friendship and within days Cravens offered her patronage to the struggling poet. The extent of the relationship between the two is uncertain, but it is assumed through available accounts that there was some level of romance.
Cravens commissioned portraits of herself and Pound to be painted by Eugene Paul Ullman, husband to her friend Alice Woods Ullman, in April of 1911. Although the Ullmans immediately disliked Pound, finding him brusque and boastful, Eugenes portrait of Pound depicts the young poet in a flattering manner. His portrait of Cravens shows great sensitivity for his subject and is among his best work of the time.
Cravens committed suicide by shooting herself in the stomach with a silver revolver on the 1st of June, 1912. No one is certain of the reasons but her failed romantic relationships with Walter Rummel and Ezra Pound combined with news of her own Fathers suicide the previous year and a longtime illness were surely among them. The Ullmans particularly blamed Pound because of a note from him that they found and confiscated from Cravens residence after her death. The contents of the note were never revealed, but Omar Pound and Robert Spoo in their book Ezra Pound and Margaret Cravens, A Tragic Friendship, 1910-1912, (in which the above portraits are featured) speculate that the Ullmans may have misinterpreted Pounds words, or, perhaps, that he refused an offer to marry Cravens.
Provenance: By descent from Drusilla Cravens, aunt of Margaret Cravens, who, apparently out of anger, took the canvas off of the stretcher and rolled the portrait of Pound and stashed it out of sight, which would account for the pictures condition.