Sunday, April 08, 2007

Guatemalan Indian Child by Valerius

I guess it was back in the early 60's that my Mother had a painter friend who went by the name Valerius. He was European, if memory serves, but he wasn't the Belgian Valerius who died in 1946, or the Russian Valerius who was born in 1969.

My wife and I have had this painting since I don't know when. Today I was playing around with a new cellphone that incorporates a camera, and was looking for things to take pictures of, and so here it is.

Actually, no. The one in this post I took with my more suitable Olympus Stylus 300 Digital camera. The cellphone version is here, but it's not a fair comparison. I took the cellphone version while the picture was on the wall in a fairly dark hallway, whereas for the Olympus version, I took the painting outside into full daylight and used the flash (not to mention a few more pixels with greater color depth, and a better lens). Just for grins, I think I'll give the cellphone camera another shot at a fairer comparison.

I've always liked this painting. I think Valerius caught the child's tears just about right. Her hand, nervously at her mouth, adds a little something I don't think I've seen in any other painting.

I remember meeting this Valerius, but I don't remember anything else about him. I think my Mother met him in her capacity as number two in the Guatemalan tourist commission, where she was, naturally enough, heavily involved in promoting tourism to Guatemala (something she loved doing, and carried on by establishing a travel agency with a couple of partners when she left the tourist office).

I'm glad I got that silly cellphone camera. Now I appreciate this painting a little bit more.


Claudio miguel G. Vaca said...

hi my mame is claudio, I´m Mexican.

Only to remember that the Indians Live in India (Asian continent), and in America we lived Americans. those that your Indian flames are native or Indigenous.

Sincerely Claudio

Steve said...

Yes, thanks Claudio. I have a co-worker of Indian extraction who corrected me on that point, too.

I'm not sure why some people are sensitive to this use of the term "Indian", be they of Indian or Native American extraction, but if that's what people prefer I'll try to respect the convention. It's just that, to me, saying "native child" or "indigenous child" just sounds funny.

Probably I should have just left it at "child".

Happy Sunday from Phoenix!

patty said...

Hello Steve!

I too have a Valerius painting! It is of a woman carring a jug.

I found your painting while tring to find more info an this artist. I can not locate any thing else.

I wish I could! Any thing more to share?


Steve said...

Hi Patty,

Roger Ulasovetz credits his start in painting to Valerius, whom he lost track of when Valerius moved to Guatemala, where my mother knew him. Roger says the signature is identical on both the painting I have and one he has that Valerius did of Rogers' sister.

Roger confirms what my mother told me, that Valerius had painted the entire Dutch royal family and did many other portraits. He lived in Toronto for a while, but this is all going back a long time, 35 years or more.

Roger says he hated taking commissions to pain children because the parents frequently had other ideas of how their kids looked.

Have you by any chance posted a picture of your Valerius anywhere online?

Patty said...

Hello Steve!

Interesting information. He painted the entire Dutch royal family!?

I accidentally acquired my Valerius will trying to strike a deal for another painting with a seller. He implied that I "needed" to take both to solidify the deal. Since it appeared to be a lovely, pleasing, portrait, I didn't balk too much.


I'm sorry but I could not figure out how to add the pics here but these links should give you a view.

Your Valerius is very lovely. He captured the child nicely. Rogers remark “parents frequently had other ideas of how their kids looked” is very funny! It looks like Valerius liked to paint anguished faces.

I'm going to be offering this painting for sale. I have far too many paintings scattered around my house!

The info you provided me is of great help. I have no idea of its value though.


Steve said...

Cool! Thanks for posting the pictures where I could see them. (The comments facility doesn't handle links as well as it might and mangled yours, so I copied them into the preceding three words.)

At first I thought the woman's top wasn't right and that he'd made her a little too busty (in that the top seemed too tight-fitting for a huipil), but now I see it's almost certainly not a huipil. (huipil and huipil)

But what do I know? In any event I liked the painting.

I'll be keeping the Valerius I have because I like it and because it was my mother's (I think it was a gift to her from the painter). Still, I'd be interested in hearing what value you wind up attaching to your painting.

Have a great weekend!

Anonymous said...

I am valerius's daughter and I have many of his paintings. My father is 90 years old and still paitings. Whenever I have a chance I will post his paintings.

Lucie Valerius

Steve said...

I look forward to seeing them. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I was living in Guatemala in the early 80s. At that time I came across Valerius paintngs. They impressed me very much...but couln´t afford to buy one.
Now I am painting myself and I would like to seee more Valerius paintings.


Anonymous said...

I was living in Guatemala in the early 80s when I came across Valerius paintings. They impressed me very much. Now I am painting myself and I am searching since long to find Valerius paintings.

Where can I find some in the www?.


Steve said...

Hi Werner. The painter's daughter, Lucie Valerius, commented above that she would post some of his paintings where we could see them, but I don't know if she ever had the chance. I'll see if I can find them by searching.

In the meantime, Patty commented with some links above, which I included in hyperlink form in the comment following hers. There are three links, all to different views of the same very nice painting.

If I find any others online I'll update this comment.

Cheers! Steve

Anonymous said...

This is truly amazing. I grew up in Guatemala city with a Guatemalan dad and a New Yorker mom who moved there when she married my dad in1949. In our house there was a beautiful Valerius which I have just "inherited" since my mom died last year. Mine is of an Indigena male (probably from Todos Santos) kneeling to a stone Mayan god (of rain). In the background is wilting "milpa" and storm clouds forming. I'll try to get you a link.

Nancy Arroyave Oliver

Steve said...

Cool! I'd love to see it.

Sorry about your Mom.

Steve said...

Thanks for the link Nancy. Yes, I like that one, too. The red sash definitely creates some sort of feeling from the contrast to the rest of the man's attire and the slightly spooky idol. The painting conveys a certain desperation, I think.

I like it! I think I'd keep it, too. ;>)

kidentist said...

I do not know if this thread is dead or not, but I ALSO own a Valerius painting that belonged to my late Mother. I can not recall where she purchased it, but I do know that I may have been through some one she knew from the "Club Aleman" in Guatemala. I could post a pic if you guys tell me how. I would also love to know more about this artist, as I know it was one of my mother's favorite pieces of art.
Dr. Carlos Dorantes
Yakima, WA

Steve said...

Sure, I'd love to see it Carlos. As for posting it to the internet, here are a couple of resources you can check to see what's would be best for you:

YouTube video

Picasa Web Albums


Or you can just email it to me and I'll post it for you:
stevesturgill("at" symbol here)


Anonymous said...

I'd like to see it too, Carlos. Can you describe it? It looks like we have a Valerius fan club! And it is interesting that several of our mothers took an esthetic interest in his works. ~Nancy

Helmut Tillmanns said...

I have also bought a Valerius painting in Guatemala in 1988.
I can not find informations in Europe about Valerius. Picture and contact

Anonymous said...

I live in Guatemala and I found your posts looking for more info on the Valerius painting. My father in law meet him in the 80's and bought one male portrait...
(I've already send it to Steve)


Anonymous said...

Steve, I also have a Valerius. I bought if memory serves me right at Galeria El Tunel. He was a European guy but I don't remember from which country either! I remember being told that Valerius had returned to Guate after the eartquake and painted scenes of the aftermath. I loved his paintings and would love to have some more information on him such as his full name, where he was born, other paintings, etc.

Did any of the other individuals that posted comments in your blog ever add more information? I noticed that Valerius' daughter apparently did not post anymore info.

Did you ever consider coming up with a list of his the known paintings in the US?


Anonymous said...

I could not post any pictures here as it was giving problems. But, Steven I have e-mailed you some pictures so maybe you might be more successful.

Lucie Valerius

Anonymous said...

I live in Florida and bought a Valerius painting on leather,it is a family of men I believe ,they look like Navaho Indians,it is signed by Valerius,the faces are just beautiful.Can anyone give me information on value?
11;50 AM

Anonymous said...

I live in Guatemala and i have several on leather..and a couple of rare ones... he used to be friends with my father in law. Hermann