The real Basil Hallwards


Well, two of them anyway… Discussion with commenter Noel in one of my old (and rather scant) posts about Albert Lewin’s 1945 film of The Picture of Dorian Gray touched on the fate of the original version of Dorian’s portrait (above). For some reason I’d always assumed this to have been produced by MGM’s art department despite a clear credit at the opening of the film for artist Henrique Medina (1901–1988). I no doubt miss this since my eyes always go to the credit for Ivan Albright (1897–1983), the artist responsible for the famous deteriorated final state of the picture (below). That painting is so splendidly grotesque its presence almost overpowers the entire film but its power would be lessened without the contrast of Medina’s elegant original. Examples of Medina’s other portrait works show a distinct similarity.


Noel pointed the way to photos from the LIFE magazine archives which show Ivan Albright and his identical twin brother, Malvin, at work on the portrait. (Another here.) Fascinating not only to see an early stage of the painting but also a dummy of the decayed Dorian they were using as a model.


Albright’s dissolute masterpiece can be seen at the Art Institute of Chicago, together with a number of his other works. Noel notes that Medina’s picture was bought at auction for $25,000 but its current whereabouts and ownership remain a mystery. If anyone knows more about this, please leave a comment.

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