Polia Pillin Paintings & Plate
Polia was a friend of my mother, stepfather and my father. They met in Chicago, and after she left Chicago, she went to L.A. and I lost contact with her other than one visit. But they were long-time friends and my father used to be in contact with her all the time down in L.A.
We see a lot of her pottery. That comes up on the market a lot, and that is what made Polia Pillin famous, pieces such as these, which very often have the same type of decoration on them-- they have lots of ladies and lots of horses. You know, she was from Poland and probably moved here with her parents as a young girl, and they moved to Chicago, and Chicago has a large Polish community, and she was there for some time until she did move to New Mexico in the '30s. And she was painting in New Mexico through the '30s and early '40s, and she moved to L.A. by 1948.
Oh, I see.
So the two paintings you have are before that. These are both works on paper, both of them looking like a watercolor or a gouache. It's a New Mexican scene, I would think, dated here "1940" and signed by her. Now, the portrait, which is particularly arresting, you don't think of Fauve painting when you see the pieces of pottery, but it is so clear on this piece here. This is considerably earlier. It is dated "1932," signed with her maiden name. And it is so spectacular. The pieces of pottery that she does with the young girls, you can have larger pieces which will be up to $1,000. But a plate like this at auction would probably bring about $200. The paintings come up from time to time, and you see the landscapes, $1,000 to $1,500. That portrait, and I don't know if there are others out there, but it's certainly the first one I've ever seen of hers. I discussed that with a colleague at the painting table, and we seem to agree that an auction estimate of $8,000 to $12,000...
Would be appropriate.
Do you feel it is a self-portrait, or...?
I don't know if it is or not. It's kind of dreamy and soulful and sad, but so very strong and kind of the precursor of what was sweet but much more commercial that she ended up doing later.
Much more commercial, yeah.
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