Sometimes finding what is not is as good as finding what is. Knowing to move on and look elsewhere is also important, and finding the nos is survivable though so terribly disappointing.
Kidd painted mural for Playa Riente: 7 Nov 1923 – Sherman is painting the freize for the Dining Room of the Cosden mansion built by Addison Mizner. Right in the 1923 article it says Mrs Cosden wanted the Italian Palace Davanzati in Florence in her Dining Room and the article says Sherman Kidd gave her Desoto’s life – 111 feet of Desoto’s life in 18 foot lengths.
1923 “R Sherman Kidd” The Palm Beach Post, West Palm Beach, Florida, November 7, 1923 page 2, col 4? Pictures By Local Artist. Saya Sherman just completed a series of pictures for the Joshua Cosden Home in Palm Beach (Addison Mizner, architect) “…canvass is in 18 foot lengths but will be placed to make one continuous picture 111 feet long…” (In dining room). (subject “…taken from the old Davanzati Palace in Florence, Italy. (Desoto and his expedition)
But in my quest to find all things Sherman and especially find works which just might have survived – I take on the quest to find photos of the Dining Room of the Joshua Cosden Mansion – 947 North Ocean Boulevard, designed and built by the wonderful Addison Mizner. Sherman did a lot of work for Mizner and several of his projects not only in the Palm Beaches – but the newspapers take you from painting to painting and exhibit to exhibit of R Sherman Kidd’s aka R Sherman Winton’s life and career.
Pour nine years of research into a whirlwind trip to the seriously wonderful Lake Worth and you will come up with consultants Joyce B, Wes B, Nicholas C and Deborah P just to name a few and you will turn up answers galore.
The research guru of the home Playa Riente just happened to be introduced to us by the one person in town who likely held the answers to at least half the questions I had, and delightfully opened the door to another litany of wonderful new questions. We’ll have to go again – the trip was not long enough.
My guru was taken aback by the 1923 article – he not only had seen the photos of the Cosden Dining Room but knew it was painted after the Davanzati Palace of Florence and there was no sign of Desoto and no one knew who Sherman was – hardly – a newly to be re-discovered Palm Beach artist – how fun.
The story of the Cosdens, their architect, Addison Mizner and the Palm Beach building boom of the early 1920s is Sherman’s story and I have dug up the names of friends, neighbors, patrons, art owners, enemies, relatives, teachers and students. There is every vital record imaginable and assumed DNA from relatives and of course one would find artifacts for testing.
Too much money and too many databases later I have a past newspaper story that says Sherman also painted a frieze for the lobby of Mizner’s Miami administration building of his Boca Raton project. Could Mizner have moved the Cosden – Desoto murals to his Miami building? Who can find out?
Like the search for photos of the Cosden Dining Room it took a Guru, and the research showed that in Cosden’s first round of financial bankruptcies he sold the wonderful Playa Riente to Mrs Horace Dodge, the very special Anna Dodge, later wife to Real Estate agent Hugh Dillman. Did Dillman or others take the Desoto murals in a divorce settlement?
After selling Playa Riente, Joshua Cosden moved down the street to Guardiola — another Mizner house. Did Cosden take Desoto by Sherman with him?
Later the new owner of Playa Riente, Mrs Anna Dodge, keeps the home through 1957 and the sale catalog of her home shows the Dining Room clearly – and it is the Florentine Palace.
Our Gurus were able to show me photos and I now have my own copy of the famous infamous Dining Room and there is no Desoto – where did the Kidd murals go?
Then in 1940 a newspaper story we have another clue
1940 “R Sherman Winton” Named. In article about the Palm Beach Art league expanded article. The Palm Beach Post newspaper March 31, 1940, pages 2, 3. “…R. Sherman Winton who executed the celebrated murals in the Cosden home at Palm Beach, now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Dillman, was the third president…” “…The late Dr. Frank Landon Humphreys succeeded Mr. Winton…”. (copy on file)
And… Another mystery painting to locate the 1927 “Slave Ship” Exhibition with the Palm Beach Art League
This work from the Cosden/Dodge home is unidentified. Is this Sherman’s wonderful mural named in the 1940 article?