Sunday, April 11, 2021

Not unseen: Granville Redmond, painter, actor, friend

This article is part of Unseen, a series about notable people whose death, beginning in 1851, became inaccessible in The Times.

in Classic silent film opening scene “City Lights” (1931), Charlie Chaplin’s character, The Little Tramp, comically swings from an idol, while its sculptors look on in horror, wagging their hands in surprise and wiping their eyebrows in distress. .

The sculptor, the actor portraying Granville Redmond, appeared in seven Chaplin films, identified by the wild mane of his hair. Redmond was deaf, and his performances were early examples of deaf representation in Hollywood. Some believe that Redmond also taught Chaplin, who is famous as a pantomime, who uses sign language.

But Redmond was first and foremost an artist who inspired Chaplin with portraits of California’s natural beauty: the serene, brown-toned scene; Lonely rock monuments away from an island peninsula; The tree-dotted meadow lit by a hot sun; Blue nocturnal swamps under the moon’s dramatic glow. His paintings are considered among the best examples of California Impressionism today.

Artist Arthur Millier of the Los Angeles Times wrote in 1931 that Redmond “was unmatched in realistic depictions of the California landscape.” Yet his style was never the same: some paintings left sections of canvas and chunky pigments were deposited, while others took an attractive look.

Above all, he was known for his paintings of golden poppies, the state’s official flower. His poopies presented their rhymes of the rolling grasslands of the San Gabriel Valley, often with purple lupine. Sometimes they complemented a coastal scene with bursts of yellow highlights.

“She portrayed him better than anyone else; I don’t think it can be argued, “said Scott A. Shields, who curated A show of redmond’s work Last year at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento. “You can feel the weather. You can feel when it is spring, you can feel when it is in winter, and you can feel when it starts in summer. “

His painting of the poppies became a popular cake for tourists to Redmond; He preferred painting scenes of solitude.

“I wish, people wouldn’t buy them,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “They all want poppies.”

Chaplin supported Redmond’s painting career, offering him a room to paint in the scaffolding of an unused building on his studio lot. Upon breaking up, Chaplin would go to Redmond and watch him work quietly.

“Redmond paints solitude, and yet the solitude is never loneliness by some strange paradox,” Chaplin noted in a 1920 article for The Magazine, Alice T, a magazine. Terry told.


He had such admiration for Redmond’s paintings that he removed film celebrities’ pictures from their walls so that they would not detract from the work of Redmond, which he kept in his mantle.

“You know, I have some puzzles about the pictures of Redmond,” Chaplin was quoted as a silent activist in 1925, a newspaper for the deaf community. “There is a wonderful joy about them all.”

“Look at the happiness in that sky, a riot of color in those flowers,” she continued. “Sometimes I think that the silence in which he lives has developed in some sense, some great capacity for happiness in which we are liking others.”

Grenville Richard Seymour Redmond was born in Philadelphia, Pa., On March 9, 1871, the oldest of five children of Charles and Elizabeth (Buck) Redmond. (He changed the spelling of his name to Granville in 1898 to distinguish himself from uncle.) His father was a Civil War veteran in the Union Army and a laborer in several trades.

After coming down with Scarlet fever, Redmond lost his ability to hear when he was 2 years old. The following year his family moved to San Jose, California, to live near a family member who owned a farm.

In 1879, he attended the California Institution for the Deaf and Dumb and Blind (now California School for the Deaf) at Berkeley. It was there when Redmond found an affinity for drawing under the direction of another deaf artist, Theophilus Hope D’Strella, Who introduced him to the Saturday art class at the California School of Design. He went to enroll in school. He was selected by the faculty in 1893 to create a drawing for 1893 World’s Columbian Exhibition in Chicago.

Redmond communicated through sign language and writing, but he never mastered written English because of his focus on the arts, a gap in his education that he regretted. “In my early days in school, I was always drawing, drawing,” he wrote.

After graduation, he studied in Paris Academy julian. In 1895, his painting “Matin d’Hiver” (“Winter Morning”), depicting a barge on the edge of the Seine, was admitted to the Paris Salon, a high honor for an artist at the time. He spent a few more years painting in France, hoping to enter another painting at the salon and winning a medal, but he struggled financially and returned to California in 1898 gloomily.

He married Carrie Ann Jean, who was from Indiana in 1899 and was also deaf, and had three children.

Redmond’s early works were Tonal In nature, a nod to the training of 19th-century artists in San Francisco as well as Barbizon School, Whose landscape painting he knew in France. Many of his paintings are views of Terminal Island, Catalina Island and Laguna Beach in Southern California. He returned to Northern California in 1908, living and painting in Monterrey, San Mateo and Marin counties.

The Cracker Museum curator said in a phone interview, “A lot of newspapers wrote that he could see more than the average person because his intelligence increased.” “Redmond kind of believes himself.”

Redmond’s work was well received, but the lack of funds, partly due to the economic downturn at the beginning of World War I, prompted him to move back to Los Angeles and try his hand at acting.

Redmond’s disability in the silent-film era, combined with his artistic bent, worked to his advantage. Chaplin saw him as a natural for small parts in his films as Redmond expressed himself through gestures, Shields said. The two men signed on to each other and communicated on set.

Redmond’s deafness sometimes led to his own work in intrigues. In Arthur Rawson’s “You Hared Be Surprise” (1926), Redmond played the role of a coroner in the role of a deaf. Only viewers who knew sign language could follow the conversation.

The films also provided him with a new market for his art; Buyers included Hollywood nobles such as Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford.

On May 24, 1935, Redmond died of complications of heart disease. He was 64 years old. (Chaplin died 88 in 1977.)

Alice Terry, author of The Jewish Def magazine, noted the artistic resemblance in the two friends.

“For more than two years now, these two have worked shoulder to shoulder,” she wrote in 1920, “Chaplin, quietly and dramatically, by his innate triviality, creating mirth and incense for millions of weary people.” Does; ” And Redmond, silently and none the less effectively, illuminating the lives of all, with their brilliance, appealing to the paintings on canvas. “

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