Robert Brown mural Harbor Theme

The Mystery of Harbor Theme

Robert Brown completed a large mural entitled Harbor Theme sometime in 1954 or 1955. He rarely dated his work, but a photo in the Los Angeles Herald Examiner’s “Pictorial Living” section confirms it was completed by January 1955. Sometime that year The Beverly Hilton hung it in their new Wilshire Boulevard hotel1.

Harbor Theme is arguably Brown’s most important serigraph. The artist used 149 screens and 25 colors1, an astonishing feat made more so considering he created his silk screens with the tusche-and-glue method. Even with today’s easier photographic method of creating screens, that number of pulls is nearly unheard of.

Printed in a limited edition of 50, Harbor Theme was a high art version of the popular wallpaper murals of the day. Several years later Brown’s reputation brought a commission for Port of Call, a wallpaper mural printed by James Seeman Studios of Long Island, New York, a major producer of the ubiquitous “wallscapes”. Hundreds of homes and offices had a Brown design on their walls.

Harbor Theme is a mural of which Brown must have been extremely proud. In his studio belongings, only this work had its own dedicated photo album. Of the original edition of 50, this artist’s proof found in Brown’s studio is the only known remaining copy. One piece of six is missing – a fish on a plate representing the bounty of the harbor.

The 5 pieces are the remaining artist’s proof found in Robert Brown’s studio with a scan of the missing piece embedded.  The Associates of Brand Library & Art Center is trying to locate another original print, last seen at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, if one still exists and complete the missing puzzle piece in the artist’s proof.

 

Robert W. Brown at work

Robert Brown’s “Harbor Theme,” historic mural from Beverly Hilton hotel, at New Puppy Gallery

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