Portrait of Armand Wargny by John Stermer

Early Preparatory Drawing And Painting

In this posting, I would like to show you a John Stermer painting along with its preparatory drawing.  The drawing “Vagrant” and a painting titled “Portrait of Armand Warngy” and were done 1946.  I had seen a photograph of the drawing before from Dad’s artwork  archives.  However, it was not until this past March that I finally saw the painting in person.  

To explain, on a recent trip to visit my Mother, (the artist’s wife, Luci), one of my sister’s and I looked through some of the Dad’s art inventory.  Lo and behold, I saw the painting and was thrilled!  I instantly recognized the face of “The Vagrant” to my delight. *Please see below, we have since come to recognize the painting as “Portrait of Armand Wargny”.

Portrait of Armand Wargny, by John Stermer 1946


You see, I think that it is both insightful and fun to see a painting and drawing together.  It is like getting a small glimpse onto the artist’s process.  That is, you get to see the artist’s vision and hand at work.  

Sometimes, for instance, the preparatory drawing and painting are quite similar in appearance.  Other times, though, you might see a fair amount of editing and changes between the two.  Furthermore, the differences in media, such as charcoal and oil paint, may require a change in approach by the artist.



Preparatory Drawing: Vagrant, charcoal, by John Stermer


In today’s case, the drawing and painting are similar.    

What do you think?  Does seeing the drawing and painting together add to the meaning of both?

*Update, 23 October 2021.  In preparation for the John Stermer Restrospective (November 2021), daughter Dorothy, came across the painting again.  And, she recognized the painting to be “Portrait of Armand Wargny”.  

We were so excited because, you see, “Portrait of Armand Wargny” was included in a US State Department Tour of American Paintings.  The paintings were sent around the world and our Dad happened to see his own painting in the Orangie Museum of the Louvre in Paris, France, 1953.

This finding also begs the question, what is behind the title of the drawing?  Clearly, this is a drawing and painting of John Stermer’s friend and artist Armand Wargny.  The best I can think of is “The Vagrant” may have been some sort of internal joke amongst the two.  I would love to know the story, but the best we can do is speculate.

A little bit more of this history, Dad knew Armand Wargny through their mutual association with Lars Hoftrup and Arthur Abrams, all of Elmira, NY.  Arthur Abrams was one of Dad’s early instructors.  And, Lars Hoftrup would become Dad’s mentor in addition to teaching him watercolor painting.  Lars Hoftrup and Armand Wargny were close friends.  





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