Sunday, August 07, 2005

Whatever happened to the portrait of Carlota Valdez?


Carlota Valdez was Madeleine Elster/Judy (Kim Novak)'s alter ego/great-grandmother in Hitchcock's masterpiece Vertigo (1958). Her portrait plays an important role in the movie, a ghostly bond with a past that merges with the present in a spellbinding, supernatural way.

The painting in question got lost when removed from the Palais de la Legion d'Honneur in San Francisco. It was the work of an American Expressionist painter, John Ferren (1905-1970), by request of Alfred Hitchcock. Ferren initially painted Vera Miles, who had to decline the role when she became pregnant of her third child. I'm not really sure if there was a second painting or if Ferren merely changed the face when Kin Novak was chosen.

Just like the red balalaika in David Lean's Dr Zhivago or the the red sled used by Orson Welles for Citizen Kane, its whereabouts remain unknown...


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Anonymous said...

There are two paintings - the one used in the film is indeed lost, but the one for which Vera Miles posed is now in Paramount offices. Supposedly Ferren fell in love with Vera while he was painting it (she was happily married at the time so nothing ever came of it).

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