was a French artist who, around 1775, took a trip to Sicily and southern Italy and memorialized it all in a series of prints and lithographs, which he sold to his well-heeled clientele and the European royalty of those days. Catherine of Russia, was one of his best customers, and to this day, there is a good amount of his original work in Russian art museums.
In the summer of 1976, after my first year in College here in the USA, I returned home as I did every year after that, to train in the family business. My father, at the time, worked as an art dealer, and one of the things I loved the most was going with him on sales calls to showcase the art we had for sale to some of his most prestigious customers.
While in the office of one of his clients, a criminal lawyer of great renown, as my father was pitching a great piece from a contemporary Sicilian artist he only dealt in contemporary art, I fell in love with a series of prints hanging on the wall of the lawyers’ office. I was barely 18 at the time and I could not take my eyes away from those prints.
During his conversation with my dad, the lawyer turned to me and said, “These are not originals, you know, they are the best of reproductions though, top-notch, you know, my client has a fine art printing company ad he just got the license to reproduce these prints for a company up north, he has a few pieces of leftover from the job you know, maybe you should give him a call!”
I walked out of that meeting with a smile. My dad made a big sale, and I devised a great idea. I told my dad, “I think I can sell all these in America. They have nothing like this, you know, and at the right price, I could make a small fortune by selling it to all the other students who are looking for something more elegant than a Farrah Fawcett Poster!”
I added, “This is going to be huge!”
That evening, my dad and I drove to the printing plant, and after a long conversation with the owners over espresso and cannoli, we made a deal for me to buy all he had left and ship it to America to my fraternity house in College. This was my first business deal. I spent all the money I had in the bank at the time, and I felt as if I just invented Coca-Cola.
Turn out I was wrong, very wrong. I never sold one piece, but I refused to give it to the liquidators, and for the last 47 years, I moved them with me wherever I moved. My father once asked me, “ Why don’t you just give them away and get rid of them?”.I responded,” They were beautiful to me when I first saw them, and they are still beautiful to me now, I will find a home, the right home for each one of them!”
That was that. We never spoke about it again.
I just found them by accident again. A couple of days ago as I was organizing my storage space, I felt overwhelmed with feelings, I sat on the floor and reminisced about those days gone by…..I swear I could feel my dad ruffling my hair like he did when I was a kid. I looked up as if he was there, and I said, “It might have taken me 47 years, but this time I will find a loving home for each and every one of them.
Each piece is a set of 3 prints, and they are all identical. All are from Houel’s collection from his travels to Sicily. Rumor has it he had a love affair with a noblewoman in Palermo, he learned to speak Sicilian, and for a long time, he had a studio near “porta felice” in Palermo.
I feel happy knowing that after 47 years, these printed jewels will find a home with the fans of my cooking shows. I love these pieces, and I would like to find a new home for all of them. They deserve to be showcased elegantly in somebody’s home. Each print measures 17.5 X 12.5. They can be easily trimmed to fit most premade frames. In my opinion, they are elegant, somewhat rare, even as reproductions. I love the sepia finish on each of them. Each order will come with a personal autographed letter signed by me.
What you get with this purchase: