FEYNMAN, RICHARD | “Zorthian’s Wife.”
Pencil and charcoal on paper, 13 x 16 inches, signed and dated lower right "'64 / Dick."
One of Feynman's first dated drawings, a portrait of the wife of the man who taught him to draw, the infamous artist Jirayr Zorthian. Done before Feynman began using the pseudonym "Ofey", this is also a rare example of a drawing signed "Dick." Artwork by Feynman is exceptionally rare on the market; this is the only portrait by Feynman that we know of to be offered for sale to the public.
In 1962, at the age of 44, Feynman began learning to draw, and developed into a talented artist over the years, often working with live models in his home, or simply sketching the people around him, and eventually began signing his works under the pseudonym "Ofey." His artwork has been published in The Art of Richard P. Feynman. Images by a Curious Character. One of Feynman's closest friends was the artist Jirayr Zorthian, whom he speaks about frequently in "Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman!":
"'Listen Jerry' I said 'the reason we have these arguments that never get anywhere is that you don't know a damn thing about science, and I don't know a damn thing about art. So, on alternate Sundays, I'll give you a lesson on science, and you give me a lesson in art.'" ("Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman!")
Zorthian's greatest work of art was his ranch; a home-made building full of sculptures, and the setting of legendary parties where luminaries such as Andy Warhol, Charlie Parker, Buckminster Fuller, and Richard Feynman were regular attendees. This portrait was exhibited in 2008 show "Jirayr Zorthian / Richard Feynman: A Conversation in Art" at the Pasadena Armory Center for the Arts alongside a portrait of Feynman's wife done by Zorthian. Feynman returned the favor with his successful portrait of Dabney Zorthian.
Illustrated in: The Art of Richard P. Feynman, 1995, fig. 8 (page 67).
Exhibited: Jirayr Zorthian / Richard Feynman: A Conversation in Art. Pasadena Armory Center for the Arts, 2008
Condition as described in catalogue entry.
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