Murray, Andrew: Painter
13.75in. x 9.75in.
oil on canvas board
HGH comments: It was through the purchase of this painting that I got into the naïves. I never knew what it was before. Emilee Löwenheim asked me to come to an auction for a Jewish charity — what people do when they want to be benevolent is they donate paintings or furniture. Eventually this painting came up, and nobody made a bid. I couldn’t even see what the painting represented, it was too far away, too small. The auctioneer lost his temper, and I couldn’t stand it anymore either. Somewhat accidentally I raised my arm, when the auctioneer screamed from the dais, “It’s yours!” I paid 50 Rand, about $45 US.
I was quite glad that I hadn’t seen it properly before: had I seen it properly I might not have bid. But when I had a chance to look at the painting properly and investigate naive paintings, it was love. I had never seen such a painting. For somebody who has been nourished by the giants of the 19th century, such as Cezanne, Van Gogh, Matisse, impressionists and expressionists, this “naïve”, with its childlike style — the hat is barely sitting on his head. This childlike attention-getter equalled the sensation of seeing a puppy — this helpless puppy of a painting. I was hooked. And little did I know that I had come face to face with a period of 30 years of collecting what I was to learn was naïve art.
The best part is that I was offered a very high price for it. Little did I know then that my innocent purchase would culminate in the highest profit I had ever been offered on one of my purchases. When my telephone rang with an offer of 2,500 pounds (US $4,000) 20 years later, I realized I had made a good buy. Beginner’s luck! Andrew Murray is dead now, but he wasn’t then. The man who wanted to buy the painting knew Murray and his work and at that time that was the value of the painting. And I had nothing to do with the purchase except to raise my hand at the wrong time!