Lion Found Bottle (In a Portrait)
UPDATED ~~ November 11, 2003 ~~ SEE BELOW
This past April (2001), Patrick Lion sent me a cryptic message, writing, "Recently, I came in contact with a large framed picture of a big burly man (who looks like my dad) holding a fly fishing rod and pouring himself a drink of Old Overholt Whiskey. Scenic farmland view in the background. Artist name, R. Bohune; copyright 1913. Have you ever seen one?"
Intrigued, I answered back, asking for more information and a photograph. With several attached photos (in his first attempt at connecting a camera to his computer), Patrick wrote that the picture belongs to his brother. It appears to be a promotional item, which his brother plans to have professionally cleaned prior to putting it up for sale. He wondered if I could recognize the individual, adding, "It is uncanny how much he looks like our father."
Actually, years ago, when thinking about the writer who composed the material I edited for my article, OLD OVERHOLT: The History of a Whiskey, I imagined the old gentleman looking pretty much like this portrait!
It is always delightful to hear about and see photos of artifacts featuring Overholt Whiskey. If anyone can assist Patrick Lion, regarding this magnificently commercial artwork, please pass along the information.
~~ UPDATING THIS INFORMATION ~~
I'm happy to report some new and rather exciting information regarding this portrait and its creator. Early this year, I received copies of several e-mail messages between Bob Parker (owner of the portrait), Patrick Lion, and Roy Overholt. The pertinent text from Roy Overholt appears here.
"Thanks very much for your e-mail and attachments about the fisherman and the 'Old Overholt' whiskey advertisement. I think that the artist's name is actually Rudolph Bohunek, an emigree from Bohemia back in 1907. He found his way to New Orleans and was commissioned to do portraits of a large number of prominent New Orleans citizens. These portraits are now installed at the Louisiana Museum of History. Bohunek returned to Bohemia from 1911 to 1913, then came back to the United States and, arriving in Chicago, opened an art school.
The painting that you have, signed R. Bohune, I'd almost bet, is the product of Rudolph Bohunek. The University of Chicago, Urbana-Champaign has the entire advertising collection of The D'Arcy Co., and it has been micro-filmed and is available through inter-library loan service. The collection includes 'Old Overholt' advertising from 1913 to 1968. I would almost bet that the fisherman painting is included in these files. I don't think that there will be any attribution as to the artist or the model involved, just the ad. The collection includes 113 'Old Overholt' advertisements. They are contained on Reel #22, and cataloged under Beverages, Alcoholic.
If you are interested in seeing the other 112 ads, you could contact the Librarian, Lisa Romero, Assoc. Professor, at her e-mail: L-ROMERO@UIUC.EDU . . . Thanks again for keeping in touch, and also for sending info on the painting and the great Overholt Website. I enjoyed both of them very much." [My pleasure, Roy!]
I understand that Bob Parker has been contacted by some folks interested in the portrait and wanting to know if he wishes to sell or donate it. He says he hesitates to follow up on their queries, because he has not yet been able to assess the portrait's value. Therefore, he'll be investigating further, adding, "I suspect it is not a common piece, although I am aware of three other same portraits." He said he would let me know when he has any new information. Again, in case anyone knows anything more, Bob Parker's current e-mail address (as of 7-31-03) is below.