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Paintings by Janet Gaynor Up For Auction

Janet Gaynor, My Love to You, Paul [White Petunias], circa 1977-78, Oil on canvas
Janet Gaynor, My Love to You, Paul [White Petunias], circa 1977-78, Oil on canvas

The Heritage Auctions 2011 March Beverly Hills Signature Decorative Art Auction includes the collection of film producer Paul Gregory and his late wife, actress Janet Gaynor. Janet Gaynor won the Best Actress Oscar for her work in three films: “7th Heaven,” “Street Angel,” and “Sunrise” at the first Academy Awards in 1929, at the age of 23. This was the only time an actress won the Oscar for multiple roles. She was nominated again in 1938 for “A Star is Born.”

The Collection of Paul Gregory and Janet Gaynor auction includes eight original paintings by Janet Gaynor. Gaynor was encouraged to begin painting by her first husband, fashion and costume designer Adrian. In a 1977 People Magazine article she says, “When I married Adrian I became absorbed in a world I’d never known—his incredible designs and shops and his paintings.” She continue to paint during her marriage to Paul Gregory, focusing more of her time and energy on her art, according to Heritage. Gaynor had multiple sold out gallery exhibitions in the late 1970s and early 1980s and had come to view herself as “a painter who occasionally acts.”

According to the lot description, the painting shown here was done during the mid-1970s when Paul Gregory was teaching “Performance Techniques” courses at San Diego State University. On a visit to one of the plant nurseries in the region, a grid of frilly white petunia flats caught Gaynor’s eye as a delightful motif for a painting. “Paul suggested she include just one whimsical hint of color in the design–a pink petunia peeking in from the lower right corner. She thought it was brilliant in more ways than one, and injected not simply a pink petunia but a hot pink one into the otherwise white painting. She gave the work to Paul as a gift which they displayed prominently at their ranch where they had once hung a work by Grandma Moses. Janet Gaynor considered this painting one of her very best efforts.”

The auction takes place Sunday, March 20, 2011.

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