Daily Archives: January 18, 2016

What is he looking at? A Portrait of a Pipeman


Blog by Steve Laug

I love looking at old paintings and framed prints while I am out hunting for pipes. I have found some pretty interesting old pieces that are now in various rooms in our home. My brother came across this painting in an antique shop near where he lives in Idaho. He said it just stood out to him while he walked around the shop. It is certainly a picture that I would have spent time looking at and enjoying. I would also have asked the owner what he was willing to sell it for and my brother did the same. The owner quoted him a price and my brother countered with an offer. The seller accepted the offer and my brother walked out as the new owner of the painting.IMG_20160108_192603
He showed it to me on Facetime and I was struck by what a great photo it was. He took a picture of the painting and sent it to me. He said he cut off a bit of the hat and the smoke from the pipe but the general idea was still clear. The great thing to me was that he said that he was going to send it to me. I can’t wait to see the portrait in person.

When I see old paintings like this I always am drawn to reflect on the subject of the painting and the setting. I think it comes from the remnant of those art history courses I took in university some 40 years ago. I like to look at the style of the painting and the perspective of the artist. From there I try to figure out a bit about the person in the painting.

From the angle of the face I wonder if this is not a self portrait of the painter. The perspective of the way he looks out from the painting leads me to think that he was looking at himself as he painted this piece. To me the character of the old man who comes through those eyes. He has a certain whimsical air about him almost as if he is quietly chuckling around the bit of the pipe. The wrinkles around the eyes and the creases in the forehead should a man who loved to laugh. He obviously enjoyed life. The pipe appears to be clay with a reed stem and mouthpiece. To me it looks like a bit of a homemade pipe – using and old bowl and then inserting a hollow reed to make it usable.

Whoever this anonymous painting is by and whoever it is who sat for the portrait – whether the painter himself or a photo or friend it is a well done piece of pipe art. I am looking forward to seeing he print/painting in person one day. I know that it will find itself in a place or prominence in my study overlooking the desk I use as a worktable for pipe restoration. Somehow I think that is a fitting spot. I will have to watch myself as I am sitting under the watchful eye of this old gentleman. He looks like he knows more than he is saying.