Calling all Librarians, Calling all Librarians!

Okay — I have a reference question that might just need the awesome combined power of the biblioblogosphere to answer!

A few minutes into the 1960 film “Psycho“, we get to see the following painting hung on the wall of George Lowery’s office…

psychopainting
(click to view larger version)

Firstly, is it a Picasso? If not, is it by a known artist? Can you put a name to the painting?

Other paintings in the film appear to have been chosen for their symbolism, so perhaps this one was too.

If you can answer any of the those questions, please put Joel or myself out of our misery!!!

😀

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4 comments
  1. randal Baier said:

    I don’t think this is a Picasso, but I admit, one of the faces does look very similar to the Picasso image “Tête de femme (Portrait de Mademoiselle Aubrey)” http://picasso.tamu.edu/picasso/ImgViewer?imageURL=./graphics/1941/opp41-028.jpg . Frankly the image looks similar to a Rouault or a Chagall but it’s difficult to say. There is a hint of a signature in the lower right corner, but it’s very fuzzy. I like the Beckman guess also. In short, we don’t know. It could be something from a flea market!

  2. Many thanks Kathryn & Randal!

    I’m beginning to suspect that the painting may have been made specifically for the film.

    In particular, the faces are looking directly at Janet Leigh when she walks into her Lowery’s office. At that point, she’s either considering, or has already decided to, steal the $40,000.

    From that point on, there are several instances where male characters stare at Leigh and she feels guilt (even though the male characters don’t know she has stolen the money) — Lowery stares at Leigh as he walks in front of her car at the traffic lights, the traffic cop stares at Leigh from behind his dark sunglasses, etc…

    …and we, the viewer, stare directly at her throughout her journey in the car…

    …and even after her murder in shower, we continue to stare at her…

    Just before the infamous shower scene, Leigh decides to return the money. It’s at this point, when she no longer feels guilty, that Norman Bates stares at her (without her knowledge) through the peephole.

    So, perhaps the figures in the painting are simply there to be the first to stare at the guilty thief?

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