Gramercy Park Block Association - Neighborhood News #571
 
Since The Players sits on one of the original lots laid out in the 1831 Ruggles Gramercy Park Trust, and is an individually designated landmark within the Gramercy Park Historic District, the GPBA is deeply concerned about the club and its future.
The Players Foundation for Theatre Education 
working with The Players on Sale of Sargent Portrait of Joseph Jefferson


We have recently learned more about a hidden treasure right here on Gramercy Park, The Players Foundation for Theatre Education, an affiliate of The Players. 

"We're really two sides of one coin," says Foundation Curator and Librarian Raymond Wemmlinger. "The Players was founded to be a library as well as a club, and since 1888 a
magnificent collection of theatre related letters, prompt-books and scrapbooks as well as art and memorabilia has been accumulated. Today we are a non-profit facility with specific educational goals."

Click here to read about the Foundation's Hampden-Booth Theatre Library, located at 16 Gramercy Park South.

Joseph Jefferson (as Dr. Panglos in "The Heir at Law") by John Singer Sargent, 1890, oil on canvas, 36 by 28 inches. 
The Foundation is now working with the club on the sale of the John Singer Sargent portrait of Joseph Jefferson "for financial reasons," according to Wemmlinger.  The work, which has graced The Players' walls for over 100 years, portrays the comedian, one of the greatest actors of his age, as Dr. Pangloss in the comedy The Heir at Law.

"We are committed to finding the best possible new home for this wonderful and unique portrait," said Wemmlinger. "Although we will consider an appropriate individual buyer we are really hoping to place it in a museum, preferably one with a meaningful connection to Jefferson. We are seeking $2.2 Million."

Jefferson spent the last years of his life in Palm Beach.  See below for a recent article in The Palm Beach Daily News:

Sunday, June 22, 2014

 

Players club hopes to sell famous Sargent painting

Daily News Arts Editor

 

For more than 100 years, John Singer Sargent's portrait of part-time Palm Beacher Joseph Jefferson has graced the walls of The Players club in New York.

 

The painting, which is signed by the artist and dated 1890, was a gift to the club from Edwin Booth, its founding president, and Lawrence Barrett. Jefferson followed Booth as president. 

 

The work portrays the comedian, one of the greatest actors of his age, as Dr. Pangloss in the comedy The Heir at Law.

 

Now the private club wants to sell the portrait "for financial reasons," said Raymond Wemmlinger, curator and librarian for the Players Foundation for Theatre Education. The asking price is $2.2 million.

 

"Jefferson apparently loved Palm Beach, and we can think of no more appropriate new home for this splendid work of art," Wemmlinger said in an email to the Palm Beach Daily News.

Jefferson spent winters in Palm Beach during the last years of his life. While here, he enjoyed the company of his good friend Henry Flagler, as well as gardening, painting and fishing. 

When he died in Palm Beach in 1905, shops and schools closed, and his praises were sung at Town Hall.

 

The club offered to sell the painting to the Norton Museum of Art and the Flagler Museum. The Norton isn't interested, spokesman Scott Benarde said.

 

John Blades, the Flagler Museum's executive director, said "we'd love to have the painting. But although it's reasonably priced for a Sargent, unless a donor comes up with the money, we could not afford it."