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 Richard Dey De Ribcowsky  (1880 - 1936)

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Lived/Active: California / Argentina/Europe/Bulgaria      Known for: sea-landscape, figure and nocturne painting

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Ad Code: 3
Dey De Ribcowsky
from Auction House Records.
Poppy Fields in Panoramic California Landscape
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from Charles Gurney.

My knowledge is limited to the years 1935 and 1936.

He lived in one of the Los Angeles area's best hotels. My memory says The Ambassador (most famous for its Coconut Grove supper club) in Hollywood, but not 100% certain (Could have been the Beverly Wilshire ?)

His paintings were on permanent show and for sale in the hotel's public rooms. Virtually all were framed in heavy, very ornate, gilt frames with overhead lighting attached. He was fairly insistent about selling them that way. He liked the lighting (day and night) which may have enhanced his "Reflex Style" which other biographies have said he patented. (a special brush technique, I think.)

He was confined to a wheel chair. I do not know the cause nor the length of this infirmity. His physical condition did not greatly restrict his travel. He owned, or perhaps hired, a large sedan, and a chauffeur drove him, lifted and carried him into his folding wheel chair. . A young lady, nurse-companion, usually accompanied, helped with the wheel chair, etc. .

In 1935 he traveled all the way to the small town of Yankton, South Dakota where he was a guest of my father who had asked him to come to paint family portraits. Neither of my grand parents liked their portraits, and would not display them. (I don't think he has ever been mentioned as a portrait artist).

While in Yankton, he may have painted both his largest and worst painting; it was done (in good humor) on a bet with my grandfather that he could not fill the large canvas in two hours. He did, and some years later it hung in the foyer of our family hotel - Yosemite type scene that looked like an artist had done it in two hours. It was NOT signed. I do not know what happened to it.

Some biographies mention that his best known work is Old Ironsides, which was done on a commission by an Old Ironsides 'Foundation' for showing in its Chicago gallery.

De Ribcowsky did a great deal of "commercial art" which at the time was often referred to as "calendar art." (Not then intended as a compliment.) These prints are very common in today's antique shops. (On the internet this week there is a Ribcowsky jig saw puzzle being offered - a sales promotion item in the '30s).

A few times in 1935 and '36, De Ribcowsky would call my mother to ask if he could come up to our St. Barbara house for lunch. He liked mother's cooking, and he also hoped she would consent to letting my 12 year old sister model for him. (She never did.) 1936 he gave my sister a moonscape (Malibu) and landscape (wild-flowers, hills, oaks, mountains near Lake Tahoe) for her birthday. Now cleaned, they hang in my house, as pretty as when original, but with minimal frames and without their overhead lights.

Within this month, February 2002, I know of two sales. I alerted my cousin in Los Angeles about a small, 1917 painting of the San Fran. Golden Gate (pre-bridge), and she bought it - her 3rd, I think. . Another, larger and also a sea-scape, is now in my house where I have to decide about restoration of both frame and painting.

Those old enough to remember the classic Monty Wooley movie, The Man
Who Came to Dinner
, would recognize De Ribcowsky as identical twin - the
beard, the wheel chair and the behavior in that movie.

Shortly after de Ribcowsky's death, my father checked into the hotel and asked about him. The hotel turned the question back, saying that the authorities had been unable to find out anything about a family or lawyer. They and my father thought they remembered that he had sometimes spoken about a daughter.

That I can remember this much from the years I was 9 and 10 years old, tells what a really forceful personality he was. He was, truly, unforgettable. Behind the sometimes curmudgeonly manner, he was quite a humorist and definitely a powerful presence. His paintings please, and they last.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
DeRIBCOWSKI, Dey (1880-1936).  Marine painter.  Born in Rustchuk, Bulgaria on Oct. 13, 1880.  Rather than go to military school, at age 13 DeRibcowski began his art studies in Paris and continued in Florence and Petrograd.  After founding the Academy of Beaux Arts in Buenos Aires in 1904, he arrived in New York City in 1910.  By 1917 he was painting in San Francisco and soon settled in Inglewood, CA.  After an auto accident in 1931, he was in a wheel chair until his death in Los Angeles on Aug. 15, 1936.  He was the inventor of the medium "Reflex." 

Exh:  Petrograd, 1902 (medal); Uruguay Expo (Montevideo), 1908 (medal); Odessa, 1909 (prize); Rio de Janeiro Expo, 1909 (medal); Moscow, 1910 (prize); Sofia Nat'l Gallery, 1910 (prize); Southwest Int'l Fair (El Paso), 1924; Society of Independent Artists. In: Uruguay Museum; Nat'l Palaces of Montevideo and Rio de Janeiro; Museum Alexander III (Petrograd); Buenos Aires Museum. 
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
AAA 1920-33; WW in LA 1925; WWAA 1936.
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A well-traveled artist for his time period, Richard Dey de Ribkowsky was born in Bulgaria and at age 13 began art studies in Paris and then continued in Florence, Italy and St. Petersburg, Russia. From there he went to Buenos Aires, where in 1904, he founded the Academy of Beaux Arts.

In 1910, he came to the United States and traveled extensively throughout the country including Arizona where he painted the Grand Canyon. In the 1920s, he settled in California, and in 1936 died in Los Angeles.

He is primarily associated with marine work but also explored other subjects.

Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940.

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Richard De Ribcowsky is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Painters of Grand Canyon

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