Edith Neff, Portrait of Oliver — Harry Soviak’s Dog

Pastel on paper
Credit Line
Gift of Alma Alabilikian and Peter Paone in honor of Marguerite Lenfest, 2018
16 x 25 in.

Harry Soviak and his partner, Vincent D’Aquila, were among Neff’s closest friends. D’Aquila commissioned this portrait of the couple’s pet dalmatian, Oliver, as a gift to Soviak. Neff’s virtuosity with color is evident in the veritable rainbow that comprises the dog’s black-and-white fur; his pose and the texture of his muscles suggest his advancing age. The artist often included animals in her paintings, be they pets, circus performers, or denizens of the Philadelphia Zoo.

Tragically, Harry and then Vincent died of AIDS in the mid-1980s. At their suggestion during of one of her farewell visits, Neff took back the pastel of Oliver. She subsequently sold it to another couple she counted as friends, artist Peter Paone and his wife, Alma Alabalikian, who in turn gave the pastel to Woodmere in 2018.


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