Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Maurice Sendak Painted a Mural!

I was delighted to hear a report on National Public Radio about the recent donation to the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia. A brother and sister (Larry and Nina Chertoff), decided to donate a wall from the bedroom they had shared as small children because of the mural which had been painted on it fifty years before. Why? Because the artist was family friend Maurice Sendak.

Maurice Sendak, 1961
The mural is a whimsical parade led by a dog (looking like Sendak’s beloved terrier Jenny, immortalized in his Higglety Pigglety Pop). Following ‘Jenny’ is a boy with a drum; another boy with a horn; a red bird; a lion in a party hat holding a parasol labeled Larry and Nina; a girl with a pennant and the sun on a string; and a bear in a top hat and ruff. Some very familiar Sendak characters!

The NPR segment included an interview with a relaxed and pleasant Sendak who spoke of the "happy time" in his life when he painted the "only mural I have ever done" for the "darling little girl" and "darling little boy"–Larry and Nina. About the mural he said, "I never had painted a mural before and I didn’t know how to paint a mural. I didn’t know how to prepare the surface."

I painted several murals myself a few years ago and I also didn’t know how to prepare the surfaces, how to make them last. I didn’t know how the Renaissance painters created theirs either, as Sendak remarks to interviewer Robert Siegel. Today there are books of instruction. I couldn’t find one when I did my murals and perhaps it doesn’t matter if they have not withstood the test of time.

Luckily Maurice Sendak’s charming 50 year old mural has survived as well as it has. Since removal to the Maurice Sendak Gallery at the Rosenbach Museum, conservators have started work on repairing any damage. Visitors can watch the process every Wednesday (at specified times) until the end of March and witness the mural being restored to its original charming glory.

Thank you Larry and Nina!


  1. Terry Lim DiefenbachFebruary 3, 2011 at 10:26 PM

    I love your picture of 'Diane as Michelangelo'! Thanks for keeping us 'posted'!

  2. Terry, I haven't read that Michaelangelo had neck problems after he did his ceilings, but I sure have!