Raoul Pene du Bois, “Zephyrus and Hyacinthus”
Famed as a scenic and costume designer for dozens of Broadway productions beginning in the 1930s, Raoul Pene du Bois was one of a distinguished family of artists and designers going back to his grandfather, the art critic Henri Pene du Bois. He won Tony awards for scenic design work in the play “Wonderful Town” and for costume design in “No, No Nanette”. Among the many other shows he designed were the 1934 “Ziegfeld Follies”, the 1935 “Jumbo”, the 1939 “Du Barry Was a Lady”, and the 1953 “Charley’s Aunt”.
Perhaps the largest and most important extant painting by Raoul Pene duBois, was “Zephyrus and Hyacnthus”, a masterpiece of grisaille effect, using varying tones of black, grey and white with only a just a touch of sepia. Greek mythology tells us that Zephyrus rivaled Apollo for the love of Hyacinthus. When Apollo and Hyacinthus were playing quoits with discs, Zephyrus created a gust of wind that caused the disc, tragically, to strike and kill Hyacinthus instantly. From Hyacinthus’ blood sprang the first hyacinth flowers.