"Lady Macbeth's Dream"

Staff Sergeant John Singer

Before being drafted during World War I Singer was a conventional portraitist, traveling throughout Europe painting the crowned and uncrowned heads of Europe. 


During his long recovery after being gassed in the trenches during the battle for Argonne Forest, Singer's style changed completely, apparently as a result of his meeting with, and infatuation for, a young Carmen Miranda, who was touring with the USO visiting veterans' hospitals.


The influence of the youthful samba dancer on Singer's art is obvious. Once he began painting again, he obsessively introduced a fruit-covered hat in every scene, regardless of the subject. The painting shown here, originally intended as a tribute to the great Shakespearean actress Ellen Terry, became a dreadful embarrassment to both artist and subject, lampooned in all the London papers. Miss Terry was so mortified that to the end of her life she could never be in the same room with a fruit arrangement, and any servant foolish enough to sing the old ditty about "Oranges and Lemons / Say the Bells of Saint Clemens," was promptly sacked.


Singer's career as a painter was soon over. His last works, mostly clowns on velvet and children with big eyes all wearing enormous fruit-piled headpieces never caught on, even with the American tourist trade. His only attempt at a mural, "Mona Miranda," filling one wall of Felipe's House of the Dance Spanish, was destroyed during World War II.


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Acquired as part of the corporate sponsorship program of the Dole Fruit Works.

 

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