William Fellini


(died c. 1971)
painted still-lifes, landscapes, and figures in landscapes, but for about twenty-five years he earned his living as a New York City housepainter and decorator. Thoughhis works are colorful and robust, he never sold a painting during his lifetime. His training as a painter and decorator contributed to his skill in representing marble izedtabletops in his paintings, such as
Still-life: Vase of Flowers
(1936) and
Lily in Boot
(1951). The artist has depicted in each painting a plant growing out of a lacedwork shoe filled with soil and set on a marble table.Fellini worked in oil on canvas and his output was limited. Little is known of the artist’s life except what has been gleaned from a few letters, as well as a brief essaywritten by Nancy Bayne Turner, whose mother hired Fellini over the years as a painter, decorator, and handyman. Turner wrote that Fellini was so poor he was unableto buy new canvas, and often bought used canvases for about twenty-five cents and painted on the reverse side. Fellini was teased about his “art” by his coworkers atthe Third Avenue paint contractor and decorator that employed him, but he took it all good-humoredly, replying, “Wait, someday those ‘big shots’ will be surprised!”
See also
Painting, American Folk; Painting, Stilllife
Hemphill, Herbert W. Jr., and Julia Weissman.
Twentieth-Century American Folk Art and Artists.
New York, 1974.Johnson, Jay, and William C.Ketchum.
American Folk Art of the Twentieth Century.
New York, 1983