Lot 182: Very early circa 1920s matte-finish 7 x 9 formal portrait of Hoover by the important Washington photographers Harris & Ewing, presented in its original 9.25 x 13 studio mat, signed and inscribed on the mat in fountain pen, "To Melvin H. Purvis, With the most cordial of good wishes from his friend, J. Edgar Hoover." Framed to an overall size of 11 x 15. In fine condition, with trivial dampstaining to the lower right corner of them mount and some silvering to dark areas of the image. Purvis made a name for himself as the archetypical 'G-Man' responsible for the capturing the Americas most notorious gangsters—John Dillinger, 'Pretty Boy' Floyd, and 'Baby Face' Nelson among them. This piece is particularly interesting as Hoover and Purvis are said to have had a contentious relationship. Purvis sought and achieved widespread attention for his individual exploits that overshadowed the recognition given to the Bureau and its director, and it is alleged that Hoover intentionally pushed Purvis out of the FBI due to his jealousy. In addition to an ideal association between two of America's most renowned law enforcers, this is a far earlier portrait than generally seen.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 460
Wednesday, 16th September 2015
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