Family Portraits: The Artists Behind the Portraits Discovered

I have spent the last six weeks or so posting updates and photographs I’ve received from cousins from my Seligmann, Katzenstein, and Schoenthal families. Today I return to my Goldschmidt/Goldsmith family. But before I begin writing about the next branch of that family, I want to post some updates I’ve received from Goldsmith cousins.

First, I want to share three wonderful portraits shared by my cousin Robin Goldsmith, the grandson of Doctors Milton Goldsmith and Luba Robin Goldsmith, about whom I wrote here and here and here and here. Robin is the son of Milton and Luba’s older son, Norman, who is also discussed in those posts and here.

The first two portraits are of Robin’s grandparents, Milton and Luba:

Milton Goldsmith, son of Henry and Sarah (Jaffa) Goldsmith. Painting by Mildred Silvette, 1938

Luba Robin Goldsmith. Painting by David Silvette, 1930

Robin took photographs of the portraits, and so there is a bit of a glow from the flash and some distortion. Also, the photograph cut off the names and dates, so I asked Robin to check for those. He did and reported back that Luba’s portrait was signed by David Silvette and dated 1930; Milton’s portrait was signed by Mildred Silvette and dated 1938.

David Silvette1, born May 28, 1909, and died August 29, 1992, was a very successful artist. He was described on one website as “one of Virginia’s most sought-after portrait artists in the early 20th century.” His portrait of F. Scott Fitzgerald hangs in the National Gallery in Washington, DC. Mildred Silvette was his younger sister, and she also was an artist; she studied under Hans Hofmann in the 1930s.

David and Mildred were the children of Ellis Meyer Silvette, also a well-known American portrait artist, who was born in Lithuania as Eli Meyer Silverberg. Ellis was living in Pittsburgh in 1910 with his wife Ella and the two children born at that point, including David.2 That time in Pittsburgh may be how the family connected with Milton and Luba Goldsmith.

Both portraits are beautifully done, and I especially love the way the texture of Luba’s dress and fur collar are depicted.

The third portrait that Robin shared with me is one of his father Norman Goldsmith.

Norman Robin Goldsmith, 1929

It is quite different in style—much more expressionist than the realistic portraits of his parents Milton and Luba. I love how Norman’s blue eyes, much like those of his father, stand out in this portrait. It is dated 1929 and has the artist’s initials, D.S. I have to believe that D.S. stands for David Silvette.

Thank you to my cousin Robin for sharing these with me.

 


  1. Anita Price Davis, New Deal Art in North Carolina: The Murals, Sculptures, Reliefs, Paintings, Oils and Frescoes and Their Creators (McFarland, 2008), pp. 122-125. 
  2. Silverberg family, 1910 US census, Year: 1910; Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 4, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1300; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 0325; FHL microfilm: 1375313, Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census