The Model Woman and Trompe L’oeil



I never met my late brother-in-law, Garth Benton. If he were alive, he would know the name of the artist who did the mural in La Tour de Trump – and the faux marble pillars made of plaster of Paris: for he was a Master of his craft. Most of what we see that embraces Melania, is fake – a fraud! Did Donald stiff the artist, after he tortured him? Was his, or her silence guaranteed in the Terrible contract they signed? Or, was Terrible Trump afraid the artist would tell the truth, that it is all a fraud, and, Donald is not even the Wizard of York?

Christine and Garth Benton stayed the night in the Getty Mansion in San Francisco. Above is a photograph of the interior. The furniture is the real deal as is the painting of Venice. I must find time to identify the artist. Garth did the amazing murals at the Getty Villa. Their right-hand man was a partner in the two Rosamond galleries in Carmel.

Rena Easton was my muse, and Christine’s. My sister took up art after she saw the large canvas I did of perhaps the most beautiful woman in the world. Her three older sisters were top fashion models. If I had not rescued her, Garth and Christine would have never met, never got married. Rena is a goddess – the real deal! From her, and her genes, everything is a knock-off. I was homeless and broke when she came into my life. She loved her poor young Bohemian man. As an old man, she sent me a poem she wrote.

The Trumps have a faux Renoir ‘La Loge’ as in loge seats. It depicts a couple at the theatre who own special critical eye seeing glasses that allows them to see very far away, and thus they can critique and judge almost anything they wish. For all these reasons, it is vital we take care of the real things in life, and in art.

Garth is the cousin of the famous artist Thomas Hart Benton, the grandson of the famous Senator who oversaw the Oregon Territory, and helped make it a State of the Union. He, and Garth look alike. I wish his daughter, my niece, Drew Benton, a Happy Thanksgiving.

Jon Gregory Presco

In Memoriam: Garth Benton

Mural by Garth Benton in the Outer Peristyle at the Getty Villa, Malibu CA.  via Flickr

Garth Benton in 1994

Donald trump’s hair style; trompe l’oiel in french pr*nounced trump-loy, means trick of the eye. the trump trompe l’oiel refers the hair style of entrepreneur Donald trump, as his hairstyle itself is a “trick of the eye”. it is in fact the most famous comb-over in the history of comb-overs. there have been many entrepreneurs who made a lot of money only to die and be forgotten. in a hundred years after the death of donald trump, he will not be remembered for his entrepreneurial achievements; rather he will be remembered for his hair.

Offered for sale is a print entitled ” Hung Jury” by  internationally renowned artist
 Garth Benton. The limited edition print is thought provoking in its depiction of the jury as skeletons. The print measures 22 x 25 inches.  This print originally retailed for $225 each.  Garth was well known for his stylish first-century style trompe l’oeil decoration of the magnificent Getty Villa in Malibu, California. 

Fine art connoisseurs insist that Garth Benton created the kind of exquisite art that “should be admired and treasured.” Insiders say Benton’s “never-ending” skills were made manifest by the diversity of his commissions, which were inspired by everything from first-century Roman frescoes to eighteenth-century Chinese wallpaper to Art Deco and Modern designs.

Benton, who has been described as one of the top five muralists in the world, truly executed museum-quality pieces. He worked on such notable projects as the 1,000-foot mural in the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, and has been published in fine art books. Benton studied art at UCLA and Art Center College of Design after being inspired by the work of his cousin, the late Thomas Hart Benton, a teacher of Jackson Pollock and a well-known artist in his own right. Benton died in 2012 after a battle with cancer. A few of his clientele:

“To Garth with appreciation of your wonderful assistance and with warmest, best wishes.”

– Betty and Gerald Ford

“What a joy to have your murals!”
– Bob and Dolores Hope

“Your work is truly fine, and you go above and beyond the call of duty. So when you present your final bill to me, make it for whatever you like…within reason, of course.”
– Barbra Streisand

“To master artist Garth Benton, and his two talented daughters, and with gratitude for your beautiful additon to our new home.”
– Rhonda “Mann” Flemming

(Partial List)
Mr. and Mrs. Bob Hope
Pres. and Mrs. Gerald Ford
Ms. Barbra Streisand
Mr. Sidney Sheldon
HRH Prince Saud Al Faisal
Ms. Carol Burnett
Mr. and Mrs. David L. Wolper
Ms. Jaclyn Smith
The J.Paul Getty Museum
M.H. De Young Memorial Museum
Mr. Danny Kaye
Mr. and Mrs. Henry Singleton
Mr. And Mrs. Mickey Rudin
Mr. Dean Martin
Mr. Hugh Hefner
Fluor Corporation
Ralph M. Parsons Company
Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Firestone
The Beverly Hilton Hotel
Squaw Valley Inn
Mr. Richard Cohen
Lily and Richard Zanuck
Mr. and Mrs. George Doheny
Princess of Iran
Ms. Polly Bergen
Mrs. Walt Disney
Ms. Pamela Mason
Mr. and Mrs. Jim Knight
Mr. and Mrs. Aaron Spelling
Mr. and Mrs. Kirk Douglas
Mr. Jerry Magnin
Mr. and Mrs. Warren Clark
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Maguire
Mr. and Mrs. Stewart Resnick
Ms. Danielle Steel
Mr. David Nutt, Esq.

This week I was saddened to learn of the passing of a great muralist, Mr. Garth Benton, an internationally recognized artist who was well known for his stylish first-century style trompe l’oeil decoration of the magnificent Getty Villa in Malibu, California.

Mr. Benton “died a after with battle cancer” in May of 2012. I am surprised I did not see it reported anywhere and I only figured it out after I noticed that his website had gone down and began making inquiries.  Being a pre-internet personality Mr. Benton was not widely mentioned on the web,  but his work was nevertheless world-class, and very well-known in its day.
 trompe l’oeil bas-relief painted by Garth Benton
I had the pleasure of working on a project with Garth Benton many years ago when he came to San Francisco to paint some spectacular Chinoiserie murals in a private residence here.  He had arrived in town with inexplicably blank wallpaper apparently intending to paint the murals on site, but with no help and nowhere near enough time.  I got a desperate call from the wallpaper hanger (who knew I also paint in this style) and rather than ask what the heck had gone wrong, out of respect for this great master painter  I put my nearly entire studio at Mr. Benton’s disposal – scaffolding, buckets, tarps, ladders, brushes, and as many assistants as I could round up – and we all learned a lot from him while helping him complete his commission, some of the crew often working until 3 AM or even all night, trying to meet the deadline.  While we painted, we were regaled with entertaining stories about his many celebrity clients and amazing jobs he’d done over the years.  It was exhausting and exciting and the job was truly beautiful.
Ballroom mural by Garth Benton in the Getty Residence, San Francisco
A couple of years later Mr. Benton made headlines for suing his clients, Ann and Gordon Getty, for having painted over one of his older murals in their San Francisco home, which he had hoped to photograph for a glossy catalogue raisonné of his work. The mural had been painted on canvas and could easily have been removed, but the Gettys had not realized this when they redecorated, and had to settle a large amount of money on him for the error.  While I felt deeply over the heartbreaking loss of the artwork, the case made me cringe: suing an otherwise supportive client likely didn’t help his future business. The mural is still gone and the book was never published.
A Chinoiserie mural painted by Garth Benton for Michael Taylor Design in the 1980s
We exchanged a few emails over the years,  but regrettably never did get to meet again.
So I offer this short tribute to Mr. Garth Benton, to be remembered for his fine work, and his influence on a generation of muralists.

images 2-5 via Internet Archive

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  1. I met Garth in ’89 or 90 around the time I first moved to CA. We were both published in the same Rizzoli book which is how I knew about him so I looked him and paid him a visit. Garth was very nice but the thing that really made an impression on me was him telling me he was married to Rosamond whose paintings made into posters were ubiquitous in the 70s.


  2. Yes I heard about their marriage and the really tragic way she died later. She was a hugely successful artist and her work instantly recognizable (to anyone in our age group!

  3. Best post yet. I wish I could have met him, but the anecdotes are fantastic and will have to do.


  4. I have always admired Garth Benton’s exquisite murals at the Getty Museum, but was not familiar with his other work, including the gorgeous Chinoiserie mural that you’ve featured here. I wish he could have published that book.


  5. Maybe his daughter can carry on that effort. It’s a book I would love to have. Garth could and did paint in just about any style so the breadth of his work was really something.


  6. Thank you so much Lynne for this tribute. The fact that you met him and worked with him has to be special to you. I will cross my fingers that the daughter will see the importance of his work and carry on with the book.


  7. I worked with Garth and Christine (Rosamond) in the late 80’s in their Carmel gallery. They were lovely to work for – warm and gracious, down to earth, and wonderfully entertaining — and I was so disappointed that things didn’t work out for them.

    I hope their children will carry on the legacy. (Isabella)


  8. Hi Isabella
    thanks for your comment. Glad to hear you knew them when they were happy.


  9. What a fabulous post!! The time spent working together in your studio working all hours to meet the deadline, sounds like pure heaven!

    I had two Rosamond prints when I was young and so loved them. In my 30’s, during one of my redecorating phases, a good friend talked me out of them only to let his wife get rid of them a couple of years later! Last year my Aunt graciously gave me a small one she has had since they were first sold. It is one of my treasured pieces. I had no idea these two people were related.

    Thanks Lynne for not only the great fun factor here but the education as well.


  10. I just learned today (11/2/13) of Garth Benton’s death. Needless to say I was profoundly shocked after such a passage of time. Thank you, Lynne for writing such a graceful and informative post. My wife and I worked with Garth for the first time in the late 1980’s. Needless to say, I was in awe of the man I knew by reputation from his work at the Getty Villa (in the same way as I was in awe of Larry Boyce and Bruce Bradbury–all of whom were instrumental in inspiring me to take up my own decorative work). Garth was kind, helpful, funny, inspiring and completely unpretentious in sharing any help or information he could offer. I last had the pleasure of working with he and his daughter, Drew, in 2009 on a residence where he created several grand spaces worthy of Villa Vizcaya. I do hope that his dear and very talented daughter finds a way to produce the book that would be a legacy and record of Garth’s incredible work.


  11. Thanks for commenting Ed! I also worked with Larry Boyce the last couple of years of his life, which put me int he way of many people who are now close friends and colleagues. I’ve been very lucky with the level of mentorship in my past and I think these guys really influenced the way I work as well as my teaching style, and I owe my success in some part to their openness and fearlessness. I hope a book about Garth Benton’s work happens someday soon, too. It may not be my place to say, but I think Garth really deserves a place in the history of decor in this country. What better way to assure that then with a big glossy book!


  12. Sweet, Lynne. I so agree. And may I add that I am looking forward to putting a book about your own glorious contributions to decorative art on my shelf one day! The Ornamentalist is such a huge enjoyment and blessing for us all!


  13. I knew Garth as well. When I owned Davis-Blue Artwork, an art publishing company, with Robert Blue we tried to get Garth to create artwork for a poster. The project never was realized but getting to know him was a great joy. At the time, he was working on murals in Bob Hope’s Palm Springs home. He was a very gifted artist. Brian Davis


  14. I was lucky to have Garth Benton pass through my life in the late 1990’s. He had moved to Headland, Al for a respite from California life. We met in my antique shop and he subsequently painted many things in a new home we were building at the time. Being on the board of our local museum, the Wiregrass Museum of Art, we arranged for an exhibition of Garth’s works. I am sure that I am the most anonymous person he ever worked with. We remained close friends until his sad death. In our last telephone conversation I told him that I thank God every day that he passed through my life and left a legacy of beauty in my home. As with lots of artists, he will not be fully appreciated during his life.


  15. Wow, Mary I am so happy for you having Garth’s work in your home! When I was working with him here in SF he had only just moved to Alabama, and he seemed so happy about living there.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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1 Response to The Model Woman and Trompe L’oeil

  1. Reblogged this on Rosamond Press and commented:

    Did Trump rip-off a work of art?

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