Return to the Getty Villa

I have taken steps to be awarded several grants. A year from now, I hope to have my own room at the Getty Villa where I am allowed to roam freely admiring the art of my ex-brother-in-law, Garth Benton, and working on my paper and historic masterpiece………..

‘The Doomsday Prophecies of Wealthy Men’

I will be wearing the best headset money can buy with a endless soundtrack from the DaVinci Code, the Phantom of the Opera, and the best of Leonard Cohen. Young scholars will turn their heads as I pass them in halls.

“May the force be with you Professor Obi-Wan Kenobi!”

“Have you saved our planet yet, Obi-Wan?”

“He can’t hear you. He lives in his own world.”

I have also taken steps to receive a grant from the Paul Mellon foundation. Paul is in my rosy family tree via Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor, and Warner.  I introduced the Pre-Raphaelites to Christine Rosamond Benton. We are ‘The Last Pre-Raphaelites’.

I just made an offer to be Drew Benton’s Mentor. I can show her how to be a scholar in a year. Above is her mother at the Getty Mansion in New York.

Jon Presco

Copyright 2017

Obi-Wan Kenobi played by Sir Alec Guinness

The murals on the J. Paul Getty Museum’s garden walls have been seen by millions of visitors since the Malibu institution opened 20 years ago. But who knew that the artist who painted–and is now restoring–the realistic likenesses of columns, garlands and still-life arrangements is Garth Benton, a third cousin of Thomas Hart Benton? The 53-year-old artist never met his famous relative, an American regionalist painter who rejected modern abstraction and championed a muscular style of realism until his death in 1975. But the younger Benton was turned on to art at the age of 8 when he saw a book of his relative’s paintings, and he occasionally corresponded with the late artist, who spent much of his life in his home state of Missouri.”


In Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, the philosophical emperor Marcus Aurelius makes a wonderful appearance. In this poetic portrayal of the truths of history, Marcus Aurelius (played by Richard Harris) chooses the fictional Maximus as his true spiritual heir, because his errant son Commodus is not a man of virtue as his father is.

The interesting question is whether or not this poetic portrayal is true to the Stoic philosophy of Marcus Aurelius or not. Even if the movie is not accurate history, it may still accomplish higher philosophic purposes, as Aristotle noted in his Poetics:

“The distinction between historian and poet is not in the one writing prose and the other verse—you might put the work of Herodotus into verse, and it would still be a species of history; it consists really in this, that the one describes the thing that has been, and the other a kind of thing that might be. Hence poetry is something more philosophic and of graver import than history, since its statements are of the nature rather of universals, whereas those of history are singulars. By a universal statement I mean one as to what such or such a kind of man will probably or necessarily say or do—which is the aim of poetry, though it affixes proper names to the characters; by a singular statement, one as to what, say, Alcibiades did or had done to him.” – (Aristotle, Poetics 6, trans. I. Bywater)


In 1957, Warner married banking heiress Catherine Conover Mellon, the daughter of art collector Paul Mellon and his first wife, Mary Conover, and the granddaughter of Andrew Mellon. By his marriage, Warner accrued substantial capital for investing and expanding his political contacts. The Warners, who divorced in 1973, have three children: Virginia, John Jr, and Mary. His former wife now uses the name Catherine Conover.[2]

John Warner married actress Elizabeth Taylor on December 4, 1976 at the Second Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Virginia. They divorced on November 7, 1982. Warner and Larry Fortensky were the last living former spouses of Elizabeth Taylor at the time of her death in 2011. Warner is the last of Taylor’s husbands to survive. Larry Fortensky died on July 7, 2016, at age 64.

Applications are welcome from researchers of all nationalities who are working in the arts, humanities, or social sciences.

Current Getty staff and members of their immediate family are not eligible for Scholar Grants. Recent recipients who have received a Getty Scholar award within the past three years may be removed from consideration.

Getty Scholars may be in residence for one of six periods ranging from three to nine months: September to December; January to March; April to June; September to March; January to June; or September to June. A stipend of up to $65,000 per year will be awarded based on length of stay. The grant also includes an office at the Getty Research Institute or the Getty Villa, an apartment in the Getty scholar housing complex, airfare to and from Los Angeles, and makes healthcare options available. These terms apply as of July 2017 and are subject to future changes.

What we do

The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art is an educational charity committed to supporting original research into the history of British art and architecture of all periods. It is the sister institution to the Yale Center for British Art, with which it collaborates closely, and is part of Yale University

Bust of Paul Mellon

The Centre, based in Bedford Square, London, is a thriving hub of research. It offers a supportive, professional environment for scholarly work, providing rich library and archival resources to curators, art-trade professionals, independent art historians, academics, researchers and students. It hosts a busy programme of scholarly events, including research seminars and lunches, workshops, symposia and conferences. It generates high-quality research through the scholarly activities and publications of its Director, Deputy-Directors, and growing community of in-house Postdoctoral Fellows. It also runs the Yale-in-London teaching programme, which provides visiting Yale students with a variety of courses to study, including ones devoted to the history of British art and architecture. In Autumn 2015 we extended our educational activities with the launch of our Public Lecture Courses aimed at people interested in learning more about British art, but who may not have had studied art history before.

The Centre is also actively engaged in wider realms of scholarly activity and publication. It runs a major grants and fellowships programme that funds high-quality research into the history of British art and architecture. It has a long and continuing history of publishing scholarly monographs and catalogues through Yale University Press. Finally, it is also committed to the most rigorous and creative forms of digital publication: it has recently produced digital catalogue raisonnés on the work of Francis Towne (1739–1816) and Richard Wilson (1713/14–1782), and operates an online journal entitled British Art Studies.

23 April 2013

In Memoriam: Garth Benton

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

Garth Benton in 1994
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.

ART NOTES : Muralist Refurbishes His Getty Creations

September 11, 1994|Suzanne Muchnic | Suzanne Muchnic is The Times’ arts writer.
The murals on the J. Paul Getty Museum’s garden walls have been seen by millions of visitors since the Malibu institution opened 20 years ago. But who knew that the artist who painted–and is now restoring–the realistic likenesses of columns, garlands and still-life arrangements is Garth Benton, a third cousin of Thomas Hart Benton? The 53-year-old artist never met his famous relative, an American regionalist painter who rejected modern abstraction and championed a muscular style of realism until his death in 1975. But the younger Benton was turned on to art at the age of 8 when he saw a book of his relative’s paintings, and he occasionally corresponded with the late artist, who spent much of his life in his home state of Missouri.

Garth Benton, a Los Angeles native who moved to Carmel in 1981, studied art at UCLA and Art Center College of Design. He found his artistic niche when he saw an 18th-Century-style mural at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

“I was 22 at the time, and I knew that was what I wanted to do,” he says. “I’ve always loved art history, so it was perfect.”

Rather than pursue a trademark look of his own, he learned to emulate art of many different periods. “My style is not to have my own style. Instead, I assimilate characteristics of the period I’m depicting,” he says. “Here at the Getty, the murals are part of the ambience. Nobody is supposed to say they are better than the art in the museum.”

The Getty murals are re-creations of paintings discovered in a country house near Pompeii and now in the collection of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Norman Neuerberg, a scholar of Greek and Roman antiquities, researched the motifs, which Benton executed in acrylic paint on the plaster walls.

Water damage, concrete shrinkage and seismic movement have caused cracks and flaking in the murals over the past two decades. Returning to the Getty this past summer, Benton has filled fissures and repainted damaged areas of the most elaborately decorated garden wall. During the coming year he will refurbish remaining sections.

Repair work might seem to be a bit of a bore, but Benton is delighted with the project. “This is like going home,” he says.

The capacity of some people to give back to the community is truly awe- inspiring, and as far as San Francisco is concerned, the Gettys are in a world all their own.

As if the local standard bearers of high society had not done enough in the areas of philanthropy, culture, music or family planning, now the Gettys have ventured forth in a new and unexpected arena: art education.

Their first project is to remind us that when you decide to “upgrade” an artist’s work, you may want to call the artist before getting in touch with your inner Monet. And it’s better, and cheaper, if your cubist leanings don’t involve someone else’s cube.

Late last week, Ann and Gordon Getty quietly settled a lawsuit — as if for them there could be any other way — that had been hanging over their estate for several months. Under the agreement, the Gettys have agreed to pay Garth Benton, an internationally acclaimed muralist, a sizable but undisclosed amount in exchange for the artist’s agreeing to drop his suit against one of the country’s richest families.

Benton’s lawsuit centered on an obscure California law that protects the work of artists, giving them the equivalent of copyright ownership of their work even after the work is sold. The 20-year-old law makes it a crime to alter, destroy or deface a work of fine art and holds that doing so can be “detrimental to the artist’s reputation.” In Benton’s case, however, the art wasn’t so much defaced as actually erased.

Greg Presco Drew Benton

3 mins ·

Dear Drew, all that came before can not compare to what I put before you. Apply for these grants. Take your place on the great endeavor. I will be your mentor.

Return to the Getty Villa

I have taken steps to be awarded several grants. A year from now, I hope to have my own room at the Getty Villa where I am allowed to roam freely admiring the art of my ex-brother-in-law, Garth Ben…


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Greg Presco

Greg Presco You were put in a impossible situation with no way out. But, this is not your fate. Snyder’s bio is unreadable, and should never have been written. Let us cast us out. Let your slate be wiped clean.

My Art Dynasty

Capturing Beauty by Jon Presco Yesterday, when I awoke, my inner voice – who works thru the night…


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Greg Presco

Greg Presco You were kidnapped! I pay your ransom – and set you free!

Christine Rosamond (October 24, 1947 – March 26, 1994), who became known by her middle name, Rosamond, was an American artist known for her paintings, watercolors, etchings, lithographs, and acrylics. Born Christine Rosamond Presco in 1947, she is best known for her use of negative space and the predominance of women in her pictures. Some of Rosamond’s most familiar pieces are “Blue Ice”, “Autumn”, and “Denim and Silk.” At one time, Rosamond’s public works sold in the millions,. In the early 1970s, when Rosamond’s name was a household word, it was extremely unusual for a woman to rise to this kind of prominence in the art scene.

Early life

Christine Rosamond was born in Vallejo, California to Victor and Rosemary Presco on October 24, 1947. Rosamond was the third of four children who grew up in an extremely dysfunctional household. Both parents were alcoholics and all four children eventually became alcoholics. Christine and her brother John later joined Alcoholics Anonymous. Their parents were selfish alcoholics who did not contribute to their children’s gifts. Quite often, Vic and Rosemary failed to feed their children. John was Christine’s protector – and teacher! She looked up to him, and they adored each other. John’s artwork was chosen twice to tour the world in a Red Cross show, when he was thirteen, and again, when he was sixteen. John and his friend, Bill Arnold, formed a creative bond when they were twelve. As artists, writers, and poets they emulated the relationship of Jack London, and George Serling. Growing up in Oakland, they considered themselves Bohemians. Christine and John were pioneers in the Hippie Movement. They lived in a famous commune with the daughters of Jirayr Zorthian, who has been titled ‘The Last Bohemian’ Seyburne and Berry Zorthian became close friends of the famous Prankster, Nancy Hamren, who dated Stanley Augustus Owsley, and lived in ‘The Idol Hands’ commune. Betty Zorthian paid the rent. Nancy went to Junior High with John, and went on double dates with Rosamond, who did not paint or draw.

Victor William Presco was born in San Francisco. His grandparents were Forty-Eighters, and were neighbors and friends of Joaquin Miller. Vic’s grandfather, Wensel Anton Prescowitz, immigrated from Bohemia. This was a radical family. Rosemary Rosamond was one of three beautiful daughters born to Mary Magdalene Rosamond, and Royal Rosamond, a writer and poet, who published short stories in Out West magazine. He published two books, Ravloa of Thunder Mountain and ‘Born In This Clay. He was a good friend of the Ozark Historian, Otto Rayburn. Frank Wesley Rosamond was also a Friend of Erle Stanley Gardner, and Dashiell Hammett.They would sail out to the Channel Islands with other members of the Black Mask. When Bill Arnold moved in with the Prescos as the age of sixteen, Christine fell in love with him. She had a secret crush on this brilliant young man that died at the age of nineteen. He was hit by a train, at a crossing. In one of her works, Rosamond put herself in a car on a rail crossing. ‘The Crossing’ is full of portent. Why Rosamond put herself and her nine-year-old daughter, Drew Benton, in danger at Rocky Point, remains a mystery. Growing up on San Sebastian Avenue in Oakland, the four Presco Children raised themselves and each other. These were the Happy Days The eldest child, Mark Presco, was into electronics. He would put a speaker in our pumpkins, and installed a makeshift intercom. It was a children’s Renaissance. After seeing the large portrait John did of his muse, Rena Easton, Christine took up art in 1972 in order to support herself and her young daughter, Shannon Rosamond.

Career beginnings

In 1964, Christine accompanied her brother and his friend, Bryan MacLean on the Monday Night Art Walks on La Cienaga Blvd. John and Bryan were the school artists at University High School in West Los Angeles. Bryan and Christine were lovers. Bryan was a roadie for the Byrds when he was seventeen. He would later play with the famous rock group ‘Love’. On these walks, Rosamond learned much about art, and how galleries operated. Bryan knew the Hollywood crowd. His father was an architect for the stars. He designed Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor’s home. According to the Rosamond genealogist, Liz and Christine share the same grandfather, James Rosamond, who along with his brother, Samual Rosamond, fought in the War of Independence.

Rosemary and her sister, Lilian, dated Errol Flynn in their teens. This was the claim to fame for the Presco children. Attending minor art classes at UCLA saw her career begin to rise in 1972 when her then husband, Scott Hale, encouraged Christine to display her paintings at the 1972 Westwood Art Fair. Priscilla Presley bought one her works which got the attention of Ira Cohen, who owned Ira Roberts Gallery located on North Robertson Blvd. Ira purchased all of her work and commissioned Rosamond to complete a painting for him on a weekly basis. Being a single mother, this was a hard contract to meet. Rosamond purchased a projector, and according to her ex-husband, Garth Benton, she employed images of models she cut out from fashion magazines, then, broadcast them on an empty canvas. Nevertheless, her immense talent, combined with the climate of the era and the 1970s feminist zeitgeist, Rosamond sold millions of her paintings to women and men everywhere. This was the age of posters and album art. Artists like Peter Max and Mucha accompanied the Rock and Roll era. Inexpensive posters decorated the homes of the Hip and the Yuppie middle class, then a gentrification of the hippie or Bohemian movement. A Rosamond print was a symbol of affluence. Young Liberated Women were getting married and giving birth to children. The gaze of a Rosamond Woman hanging on one’s wall, grounded these young mothers, who also collected the images of the Presco grandchildren. ‘Garden Child’ is Cean Presco, the son of Mark Presco. There was a change in the look of mannequinn. The influence of the fashionable Rosamond Women was seen all over the world. Nothing like this had occurred before. Serious artists were threatened.

Several Rosamond imitators put their beautiful women on the market, looking to cash in on this Rosy success. Christine offered to teach her brother, John, her style, but, he turned her down. This is when Rosamond sought to be seen as a Fine Artist, whose work may hopefully hang in a museum one day. But, her fixation on healing her family, created an un-healthy focus. Rosamond formed several family partnerships, and even though she could have lived anywhere in the world, and mingled with creative people, as is often the case with dysfunctional families, there were chains that bind. Rosamond’s efforts to break free of these chains and destructive influences, led her to sue Ira Cohen for exploitation. Ira came to pick up her weekly work, earning millions from it without telling her that Japanese collectors loved Rosamond’s “big eyes” style. As a profound coincidence, Christine’s uncle, Jim Bigalow – who owned Sam’s Anchor Cafe in Tiberon – was a good friend of Walter Keane and Margaret Keane, also world-famous for paintings of children and women with a “big eyes” style. Jim owned several of these pictures. While Walter took all the credit for the work, it was actually done by Margaret.

Rise to fame

Though Christine saw massive success during her time working for Ira Cohen, she also felt as though her work was being devalued as she believed her art belonged in galleries and not simply on merchandise. In an attempt to elevate her work from poster to fine art, Christine began a working relationship with the art printer Jack Solomon who owned Circle Gallery in San Francisco. Solomon commissioned painters for lithographs and in this environment where Christine’s art was not only appreciated but celebrated, Christine experienced her most meteoric rise to fame of her young career. For a brief period she was known as “the most published artist in the world.” She continued to paint and release images as lithographs under the banner of her own company in order to keep artistic control. Rosamond spent four months in Paris where she completed four new lithographs with the prestigious Atelier Mourlot.

Christine had a falling out with John when he met with her new husband, Rick Partlow, who was an actor who won a Grammy for his foley work. Rick was pushing a script about his traumatic past. Rosamond would later marry, Garth Benton, the cousin of the muralist and artist, Thomas Hart Benton, the teacher and friend of Jackson Pollack. Jirayr Zorthian was influenced by Thomas Benton. The Zorthian family is in the process of locating Jirayr’s murals. Add to this the art of Philip Boilleau, then you have an Artistic Family Dynasty as put forth by John, the family historian, in his blog Royal Rosamond Press. Rosamond’s popular career led the way for Twitter and Facebook, even Wikipedia. The Mass Mind is worth billions. Everyone can buy in for next to nothing. Our culture is for free. The worth of anything has entered a New Zone. With the mass ownership of a personal computer, a fashionable woman can surf the internet and find one beautiful woman after another, women with a certain look who best typify their fashionable and creative choice. You too can be a ‘Rose of the World’. She is our creation. Before Rosamond took up art, she loved to sew and make her own clothing. She was the model in some of her work. This is key to understanding her work. Many women were caught up in the Rosamond fashion show, and her style they emulated. Did Christine want to be a fashion designer when she was a teenager?


Just weeks after Christine’s final art expo in 1994, she was invited to stay in a famous home twenty miles south of Carmel at Rocky Point. As reported in the Carmel Pinecone, Rosamond had had nightmares about a giant wave causing her demise. On March 26, 1994, Rosamond was exploring tidal pools in a cove along with her sister and eight-year-old daughter, Drew. A rogue wave, unusual for that time of year, rushed into the cove. The sister was able to save the child, but Rosamond was swept out to sea. She was 46. Christine was supposed to have written a three-hundred-page autobiography, but family members have been unable to locate it. Very few of her written words exist. Her brother John maintains a blog of family memoirs and genealogical research.

Personal life

Because Christine Rosamond was largely self-taught and phenomenally successful from the beginning, she felt she had insufficient time to form an artistic identity. She is sometimes identified as a Pre-Raphaelite.

According to John’s research, Garth Benton and Christine were also kin to Susan Boilleau, the daughter of Senator Thomas Hart Benton, and sister-in-law of John Fremont, founder and first Presidential candidate of the Republican Party. The Fremonts held a salon in San Francisco attended by Mark Twain and Bret Harte. Susan held a similar salon in Paris. Her son, Philip Boilleau, was also an artist whose female figures resemble Rosamond’s and were often used on magazine covers. John believes that Christine was unaware of the legacy of art in her family background.

Garth Benton was a muralist and a friend of Gordon Getty. His work can be seen at the Getty Villa. Drew Benton and her half-sister, Shannon Rosamond, are also artists. Garth Benton died of cancer in April 2012.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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1 Response to Return to the Getty Villa

  1. Reblogged this on Rosamond Press and commented:

    Garth Benton sued his friends Gordon and Ann Getty. What kind of heart did he have? I will let Tom S yder answer that. In his book he says my niece forfieted her viginity when she was ten. Here is Melania asking that the children be left out of the sordid revelations. Is this what Christine would have wanted, her child smeared and defamed?

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