Eric Sloane : Morton Salt Building Mural

Eric Sloane’s 1958 Mural in the President’s Office, Morton Salt, Chicago, IL

Eric Sloane painted this stunning mural for the President of Morton Salt in 1958. Rumor has it that, when the building was demolished, an undisclosed collector paid an equally undisclosed sum to have a team of “specialists” cut the mural intact from the wall. I’ve never been able to track the truth of the rumor down, nor am I aware of anyone who has seen the mural since this photo was taken.

Did Eric Sloane ever paint “hidden” Images?

Whilst on my wall this morning, I thought a bit about the ‘hidden’ image in a Johannes Vermeer painting entitled ‘Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window’. CNN ran the story today, though an x ray of the work more than 40 years ago originally revealed the image of cupid, painted upon the wall behind the titular girl. A fascinating story, it set me to thinking about if Eric Sloane had painted ‘hidden’ or ‘secret’ images in his paintings. The answer is ‘yes’, though not anything sinister. In fact, these ‘hidden images’ were in plain sight, usually in the form of a private joke or meaningful symbol, known and understood by both painter and recipient.

Here, we have Sloane’s ‘Into The Sky’, completed c. 1955. Painted as a gift to his new wife’s parents, you can see a cloud painted in a ring slightly right of top center (see next photo for a close up). That ring is a ‘smoke ring’, or rather a cloud Eric made to look like a ring of smoke his new, cigar smoking and smoke ring blowing father in law would make float across the room. That private joke was appreciated by the recipients, then in turn by Eric’s eventual ex-wife, then by me, who was lucky enough to acquire the painting, and equally lucky to have been told the story.