His work is among the most reproduced in the world and at one point he was as popular as Picasso and Dali. He exhibited in department stores and was one of the first artists to target “ordinary” people.
Miss Wong (1953), was inspired by the beauty of Anna May Wong, the first Asian-American film star. Valerie Howewas the model for the painting. The Port Elizabeth-born beauty was 18 when Tretchikoff painted her at his Bishopscourt home in 1955. At the time, she lived in Cape Town and walked her dogs in Camps Bay, where Tretchikoff came across her by chance. This is the story Howe told her son Wayne Young, a cosmetic surgeon in Sydney, before her death in 1995 at the age of 58. He had never asked his mother what she thought of the painting, but believed she was proud of it.
Miss Wong was an instant hit, its reproductions rivalled “Chinese Girl” in popularity.
“In my opinion, Miss Wong is in some respects superior to Chinese Girl,” said Andrew Lamprecht, a UCT art lecturer. “Miss Wong is in some respects superior to Chinese Girl”. “Miss Wong is one of four or five most important Tretchikoffs in existence.”
Courtesy of The Tretchikoff Foundation