[From the catalogue-in-progress for “Landscapes & Livestock”, a loan exhibition for Agincourt Homecoming in the Fall of 2015]
Elena Prochazka Martin [1888-?]
Portrait of Claire Ball Tennant (1897-1983)
oil on canvas / 33 inches by 27 inches
Though it hangs among other portraits in the Community Collection, this painting of Claire Ball Tennant (Mrs John Michael Oliphant; 1897-1983) is on loan from members of the Oliphant family. Commissioned on the eve of her marriage, it was hurried to completion due to the declining health of her father A. James Tennant. Bittersweet family lore holds that the paint was still wet while it was displayed on an easel beside the baptistry in Saint Joseph-the-Carpenter Episcopal church; A. J. attended the service and died ten days later.
The Tennants chose Omaha artist Elena Prochazka to render their daughter, the youngest of their four children. Before her family’s immigration to the United States circa 1912, Prochazka had studied at Akademie výtvarných umění v Praze, the Academy of Fine Art in Prague founded in 1799. Prochazka’s landscapes and views of her adopted city are more numerous than her portraits.
Not incidentally, it was Claire Tennant Oliphant who traveled to Bordeaux in 1936 to accompany her brother Anson Tennant on his return from Spain.