October 12 – December 7, 2013
Susan Cox of Lakeland found the portraits of Winston Churchill and Gen. John Pershing tucked in the bottom dresser drawer in her late father’s home. She recognized the work of photographer Yousuf Karsh, and then found correspondence between Karsh and her father, David P. Hauseman. After consulting with a friend and an art dealer, she found out just how valuable her discovery was.
Cox and her siblings — Debbie Viertel of Lakeland; Carolyn Eng of Orlando; and David Hauseman of Birmingham, Ala.; and Jeanette Merkel of Thousand Oaks, Calif. — donated both photographs, as well as the correspondence authenticating them, to Polk Museum of Art.
The photographs that Cox found were original silver gelatin prints bearing Karsh’s signature. Cox had forgotten that her father had prints by Karsh (1908-2002), an Armenian-Canadian artist who is widely considered one of the most accomplished portrait photographers of all time. Hauseman, while a cadet at West Point, had worked as Karsh’s assistant for a time. In 1945, he helped at the Pershing shoot and, as noted in a Readers’ Digest story on the photo, Hauseman was saluted by Pershing afterward. Apparently Hauseman wrote Karsh and asked for a copy of the photograph, which Karsh sent, along with the Churchill.