LOFTUS, Rosalinda (Nadea) Dragonette

Head and shoulders, back to the viewer, the head turned, a yellow rose in her hand.Signed and dated upper right ‘A. Muller-Ury 1942’.

Private Collection, Reno, Nevada, USA.

Jessica Dragonette, her husband Nicholas M. Turner, his gift to the present owner, the sitter’s niece 1987.

FRENCH & CO. INC., 210, East 57th Street, New York, April 21 – May 3, 1947, No. 28

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The sitter (1892-1982) was the older sister of radio soprano Jessica Dragonette, and Mrs. Joseph Loftus by marriage (though her husband seems to have been a youthful one of convenience). Protective of her talented younger sister, who used her latterly as a sort of secretary, according to the late Nicholas Meredith Turner, who married Jessica in 1947, she had something of a strange personality, refusing to be called Rosalinda after a medium told her that her name should be Nadea, and getting herself into trouble over money when living in Tucson, Arizona, so that Jessica, worried about scandal for her career, decided it was better that she live with her in New York – to her husband’s chagrin. She made herself useful in a number of ways to Jessica, keeping fans at bay, spotting an omission in a radio concert contract that enabled Jessica to get out of a burdensome contract, but also arranging bookings and acting as a sort of manager.

Jessica Dragonette with Rosalinda [Nadea] Dragonette Loftus on the terrace above 350 East 57th Street, New York, c. 1950.

It was Loftus who introduced Jessica to Muller-Ury and apparently commissioned from him the 1940 portrait now at Georgian Court University and paid him in installments of $150.00; and she tried to compile (often inaccurate) listings of Muller-Ury’s works and to promote his work. However, the “biography” of the artist she compiled, and which is now in the Jessica Dragonette Papers at the University of Wyoming at Laramie, is a dangerous document and should only be used by those in a position to verify its every statement. With Jessica’s income declining in the 1960s as her career faded, and Jessica rather oblivious of finances according to her husband, Nadea often sold pictures by Muller-Ury from Jessica’s large collection (many of which were in a basement storage room rarely visited) – Jessica turning a blind eye, but fully aware of what she was doing – and pocketed most of the money for herself, to the annoyance of Nicholas Meredith Turner who was supporting all three of them and had used his savings to buy the apartment on East 57th Street for himself and Jessica; the Lord Strathcona (Hudson’s Bay Company), the Theodore Roosevelt without glasses (Private Collection), and the bust of General Grant (Present Whereabouts Unknown) were all once in Jessica’s collection, and there were others: a nude and a rose painting she sold are known to the editor.

Muller-Ury in his 1943 diary declares she was a strange person and he preferred to see Jessica alone. On October 28 he wrote: ‘I went to dinner at Jessica’s after months of absence – but since that curious person her sister Rosalinda Mrs. Loftus was there I was unable to enjoy the evening until after this person left for the theatre.’