Athos Menaboni and R.J. Reynolds.

Russell Clayton, curator of Athos Menaboni – Framing His Vision: Celebrating the 125th Anniversary of the Birth of a Georgia Artist at the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art

Blackbeard

Oil on canvas mounted on board c. 1936

Courtesy of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, R.J. Reynolds Mansion on Sapelo Island

Before Athos Menaboni’s bird-painting career began in earnest, the artist was commissioned to create murals in homes and public buildings across Georgia.

When in the mid-1930s, R. J. Reynolds, Jr., purchased Sapelo Island and hired Philip Shutze to remodel his home; the prominent Atlanta architect recommended that Menaboni paint several murals.

They settled on three areas for murals – the game room, the sun room (which included an indoor swimming pool), and another large room upstairs. They also decided on themes – pirates, the tropics, and a circus (the ring master of which is believed to be Reynolds himself). 

Only one signature – dated 1936 – has been located, and it is in the sun room. However, Menaboni spent more than one summer painting there.