Do you know this man? Montclair artist’s daughter looking to solve 50-year-old mystery
By ERIN ROLL
for Montclair Local
More than 50 years ago, Maurice Leon, a Montclair physician who was interested in art and sculpture, created a bronze bust of a young man.
Now, the doctor’s family is trying to find out who the man is, so they can give the bust to him or his family.
“I have too much stuff, and I’m trying to scale back,” Andy Harney, Leon’s daughter, said during a phone interview on Jan. 7. It would be far more fitting for the bust to go to the man’s family than to stay in the Leon family’s possession, she said.
“Wouldn’t it be much better to have this in the family for whom it would mean so much more?” Harney asked.
The bust is of a young African American man, most likely in his teens or 20s, and is dated 1969. Harney said she thinks the man might have been a patient of her father’s, but added that she wasn’t certain.
If the bust’s subject is still living, he is likely to be in his 60s or 70s.
Besides the bust, Harney also has a set of reference photographs that were taken of the man before Leon began the sculpting process.
Leon was a general practitioner in Montclair for 40 years, seeing patients in his office at the family home on Bellevue Avenue. The home had been built by another doctor years before with an office and exam room included.
Besides being a physician, Leon was also an avid sculptor, experimenting with a variety of materials. “He did clay. He did marble. He did alabaster,” Harney said.
He died in 2011 at age 95.
Since Harney doesn’t use social media, she decided to put out an appeal to the public through local news outlets last week.
The bust is one of only two sculptures, to Harney’s knowledge, that her father cast in bronze. The other was a sculpture of a newborn baby. It is also one of only two busts that her father created; the other is of Harney’s mother, Florence Leon.
So the fact that this was a bust cast in bronze indicates that it was an important piece to him, she said.
Anyone with information about the bust or the man depicted may reach out to Harney via Montclair Local at firstname.lastname@example.org.