Interesting Feedback


Earlier this month, I wrote about Joachim Probst, a strange and wonderful painter. I described him as legitimately mad. The following showed up in the comments this weekend from Isabella McFarlin

Yes, Probst was mad. He and my parents, Irving Fiske (playwright) and Barbara Hall Fiske (painter and cartoonist) were close friends– they tried to help him and believed him a genius. He seems to have had some kind of fixation on my mother, and would burst into our farmhouse in Vermont from time to time during the 1950s, threatening my brother and me, and once (allegedly) trying to throw a cat into a fire. He also threatened, and this I remember, to burn down our barn. My parents and he had probably a more complex relationship than I can ever know, but it was no fun to fear his sudden appearances in my childhood.
Whether he was a good painter or not, I really cannot say. My mother is a far better one and unfortunately, she is at present little known!

Probst is also fairly obscure. Isabella no doubt found my post on a Google search, where it comes up near the top. Thanks for sharing this with us, Isabella. I do think he was a great painter, and I am interested in knowing more about him. I would especially like to see his work some time.


31 Responses to “Interesting Feedback”

  1. Carroll Says:

    And if Isabella feels that her mother may be an even better one, we might enjoy a link to some of her works as well.

    • isabella mcfarlin Says:

      Hi, you suggested I post my mother, Barbara Hall’s, artwork on this site (2007). She knew Jack (Joachim) Probst. I wonder how one posts artwork here? I’d like to post some of her work and she is in agreement.


  2. Todd Says:

    I read this, and then did the old google on the Fiske family, they are very interesting to say the least. I am quite certain that poor Joachim Probst suffered from schizophrenia and never got any help.

  3. Rick Says:

    Todd–Google was my next move. I’m moving slow. I’ll look and update here if need be.

  4. OldOldLady Of The Hills Says:

    I’d love to see Isabella’s mothers work, wouldn’t you? I must say that was a very interesting bit of first hand information about this guy! Isn’t blogging the most amazing thing, Rick?

  5. Pamela Adler Golden Says:

    I have an enormous collection of Joachim Probst paintings and drawings. As a very young girl in the late 50’s and early 60’s, I used to hang out in the back room of The Artist’s Shop on Christopher St., Greenwich Village, NY, owned by sisters Martha and Chris Phillips, who were aunts to Joachim Probst and kept him in a supply of paint. The back room was where pictures were framed and friends and admirers of Jack hung out, usually with a bottle of vodka. Jack would come in, flowing beard, crooked stogie in his mouth, bespotted with paint and my mother would often buy one of his paintings fancying herself a benefactress. There is more to tell and I have many paintings of his to show.

    • Jeff Armstrong Says:

      Pamela, I would love to communicate with you. I, too, have a rather large collection of Probst, mostly drawings. This Sept. is his 100th birthday, there should be an exhibit put together somewhere in NY. I have material worthy of an exhibit if someone would curate it. Any takers?

    • Jeff Armstrong Says:

      Pamela, I have acquired a second large collection of JP’s work and some personal items of great interest. If you see this note I would love to communicate with you to record your r3collections. Thanks

  6. F T Renshaw Says:

    For Pamela Adler Golden- if you can pass this on- Your sisters Martha & Christine were cousins of my father-same name as mine. I spent a little time in the back room at #8 Christopher St in 1962 and “Aunt Martha” sent me several of Jack’s drawings and painting (wedding present) over the years. last I heard M or C had moved to the DC area and if either is still with us would like to let her know that Dad passed away last month.


  7. Harriet Hay Says:

    Pamela Adler Golden & F T Renshaw..

    I’m the daughter of Jack Probst born 1951..
    Any aunt of Jack Probst is an aunt of mine..
    You say there are two..
    Well I’d like to communicate with ’em..

    My mother Harriet was quite well-known in the neighborhood..
    She & her sister Inez lived on Thompson Street..
    The Sheridan Beauty Parlor on Greenwich Ave & 7th..
    Do either of you recall that place & the people who ran it..
    Please reply to:

    • ladybelle fiske Says:

      I would love to meet you and perhaps interview you for my memoir one of these days. Or just meet?
      Isabella (Ladybelle) Fiske

  8. Igor von Wurttemburg Says:

    To all good collectors of Joachim Probst’s paintings ..please refer to this ebay listing item # 320324838630….an impressive Probst painting is now available at ebay auction…”.King Lear” circa 1955

  9. Savya Lee Says:

    In 2006 I published a memoir, The Sky Through The Hole In The Bone, about my years in Greenwich Village, beginning in 1942. I lived with Jack Probst for two yearsand knew Irving and Barbara Fiske. At least a quarter of the book is devoted to my life with Probst.. To Harriet Hay, The troubles with my computer continue but I have a new e-mail address and I hope to have this solved soon.
    My best wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year. Also to Isabella, I would like to hear from you. Savya

  10. JOACHIM PROBST'S daughter Says:

    I searched around & found you here..
    Gimme an email address & I’ll get busy with my letter..
    Do hope your computer’s up & running soon..
    Harriet Hay

    • isabella mcfarlin Says:

      Harriet Hay– hi,
      Wd be very interested in talking to you sometime about your father and my parents, the Fiskes. Would you be willing?
      Isabella Fiske McFarlin
      I’d like to hear the other side of the story, if you feel like it.

      • Harriet Hay Says:

        Jack Probst’s little girl says..
        Isabella McFarlin why stand on ceremony?
        I can be emailed directly at
        Had I not googled by father’s more casual first name Jack..
        I’d not have found your June posting in reply to mine Feb 2009..
        I’m eager to ask various questions & answer any if I can..
        Please feel free to email me at your convenience..
        Harriet Hay

  11. Naomi Fatouros Says:

    I met Jack Probst once during the 1950’s, big bear of a man in overalls. He and I were introduced by Ronnie (Ronald) Miglionico, whom I knew through a mutual friend and from our studies at Columbia University.

    I don’t recall how Ronnie, who lived in Greenwich village, and Probst became acquainted, but I do know that Ronnie was such an enthusiast of Probst’ work that he opened a gallery somewhere in New York which was devoted the Probst’s work. In part, because figurative images were not in vogue during the FIfties, Ronnie’s gallery was not a success, although I don’t know how long it lasted, nor did I remain in contact with Ronnie whose interest in marrying me remained unreciprocated.

    Through Ronnie, I bought two or three different etchings or engravings of Probst’s Rembrantesgue Crucifixions , but I declined Ronnie’s urgent offerings of Probst’s giantic oil paintings of Jewish prophets and Jesus. As for Probst himself, I found him frightening.

  12. Naomi Fatouros Says:

    I had misrembered when I wrote that I possessed some etchings or engravings by Probst. They were ink drawings. (I don’t know that Probst knew how to make engravings and etchings. From what I’ve read about him, i doubt that he had these skills or the means to make prints of his works.

  13. Savya (Carol) Lee Says:

    Isabella, I’d be very interested in talking to you about Jack Probst and your parents. I still remember your father’s wonderful sense of humor and that he played recorder with his brother, Milton. I think that’s his name. Anyway, I sublet an apartment from your mother early on. They were very important in Probst’s life.

  14. Savya (Carol) Lee Says:

    Harriet, I’ve been very involved lately, have not looked at this or new websites for a long time. My granddaughter and two greats are living with me now so my life is quite changed. Still writing though. I’d like to hear from you again– perhaps another phone conversation. Be well.

  15. forrest johnson Says:

    Harriet, I tried a response yesterday but the computer threw me. Do you have any info on Manny and David Greer? Forrest

  16. Kelly Hinkle Says:

    I just found this site while helping my parents find out more about a Probst painting they were given years ago and wow, does this man sound interesting! I’m an amateur, though aspiring (!) documentary filmmaker and Mr. Probst sounds like a fascinating subject for a short film (probably no more than 5 minutes.) I just ordered Ms. Lee’s book and look forward to reading about her time with Probst! If anyone is interested in being interviewed or contributing any information or images to a potential project, I’d love to hear from you!


    Kelly Hinkle

  17. Savya Lee Says:

    I haven’t looked at this site for a long time. It feels cozy coming back to it and remembering. So– hello, Harriet and Isabella. I’m still not comfortable with a computer, still on land lines and still on desert time. And now that I’m here I don’t know what to say except that I’d like to hear from you, about you, what’s happening in your lives. Also Kelly Hinkle–I hope you like my book but it’s okay if you don’t. And yes, this man was interesting.
    Savya Lee

  18. Kelly HInkle Says:

    Sayva, I just got the book. I can’t wait to read it…and I already have a feeling that you might be just as or more interesting to me 🙂

  19. Savya Lee Says:

    To Harriet, Isabella, Kelly, I have finally done what I said I would never do–gotten a website. It’s quite new so if anyone wants to break it in, it’s simple–savya

  20. Edgar Lansbury Says:

    Did any of your know Ernest Raboff who was an art dealer and collected many of Joachim Probst’s paintings. I bought several of them from him. Raboff had a gallery in Los Angeles and ran an auction business there.

    • Lisa Says:

      Since you are a collector of Probst. My father was left a Probst Painting when his sister passed. I have since be searching on info regarding the painter. As he has interested me. Would you be able to give me any info on our painting. Info on the back is Motif #42 Silver Madonna 1967 size is 21″ x 23″

    • Jeff Armstrong Says:

      I have a catalog from the Raboff Gallery from 1961 with Probst paintings and drawings listed. If interested in seeing something in it, let me know. Jeff Armstrong

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