Roberta Sari Kaplan by Barbara Sparhawk

Photographic Prints


Sizing Information

Small 7.9" x 12.0"
Medium 11.8" x 18.0"
Large 15.8" x 24.0"
X large 19.7" x 30.0"


  • Superior quality silver halide prints
  • Archival quality Kodak Endura paper
  • Lustre: Professional photo paper with a fine grain pebble texture
  • Metallic: Glossy finish and metallic appearance to create images with exceptional visual interest and depth

Oil on Linen
Roberta Kaplan was big part of my life in the New York and Brooklyn years. We waitressed together at “Chris’s” near City Hall. I started painting billboards; Bobby drove a taxi, night shift, in all the boroughs of NY with a gentle but impressively toothy Collie asleep at her side in the front seat. Remarkable, bold, beautiful young woman. I started writing news at CBS. She opened a little shop to sell her fantabulously gorgeous hand crocheted and knit clothing on West Third Street in Greenwich Village where the bar The Purple Onion once jazzed the neighborhood. She called it “Arabella”, named after her monkey, part of the great large menagerie of cats dogs ducks sundry and a rat named Ratsina. That’s not easy in that town, even for someone incredibly beautiful, sassy, inventive, original and talented.
Bobby was a Pratt Institute graduate, industrious as hell. She got hired at swank & famous Club 21, some coupe, the only female they ever hired in a permanently male staff. She was a kind of lightning in a bottle, game for anything.
Her little shop went through the usual rough first year, then she was moving into the big time with a pending contracts from Bonwit Teller and Saks Fifth. She was starting to do custom orders for some famous NYers. She kept a bowl of Oreos along with bottles of chilled champagne at the front door for visitors. Class act.
What was more exquisite? The colors she used, special French died wools she gathered from all over the city and world, antique handmade buttons that sparkled in the dark, the supreme skill of the work, the tones and shades she combined that set you aflame or brought on a faint, the designs she invented, the sweaters and hats loaded down with crocheted flowers even Louis Carroll and Salvador Dali never dared dream, or just that clear, firm look …..a no-nonsense, square jawed, titian haired beauty who illuminated the air around her.
A stranger who’s never been caught ended that March 11, l983 when Roberta was 34 years old. He walked into her Greenwich Village shop and knifed her in the heart and killed her. Front page, Daily News. Weeping that didn’t end at such an impossible end. White coffin, like you’d want for a baby.

I miss her every day of the week. I have dozens of her creations that never went out of style, that I still wear, that will never be duplicated.
She was one of a kind.
She was an original.

Professional Expressionist, portrait painter, writer, children’s book illustrator, entrepreneur, and adventuress.

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  • Nikolay Semyonov
    Nikolay Semyonovabout 3 years ago

    amazing prose and amazing portrait of the amazing woman!

  • Thanks, Nikolay. You’d have been friends.

    – Barbara Sparhawk

  • billyboy
    billyboyabout 3 years ago

    I was reading this totally absorbed in the way you so eloquently paint and weave and thread your stories with those very same French died wools and buttons that sparkle in the dark… knowing pretty much how it would end.
    Without knowing her, I would tell anyone who asked that she was among the most amazing people who ever walked the planet simply because she was painted by you.
    To have a soulmate like that is one of the most wonderful perks of life.
    To have that taken away, and especially in the way that she was from you, is one of the most sorrowful events of life.
    That you understand that dynamic and live by it is deeply expressed in every brush stroke you wield Barbara.
    Bless you for being able to feel and translate such love.
    The depth of your portraiture is beyond belief.

  • Thank you as always for YOUR depth of feeling, you amazing strong yet delicate thread of electric existence. You are so touching in your words, Billy, and make me feel…what is it….important to the world. I hope so.
    2 days ago I tried finding some artifact of Bobby’s life on the internet and it stunned me that I couldn’t. She has a semi-famous family in their field and I saw stuff about their far less interesting lives but no mention of the sister, daughter. She was too adventuresome, too untraditional, a little too independent. Bobby had the sense to break with them, and she, the very best of all, was the shunned black sheep, the embarrassment! I did this painting about five. eight, some years ago but it made me so mad that she’d vanished I decided to post it with some history, and it turned out to be the anniversary of her leaving, March 11th.

    – Barbara Sparhawk

  • JolanteHesse
    JolanteHessealmost 3 years ago

    Absolutely incredible… and a harrowing story.

  • Thank you for reading it, our lives are all so important, Jolante.

    – Barbara Sparhawk

  • brianjarvis
    brianjarvisalmost 3 years ago

    most moving

  • madvlad
    madvladalmost 3 years ago

    this has a Victorian feel to this face,,like they painted in??1880-90?in england nice story too

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