Here's the image:
My question dealt specifically with the autograph at the bottom. Here's a close-up:
The portrait, signed to someone named Bert whose last name I'm not entirely sure of, is signed by "Carole" Lombard. During this stage of her career, when she was working first at Sennett and then Pathe, she was usually -- but not always -- known as "Carol"; as we've stated many a time, the "e" wouldn't arrive for good until the latter part of 1930. And while the signature has many of the handwriting aspects we associate with Lombard, there's still a bit of room for doubt.
When it comes to Carole Lombard signatures, there's one person I always turn to: Carole Sampeck of The Lombard Archive. So I e-mailed her the image...and here's her response:
Yes, absolutely authentic -- and it's a beaut! Interesting note: this autograph was NOT obtained in the same time-frame as the portrait, as the signature and handwriting are in a style she was using in the mid-to-late 30s (37+ by my estimation).
So just how did she come about signing it, if it indeed came some years after it was taken? We'll never know for sure. She may have been at some public gathering where some fan handed it to her and asked her to sign it. Perhaps this Bert was a friend of Thomas', which is how he obtained it, or maybe he had worked alongside Lombard at Pathe. We can also only guess what Lombard's reaction was about seeing this portrait of her younger self. If she thought to herself, "Damn, I looked good then," well, we wouldn't argue.
It's also nice to know this signature is the real deal, befitting the beauty of the image.